Saturday, June 11, 2011


Travelling into Kakadu National Park, our first stop was at Ubirr in the northeast of the park.  This site is near the East Alligator River (misnamed by early explorers who mistook the large saltwater crocodiles for American Alligators).  The river separates Kakadu from Arnhem Land, an Aboriginal region that has had minimal influence from outsiders.

Long-necked Turtle
Ubirr (pronounced 'oo-beeerr'), is an important area for Aboriginal rock art.  Archeologists believe Aborigines have been present in Australia for at least 40,000 years.  The Ubirr region has numerous rock cliffs and caves where Aborigines would take shelter.  Thus, it became a convenient area for rock art to be created and also protected from the elements.

Aboriginal rock art often depicts nearby food sources, as well as historical stories and laws from their culture.  They used various ochres (pigmented clays), animal blood, and charcoal to create their art.  Often, different artistic depictions are layered on top of earlier pieces.

A goanna on top of a barramundi

Tasmanian Tiger - extinct on the mainland 2000-3000 years ago
The rock art around Kakadu and Arnhem Land was often performed in a cross-hatching or x-ray style.  The latter style often shows the viscera and organs of the various animals that were depicted.

The skill and choice of subjects are a fascinating window into ancient Aboriginal culture.  We finished the day by climbing the escarpment to view a perfect Australian sunset over the Kakadu wetlands.

Km today: 501
Total travelled: 7192

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