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7IL - Rock Art Of Western Australia: Home

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Introduction to rock art

Kimberley - Wandjina Rock Art

Wandjina (also Wanjina)


This is a living rock art tradition still made today. Scientific dating shows it was made as far back as 4-5 thousand years ago. Wandjina are understood as powerful beings in painted form that govern potent forces like the weather as well as human behaviour

Kimberley - Wandjina Rock Art

Petroglyph - Enderby Island rock art

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Western Australian Rock Art Map

Google Earth - Rock Art of Western Australia Virtual Tour

Kimberley Bradshaw Rock Paintings

Kimberley Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) Rock Paintings

"Tassel” era. This is the earliest era. Paintings depict happy days. Slender men and women are adorned with multi-strand tassels swinging from waist- bands, armlets, anklets, chest-plates, bangles; all topped with headdresses featuring pompoms and plumes.

Source: Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art - Creative Spirits, retrieved from

“Sash” era. Tassels are replaced with three-point sashes flaring from waistbands. Both tassel and sash Gwion figures frequently seem in ceremonial mode and float in a trance-like state.

Source: Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art - Creative Spirits, retrieved from

"Elegant action” figures. This era marks an abrupt change. Stripped of all adornments, bar headdresses, people are portrayed running, leaping, busily gathering with dillybags, hunting kangaroos. Society has become more vigilant in order to survive, as the climate grows colder and aridity increases.

Source: Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art - Creative Spirits, retrieved from

“Clothes peg” figures. The once celebratory sash and tassel figures are now transformed into linear soldier-like clothes-peg figures, practical bodies hunting with bundles of spears, armed with spear throwers and boomerangs. Aggressive groups are shown in battle, presumably fighting over rapidly diminishing resources and last vestiges of favourable territory.

Source: Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art - Creative Spirits, retrieved from

The number of rock art sites in the Kimberley region, both for the Bradshaw paintings and the Wandjina paintings have been estimated to be over 100,000 in number, but only a fraction of these have been recorded. For this reason, the controlled management of this region of Australia is vital in order to control the preservation of Australia's oldest artistic and irreplaceable legacy.


Kimberley Foundation YouTube Channel

Philanthropists spending millions to save ancient Kimberley rock art. Kimberley Foundation Australia is funding research into the origins and extent of ancient rock art in the Kimberley in a bid to document it before mineral mining destroys the paintings forever. 


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Australian Rock Art

Styles of Aboriginal Art

Protecting Aboriginal Rock Art

Pilbara Burrup Peninsula - Petroglyphs

Burrup Peninsula Rock Art

Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia's Pilbara region, some 1500 km north of Perth, is one of the richest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art in Australia. The rock art precinct was added to Australia's National Heritage list in 2007.

The ancient art carvings, known as petroglyphs, on the rocks of the Burrup Peninsula are being documented by archaeologists and Indigenous custodians for their extraordinary 50,000-year-old cultural values.

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