Australia - Aboriginal Rock Art
Australia’s first human inhabitants arrived at least 50,000 years ago. For millennia, they lived an essentially unchanging and nomadic lifestyle - at one with the land and vast landscapes that surrounded them. They had few possessions, built no permanent monuments or settlements, but had a rich and detailed knowledge of their land, which was handed down through generations.
Encounter these ancient people through their art, which can be found everywhere, from remote Arnhem Land and Uluru, to the Outback. This is a privileged and fascinating introduction, tracing the myths, history and beliefs of one of the world’s oldest peoples.
- A truly remarkable journey: a window on a hunter-gatherer culture which survived for more than 50,000 years
- Spend two days in Kakadu National Park, a biodiverse nature reserve
- Stay at Max Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari Lodge in Mount Borradaile, the largest Aboriginal reserve in Australia
- Stand before awe-inspiring examples of ancient rock art
- Rock Art
- Special Access
- Small Group
Today we depart the UK from London and head to Singapore.
Upon arrival in Singapore we change planes and continue on our journey through to Sydney.
Arriving into the city of Sydney in the morning we’ll transfer to our hotel where we freshen up and enjoy some free time. The afternoon can be spent either at leisure, or we’ll take a ferry ride to Taronga Zoo to view the unique wildlife that is endemic to Australia, much of which we will encounter again, depicted in rock art.
This morning we drive to the area north of Sydney for our first rock art “galleries” during a walk through the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park north of the Terrey Hills. Engravings, predominantly of fish and eels, have been made in the horizontal bedrock, reflecting the importance of the river and sea to survival here. There are also huge whale depictions, and a number of human figures. We return to the city for lunch at the top of the Sydney Tower whose revolving restaurant affords 360-degree views of this impressive harbour city. Lunch is followed by a visit to the excellent Australian Museum.
We fly from Sydney to Uluru (Ayers Rock) the most famous rock in Australia, well-known for its colour changes in different light and weather conditions. Sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area, it is now a World Heritage Site. Arriving at our hotel late morning we’ll have lunch before driving to Kata Tjuta Gorge. Our walk through this valley affords views across the many domes of Kata Tjuta and out into the sacred Anangu men’s area. Our day continues in Kata Tjuta National Park where we’ll enjoy an aperitif while watching the sunset over Uluru, causing the rock to change colour dramatically. Dinner this evening is a delicious barbecue.
An early start allows us to watch the sunrise, then we further explore Uluru with a walk around the base of the rock, passing sacred areas and painted panels with a wide variety of motifs. We travel to Mutitjulu Walk where we are escorted to the waterhole followed by time to see locally-made arts and crafts at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Lunch is at Curtin Springs and then we continue our journey crossing dramatic landscapes of the “red centre” – passing the geographical centre of this huge country before arriving at Alice Springs.
One of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs in the Northern Territory is in Ewaninga so this is our first visit of the day, we then we continue on to Emily Gap and Jesse Gap with paintings that tell the story of the creation caterpillars who formed this landscape. This afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour of Alice Springs Desert Park which is home to local wildlife including all manner of exotic birds and lizards.
Today we leave Alice Springs and fly to Darwin the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory and a former frontier outpost located on the Timor Sea. Darwin and the surrounding area are home to two national parks, Litchfield and Kakadu, the latter of which we will explore in-depth over the next two days. This evening we head to Stokes Hill Wharf for a buffet dinner cruise in Darwin Harbour whilst watching the sunset over Darwin and the surrounding areas.
Today we drive to the wild and beautiful Kakadu National Park which covers 20,000 square kilometres of landscape varying from rocky escarpment that is home to historic Aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years, to the floodplains that are abundant with wildlife. Our visit to the park includes the Warradjan Cultural Centre to view the informative displays depicting the traditions of the Aboriginal people in Kakadu. Before lunch we take a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise through wetlands with prolific birdlife (and crocodiles!) to spot, before spending time at Nourlangie Rock, with many panels of very fine paintings, including some “X-ray” depictions of animals and fish.
In the morning we visit the World Heritage area of Ubirr, another prolific rock art site. Here we’ll climb up through the ancient Aboriginal rock art galleries, believed to be 20,000 years old, to the lookout for the view over the surrounding wetlands. We join the Guluyambi Cruise along the East Alligator River during which, an Aboriginal guide will provide an insight into their culture, including local mythology, the river’s abundant food chain, as well as bush survival skills. With special permission of the local people, we are able to go ashore in Arnhem Land. We have lunch back at our hotel before visiting the Bowali Visitor Centre.
Today we transfer to Jabiru Airfield for our short charter flight to Mount Borradaile.
We spend a full day exploring the rock art sites of Mount Borradaile. Some of the world’s oldest, most profuse and exceptional indigenous rock art is here, as well as a landscape which supported a hunter-gatherer lifestyle right into the 20th century. Artefacts such as bottle glass for knapping into artefacts and “dilly sticks” still lie abandoned in the rock shelters as a poignant reminder of the recent departure of those who lived this life.
After our morning flight to Darwin we explore the collections in the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. After lunch, we fly to Sydney. The rest of the day is at leisure before we meet in the evening for dinner.
On this last morning of our tour we have free time in Sydney. You could walk to the Circular Quay to take a ferry ride in the harbour which is home to the beautiful and unique Opera House and the famous bridge, or visit The Rocks Discovery Museum. The choice is yours before we travel back from Sydney to London.
We arrive back in the UK.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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