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My Life in The Australian Outback – Rock Art

“Rock Art in Australia rocks to an ancient beat…”

I heard from a number of you who enjoyed the Native Australian rock art I’d mentioned in my blog a few months ago, so I’m expanding on the topic.

One of my great pleasures of living in Australia was the rock art at places like the Kimberley in Western Australia. So let’s find “gunbim” to admire! That’s the local Aboriginal word for rock art.

The Kimberley area has paleolithic art estimated to be at least 40,000 years old. And some paintings looked so fresh, I thought I’d stumbled into a studio where the artist had stepped away momentarily to clean his brushes.

The Kimberley felt like a living museum. And I felt as if I were walking on sacred ground. Though I did not know

it at that time, the Native Australian community there is considered the oldest continuous culture in the world, estimated to be at least 40,000 years old! That’s as hard to put my head around as the vastness of our universe. I truly was walking on sacred ground!

The Wadjina petroglyphs (right) depict rain-maker gods. Painted more recently, they date to about 5,000 years ago – roughly the same period as the Sphinx in Egypt*. The rain-maker deities hold special significance and can only be painted by people belonging to certain local tribes. When I saw them for the first time, they reminded me of the Mexican Day of the Dead figures that also carry religious connotations.

Astounding as the art is, the whole experience of the Kimberley is incredibly special. It kindled my interest in paleolithic art and I have gone on to explore the cave art in northern Spain and southern France. In the US, we have gorgeous petroglyphs from our early Native Americans. In every corner of the world, archaeologists are discovering the true age of paleolithic art, showing us the importance of artwork through the millennia. Ever since humanoids first started walking upright, art has been an important form of human expression.

Do you have an interest in paleolithic art and petroglyphs?


Next installment: More Adventures at the Homestead

Visit me at I love hearing from readers. Ask a question, suggest an idea, or comment about this blog or a previous one. (All blogs are on my website.)

This series of My Life in the Outback is based on recollections of my life in Australia many years ago. My own photographs of Australia are not only limited, but they are also old 35mm film in dismal condition. To make the series more appealing to the reader, I supplement with photographs that are similar to the experiences and locations I’ve described. I’m often dependent on pictures from the public domain and Creative Commons.

Note: Names of some people have been changed to protect their identity since this is not a memoir, but merely my recollections of Australia. The name of the cattle station where I lived was known as either St. Vidgeon’s or St. Vigeon. I use the first spelling in most cases, but on occasion, the second one comes in handy.

*Depending on which archaeologists you believe on the Spinx’s age, some now estimate it to be between 7,000 and 10,000 years old. The consensus is still around 5,000 years.

Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.

Gwion-Gwion Aboriginal Rock Art – Tourism Western Australia

Rain-Maker Deities – Wandjina Aboriginal Rock Art Kimberley – Tourism Western Australia

Figure – Wadjina – Aboriginal Rock Art Kimberley – Tourism Western Australia

My Life in Australia – Installment 16 of this blog is brought to you by Tortuga Publishing, LLC


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