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Aboriginal rock art

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Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:52 am

We went for a bush walk yesterday afternoon to discover some Aboriginal rock art. These are carved across an expansive rock plateau overlooking Woy Woy. The area is completely unsigned and not very easy to find.

Eel and shield.
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Man.
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Wallaby.
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Fish.
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These look suspiciously like rabbits.
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The view over Woy Woy.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby justjj » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:21 am

That's really interesting fsm; I can't make out the "rabbity" one .. but wonder about various bandicoots and such; even things now extinct ...

I can't help thinking how risky it is (vandalism) it being so close to settlement, but maybe because it is hard to find or maybe because people have learned how lucky they are to have such a treasure there, is keeping it safe.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:35 am

This is a closeup of the "rabbits".

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I don't think many people find this site. The track is very small and overgrown. There is another site just up the road that has a carpark, tourist signs and wooden walkways.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby justjj » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:39 am

Suddenly I wonder about rock art over where I am heading .. there is certainly all the right kinds of rock surfaces for it, but I haven't heard anyone speak of anything like it.

I'll check back later to have a good look at your more detailed photo; my connection isn't up to much today.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:15 pm

Can you rule out a bilby?
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby flying spaghetti monster » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:24 pm

It's a beautiful site, even without the carvings.
Yesterday I was sure that the rabbits were a conga line of bunnies, or possibly bilbies. After looking at my photos, I now think they might be people dancing.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:47 am

Maybe this is what they were trying to depict...

Image

hare
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:33 pm

Rabbits first arrived with the first fleet but hares didn't get here until the 1830's. Introduced into Australia as early as 1837. These early attempts to establish wild populations in Tasmania appear to have failed. The earliest known successful wild colony was located on the shores of Westernport Bay, Victoria in 1862. Colonies were also established on Philip Island and from there the hare spread to many other areas in Australia. So they possibly weren't visible in numerous enough numbers until the 1900's in NSW.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Helix » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:18 pm

roughbarked wrote:Rabbits first arrived with the first fleet but hares didn't get here until the 1830's. Introduced into Australia as early as 1837. These early attempts to establish wild populations in Tasmania appear to have failed. The earliest known successful wild colony was located on the shores of Westernport Bay, Victoria in 1862. Colonies were also established on Philip Island and from there the hare spread to many other areas in Australia. So they possibly weren't visible in numerous enough numbers until the 1900's in NSW.



Look like hares to me, fsm. The first time I looked at the pic, I thought the petroglyph on the far right might be a deer, which would pin it down to no older than the late 1800s. But what I thought were antlers were separate images. Foiled again.

You can read the rest of the bit quoted above at http://www.ssaa.org.au/stories/hunting- ... -hare.html
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:38 pm

They look more like hares than deer but either way the petroglyph would be relatively recent.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Teleost » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:23 pm

roughbarked wrote:Rabbits first arrived with the first fleet but hares didn't get here until the 1830's. Introduced into Australia as early as 1837. These early attempts to establish wild populations in Tasmania appear to have failed. The earliest known successful wild colony was located on the shores of Westernport Bay, Victoria in 1862. Colonies were also established on Philip Island and from there the hare spread to many other areas in Australia. So they possibly weren't visible in numerous enough numbers until the 1900's in NSW.


Let me assure you that Tasmania has hares a plenty. They're not common, but they're not rare either. Distribution is statewide.

Mrs T had never seen a hare - in fact comming from Cairns, she'd seen precious few rabbits. She was looking out across the paddock one day and said "There's a bloody big rabbit that runs funny over there".

Even rank amateurs can pick them out.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Teleost » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:25 pm

*Waves to Helix*

Nice to see you here :)
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:03 am

Teleost wrote:arly
Let me assure you that Tasmania has hares a plenty. They're not common, but they're not rare either. Distribution is statewide.

Mrs T had never seen a hare - in fact comming from Cairns, she'd seen precious few rabbits. She was looking out across the paddock one day and said "There's a bloody big rabbit that runs funny over there".

Even rank amateurs can pick them out.



Yes but early attempts to establish them failed. Didn't stop successive attempts.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sun May 05, 2013 9:46 am

Here are some more engravings that we saw near Somersby (on the Central Coast) yesterday. There is a series of three toed feet, well spaced out and aligned, leading to a large figure that appears to be wearing some kind of elaborate headress. The figure is about 5 meters long. There are also some kangaroo/wallaby engravings at the site.

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40

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby mollwollfumble » Sun May 05, 2013 10:48 pm

Just because it's rock art doesn't mean it's Aboriginal.

And just because it's Aboriginal rock art doesn't mean it's old. Old art wears out rapidly and needs to be restored, or redone from scratch. This looks so deep and clean that it looks very modern.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Wed May 08, 2013 11:54 am

mollwollfumble wrote:Just because it's rock art doesn't mean it's Aboriginal.

And just because it's Aboriginal rock art doesn't mean it's old. Old art wears out rapidly and needs to be restored, or redone from scratch. This looks so deep and clean that it looks very modern.


