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About our Heritage

Our heritage is the places, objects and stories that we as a community have inherited from the past and want to protect for future generations.

Our heritage gives us a sense of living history and provides links to the way of life of earlier generations. It enriches our lives and helps us to understand who we are today.

NSW's heritage is diverse. It includes tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal cultural heritage and landscapes, as well as hundreds of years of historic buildings, objects, monuments, gardens, archaeological sites, shipwrecks, relics, bridges, streetscapes, industrial structures and conservation precincts.

Heritage NSW works to protect our heritage which is protected by the Heritage Act 1977 and the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Broadly, our heritage can be grouped under the following categories.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Aboriginal cultural heritage is any place or object that is of significance to Aboriginal people. Visit our Aboriginal cultural heritage pages for more insight into the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage across NSW.

Environmental Heritage

Environmental heritage is defined in the Heritage Act 1977 as those places, buildings, works, relics (including those recovered through archaeology), moveable objects and precincts that are of heritage significance. Environmental heritage can represent a community’s social heritage and its cultural development over time.

Intangible Heritage or 'Living Heritage'

Intangible heritage means the traditions inherited from our ancestors that are not tied to a physical place but are carried within a person or are perpetuated by a community. They include social practices, festivities, stories, language, costume, food, dance, performing arts and the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Maritime Heritage

Maritime heritage means all the valuable historic, cultural and archaeological resources to be found along our coastlines and in our lakes and river systems. Studying our maritime heritage can show us how we’ve interacted with various water sources for tens of thousands of years.

Natural Heritage

Natural heritage means items consisting of physical and biological formations – e.g. wilderness, sites of geological value, waterways, plant and animal life – that bring a natural significance to our ecosystems, biodiversity and geodiversity. Natural significance might be an item’s scientific, social, aesthetic or life-support value.