Exploring Aboriginal Rock Art at Kakadu

Exploring Aboriginal Rock Art at Kakadu

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/04/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

The ancient land of Kakadu brings thousands of years of history to the modern day with its natural scenery and eclectic collection of centuries-old rock art.

It is one of the most impressive places to see rock art in Australia, and the artwork has helped it become a World Heritage site. Some paintings date back 20,000 years, providing one of the longest historical records in the world.

The most prominent galleries where you can see rock art are at Ubirr, Nourlangie, and Nanguluwur. At these spots, there are plenty of pieces to discover and explore. They will take you back in time and give you an insight into how the local indigenous people have lived for thousands of years.

Though these three sites are the most popular, there are thought to be around 5,000 Aboriginal sites in Kakadu. From shelters complete with stone tools, grindstones, to ceremonial ochre. Cultural sites are significant areas that visitors must respect.

What Rock Art Can You See at Kakadu?

The rock shelters around Kakadu provided homes for hundreds of Aboriginal families throughout history. Today, you can see etchings of their lives on the walls. Expect to see drawings of the fish and animals that the tribes hunted. Look for Barramundi, catfish, mullet, turtles, possums, and wallabies, as well as the now extinct thylacine.

There’s also plenty of unique X-ray art on show, where you can see animal bones and organs in paintings. Elsewhere, you can examine works that show contact with the first buffalo hunters in the 1880s. Also look for paintings of the well-known Namarrgarn Sisters. These two cunning spirits are believed to live in the stars and make people sick.

Explore further, and you’ll discover a picture of the Rainbow Serpent that dates back more than 23,000 years. It depicts the powerful “Boss Lady” known to the local Gagudju tribe as Garranga’rrelito.

Kakadu is a haven of history, bringing together centuries upon centuries of local Aboriginal life all in one spot. As you wander around the breath-taking scenery, you’ll get to dig deeper and deeper into the fascinating past that imbues the region, learning more about the traditions of the local tribes, and discovering how life has evolved for them over the centuries.

Keep your eyes peeled for some of the major paintings that flank the sandstone walls of the region as you explore the various different ways of life that characterised the region over time.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.