Reader’s wildlife photos

Today’s photos are a bit different in that they’re not of wildlife but of rocks. These lovely pictures come from Tony Eales of Queensland, who usually sends us insect photos. His notes are indented:

I thought I’d send something a little different.

Over the years as an archaeologist/anthropologist I’ve had the privilege to see some Aboriginal rock art in remote places around the state of Queensland. Here’s a few from places near the towns of Barcaldine, Mt Isa and Winton.

I can’t add too much about them regarding interpretation. It’s not really my place and interpreting art is hard at the best of times, let alone when the artists’society didn’t have writing. These are fairly representative of the kind of art one finds in western outback Queensland. Hand prints are ubiquitous and “emu tracks” are nearly as widespread, nets and boomerangs are also very common. You can also find anthropomorphic figures and many symbols of esoteric meaning. Age-wise, some individual engravings in the large palimpsests may be quite old, thousands or even tens of thousands of years. The paintings, on the other hand, are probably less than two hundred years old given how fragile the rock on which they are painted is. You can also notice that many of these sites are heavily graffitied. This practice of defacing the art goes back to the 1800s in some places.

The first six photos are labeled “Barcaldine”, and the rest “Mt. Isa”.












  1. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Fabulous! Thank you for posting these.

  2. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Nice! Thanks!

  3. jedijan
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the art. I always wonder about what the people that left them were doing at the time whenever I have seen rock art. There were some unusual marks on some fallen cliff rocks I saw as a child at Fossil Beach, Victoria. (I convinced myself then that they were dinosaur footprints). When we returned they had disappeared though, possibly hidden by further cliff falls.

  4. Ruthann Richards
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    These photos are wonderful! Let’s have more rocks; I’ve always been fascinated by them.

  5. merilee
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink


  6. rickflick
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    These are fascinating. I have to relate them to Cave Paintings in France, such as Lascaux, which are on the order of 20,000 years old. There are also interesting examples made by native Americans. I took some pics at Celebration Park last year. Most of those date from several hundred to, I think, several thousand years.

    P1072187 ED

  7. Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Very cool! I wonder what they mean.

  8. Posted March 28, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The hands are reminiscent of Cueva de las Manos in Argentina – fascinating!

    • tjeales
      Posted March 28, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Hand stencils are so ubiquitous in aboriginal rock art, at least in the eastern states that I’d never considered that they might occur elsewhere. The first time I saw the Argentine ones I was completely shocked.

  9. Posted March 28, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    The hand prints and stencils seem universal to rock art everywhere. I wonder why.

  10. Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    These are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted March 28, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the fascinating photos. I too wonder what they might mean, but at the same time remind myself that there is probably no requirement for ‘meaning’. Think of our contemporary art, does it have ‘meaning’ or is it just art?

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