HERITAGE AND HISTORY: USC's Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Wess speaks at the K'gari Fraser Island Symposium at USC Fraser Coast on the importance of conserving the island's Indigenous heritage.
HERITAGE AND HISTORY: USC's Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Wess speaks at the K'gari Fraser Island Symposium at USC Fraser Coast on the importance of conserving the island's Indigenous heritage. Alistair Brightman

More to be done to conserve K'Gari heritage: USC professor

IT'S been 25 years since Fraser Island was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.

But Professor Tim Wess says we can't become complacent in the fight to conserve the island's heritage in the years to come.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast was one of the keynote speakers at the K'gari-Fraser Island Symposium at USC's Fraser Coast campus yesterday.

Prof Wess, a leading researcher in Indigenous cultural heritage and environmental conservation, said there needed to be a greater understanding of the Indigenous and contemporary culture of Fraser Island if the island was to remain a world landmark.

"There's a lot of history we're trying to piece together, which includes an intimate mix between people, traditional owners and tourism," Prof Wess said.

"By weaving those areas together we can gain a much richer understanding of the environment and the history of Indigenous occupation."

But Prof Wess said the job of conserving the island's heritage couldn't be left solely to park rangers and experts.

"We need to raise the awareness of everyone's responsibility to conserve the site," he said.

"The more people that come to the island and are educated about its historical importance, the more appreciation we'll see of the need to conserve it.

"If you only have one point of view and set of values you try to force on others, it doesn't give the rich picture we need to understand Fraser Island.

"This is especially true with Indigenous culture, which has been around for thousands of years yet is only now being pieced together."

The symposium continues today. A celebration of Fraser Island's heritage protection was held in April, formally marking 25 years since the site became one of 19 Australian landmarks to be world heritage listed. The island's traditional owners, the Butchulla, have reportedly occupied the site for more than 5000 years.



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