Western Australia secures rock art international congress for 2024

Aboriginal cave paintings in the Kimberley, Western Australia

Western Australia’s has been chosen as the host destination of the Congress of the International Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) and the 4th Australian Rock Art Research Association Congress (AURA) 2024.

Set to take place in mid-to-late 2024, the IFRAO and AURA Congress will attract over 1,000 experts in the field of rock art research to Western Australia, where they will convene over five days at The University of Western Australia (UWA). UWA is home to the world’s largest academic rock art research and management centre, and delegates will be venturing to Western Australia’s regions to study rock art sites for up to eight weeks.

Aboriginal cave paintings in the Kimberley, Western Australia

Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan said hosting the congress would promote global awareness of WA’s ancient rock art while enhancing the State’s Aboriginal tourism experiences which are currently being developed through the A$20 million (US$19.6 million) Jina: Western Australian Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan 2021-2025.

Of Australia’s 100,000 currently known rock art sites, the most significant examples exist in Western Australia, including the oldest rock art in the world in the Kimberley Region, where 60,000-year-old samples can be found, and the largest collection known to be in existence at Murujuga in WA’s Pilbara region.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation CEO Peter Jeffries said the rock art found at Murujuga, also known as the Burrup Peninsula, was among the most significant in Australia.

“There are estimated to be over one million individual engravings at Murujuga within a space of approximately 37,000 hectares, some of which are estimated to be as old as 50,000 years,” Jeffries said.

“This rich concentration of rock engravings and stone arrangements has led to Murujuga recently being added to the UNESCO World Heritage (Tentative) List in recognition of its cultural significance, and I welcome the delegates attending the IFRAO and AURA Congress to come and see this incredible cultural history in person in 2024.”

Western Australia is undertaking world-leading archaeological research into rock art that is supported through The University of Western Australia’s Centre for Rock Art Research and Management (CRAR+M) which focuses on Australian rock art and produces important research outcomes of international significance.

In collaboration with Rock Art Australia, the Western Australian Government, Traditional Owners and national and international universities, the Kimberley Visions project is led by CRAR+M to investigate some of the world’s most complex figurative rock art in the State’s north-west region.

Business Events Perth CEO Gareth Martin said that the congress alone was expected to generate upwards of A$4.8 million in direct delegate expenditure for Western Australia with associated field excursions generating further economic and social returns for regional areas around the State.

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