How was the Kimberley rock art made?
Rock art is made by:
- applying paint to rock, especially rock shelters where people lived and conducted ceremonies
- engraving or cutting into the rock
- applying blobs of beeswax and spinifex resin to rock to make images and patterns
- making marks on the stone.
People also arranged stones in the landscape to make symbolic ‘stone arrangements’. People even scraped burnt earth to make images.
Why has it lasted so long?
Kimberley rock art is mostly painted with different kinds of ochre that bond incredibly well with the sandstone, lasting hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of years. Human vandalism is limited because of the remoteness of most sites. Indigenous Rangers work hard on ‘Healthy Country’ plans in collaboration with archaeologists to ensure rock art sites are well managed.
How many rock art sites are there?
No one knows exactly how many sites there are. Several thousand sites have already been recorded, but it is estimated that there are tens of thousands more, mostly in rock shelters but also on flat rock expanses, on large boulders – anywhere there is a substantial body of rock.
What does Kimberley rock art mean to Aboriginal People?
The sites of rock art are very important to Aboriginal People in the Kimberley because they are records made by their direct ancestors. Many of the sites are considered sacred because of the ceremonies that have been carried out in those places.
How traditional owners interact with the rock art varies from site to site and community to community. It is sometimes difficult for traditional owners to get to the sites of rock art that are in very remote regions.