Sacred sites

Aboriginal sacred sites are places that have special significance for Aboriginal people and their traditions. Often they are features of the landscape. They may be rocks, reefs, trees, hills, waterholes or rivers.

Roper River

A sacred site may be as small as a rock or as large as a mountain range.

Often sacred sites are connected with Dreaming (creation) stories and may have significance to several tribal groups, they can also be ceremonial grounds, rock art galleries or pigment deposits used for cultural practices.

The living culture of Aboriginal Australians is intrinsically linked with their sacred sites.  The protection of sacred sites ensures the well-being of country and the wider community. While local custodians are traditionally responsible for their protection, Australian law also provides for their safeguarding.

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act defines a sacred site as any site that is sacred to Aboriginals or is otherwise of significance according to Aboriginal tradition, and includes any land that, under a law of the Northern Territory, is declared to be sacred to Aboriginals or of significance according to Aboriginal tradition.

Through the Northern Territory Sacred Sites Act, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority was established as an independent statutory body responsible for overseeing and protecting Aboriginal sacred sites across the NT.