My Site Tales from Wayoutback... : Aborigine rock art of Arnhem Land Tales from Wayoutback... : Aborigine rock art of Arnhem Land

Tales from Wayoutback...

Aborigine rock art of Arnhem Land

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Arnhem Land is one of the regions of Australia’s Northern Territory. It is located in the northeastern part of the territory and is about 500 kilometers to the east of its capital, Darwin. It comprises 97,000 square kilometers and contains the Kakadu National Park.

Arnhem Land was so named by a Dutch East India Company captain named William Van Colster who sailed into the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1623, He named Cape Arnhem after his ship which was in turn named after the town of Arnhem back in the Netherlands. Arnhem Land has been a home to Australia’s indigenous people for at least 35,000 years. The Gove Peninsula was the site of a Royal Australian Air Force base where squadrons participated in the defense of Australia during World War II.

Some of the most picturesque Aborigine rock art in Australia is located in Arnhem line, notably at Ubirr Rock, Injalak Hill, and in the Canon Hill area. The painting depict local life going back thousands of years, but there are also scenes of the first contacts with European explorers and settlers. The art is of such detail that soldiers with 19th Century Martin Henry rifles are clearly recognized, as are civilians with hats and pipes and their hands in their trousers. There is also a picture near the Alligator River of a man in pigtails carrying a rifle, likely a 19th Century Chinese laborer. More recent paintings depict the wharf at Darwin along with buildings and boats Modern airplanes and ships are also depicted.

The main settlement of Arnhem Land is Nhulunbuy with a population of over 4,000 people, located in the Gove Peninsula. Generally a visit to the region is best done through a tourist agency with experienced guides.

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