The Willandra Lakes Region is an extensive area that covers 2,400 square kilometres of semi arid land in the Murray Basin area of far south western NSW. It was listed as a place of world heritage significance in 1981 along with Kakadu and The Great Barrier Reef.
The Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area contains a system of ancient lakes formed over the last 2 million years, most of which are fringed by a crescent shaped dune or lunette. Aborigines lived on the shores of the lakes for at least 50,000 years, and the remains of a 40,000 year old female found in the dunes of Lake Mungo are believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world.
More recently human footprints estimated to date back to 20,000BC were unearthed in a section of Mungo National Park, the oldest in Australia and the largest collection of its kind in the world. The footprints are believed to be those of both children and adults possibly hunting in the area and have been protected up until now by layers of clay and sand. One particular track is thought to be of a man almost 2 meters tall running at 20km/h!
The world heritage impact on the local farmers of the Mungo region is that of a positive one. After many years of debate surrounding the world heritage inclusions and obstacles, local farmers of our region can now work hand in hand with the world heritage advisory committee to better preserve the local area and its cultural significance.
For Turlee in particular it meant transferal of cropping licenses to alternative paddocks, implementation of new fence lines in some paddocks, additional stock yards and watering points in many paddocks and more recently a portable stock loading ramp to limit stock walking over the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area.
We are continually seeking alternative ways in which to better manage our local environment and preserve the world heritage area!