Rock painting is the oldest form of Aboriginal
that is preserved. This is because rock is so durable – bark paintings
and other forms of art from thousands of years ago would not have been
preserved until today.
This is also the reason why we often find rock
art in caves – even from rock surfaces that were exposed to the weather
they have been washed away.
rock paintings by Fluoride (sasablog) via Flickr.com
The Oldest Continuous Tradition of Art in the World
Australia's Aboriginal rock art can be as old as 60,000 years. This is
not the oldest rock art in the world, but
it is the world’s oldest continuous tradition of art. Many of the
are so old that it
is not really known how old they
are. It is also difficult to interpret the old ones, or work out what
they were made for. We can only guess. Most of them seem to be about religious
ceremonies or ancestral beings. Some also
seem to be made just for fun – like hand and boomerang
The Oldest Examples of Aboriginal Rock Painting
Because humans first came to the northern parts of Australia, the rock
paintings in northern Australia (such as Cape
and Arnhem Land in Northern Territory,
and Kimberley region in Western Australia) tend to be older than those
southern parts of the country. Some of the oldest examples are in the
Pilbara and Kimberley
regions in Western Australia, and also the Olary region in South
Australia. These are thought to be at least
40,000 – 50,000 years old.
Where to See Some Good Examples of Aboriginal Rock
There are examples on indigenous rock art everywhere in Australia.
Even if you only visit a big city, you would find some art examples in
some nearby national parks. There are, however, some places in
Australia that are more famous than others, obviously because they
contain some of the best examples. These places are mostly in northern
and central parts of Queensland,
Territory and Western
Aboriginal Rock Painting in Northern Territory and
There are many excellent examples of rock art in the northern parts of
the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia. In Northern
Territory, the most famous places are Kakadu, Uluru
national parks. But there are also some
very good examples in Keep River National Park, Nitmiluk
National park (Katherine Gorge), and
places around Katherine, Borroloola and Kunmunyini Springs.
Aboriginal Rock Painting in Queensland
The two most famous places in Queensland are Carnarvon
National Park and Cape York Peninsula. In Carnarvon
there are many stencils of hands, boomerangs, coolamons, shields and
clubs, but there are also some examples on painted figures. There are
many of them along the Carnarvon Gorge and they are excellent. In Cape
there are many aboriginal rock art shelters around Laura.
all of them are accessible, but Guguyanlangi and Split Rock are. There
are many paintings of animals, like reptiles and birds. These sites
are very old, believed to be about 13,000 years old so newer and older
paintings are often mixed in different layers. There are other places
further north on the Cape
York Peninsula, however the ones around Laura
are some of the oldest and easiest to access.
Got your own story to tell?
We all love to read other readers' stories!
You will create YOUR own page on Gondwananet!
Make it nice - you can also submit a photo to your page ;-)
This site uses
British English, which is the English we use in Australia. You will
find words like "traveller", "harbour" and "realise", and they are all
correct in the language used in Australia.
best efforts have been made to ensure
that all the information on this site is correct,
gondwananet.com is not to be blamed should there be a mistake.
All contents of this website are strictly protected
by the Law of Copyright. What
does that mean?