X is for Art

a-to-z-letters-xX is for X-RAY PAINTINGS

X-ray paintings are typical of the Aboriginal paintings which can be seen in the Wet Season caves and rock overhangs where the communities lived during the floods and heavy rains.  The paintings span centuries and are frequently painted, layer over layer, by succeeding generations of artists.

Some of the themes can be narrowed to particular time eg images of guns will only occur after the mid-19th century. Paintings of sailing ships may be more ambiguous as it’s known that the Macassan traders worked the northern coast of the Northern Territory. What’s interesting to me, is that these drawings aren’t by people who lived right beside the ocean, rather a little inland.

Our tour guide, Peter aka Mongrel, points out some of the less noticeble art work at Ubirr.

Our tour guide, Peter aka Mongrel, points out some of the less noticeble art work at Ubirr. You can see a sailing ship to the left of where he’s pointing and further left, Mabuyu. P Cass 1991

Mabuyu

Mabuyu

Only specific people within the community who had the traditional responsibility could “touch up” the important paintings, which I believe was last done nearly 50 years ago. It’s interesting to me to look at photos taken back in 1991 when I first visited, with some taken last month. Paintings were a form of history keeping as well as telling cultural traditions and animals to hunt.

Long necked turtles are still hunted in the billabongs in Kakadu.

Long necked turtles are still hunted in the billabongs in Kakadu.

I’m not going to try to explain the intricacies of the X Ray Paintings as I’m no expert. There’s an article here by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The style of painting is still reflected in some art work by Arnhem Land artists.

A hunting scene shows men with spears. The Aboriginal people were, and still are, excellent hunters in their tradiitonal land.

A hunting scene shows men with spears. The Aboriginal people were, and still are, excellent hunters in their tradiitonal land. You can see people, fish and a turtle.

My photographs are taken at two sites, both in Kakadu National Park. One is Ubirr and the other is Nourlangie (or Burrunggui). There are a couple of galleries in each place, and it’s well worth visiting each. Do take time to sit down and have a breather and a sip of water. The longer you look, the more pictures you’ll see. At Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery, the iconic image of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man is the most popular feature.

Anbangbang gallery hosts these amazing paintings including the LIghtning Man with the arc between his arms.

Anbangbang gallery hosts these amazing paintings including the LIghtning Man with the arc between his arms.

Archeologists have dated Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery as having been in use for over 20,000 years. So much for Australia being a young country!

The person on the left is without a doubt, a white man.

The person on the left is without a doubt, a white man.

Nourlangie art low

The image on the left has a Wandjina vibe to me but I could very well be wrong.

Why visit: to see ancient art tell a story of life before white settlement, and stories of traditional culture and hunting.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

The closer we get to the end of the alphabet, the fewer options for Aussie-isms, perhaps we really are lazy after all!

Today I leave you with a beer closely associated with my  home state of Queensland:

XXXX: Fourex beer is manufactured on Milton Rd in Brisbane, close to the famous Lang Park Rugby League grounds. XXXX is a Qld icon!

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C is for Cooinda touring

a-to-z-letters-c

Today we’re travelling to Kakadu National Park, about 300kms from Darwin in the Northern Territory.

C is for COOINDA

Cooinda offers one of Kakadu’s hotel options, Gagadju Lodge Cooinda. More importantly it’s also home of the famous Yellow Waters cruise which is a year-long tourist opportunity. For my money it’s a “must do” activity if visiting the Top End of the Northern Territory and this will be our visit on . Cooinda provides a hub for a variety of tourist activities from visiting Nourlangie Rock to checking out the bird life (but preferably not the crocs) on Anbangbang billabong.

Approaching Nourlangie. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Approaching Nourlangie. © Pauleen Cass 2013

Cooinda is also the neighbour to a wonderful Indigenous museum, the Warradjan Cultural Centre which offers the visitor the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous life and culture. The video-taped interviews are well worth listening to. It’s sometimes called the Turtle House because it’s in the shape of a turtle which is really only apparent from the air.

Anbangbang Billabong is a bird-spotter's delight in the Dry Season. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Anbangbang Billabong is a bird-spotter’s delight in the Dry Season. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Yellow Waters is a bonzer tourist opportunity and is enjoyable in either the Wet or the Dry Season. In the Dry season, Yellow Waters is a haven for bird life as the surrounding billabongs and waterways contract. The crocs also quite like to sit on the banks to sun themselves when the water’s a bit chilly. Like any wildlife opportunity what you see varies enormously but on the early morning or late afternoon cruises you are more likely to see birds. Of course in the Dry, being peak tourist season, there’s also a proliferation of tour buses etc. Visitors who venture forth in the Wet need to be aware they won’t see as much bird life, or as many crocs, but it’s so tranquil boating through the laneways of overhanging paperbarks (Melaleucas).

A taste tempter: Y is for Yellow Waters © Pauleen Cass 2013

A taste tempter: Y is for Yellow Waters © Pauleen Cass 2013

Why Visit: If you love nature, have a fascination with birds, are obsessed with crocodiles or want to learn more about traditional Aboriginal life and culture.

FYI: There’s are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Cranky: cross or in a bad temper

Crank: someone who’s a bit obsessed about something (hmm another name for family historians)

Calithumpian*: a description used for someone with no fixed religious affiliation, or perhaps doesn’t want it known. eg “She’s a Calithumpian not a Catholic/Methodist/Anglican”

Cobber*: Once a vitally important word in the Aussie lexicon, this term has progressively disappeared. It was very much in vogue at the time of World War I and expresses something beyond mere friendship – a deep link between men who could rely on each other in times of great need or danger like the outback or war. “Don’t forget me Cobber” is the name of a book about WWI men at the Battle of Fromelles.

Charge like a wounded bull: an exorbitant price being charged for something. “You don’t want to shop there mate, they charge like a wounded bull.”

Crook: usually meant to signify someone is unwell (he’s feeling a bit crook today). Alternatively, it means he/she is something of a thief etc “he’s a crook, he’ll charge like a wounded bull”.

Carry on like a pork chop: make a fuss (She/he’s carrying on like a pork chop because he didn’t win the game).

Chunder: vomit aka “Technicolour Yawn” or “Driving the porcelain bus” (especially with a hangover)

Join me tomorrow for an excursion several hundred kilometres down the Stuart Highway.