What are some fun facts about Ubirr rock?

What are some fun facts about Ubirr rock?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 03/08/2023

Reading time: 3 mins

Ubirr rock has some of the oldest rock art and is one of the most popular locations in Kakadu.

Credit: Tourism NT

Ubirr has a collection of different art styles, and all the art pieces have stories behind them. Most of these art pieces have been here for thousands of years. The art pieces typically feature people and animals. The art rock you see at Ubirr is really some of the best in the world.
So, let’s get into some facts about Ubirr!

Aboriginal people have lived around Ubirr for over 20,000 years!

Over 20,000 years ago, the Gaagudju people lived in Ubirr. Now the Bunitj, Manilagarr, and Mandjurlgunj people are the neighbouring clans around Ubirr who are looking after the area.

Aboriginal people would make their own paint

Bininj and Mungguy’s ancestors would make the paint for the rock art themselves. They would do this by crushing pigments on a store palette before mixing it with a bit of water to create a paste. They even made the brushes themselves by using hair, feathers, reeds, and sticks. Most of the paintings you see now are mainly red, and this is because the haematite (iron oxide) lasted compared to other pigments.

Check out the five different art sites

There are five different art sites or galleries at Ubirr that you can see. The five sites are Rainbow Serpent, Mabuyu, Main Art Gallery, Crosshatching Gallery, and Namarrkan Sisters. Some of these sites and art could only be painted by those who had the right knowledge. Such as those who had the holder of magic knowledge could paint any sorcery paintings.

All the different paintings you can see across the sites

There is a range of different paintings you can view at the different sites. One of the most fascinating is the Tasmanian tiger! There are also other animals like long neck turtles, kangaroos, and fish. You can also see paintings of Aboriginal people. These paintings would teach people rules through a story. There’s one painting of Mabuyu where traditional owners would tell others to not steal.

Mimi spirits

Aboriginal people think Mimi spirits painted some of the art pieces that were in odd places. Typically, these paintings are higher up. Mimi spirits would bring the rock down to paint on them before placing them back again.

Walk one of the walking tracks

Take the one kilometre walking circuit track which takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete. On this walk, you’ll see the Rainbow Serpent site. Or do the Nadab Lookout and shorter walking tracks to see more of the sites. Check online before you go to see if the walking tracks are opened or closed.

Do a cruise to Ubirr

During the wet season, the road to get to Ubirr can get flooded. But luckily with the cruise, you’re able to still get to Ubirr to check out the rock art. Not a lot of people do this cruise either!

When you’re in the Kakadu area and want to see Ubirr rock, make sure you join a ranger guided tour! You’ll learn more about the history and hear some stories of the area and Ubirr.


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.

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