The State Government has reached agreement for Dirk Hartog Island in the World Heritage Listed Shark Bay region to become a national park.
In a joint announcement, Planning Minister Graham Kierath and Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said the long-term owners of the island had agreed to its transfer to the Conservation Commission.
The Wardle family has held a pastoral lease over the island for more than 25 years and also holds freehold title over about 100ha of the island.
Now an agreement has been reached, a management plan for the future conservation of the island is being drawn up in consultation with the Wardle family.
This will involve removing livestock, future tourism leases and island management and involve consultation with the region’s Aboriginal people in line with the Native Title Act.
Mr Kierath said negotiations had involved buying out the lease and reducing the family’s overall freehold ownership through a process of consolidating areas by offering other land parcels in exchange.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for the State to secure an important historical and environmental area and ensure its protection for future generations,” he said.
Mrs Edwardes said making the island a national park would help preserve an important part of the State’s natural assets.
“The island has major conservation values, especially as a nesting ground for marine turtles,” she said.
“It provides an outstanding opportunity to re-establish the original native fauna following de-stock and the removal of feral goats and subject to the successful eradication of feral cats.
“This will add to the success of the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s Project Eden wildlife recovery initiative that already has restored several species of native animals into the Shark Bay area.”
Mr Kierath said the inclusion of the 61,500ha island in the formal conservation reserve system would also help recognise the important historical aspects of the island.
“Dirk Hartog Island is the first known point of contact Europeans had with Australia which gives it national cultural and heritage value,” he said.
“Awarding the island the protection of a national park will only help reaffirm the importance of the area to Western Australians in particular.”
The island is named after the Dutch explorer who recorded his landing on the island on October 25, 1616. In 1697, Willem de Vlamingh landed on the island and discovered the pewter plate Hartog had nailed to a post.
Around 100 years later several French explorers visited the island. Evidence of French exploration was uncovered recently when an archaeological expedition found two 18th century French coins.
Zac Donovan (08) 9213 6400
Steve Manchee on 9421 7777