We have been discussing the destruction of national parks and artistic works. However, the acts of vandalism in Tasmania this week are truly shocking after someone gratuitously destroyed 8,000-year-old Aboriginal artworks.
Tasmania’s Nirmena Nala rock shelter has some of the most famous preserved stenciled handprints made by the ancestors of Australia’s aboriginal people in an upper region of the Australian island’s Derwent Valley. They have been there for thousands of years and have drawn thousands to the area to see the handprints. However, someone decided to scratch out the images and deface the rock.
The images were made by the Big River people, also known as the teen toomele menennye and this is considered a sacred site for aboriginal people.
The problem is Tasmania is a familiar one discussed on this blog: out-dated laws with little punishment. The Aboriginal Relics Act 1875 says that people found guilty of destroying Aboriginal heritage sites can face either a $1,104 fine (USD) or six months in prison.
A maximum of sentence of just six months is set by the law . . . for maliciously destroying markings that has been preserved for thousands of years. It would be laughable if it were not so sad for the culture and people of Tasmania.