Many of the engravings are very faint, these are just the better examples of the art. These photographs have had the contrast altered to make the engravings more visible. Also, the late afternoon sun helps by casting a more distinct shadow in the grooves. Fake engravings are usually just scratches on the rock, not well worn grooves. Apparently these types of Aboriginal engravings were re-grooved many times during ceremonies.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Wed May 08, 2013 11:59 am

fsm wrote:
mollwollfumble wrote:Just because it's rock art doesn't mean it's Aboriginal.

And just because it's Aboriginal rock art doesn't mean it's old. Old art wears out rapidly and needs to be restored, or redone from scratch. This looks so deep and clean that it looks very modern.


Many of the engravings are very faint, these are just the better examples of the art. These photographs have had the contrast altered to make the engravings more visible. Also, the late afternoon sun helps by casting a more distinct shadow in the grooves. Fake engravings are usually just scratches on the rock, not well worn grooves. Apparently these types of Aboriginal engravings were re-grooved many times during ceremonies.



Yes. Though sometimes re-done badly. Probably due to loss of historians.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Fri May 17, 2013 10:34 pm

This afternoon we went for a bushwalk to Box Head, the northern side of the mouth of the Hawkesbury river. Along the way, Ruby spotted some more Aboriginal engravings.

A couple of shields.
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I think that this is a cresent moon, but Ruby thinks it represents a boat. We may have to mud wrestle to find out which it is.
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These three circles are engravings but the depression in the middle of them is not.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Fri May 17, 2013 10:52 pm

This is a fake fish engraving that was at the site today. The groove has been cut with a distinct V profile, not typical of rubbed engravings. Probably cut with a chisel or other metal implement. The style also looks wrong.

68
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Helix » Fri May 17, 2013 10:53 pm

fsm wrote:I think that this is a cresent moon, but Ruby thinks it represents a boat.


It could be a telephone receiver.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby booshkie » Fri May 17, 2013 11:56 pm

I have a Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings. I just KNEW it would come in handy one day.

I will scan the relevant pages and post them (tomorrow) but the short answer is, no-one really knows about the bunnies!
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby booshkie » Sat May 18, 2013 12:18 pm

Here they are folks. Scans are from A Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Art. 1990. Oxford University Press.

Originally sold at the National Parks and Wildlife Bookshop ($29.95). I scored a free copy after a school fete!

Just trying to work out how to insert from my Gallery... I wonder is this will work?
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sat May 18, 2013 9:40 pm

Thanks for that booshkie. I'll try and find a copy of that field guide.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Tue May 21, 2013 10:32 pm

We visited Daleys Point aboriginal engraving site today. This site has lot's of fish carvings and plenty of caves.

It's a bit hard to make it out from these pictures, but these look like a whale and calf, an Orca and some other fish that was mostly obscured by leaf litter.
8081

This is just the tail section of a huge whale engraving.
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These are some very nice grinding grooves next to a small waterhole.
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This appears to be a three toed foot.
78
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Tue May 21, 2013 11:27 pm

fsm wrote:We visited Daleys Point aboriginal engraving site today. This site has lot's of fish carvings and plenty of caves.

It's a bit hard to make it out from these pictures, but these look like a whale and calf, an Orca and some other fish that was mostly obscured by leaf litter.
8081

This is just the tail section of a huge whale engraving.
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These are some very nice grinding grooves next to a small waterhole.
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This appears to be a three toed foot.
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What I think is great about all of this is that it is within cooee of the city vandals yet it is still relatively untouched.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Tue May 21, 2013 11:34 pm

Very few sites are advertised, it's mainly a mission of finding them yourself. This is how they remain relatively undisturbed. Even so, there is usually a fake or some graffiti around. This site at Daleys Point is a high point and nearby we spotted a TV antenna up a tree with the cable leading down the side of the ridge to somebodys house.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Wed May 22, 2013 12:57 am

fsm wrote:Very few sites are advertised, it's mainly a mission of finding them yourself. This is how they remain relatively undisturbed. Even so, there is usually a fake or some graffiti around. This site at Daleys Point is a high point and nearby we spotted a TV antenna up a tree with the cable leading down the side of the ridge to somebodys house.



Pray it stays that way.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:48 pm

I went down to the Basin Track in Kuringai National Park this afternoon to look for some more Aboriginal rock engravings. This is quite an extensive site with some very fine examples.

Wallaby
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Flight of wallabies
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Two fish
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A male figure
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Male and female figures
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Detailed fish
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Figure with a wonky foot - possibly female
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Male and female figures reaching for the moon
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Non-gender specific figure
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View from the site
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:40 pm

Yesterday I went down the Girrakool track at Somersby. There are some very faint Aboriginal engravings that are difficult to photograph. My Speedlight flash has a foot mount and can be triggered wirelessly by the camera. So I set the speedlight sitting a couple of inches above the rock and fired the flash at a very low angle across the surface of the rock. I set the camera to underexpose the images. This way the engraved grooves were darkened by the underexposure and the rock surface was brightened via the flash. I had to take a number of shots to cover the entire engraving and then overlapped them to show the complete image. On the left of this picture you can see the engraving as it naturally appears and on the right is the composite image that reveals the hidden engravings.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Helix » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:50 pm

What a lot of work. Good one, fsm.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:59 pm

I have been visiting a lot of Aboriginal engraving sites recently and there are many instances of very faint engravings that cannot be made out. I am hoping to use this technique to try and rediscover some of this lost treasure.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:16 am

Yes, good work fsm.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby justjj » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:31 am

I've only just got around to having a good look at what you have done, fsm.
It is great ... I had no idea that tackling it like that would be so effective.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:05 am

justjj wrote:I've only just got around to having a good look at what you have done, fsm.
It is great ... I had no idea that tackling it like that would be so effective.



