Today was our day for Kakadu rock art; we visited three of the five sites that are accessible to the public. There are reported to be over 5000 known sites through Kakadu, the oldest being more than 20,000 years old. The ones we visited are all on the Arnhem Land escarpment or what the local indigenous people know as the stone country. In the past, this is where they would have moved to during the wet, as a refuge from the thunderstorms and flooding.
Nourlangie Rock is home to the best known rock art. At the Anbangbang Gallery here, a ranger explained some of the creation stories that had been painted on the rocks. One story is about Namondjok who broke traditional kinship law by having a relationship with one of his clan sisters, and as punishment was turned into a crocodile. Another character is Namarrgon, the lightening man who is shown here surrounded by an arc of lightening. Both are in the bottom right picture.
Above Nourlangie Rock is Gunwarddehwarde Lookout, which has great views across the Arnhem Land escarpment, Lightening Dreaming the home of Namarrgon (lightening man) and of feather rock, which the clan sister in the story mentioned previously turned into. This rock can be seen from a long way away and serves to remind all people to abide by the traditional laws.
Next stop Nunguluwur Gallery, this is in a similar area but because of the 3½km walk is not visited as much. The art here was more varied, including the x-ray style, and what is described as contact art ie it shows depictions of white man or things associated with them. Here there is a sailing ship complete with dinghy and anchor, and there are hands with what is believed to be lace gloves on.
Afterwards we went to visit the Bowali Visitors Centre near Jabiru. This had loads of information on the ecology of Kakadu from both conservation and cultural perspectives. We also found out that Jim Jim and Twin Falls are closed at the moment at the request of the Aboriginal elders because of ‘an incident a while ago’. When we discovered this incident was the death of a 42-year-old Victorian man a few days earlier, we quickly sent off messages to our families to assure them it was not Tom.
Last stop of the day was Ubirr, there was a lot of rock art here as well but what was best about this place were the views. It is a rocky outcrop of the Arnhem Land escarpment and you had almost 360°
The one over the Nardab floodplains were particularly spectacular especially at sunset. Unfortunately, we had to share it with heaps of other people including a school group who did not shut up and were constantly updating their facebook or instagram, and telling everyone about it.