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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

C. L. Ogleby 1 G. MacLaren 2 M. Starkey 3
'Department of Geomatics, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia, clogleby@unimelb.edu.au
Environmental Systems Solutions, 9 Pearl Street, West Essendon, 3040, Australia, glen_maclaren@essolutions.com.au
3 Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, PO Box 119, Yulara 0872, NT, Australia. Mick.Starkey@ea.gov.au
KEYWORDS: Conservation Project Management, Photographic Recording and Documentation; Cultural Landscapes Conservation,
Management, Multimedia, Software
The monolith known as Uluru, also called Ayer’s Rock, is one of the most recognised icons of the Australian landscape. It is located
almost at the dead centre of the Australian continent, within the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, and within the country of the
Anangu people. The land around Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) was ceded to the Anangu people in 1985, and leased back to the
Australian Government to be managed jointly as a National Park using the principles of tjukurpa (traditional law and morals) as the
basis of the management decisions. The Plan of Management for the Park recognises this approach to joint management, and also
requires that the rock painting and pecking sites located around the rock be documented and conserved as they contribute greatly to
the social and cultural landscape.
Following a photogrammetric survey of over 80 rock art sites it was decided to develop a site management system to hold all of the
documentation of the sites (in a digital form). This system was developed through extensive consultation with the senior men and
women in the Mutitjulu community, and it was during this consultation that the project was extended to contain other material
important to the custodians.
The Cultural Site Management System is capable of dealing with digitised site plans, photographs, report forms, works forms, and
digital audio and video. It is a protected system, developed so that only people authorised to view certain images are given access,
with the facility to restrict images depending on circumstances. It has also been developed to be used by the community, with
extensive use of graphical user interfaces in order to simplify operation.
This paper will report on the development of the system, and progress and acceptance of the system to date.
1.1 Background
Uluru is perhaps one of the most readily recognised features of
the Australian landscape, along with the Sydney Harbour
Bridge and perhaps Ned Kelly’s Helmet it is also one of the
important icons of Australia. The World’s largest monolith,
Uluru rises some 340m from the surrounding plains creating a
dominant presence in the landscape. The importance of the
’Rock’ to humankind is reflected in the declaration of the Park
as a World Heritage Site (1987, Natural/Cultural) and as a
Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Bioshpere
programme. The Rock is home to a very wide biodiversity of
plants and animals, and is visited by over half a million people
each year.
The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park was established originally
under the Northern Territory Government as a Park in 1958. A
more significant event however was the granting of inalienable
freehold title to the lands of the Park to the Anangu people in
1985 (The Anangu are the traditional owners of the county
around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the languages they speak are
Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara and the name of the township
is Mutitjulu). The lands were then leased back to the Australian
Government as a jointly managed National Park. Joint
Management means that the Anangu are represented on the
Board of Management of the Park, and that all management
decisions are governed by tjukurpa.
1.2 Tjukurpa
Tjukurpa is perhaps best described as the Anangu legal, moral
and religious code that governs the relationships between
people, animals, plants and the landscape (or perhaps the
‘proper’way of doing things). The Plan of Management for the
Park expresses the basis of tjukurpa as the guiding principles for
its operation, and all decisions are taken with the cooperation of
the Anangu people and respect for the Anangu way. (All work
undertaken as part of the research presented in this paper, and
all the researchers working on the project, are governed by
An understanding of the fundamentals of tjukurpa is beneficial
in understanding the development of the information system
discussed in this paper. The definition presented here is
superficial, but will suffice in this instance.
Figure 1: Uluru at Sunset, photograph Cliff Ogleby