Learn about the Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr

Learn about the Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 03/10/2023

Reading time: 3 mins

Ubirr has a range of different rock art that are thousands of years old.

The Ubirr rock art has been painted and repainted since 30,000 BCE or even earlier! Most of the paintings are about 2000 years old. But over the years, the colour of the paintings has disappeared, aside from mainly red and orange. This is due to the iron oxide (haematite) pigment that lasted longer compared to other pigments used for paintings.

At Ubirr, there are five different sites/art galleries you can visit to see rock art. The five sites are Rainbow Serpent, Mabuyu, Main Art Gallery, Crosshatching Gallery, and Namarrkan Sisters.

Tasmanian tiger

Near the Main Art Gallery lies a red painting of the Tasmanian tiger. The Tasmanian tiger apparently went extinct on the mainland over 2000 years ago, displaying just how old this painting is.

Long neck turtle

There is an orange and red rock art of a long neck turtle at the Main Art Gallery. Long neck turtles were one of the animals that Aboriginal people would hunt for food. The long neck turtle was painted to pay respect for giving their lives.

There are many other animals painted at Ubirr like fish, kangaroos, and goannas.

Namarrkon

Namarrkon was the cause of the lightning storms that would happen in the area every year. The art shows a band that Namarrkon is holding representing the lightning he’d make.

Mimi spirits

Mimi spirits painted some of the art pieces that were in odd places. Typically, these places were higher up where Aboriginals wouldn’t be able to reach. Mimi spirits were tall and thin figures that would move rocks up high to paint on it before placing the rock back.

How can I see the rock art at Ubirr?

Ubirr circular track

There is a one kilometre circular track around Ubirr that takes you to all of the art gallery sites. It should take about an hour to walk around the track and view the rock art.

There is also a lookout point you can add on the walk. If you want to go to the Nadab Lookout, allow an extra half an hour on the walk.

Tour

When you book a tour, your tour guide will tell you about the history of Ubirr and some of the rock art. We highly recommend booking a tour so you can get a better insight into these ancient rock arts.

Tours will also take you around to other parts of Kakadu!

Ranger-guided walks

Like the tour, there are guided walks around Ubirr. Another great option is to get a better insight into Ubirr and rock art.

To see the Ubirr rock art, you’ll have to buy an entry fee into Kakadu National Park. After you’ve bought your ticket, it’s free to view the incredible ancient rock art.

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.