Aboriginal rock art

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Rock art, Mount Borradaile, Kakadu and Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. Photo: James Fisher

The Northern Territory is laden with Aboriginal rock art, from Central Australia to the Top End, ancient art sites abound.

Many sites have interpretive signage which tell Dreamtime stories associated with these fascinating paintings, drawings and petroglyphs (rock carvings), however if you take an organised tour with a local indigenous guide you will gain an insight into one of the world's oldest living cultures dating back more than 50,000 years.

Central Australia

The East MacDonnell Ranges is home to some fascinating rock art sites. Aboriginal paintings at Emily and Jessie Gaps are important spiritual sites to the Eastern Arrernte people. A little further east is N'Dhala Gorge which contains more than 6000 ancient carvings as well as art sites and shelters. Here the oldest petroglyphs are believed to be 10,000 years old.

In the West MacDonnell Ranges you can find rock art sites at Wallace Rockhole and at Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve. South of Alice Springs, wander through the natural sandstone gallery at Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve or visit Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve to find petroglyphs and paintings.

Top End

Spectacular rock art sites can be found throughout Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock are perhaps the two most well-known. The rock art here is easily accessible, large and prolific. At Nourlangie Rock you can see famous paintings such as Namarrgon and Lightning Man while at Ubirr join a free Park Ranger talk to learn about the ancient rock art. Learn more at Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Bowali Visitor Centre.

Further afield in Arnhem Land join a safari tour to Mount Borradaile and be one of the privileged few to view the large galleries found here, or take an organised tour up Injalak Hill at Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) to see magnificent rock art sites.

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