Indigenous people have occupied Australia for at least 60,000 years, living on and with the land. As a result, there are thousands of significant and ancient sites scattered across the nation. From rock art galleries and shelters, to middens and natural features, these sites have deep significance to Indigenous people for social, cultural, spiritual, commemorative and historical reasons.
ROCK ART, KAKADU NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN TERRITORY
Kakadu National Park is home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of rock art sites. The impressive age, preservation and diversity of these galleries means that Kakadu rock art has enormous local significance, and has gained international attention. Some paintings have been dated back 20,000 years. At sites such as Ubirr and Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), visitors have the privilege of admiring these remarkable paintings, which provide a glimpse into the deep relationship between the Bininj/ Mungguy people and their land over thousands of years.
WORIMI MIDDENS, WORIMI CONSERVATION LANDS, NEW SOUTH WALES
Middens are the accumulated deposits of the remains of meals, such as shellfish, fish, birds and animals, left by Indigenous people over many years. There are thousands of midden sites across Australia, and there are middens still visible today in the Worimi Conservation Lands. Take an Aboriginal-guided cultural tour through this fascinating landscape – located on the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere – to visit the middens and learn about their significance in the past and present.
PAINTINGS AND ENGRAVINGS, QUINKAN COUNTRY, QUEENSLAND
Quinkan Country holds an impressive body of rock art sites that have been identified as between 15,000 and 30,000 years old. The galleries, which are found along the sandstone plateau that runs from Princess Charlotte Bay to Laura, have been UNESCO- listed as among the top 10 rock art sites in the world. The paintings and engravings depict certain ancestral spirits, such as the Quinkan spirits from the Dreaming. In these galleries, the laws and social, spiritual and cultural practices of the people of Cape York Peninsula have been recorded, and reflect the deep connection between the people and the land. These rock art sites can be reached via several walks, and on guided tours through the Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre in Laura.
ROCK ENGRAVINGS, MURUJUGA NATIONAL PARK, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Within the Murujuga National Park, located on the Burrup Peninsula, there is an ancient outdoor gallery of rock engravings (petroglyphs) believed to be the highest known concentration of petroglyphs in the world. Indigenous inhabitation of the area dates back more than 50,000 years, and the surviving petroglyphs are up to 37,000 years old. These fascinating engravings reflect a rich, ancient culture, and depict human figures, animals, extinct creatures, birds and marine life.
KAURNA COUNTRY, PORT ADELAIDE ENFIELD REGION, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The area that is now occupied by the city and parklands of Adelaide is of great significance to the Kaurna people – the original inhabitants of the Adelaide region. Kaurna country stretches north across the plains to Tartunya and extends east to the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Before colonisation, the heart of Kaurna country, known as Tartanya, encompassed open, grassy plains, which were skilfully land-managed, and the River Torrens, which was a rich source of life.