Understanding a Contested Heritage Place

28th May 2015

Anna Weisse

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, June 2014

Contestation of culturally significant places is a phenomenon regularly encountered in heritage management today. Takky Wooroo (Indian Head) on World Heritage listed K’gari (Fraser Island) is no exception. In this thesis I use a multivocal methodology, situated within the constructivist paradigm of Indigenous archaeology, to evaluate the evidence for cultural and historical significance at Takky Wooroo.

I review the historical evidence for a massacre some believe occurred at this location; oral history from Traditional Owners regarding the use of the place in pre-contact and post-contact times; perceptions of the place held by tourists and other visitors to the headland; and the management strategies for the place as presented by a range of managers and other experts. Themes of memorialisation and association are explored and, in the absence of tangible ‘scientific’ evidence to link Takky Wooroo with its past uses, the inclusion of intangible understandings, such as Indigenous Knowledge, are paramount in assigning significance. In particular, memorialisation and association allow the historically documented massacre event to be linked with Takky Wooroo, in a manner that is not possible through material culture.

The current management strategies suggested for the place are reviewed, and alternative options for management are identified based on the significance of the place arising from the historical and cultural values assigned by key stakeholders. I conclude that a compromise management strategy to allow visitors halfway up the headland be implemented, allowing the uppermost lookout to remain protected into the future as a permanent memorial to past events.

Weisse, A.
Understanding a Contested Heritage Place
June 2015
Thesis Abstracts
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