Reader’s wildlife photos

March 28, 2020 • 8:00 am

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”.











12 thoughts on “Reader’s wildlife photos

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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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