April 13: Rock Art activity

A good turn-out on a cool autumn to walk into the wilds and try to find some rock shelters with Aboriginal art. Despite getting lost on the way in … purely because the old fire line from 30 years ago, that somebody said you could drive a Corolla along, was now completely overgrown … we found ourselves together again and we met up at one of the sites. Crowded around a small overhang where nobody could see anything, a bearded bloke said we were looking at Aboriginal rock art. Where? …but when we looked, sure enough there were a few red marks….Yes, and possibly even stick figures. Hard to see but, although it looked as if some of them could fall off any minute, we were assured it had been like that for that same 30 years. Stained into the rock, it had been there for nobody knows how long, but the bearded guy said maybe 1000 years or more. We were then shown an even fainter figure: but again, when it was pointed out the kids could see it…not sure about the ‘oldies’ so the bearded guy said he had a magic computer programme that could make it lovely and clear (see drawing 1).drawing 1


After this we headed downhill to another site that had a lot of red drawings. Thought it was graffiti, but again, we were told it was Aboriginal drawing, and that the Grampians had three phases of art: red paintings, drawings in red ochre and black charcoal, followed most recently by white paintings. Grids like this one (below) are common drawings in the Grampians.



drawing 2

We were told about how even touching the wall can damage it, and that the floor had to be walked over carefully as it might one day be excavated. We saw a few quartz chips in the wash area in front of the shelter and learnt they were the residue from tool making. The sands on the floor of the shelter might hold evidence of Aboriginal occupation. Similar floors at Billimina dated back 10,000 years, while those at the smaller Drual shelter were around 22,000 years old. Aboriginal people have been using the Grampians for a very, very long time.

Next, we wandered down to the creek where there were some waterholes; there was a common association between art sites and water reserves. At this point the group split up and some went off to try and climb the cliff to look for more sites on the back slope. The others wandered back to the car as best they could, given that our leader had gone on with the advance party. Anyway, the climbers had no luck breeching the cliff so looking for more sites will have to await another day. Lunch at the picnic area then we wended out way back home.