I get similar results taking shots of borer damage. Angling light to create a sense of relief.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:03 pm

I revisited Elvina Bay Track yesterday and took some photographs using the flash relief method. These shots show a standard exposure and the corresponding flash relief image.

A goanna.
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A fish shape.
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A human figure.
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This may be an emu.
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Dharamulan, a god figure.
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This could be a boomerang.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby justjj » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:54 am

Those comparisons are really useful fsm.
Great idea ... extra examples terrific.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:54 am

This an engraving of a swamp hen near the Bulgandry site. It is about half a metre tall.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:35 pm

Last week we went to the Bantry Bay engraving site. This was the first site that Europeans discovered in 1788. Unfortunately this site has suffered lots of vandalism over many years, many people have felt the need to carve their initials into the rock.

A fish. This is just one from a school of fish.
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A shield and boomerang.
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An emu track. The emu track is common around engraving sites and was used to lead from one group of engravings to another.
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A young echidna that was nosing around.
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The view over Bantry Bay with Sydney in the background.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Helix » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:54 pm

I love these 'show and tell' posts, fsm. From that last pic, it looks as though it was a hot day.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:35 pm

Helix wrote:I love these 'show and tell' posts, fsm. From that last pic, it looks as though it was a hot day.


It was a warm day, but comfortable.

We went to an engraving site at Somersby yesterday. There are two sites in this area that were once linked by tracks but now are separated by a road. The upper site is in fairly good condition, but this lower site has been considerably damaged by heavy machinery that was bought in to erect powerlines in the area. This is an engraving of a bull shark. The dorsal fin has been erased by the machinery and a chunk of the lower area is missing.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:19 pm

This is an engraving of Baiame, the Creator God or Sky Father at the Somersby upper site. He is wearing a ceremonial headdress and decorative waistbands. He is easy to see because NPWS has recently been cleaning selected engravings. This figure is 5 meters tall. There is a line of engraved footsteps leading up to him.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:39 pm

Yesterday we went to Mt Kuringai to see some more engravings. This narrow rock ledge is wedged between a major highway and a railway line. Thousands of Sydney commuters pass by everyday and probably don't know it exists.

There are two figures, a smaller female and a large male about 3 meters tall. The female figure appears to be scaring up some birds (there are bird shapes above her) and the male, who has very big feet and a pair of armbands, has a boomerang in his raised arm about to be thrown. There are also a line of large footprints, or mundoes, along the length of the rock ledge leading up to the two figures.

This image is a composite of 98 separate photographs.

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Last edited by fsm on Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby Helix » Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:51 pm

Nice work, fsm!
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby flying spaghetti monster » Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:29 pm

Need to go back around midday, when there are less shadows across the rocks. It's a lovely site.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby roughbarked » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:10 am

Commendable effort despite the shadows.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:12 pm

Yesterday we went to Allambie Heights, a suburb of Sydney, to see this engraving site that has been made a public reserve in the middle of suburban housing. There are many whales, fish and other images engraved here.

These 3 figures are very similar in style to the figure at Girrakool and other sites, possibly carved by the same hand.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:46 pm

This is one of the engravings that we saw today near the Bulgandry engraving site. Perhaps it is some kind of shark, possibly a Mako or similar. This engraving is difficult to see so I outlined it by placing a length of fluro pink twine into the groove. The first image is a composite taken directly above the engraving. The second image shows the engraving and surrounding bush setting. The beast is about 4 meters from nose to tail.

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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby flying spaghetti monster » Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:00 pm

I still think it might be a whale. There is an indent in the top line, suggestive of a blowhole, which I didn't notice yesterday.
The fluoro string is a good idea.
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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:55 am

This engraving is from a great new site at Kariong that Ruby discovered the other day. It is a bit difficult to make out the figures, but if you tilt your head to the right it might make more sense.

The figure on the right is Baiame - the creator god. One of the indigenous creation myths explains that during creation Baiame cut off his left leg and used it to create man. This image shows Baiame with a single leg and a stump where his left leg once was. In this engraving Baiame has an unusual long thin head.

Below Baiame (on the left) is Birrahgnooloo, the wife of Baiame. Birrahgnooloo is represented as an emu.


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Re: Aboriginal rock art

Postby fsm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:33 am

Yesterday afternoon we climbed Lyre Trig. About halfway up there is a large engraving of a boomer.

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This picture gives some scale to the engraving and allows you to admire my snake proof hiking gaiters. They are lined with puncture proof ballistic fabric.

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The view from the trig.

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