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Aboriginal Paintings of Drysdale River National Park, Kimberley, Western Australia


ISBN: 9780987138972
© 2015  vi, 322 pages : colour illustrations, colour maps, colour portraits ; 24 cm.

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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 FiguresBent 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.


Drysdale River National Park
Vehicle access to Drysdale River National Park
The 1975 Biological Survey
The northern section of Drysdale River National Park
Serpent Gorge

Foreword and acknowledgements
Chapter One: Introduction to Drysdale River National Park
Chapter Two: Human history of the lower Drysdale River region
Chapter Three: Exploring the Park for rock art.
Chapter Four: The variety of art within the Park
Chapter Five: The Archaic Period
Chapter Six: Tasselled Figures
Chapter Seven: Bent Knee Figures
Chapter Eight: Simple Human Figures and Kimberley Dynamic Figures
Chapter Nine: Straight Part Figures
Chapter Ten: The Painted Hand Period
Chapter Eleven: The Wandjina Period
Other books and journal articles by David M. Welch
Further reading
The chronological sequence of Kimberley rock art.