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Journals from Aboriginal and Environmental Economics of Australia

2008-01-23 Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu

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Burrungguy rock art

Kakadu National Park, in the upper part of the Northern Territory, contains some of the oldest and finest examples of Aboriginal rock art. The art you are seeing here is an example of dynamic art (the images depict movement), and is estimated to be around 21,000 years old. To view this particular rock art, we were required to climb through some rough terrain, with no marked trails. It is unlikely that humans will cause this art to disappear over time; exposure to a harsh climate, weather events, and gecko feet (seriously) will cause its gradual decay. Interestingly, Aborigines haven't worried much about the decay of rock art. In fact, they traditionally would paint over old art work, even works we would consider masterpieces in terms of the quality of the painting. To the Aborigines, it is the story that matters, and as long as the story is passed on, what happens to the art is of little concern. Traditional Aboriginal rock art consisted of four basic colors -- red, yellow, black, and white, the colors of the ochres used to make the paints. We visited this site on January 14; technical difficulties prevented an earlier posting. Randy

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