AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL CULTURE SERIES N0. 10
DAVID M. WELCH
© 2015 vi, 322 pages : colour illustrations, colour maps, colour portraits ; 24 cm.
Drysdale River National Park is a remote wilderness area of rugged natural bushland, well-watered by numerous creeks and the permanent waters of the Drysdale River, located in Western Australia’s far north. It has no marked access roads, walking tracks, signage or facilities of any kind. Visitors must be entirely self-sufficient, and travel within the Park is limited to hiking and canoeing.
Amongst its rocky cliffs, gorges and eroded quartzite blocks are numerous overhangs and shelters adorned with Aboriginal cave paintings produced over tens of thousands of years. This art includes some of the best preserved, most spectacular Aboriginal rock art to be found in Australia.
The earliest paintings and rock markings, created during an Archaic Period, include depictions of the Tasmanian tiger and Tasmanian devil, now extinct on mainland Australia. Later artists portrayed people wearing elaborate ceremonial costume, described as Tasselled Figures, Bent Knee Figures and Straight Part Figures. Other human figures are engaged in running, hunting and camping scenes.
Art styles evolved from curvaceous naturalistic figures to more rigid forms. Then, over the past 6,000 years, they became simplified during the Painted Hand Period, and changed again with the development of the Wandjina Period.