The writing on the rock in Kakadu NP

August 19, 2012

One of the things that people (usually Australians, and usually in an argument as to why it’s so much more interesting to travel in Europe than in their own country) often note about Australia is that it’s so new. A young country. And with only just over 200 years of inhabitation (or occupation, depending how you look at it) by Europeans, compared to say, Britain’s zillion, it’s sort of true.

What many people don’t consider is the tens of thousands of years of history not recorded in books or newspapers or in the foundations of sandstone buildings but written on the land by the continent’s Indigenous population, long before the arrival of the First Fleet. Sadly, it was considered they weren’t quite using the land ‘properly’ and that, coupled with the fact that Aboriginal history is passed down orally, means that it is often forgotten.

Not so in Kakadu National Park.

Rock art site at Nourlangie in Kakadu NP. Canon 650d

Home to more than 5,000 sites featuring some of the oldest and best preserved Aboriginal rock art in Australia, these pictures written on rock with natural dyes tell Creation stories and reflect the changing landscape and changing times over thousands of years.

It’s not always easy to interpret the artwork – and often meaning is sacred or secret to a certain group.

For me, the paintings brought Aboriginal culture and history alive and to the forefront of my imagination for the very first time. 

Photographing Nourlangie rock art site with the Canon 650d

Disclaimer: My trip to the Northern Territory was supported by Tourism Northern Territory and Canon Australia. All views are my own. Images in this post were taken on either the nifty new Canon 650D or equally nifty Canon Powershot D20

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