ABORIGINAL ROCK ART.
The Kimberley landscape is one of Australia’s and indeed the world’s greatest rock art provinces.
Two distinct artistic styles are dominant, the dramatic Wandjina and the elegant Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) figures, known as Kira Kiro locally. The Wandjina are an integral part of the current spiritual beliefs as the creator beings, with the power to bring the annual, life-giving monsoonal rains.
Snakes, birds, animals and a host of other motifs are closely associated with this art, which is believed to have originated in the Dreamtime. The Wandjina both sea and land are part of many epic story lines that cross the Kimberley and laid down the law and lore that people still follow to this day.
Even more prevalent and widespread is a more ancient art body, mainly representing highly ornamented, superbly naturalistic human figures in ceremonial and action modes, often over painted by the later Wandjina art.
These were named Bradshaw figures after the first European observer exploring the Kimberley wilderness. Aboriginal people of the region have since applied the name Gwion Gwion, one of many names different groups had for this art.
Some of the first recordings and descriptions of this art were made around Kalumburu and there are many examples that local guides can take you to see. Some of the most readily accessible examples areon the Anscar and Monster Rock walking circuit.
Today the arts practiced are grounded in the rock art tradition, with contemporary practice also including secular themes of sealife and seasonal flora.
Although arts have always been a very strong cultural practice, it was only in 2009 that the Kira-Kiro-Kalumburu Artists were established.
Artists paint with ochre pigments onto canvas, papers and bark.
Anscar and Monster Rock, art and nature walk. *
This is located in close proximity to the town. A favourite walking area and contemplation retreat for Father Anscar, this area offers an excellent insight into some of the unique rock formations, diverse vegetation and examples of Kira Kiro (Gwion Gwion) art found in the Kalumburu area.
Kalumburu Scenic Drive – bird watching, WW2 bomber wrecks, Ooraro Hill Lookout. *
This is a short 4 WD loop set up to highlight some of the interesting features in close proximity to the community. It takes you past the treatment ponds, ideal for observing at close range a variety of waterbirds.
Nearby are wrecks of the WW2 B25 Mitchell bombers which operated from this
airstrip during the war. The track loops on through typical woodland country towards
the base of Ooraro Hill. This is the highest point in proximity to the community, and there is a moderate walk following the ridgeline to obtain some excellent scenic views of Kalumburu.
Pago Historic Site. *
Located on the north-eastern shore of Mission Bay, on the banks of Pago Creek, are the remnants of the original mission settlement.
Little evidence of the main buildings remain and mainly the old wells, stone paved floors, baker’s oven and the concrete foundation, and a few posts of the original monastery building, bear testimony to the Benedictine’s pioneering efforts.
The nearby mud flats at Mission Cove were a major landing site during WW2, and nearby across a large salt pan stands a great boab tree where missionaries celebrated their first mass on 15th August, 1908.
* Guided tag along tours for a fee with a local guide are available during the main tourist season, and can be arranged through the Community Resource and Visitor Centre for these attractions.
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