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Oz convict sites listed

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9 August 2010

Federal Minister for Environment Protection and Heritage, Peter Garrett and Acting New South Wales Minister for the Arts, Linda Burney, welcomed the announcement by UNESCO that four sites in New South Wales have been included on the World Heritage List as part of a group of Australian convict sites.

The New South Wales sites that are part of the World Heritage listing of 11 Australian convict sites are:

Cockatoo Island - established as a prison for re-offenders in 1839, where more than 1,400 prisoners endured harsh conditions and built a barracks, a guardhouse and a large dry dock.

Hyde Park Barracks - standing in the central business district of Sydney. Designed by noted convict architect Francis Greenway, it was a self-contained dormitory building that housed an estimated 50,000 convicts between 1819 and 1848.

Old Great North Road near Wiseman’s Ferry - a 7.5 km portion of the original convict road, one of three ‘Great Roads’ that linked north Sydney with the Hunter Valley.

Old Government House and Domain on the Parramatta River - convict-built under several New South Wales Governors. The layout of the house and landscape reflect patterns of the penal colony’s administration as well as the lives of the convicts.

"Australia’s history of forced migration is preserved at sites such as these, where we can empathise with the sorrows, but also take pride in the convicts’ contribution to Australia’s development," Peter Garrett said.

"Australia’s convict sites are highly relevant to world history and heritage, despite our relatively recent recorded history.

"The forced penal migration that characterised so much of our early history is reflected in the pre-eminence of our convict sites and their worldwide relevance and interest."

Ms Burney credited community interest and involvement as playing a critical role in getting heritage sites listed.

"The benefits of heritage awareness are potentially massive. With a recent surge of interest in convict heritage, these listings are sure to benefit Sydney tourism, as many Australians seek to connect with convict ancestors," said Linda Burney.

The Ministers said the World Heritage nomination was a thorough process, and involved considerable cooperation and liaison between Federal, State and Territory Governments.

"UNESCO’s expert advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, examined and assessed all of our convict sites and considered them in the international context," said Peter Garrett.

"Australia successfully showed that including these sites on the World Heritage List holds relevance beyond our shores, and that they are relevant for the world."

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