Cultural Heritage in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Region

The Partnership acknowledges the continuing land and sea country management of the Traditional Owner groups within the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region and Great Barrier Reef whose rich cultures, heritage values, enduring connections and shared efforts protect the land and Reef for future generations.

Cultural heritage surveys in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region are reported by the Partnership every three years, with the 2018 report card (released in 2019) showcasing the latest cultural heritage scores for the Region. The 2018 cultural heritage scores represented the second assessment of Indigenous cultural heritage indicators for the Region’s report card. Twenty-three sites were assessed across four zones, which included islands of the Whitsundays, St Helens, Cape Hillsborough and, for the first time, Cape Palmerston.

The 2018 report card assessment further developed, refined, streamlined and simplified the 2015 Indigenous cultural heritage indicators and scoring system. While the indicators remained the same, the 2018 assessment gave a more balanced and culturally appropriate picture, with greater emphasis on Traditional Owner values and perspectives.
Site types that were assessed include shell middens and scatters, rock shelters, paintings, engravings, stone artefacts, quarries, stone resources and fish traps.

You can view the Indigenous cultural heritage assessment here.

What’s Next?

Cultural heritage assessments were undertaken in October 2020. This assessment was the third conducted for our regional report card and will  be included in the 2021 Report Card. Over time, these scores can tell us the state of culturally important places in our region, as well as signal what areas need attention to maintain.

Photo credit: Converge

What are the most recent Cultural Heritage assessment scores?

The final report card score for the Indigenous cultural heritage assessment of the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region for the 2018 report card was a C. There was some improvement to scores for the St Helens zone in 2018, compared to the 2015 report card. However, this improvement was primarily due to changes to methods for assessing sites rather than improvements in physical condition. Future report cards were recommended to include Indigenous cultural heritage assessments of sites around the Mackay city region, where this assessment has not occurred to-date.

Table of scores.

St Helens


Whitsunday Islands


Cape Hillsborough


Cape Palmerston

Table measures.


This assessment was undertaken for the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, thanks to the collaboration of the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) which has representatives from families of the Yuwibara, Koinjmal/Koinmerburra, Barada/Widi, and Ngaro/Gia/Juru Traditional Owners of the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region, Reef Catchments (Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac) Limited and external associates Markwell and Associates.

For more information on the 2018 cultural heritage report, please get in touch.