Geoff Gallop

Geoff Gallop

Former Premier; Minister for Public Sector Management; Water Resources; Federal Affairs

Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Dirk Hartog Island to be protected for all Western Australians

    25/07/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government has begun a process to preserve and protect Dirk Hartog Island, in the World Heritage Listed Shark Bay region, by reserving it as a national park.

    The Government has signed an agreement with the island’s lessees that ends a 15-year negotiation to return the Island to the people of Western Australia.

    Premier Geoff Gallop said the creation of the national park would restore and preserve an important natural asset and reinforce the historical aspects of the island.

    “As the site of the first European landing in Australia, Dirk Hartog Island holds an important place in Australian history,” Dr Gallop said.

    “The region is also world renowned for its significant conservation values and the agreement with the island’s long-term pastoral lessees, the Wardle family, will allow these to be enhanced.”

    The State Government’s agreement with the Wardle family extinguishes the pastoral lease on the island.

    The family, which owns 40ha around the island homestead, has held the pastoral lease for the past 35 years.

    The Premier said that as compensation for the lease, the family had negotiated to buy three small parcels of land so limited, low-key eco-tourism accommodation facilities could be established in designated areas.

    “The 33.2ha of land includes two areas in Sunday Island Bay and one next to the family homestead,” he said.

    “To ensure the operation remains low-key, a number of conditions have been attached to the title of the land, and any activity will be subject to the appropriate approvals.

    “An additional small area of land (2.5ha), near Turtle Bay in the north of the island, will be leased to the family by the Shire of Shark Bay.”

    Environment Minister Judy Edwards said Dirk Hartog Island had long been identified as a conservation priority for the State.

    “The island has tremendous biodiversity conservation values with more than 250 native plant species, 84 species of birds and 27 species of reptiles,” Dr Edwards said.

    “Two birds and one reptile - the black and white fairy wren and southern emu wren and the western spiny skink - are found nowhere else.

    “Several acacias, hakeas and even a species of sandalwood also are endemic. The island also is a major nesting area for loggerhead turtles, with as many as 400 breeding on the north-eastern corner.

    “Many of the 15 native mammal species originally found on the island are now locally extinct but 11 of these species will be reintroduced after the Department of Conservation and Land Management undertakes a restoration program of the island’s vegetation and eradicates feral cats.”

    These mammals - most of them listed as threatened - included the chuditch, dibbler, long-tailed dunnart, western barred bandicoot, woylie and boodie.

    “The island will become a secure haven for threatened species and will enhance the overall values of the area that make Shark Bay worthy of World Heritage listing,” Dr Edwards said.

    Dirk Hartog Island is named after the Dutch explorer who landed at Cape Inscription in 1616 and left an inscribed pewter plate nailed to a post - evidence of the first European landing on Australian shores.

    Premier’s office - 9222 9475
    Minister’s office - 9220 5050