16 October

Rock art in Kakadu

Home to Australia’s first peoples, the Kakadu National Park is a huge but amazing landscape that has evolved against a real rich cultural backdrop. The park is home to many World Heritage listed sites of rock art which date back waayyyyyy further than 20,000 years. These works of art stand as a visual reminder of the ancient cultures that once thrived in its place. The park offers guests a chance to experience three of the most popular rock art sites in the country. Each site is unique and definitely worth delving into whilst exploring this epic national park! RatPackers were gonna get a bit historical on you now…… just think, how much of a banter boy/gal will you feel when you blast out these facts with your pals when your exploring


Out of the three rock art sites, Ubirr is probably the most visited in Kakadu. Before you get to explore these sites make sure to give yourself enough time to wander around. Realistically you should allow about three hours or so to explore all three sites. The central gallery at Ubirr is underneath a massive rock extension. The art here in its x-ray style, where the skeletal frames of animals are portrayed, is an indicator, researchers feel of the abundant food sources available at the time. It is believed that paintings were made during the freshwater era, when wetlands took over saltwater schemes and introduced new food reserves. The main art work attraction is the Tasmanian Tiger painting which can be viewed in the same area as the main gallery. It’s believed the Tasmanian Tiger went extinct from the mainland around 3000 years ago aka AGES.


Nourlangie’s main gallery is situated towards the south of the Nourlangie rock, it can be found beneath the rock shelter referred to as Anbangbang. Australia’s first people used these shelters for roughly around 20,000 years. Some of the most compelling pieces of rock art figures in Kakadu can be found here. The paintings here in Nourlangie are more storied and explain sacred beliefs, values and reveal the cultural systems of the inhabitants who occupied these spaces in Kakadu. The drawings are also indicative of the moral views and conduct of Australia’s first settlers and a poignant reminder of the power of art to keep alive a history and culture that traces its origins way back 50,000 years ago.


In comparison to Ubirr and Nourlangie, Nanguluwurr is a much smaller rock art site. This site offers a wider scope of rock art forms, styles and from different periods. The major draw to this site is the example of Contact Art seen in the drawing of sailing ship, clearly defined by its mast, anchor and dinghy. It takes about 3km to get back to the starting point of your tour from Nanguluwurr. So if you are up for it and can handle the hike it’s definitely worth it.



Photo credit to Charlie Keep aka Ppocket Trailblazer

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