Potential new World Heritage areas

There are a number of areas in Queensland which have been identified as potential new World Heritage properties subject to the consent of First Nations people and the support of the community:

There are also a number of proposed extensions to existing World Heritage properties which are currently on Australia’s tentative list:

  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area possibly including Bunya Mountains
  • K’gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage area (known as the Great Sandy proposal).

Cape York Peninsula

The exceptional cultural and natural values of Cape York Peninsula have been recognised and acknowledged by the local national and international community and all levels of government for a long time. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) noted the region’s values as worthy of World Heritage listing in its 1982 report “The world’s greatest natural areas: an indicative inventory of natural sites of world heritage quality”.

The Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act 2007 provided a legislative basis for the identification of the significant natural and cultural values of Cape York Peninsula, and cooperative and ecologically sustainable management of Cape York Peninsula.

In 2011 the Queensland Government invited First Nations groups to participate in an ‘opt in’ Country Based Planning program. In this program, the government provided support to interested groups to undertake planning for their Country as a mechanism to assist First Nations people to consider whether they wish to seek their Country, or parts thereof, to be nominated for inscription on the National Heritage and/or World Heritage lists.

In December 2015, the Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM) agreed to explore the possibility of including Cape York on Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List—a list of places that may be nominated for World Heritage listing in future years. An Agreed Statement was developed at the MEM articulating governments’ support for exploring World Heritage nominations for Cape York Peninsula and Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in Victoria.

In Australia, National Heritage listing can be the first step towards a World Heritage nomination. Budj Bim Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the National Heritage list in 2004 and on the World Heritage list in 2019. Budj Bim is the first place inscribed on the World Heritage list in Australia exclusively for Aboriginal cultural values in a process driven by the Gunditjamara people.

In November 2018, Quinkan Country became the first place on Cape York Peninsula to be inscribed on the National Heritage list. The Quinkan Country National Heritage nomination was submitted by First Nations families from the Laura region in 2013 following the community’s Country Based Planning process.

The Queensland Government is committed to supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage values on Cape York Peninsula in partnership with First Nations peoples. To progress this commitment, the government is currently inviting First Nations groups on Cape York Peninsula who are interested in pursuing a National Heritage nomination for their Country to get in touch to discuss options for support by contacting world.heritage@des.qld.gov.au.

For more information, see Frequently asked questions—Cape York Peninsula World Heritage project.

Bunya Mountains extension of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

In 2010, the Australian Government identified the Bunya Mountains National Park as a possible northern extension of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area and added it to Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List.

In addition to significant natural values, the unique Bunya Mountains landscape holds great cultural significance for First Nations people, including as the location of the bunya nut festival, an important cultural tradition.

Great Sandy extension of K'gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage area

In 2010, the Australian Government identified the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park as a possible extension to the K'gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage area and added it to Australia’s Tentative World Heritage list.

The Queensland Government has undertaken work to support a future nomination to extend the property and better recognise the area’s outstanding cultural and natural values.

The proposed extension would include the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park, the Great Sandy Strait, Wide Bay Military Reserve and Breaksea Spit.

For more information, see Frequently asked questions—extension to the K'gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage area.

World Heritage in partnership with First Nations

The Queensland Government is committed to working in partnership with First Nations peoples to manage and protect Country, including in World Heritage recognition and protection. How the Department of Environment and Science will deliver on this commitment is outlined in the Gurra Gurra Framework 2020-2026. We are currently developing an integrated strategy that focuses specifically on World Heritage areas, detailing how they are governed and managed, working with First Nations partners to protect their iconic natural and cultural values for future generations.

If you are interested in more information about these nominations, please email World.Heritage@des.qld.gov.au.