Visit the Ubirr Rock Gallery

Don’t miss one of Kakadu’s most famous rock art galleries, the Ubirr Rock Art Gallery.

Kakadu National Park is alive with cultural significance and Indigenous history. Ubirr is one of the most famous, and popular, sites showcasing Aboriginal history. This impressive rock formation is home to an extensive collection of rock art.

Following a 1km circular walking track, you’ll visit the gallery sites. Here you can see centuries-old rock-art paintings in a variety of art styles. You’ll also get to see how many of the newer paintings have been superimposed over older ones.

The art

The paintings at Ubirr tell the stories of local law and behaviours. At the Mabuyu, Namarrgarn Sisters and Rainbow Serpent painting sites, there are information boards, detailing their meaning. It is believed that Garranga’rreli, the Rainbow Serpent, travelled through Ubirr in her human form, and painted an image of herself on the rock to remind people of her presence in the area.

The Main Gallery features mainly x-ray style paintings. They depict the abundance of food available around Ubirr at the time of their painting and are believed to 1500 years old. You can see paintings of fish, mussels, goanna, and echidna amongst others.

Additionally, the Main Gallery holds early contact art, art depicting the first contact Aboriginal people had with invading Europeans. There is a particularly famous painting of a ‘white fella’ in boots and with his hands in his trouser pockets, likely painted in the 1880’s.

Close to the main gallery a painting of a thylacine can also be found, it is estimated the animal went extinct on the Australian mainland between 2000 and 3000 years ago.

Leaving the main track, make the 500m journey up to the Ubirr lookout. Along the way, you will find the Namarrgarn Sisters and the Crosshatching gallery where you can see different styles of painting.

Protecting the art

Conserving the art at Ubirr is incredibly important to the local Aboriginal peoples and is an important scientific record of human occupation of Kakadu. There are many natural causes for erosion of rock art and aids have been put in place to prevent damage.

Handrails and boardwalks prevent people and animals from rubbing against the rocks as this may wear away at the rock. Additionally, they prevent dust being stirred up by visitors and covering the work.

Rangers have also added silicone drips around the edges of many paintings. This prevents water flowing down the rock from running over the painting and reduces mould growing over the rock where paintings are.

Today, the art at Ubirr is protected by neighbouring clans, the Bunitj, Manilagarr, and Mandjurlgunj people, to ensure the art and its stories are protected. With the processes they have put in place to protect the art it is hoped that it will be preserved for generations to come.

The Ubirr Rock Art Gallery is a stunning example of human occupation in Kakadu National park. Easily accessed by road most of the year, leave yourself at least an hour and a half to fully enjoy the art circuit walk and nearby Ubirr lookout. These incredible works of art will enhance every Kakadu National Park trip.

Join our 5 Day Kakadu Tour today and discover Kakadu for yourself!

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