Thursday, July 04, 2013

Aboriginal rock paintings

Us modern humans are the odd ones, with our aircraft crossing thousands of miles in a couple of hours, communicating with those on the other side of the planet as if they are next door.

Humanity has a deep time, going back tens of thousands of years, and most of our history was different, slower, for it is today that is the exception.

But you don't often get to experience those most ancient of days. One of the few chances is in those cultures that have kept a connection to that era, and the Aboriginals in Australia are one.

In the Grampians are rock shelters where you can see hand prints, animal tracks and stick figures, such as those above, and I was very keen to see them.

It was quite a long drive to the far north west of the national park, along authentic feeling dirt roads (below) to reach the Gulgurn Manja and Ngamadjidj shelters.
Light was fading, and at the second site I was the only person there. There is no permanent presence to keep watch, and for that reason they have a metal cage around them, which was a shame, though understandable.

But you can see the images clearly:
The text and guide book described their spiritual significance, but also of how the rocks would be meeting places, visible from the plains below:
It was that image that caught my imagination, of people coming there for various reasons, and meeting.

There'd be friends catching up, rivals eyeing each other up, lovers flirting, families visiting, sages watching for signs, navigators inspecting the landscape to connect mental maps, hunters looking for prey, warriors for enemies, people chatting and gossiping, children playing...

In other words all the things that we do today, all the things that make us human.

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