Ubirr

Top choice rock art in Ubirr & Around

It takes a lot more than the busloads of visitors to disturb Ubirr's inherent majesty and grace. Layers of rock-art paintings, in various styles and from various centuries, command a mesmerising stillness. Ubirr is 39km north of the Arnhem Hwy via a sealed road.

Part of the main gallery reads like a menu, with images of kangaroos, tortoises and fish painted in X-ray, which became the dominant style about 8000 years ago. Pre-dating these are the paintings of mimi spirits: cheeky, dynamic figures who, it's believed, were the first of the Creation Ancestors to paint on rock. (Given the lack of cherry-pickers in 6000 BC, you have to wonder who else but a spirit could have painted at that height and angle.) Look out for the yam-head figures, where the head is depicted as a yam on the body of a human or animal; these date back around 15,000 years.

The magnificent Nardab Lookout is a 250m scramble accessed from the main gallery. Surveying the exotic flood plain, watching the sun set in the west and the moon rise in the east like they're on an invisible set of scales gradually exchanging weight, is humbling to say the least.


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