Aboriginal cultural heritage

Preserving and respecting past, present and future

Ensuring Aboriginal cultural heritage is recorded and managed is an important part of the development of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport (WSI).

Aboriginal Australians have one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world. Their rich history represents tens of thousands of years of traditions and connection to the land. The Australian Government recognises the cultural and social importance of preserving that heritage.

The Australian Government will continue to work closely with the Aboriginal community, in accordance with appropriate principles and protocols.

Over 70 heritage sites have been recorded at the airport site, all of which are considered to be culturally significant by the Aboriginal stakeholders consulted though the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS identifies ways to preserve the Aboriginal heritage value of the site. Some sites, such as a grinding groove and a scar tree, will be preserved entirely within the environmental conservation zone in the southeast of the airport site. Where heritage cannot be preserved in place, recording and artefact salvaging will take place. Furthermore, the site's cultural heritage will be commemorated in various ways at the airport site.

For more detailed information, see the Aboriginal cultural heritage factsheet and the Environmental Impact Statement.

Consultation and participation with Aboriginal stakeholders

The Western Sydney Airport Plan sets out the requirements for Aboriginal cultural heritage management and related plans that are being developed in consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders.

These include:

  • Condition 5 (1) of the Airport Plan, which states:

    If the Site Occupier proposes to commence the Aboriginal survey and salvage programmes described in Table 28–13 in Chapter 28 of the EIS before there is an approved Aboriginal Cultural Heritage CEMP, the Site Occupier must prepare a plan addressing those programmes and submit it for approval by an Approver before commencing the survey and salvage programmes.

In December 2017, the Initial Survey and Salvage Plan PDF: 2524 KB was prepared by Navin Officer Heritage Consultants. Aboriginal stakeholders have also been involved in early surveys and salvage of Aboriginal artefacts at the site.

  • Condition 11 (4) of the Airport Plan, which states:

    The Infrastructure Department must consult with relevant Aboriginal stakeholders and relevant government agencies with the aim of establishing, with the support and collaborative action of governments and other stakeholders, an Aboriginal cultural heritage ‘keeping place’ that would provide secure, above ground storage of artefacts and enable future access for cultural purposes, interpretation, education or research.

The consultation on an Aboriginal Keeping Place was led by Aboriginal consultants Murawin. As part of this process, Murawin held four forums with relevant Aboriginal and government stakeholders. Murawin has prepared a public summary report PDF: 1009 KB outlining the approach taken to consultation and the findings from the consultation process.


If you have any questions on the Aboriginal consultation and participation with Aboriginal stakeholders, email WSA.regulatorypolicy@infrastructure.gov.au or contact the project team.