Global General

Aussie convict sites add to UNESCO Heritage list

Updated: 2010-08-03 13:37
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CANBERRA -- An Australian convict landmarks on Tuesday was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of World Heritage sites, an endorsement that is believed to boost tourism and environmental protection.

Australian Environment Protection and Heritage Minister Peter Garrett welcomed the decision to inscribe 11 local convict sites on the list, which includes Old Government House, the Domain, Hyde Park Barracks, Cockatoo Island and Old Great North Road in New South Wales (NSW), Fremantle Prison in Western Australia, and Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island, according to Tuesday's report of The Australian.

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Tasmania's Port Arthur, Brickendon and Woolmers Estates, Darlington Probation Station, Coal Mines Historic Site and the Cascades Female Factory are also on the list.

However, Aboriginal activists have condemned the inclusion of convict-era monuments, saying no more "white Australian" sites should be added while the country's indigenous heritage is in danger of extinction.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which wrapped up its deliberations in Brazil on Tuesday after 10 days of work, awarded its approval to a few already well-visited attractions, such as Amsterdam of the Netherlands's canal belt and France's historic town of Albi.

But most of the sites -- for instance the Bikini Atoll where the US atomic bomb tests confirmed the nuclear era, or Sri Lanka 's highlands -- were further off the beaten path.

According to The Australian, there was a concerted effort during the UNESCO committee's meeting to redress a perceived bias towards Europe's well-documented cultural hotspots and recognize unique areas in developing countries hitherto overlooked.

"There is a sort of imbalance that means the cultural assets of Africa, Latin America and part of Asia are not as well represented (as European culture)," said Brazilian Culture Minister Juca Ferreira, who chaired the meeting.

As of late Monday, the committee had added 21 sites to the heritage list, expanding it to 911 entries considered unique on cultural or environmental merits.