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Mungo and the Willandra Lakes

The Willandra Lakes Region is an outstanding example of a major stage in the earth's evolutionary history and contains cultural heritage of great antiquity and unique value.

The lakes and their lunettes record the climatic, landscape and environmental history of Australia. They were fresh and overflowing lakes about 40,000 years ago, but became hyper arid dusty basins at the height of the last ice age 18,000 years ago. Mineralised skeletons of long extinct animals (megafauna) give insight to the ancient fauna of the region.

Archaeological materials record a unique, rare and ancient record of people's interaction with this changing landscape over many thousands of years. Burials, campsites, middens, quarries and knapping floors tell us about changing lifestyle, customs and subsistence of Aboriginal people over the last 40,000 years. The cremated remains of a woman - now known as Mungo Lady - dated to about 40,000 years, are the earliest known record of cremation in the world. Fireplaces dated from 28-31,000 years record changes in the earth's magnetic field.

The Willandra Lakes Region covers an area of 240,000 hectares in south west New South Wales. Within it, Joulni, 16,000 hectares, is owned by the three Traditional Tribal Groups; Mungo National Park covers a further 116,000 hectares (not all within the World Heritage Area), and the remainder is private leasehold grazing land.

For more information about the first Australian World Heritage sites:

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