Richard Sharp
The cultural heritage potential of Army training areas in Australia

Supervisor: Dr. Dirk H.R. Spennemann



ABSTRACT In Australia there are many landscapes which have values and importance from a heritage perspective. Army training areas represent one such landscape where the natural values are conserved but where the cultural values of the land are unknown. The aim of this study is to assess what information already exists and to determine what potential such areas have in terms of cultural heritage.

The objectives of this study are firstly to describe the past and present approaches to cultural heritage management by the Australian Army together with the approaches currently being adopted by Armies in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Secondly, this study will examine as an example, an Army training area (Holsworthy) in New South Wales and identify the potential that exists for this landscape to contain significant cultural heritage sites. This potential will then be extrapolated to include other training areas which collectively comprise over one million hectares of Australiaźs land surface. Finally, this study will point out future directions in relation to sustainable land use and to the preservation of cultural heritage.

In Australia, the Army recognises the importance of its cultural heritage and accepts that it also has a responsibility as a land manager to protect prehistoric and historic sites. For the Holsworthy Training Area, south west of Sydney, it could be shown that there are numerous Aboriginal or prehistoric sites in the vicinity and that some of these sites were present on thečlargely unsurveyedčtraining area. Given the extant neighbouring land uses, the training area was identified as being a safe haven for cultural heritage sites since public access is prohibited onto Army training areas and impacts from Army activities on the landscape are strictly controlled. Thus there exists a potential for all Army training areas to contain previously undisturbed Aboriginal sites and sites of cultural importance to Europeans and other immigrants as well as the Military.

While the available data concerning cultural heritage sites was limited in detail, the results of the assessment are that Army training areas represent islands on which significant cultural heritage sites are located. This makes Army training areas an important component of any future national protected area or heritage landscape system.