Aboriginal Rock Art and Helicopters

Alex Burridge – Managing Director

I understand that you might be thinking how is there a link between Aboriginal Rock art, that is estimated to be 50-60 thousand years old, and helicopters that first took to the air in 1939? The link being that helicopters can provide access to remote areas in the Kimberley where some amazingly beautiful, intricate, and well preserved Aboriginal rock art is found. Rock art in the Kimberley is arguably some of the world’s oldest and most fascinating. Whilst there are sites close to the coast which can be accessed via boat and then on foot, a helicopter trip taken whilst travelling on the True North offers not only incredible scenery but also the chance to visit enthralling and remote rock art sites.

True North Helicopter near Aboriginal Rock Art True North Helicopter


There are an abundance of sites and numerous styles, painted by different Indigenous Australian’s on their traditional land that are found throughout the Kimberley. Painted at different periods in history, some sights undergo regular maintenance to ensure their longevity and there are almost undoubtedly sites yet to be discovered. It is ensured that all of the appropriate permissions are granted before accessing these sacred sites. The two styles of Art that I saw the most of were: Gwion Gwion (previously Bradshaw Art) and Wanjina.


Gwion Gwion Aboriginal Art Gwion Gwion Rock Art


Gwion Gwion (previously Bradshaw art)
Gwion Gwion art is made up of finely painted human figures which depict elaborate dress with a rich range of artifacts; spears, boomerangs, and ornaments. The Ngarinyin people are the custodians of this art form. The latter Westernised name of Bradshaw Art was named after Joseph Bradshaw who travelled through the region in the 1890s and is no longer in use.


Gwion Gwion Aboriginal Rock Art Gwion Gwion Rock Art


Wanjina (also Wandjina)
Aboriginal people in northern and central Kimberley continue to this day to identify with Wanjina. The Wanjina images express beings with supernatural power and are characterised by halo-like headdresses and mouthless faces. These ‘Creator Beings’ and the ‘Wunggurr Creator Snake’ are painted in many forms and can be repainted (and some sites show relatively recent painting) to ensure annual renewal of the seasonal cycles and periods of fertility.


Wanjina Aboriginal Rock Art Wanjina Rock Art

One of our guides said he’d been looking for rock art in this certain area but hadn’t yet found any and he offered to buy me a crate of beer if I found something. So off I went and maybe 300 metres away I found a simple piece of rock art (I took a picture just to prove what I had found) I didn’t hold him to his offer. I in no way think that I was the first person to discover the piece of rock art, but this proves just how wide spread the incredible historic rock art is in the Kimberley region, and how you might just find some yourself.


True North Helicopter True North Helicopter


Luxury and Expedition Cruises acknowledges that the rock art and stories form part of the cultural traditions of Kimberley Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities and respect the view of these communities. We acknowledge the special relationships that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with their traditional lands and waters, as well as their unique history and diverse culture, customs and circumstances.

Browse our Kimberley Voyages Here.

To book your holiday to the Kimberley, contact us on 1300 987 929 or email: contact@luxuryandexpeditioncruises.com.au.

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