Our world-famous atmospheric gas monitoring station is now known by the dual name of Kennaook/Cape Grim. This recognises the Aboriginal heritage of the land on which it stands.

Long before Matthew Flinders named the region Cape Grim in 1798, the Peerapper people knew the area of Kennaook (pronounced ken nah ook). A place of plentiful seafood and mutton birds.

Now, the rocky, steep outcrop on the northeast tip of Tasmania recognises this Aboriginal heritage with the dual name of Kennaook/Cape Grim.

Kennaook/Cape Grim

Dianne Baldock, now a member of the Aboriginal Dual Naming Reference Group, led the process to research and determine the name with members from the local Circular Head Aboriginal community.

“It was the first time we were able to track through history using primary sources of Aboriginal language to recover the name Kennaook,” Diane said.

“While it is common for lot of sites to have more than one name in Aboriginal language, we found Kennaook the most frequently used.“

And when Diane visits the area, she is able to feel that connection with her ancestors’ land.

“I’m grateful to be there and tell the story of the place,” she said.

Under its Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy, the Tasmanian Government has been re-naming areas with significance to Tasmania’s Aboriginal history.

Each year more places are taking on names arising from Aboriginal language and history.

Taking advice from Tasmanian Aboriginal people and experts in Aboriginal languages, we gave the name Kennaook to the area.

So from now on, our research station and the data we collect there will reflect the name Kennaook/Cape Grim.

The Kennaook / Cape Grim station in Tasmania.
The Kennaook / Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station in Tasmania.

Cleanest air in the world

Due to its location, Kennaook/Cape Grim is often praised for having the cleanest air in the world. It is this clean air environment that led the Australian Government to establish an air monitoring station in the 1970s.

The Kennaook/Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station (KCG BAPS) plays a crucial role in global efforts to accurately monitor gases in the atmosphere. It is one of three baseline air pollution stations in the World Meteorological Organization-Global Atmosphere Watch (WMO-GAW) network. Baseline stations provide crucial points of reference for the larger network of atmospheric gas observatories around the world.

KCG BAPS provides continuous measurement of atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. It uniquely monitors the air transported by the westerly winds from the vast Southern Ocean. As a result, this air is representative of the global atmosphere, unaffected by local pollution.

This valuable data allows scientists from around the world to calculate emissions of harmful substances locally and globally.

Fifty years of observations

KCG BPS is the joint responsibility of us and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The BoM funds and operates the station. We are responsible for ensuring quality data and analysis.

This year the site reached a landmark of 50 years of continuous monitoring data. The program collected its first air samples in March 1972. At this time CO2 concentration was recorded at 326 parts per million molar (ppm). Since then, baseline measurements have risen by nearly 30 per cent.

We release the data from KCG BPS publicly each month. Follow us on Twitter to see the monthly updates or visit our website.


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