Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Maritime Heritage

The Northern Territory’s maritime heritage extends to all human activities connected to the sea and in some cases to inland waters and river systems. It includes places, buildings (such as custom houses), structures (such as lighthouses, jetties and wharfs) as well as shipwrecks, aircraft wrecks (in the sea), sites of maritime industry, objects, stories, archival records (about maritime matters) beliefs, meanings, artworks (maritime rock art) and numerous uses of the sea.

The Northern Territory has a rich, diverse and interesting maritime history which began with the arrival of Indigenous Australians some 60,000 years ago. It includes Australia’s first maritime industry, the ‘trepang trade’, introduced by the ‘ Macassans’ (the 18th and 19th century monsoon traders of Indonesia), who first visited our shores (c.1700-1907) before European occupation (1788) to collect marine products which were traded as far as China.

Maritime heritage is an important part of our identity. Other activities associated with the sea, other than trade include fishing, pearling, shipping, underwater communication cables, military campaigns (WWII), immigration, refugees (the American war in Vietnam) and tourism. All of these have helped shape our identity and locate us firmly in our region.

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