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Wong-goo-tt-oo elder sings about the spiritual and cultural importance of the Burrup rock art

Tim and Wilfred were preparing to return home, filmmaker Ellie Gilbert was able to video Tim Douglas singing again at the Canberra Airport - Also available on Vimeo

In June 2013, Wong-goo-tt-oo elder Tim Douglas and his spokesperson elder Wilfred Hicks traveled from Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to Canberra to meet with the then Labor Environment Minister, Tony Burke.

The elders asked the Minister to nominate the Dampier Archipelago ("Burrup") rock art to UNESCO's Tentative World Heritage List. World Heritage List protection for the estimated one million rock engravings, which include sacred works believed to be up to 35,000 years old, was recommended in 2012 by the Australian Heritage Council.

In the meeting with Minister Burke, Elder Tim Douglas emphasised the spiritual and cultural importance of the rock art by singing to the Minister in Yinjibarndi language. The Archipelago is not Yinjibarndi Country, and elder Tim Douglas was constrained from singing secret-sacred songs to non-initiates. Hence his choice of a song from another, neighbouring language.

Two days later, at Canberra airport, as Tim and Wilfred were preparing to return home, filmmaker Ellie Gilbert was able to video Tim Douglas singing again.

Tim Douglas and Wilfred Hicks are cousin brothers - their mothers are sisters. Tim a senior Law Man, responsible for the passing on of Law and Culture. Under his brother Wilfred Hick's leadership, a strong campaign for Burrup World Heritage has been maintained for over 15 years.

Minister Burke said he would nominate the Burrup to UNESCO. Six days later he was transferred to another Ministry, and a federal election was called shortly thereafter. The Stand Up for the Burrup campaign, directed by elder Wilfred Hicks, continues to demand World Heritage protection for this sacred site - which is acknowledged internationally to be the world's largest pre-Ice Age rock art site

'Stand up for Burrup' at Australian National University with Tim Douglas and Wilfred Hicks seated behind the 'Aboriginal' Flag. - Also available on Vimeo