Bulgandry Aboriginal art site is a worthwhile visit in Brisbane Water National Park. It’s one of the most interesting Aboriginal engraving sites to visit. Interesting for anyone.
Park your car. Walk along the relaxing footpath in the bush. And look at some of the clearest and sharpest Aboriginal engravings on the Central Coast.
There are at least ten etchings of life-size kangaroos, fishes, a man with a headdress, a woman, an octopus, and more.
It takes at most 10 min to get to the Bulgandry Aboriginal engraving site over a nice footpath.
Take it slowly. Enjoy the peace and quiet… the footpath passes wildflowers in early spring, scribbly gums, and beautiful valley views.
Learn about the Aboriginals and the engravings by reading the signboards along the track.
One of the signs explains that the Bulgandry man represents an ancestral hero. He's the man with the headdress etched on the rock. The actual meaning of the Aboriginal word “Bulgandry” is boomerang in hand. In fact, the Bulgandry man holds an object that looks like a small boomerang in one hand. It’s the most fascinating etching in my opinion.
The walking track is in great condition. It’s suitable for prams and wheelchairs (could be a little bumpy).
This Aboriginal art site is a perfect outing for toddlers and preschoolers (schools often organise excursions here) because the walk is short and the engravings are very clear. It’s a great and safe way for kids to learn about aboriginal art.
The ten or so engravings are dispersed on a large, flat sandstone rock at the end of the walking track. You can’t miss it...
A wooden pathway encircles the rock. You can see the engravings very well from the pathway. No need to walk on the rock.
The engravings depict animals and people.
The first engraving represents a fish…
Then another fish…
A small person behind a life-sized kangaroo. The person is either carrying or chasing it.
A fish being speared…
A life-sized kangaroo and possibly an octopus on its tail…
The Bulgandry man with the headdress: The man holds objects in his hands – one may be a boomerang. Across his waist is a club...
You can also see an eel, a life-sized dolphin, possibly a canoe, and axe grinding grooves.
The axe grinding grooves are the cavities you can see in the rock. That’s where the Aboriginals sharpened the stone tools. They would rub the stone axe on the surface of the rock.
Signs next to the figures describe what they depict… it’s interesting to read what they represent. Some are easy enough to guess but others less so.
For obvious reasons there are things you should and shouldn't do to help preserve the site: Stay on the boardwalk. Do not try to re-groove or draw over the images with chalk or anything like that. Do not put water or sand on the etchings. It’s all common sense really…
Hawkesbury sandstone is soft and easy to erode, and no descendants of Aboriginal artists are able to re-engrave the figures today, hence the importance of keeping away from the engravings.
The Sydney Basin contains one of the highest concentration of Aboriginal sites.
The Aboriginals who made the engravings at this site belonged to the Guringai People. They lived between Sydney Harbour and Lake Macquarie for at least 60,000 years.
The engravings can’t be dated exactly (rock art is difficult to date). But it’s believed they were etched at least 200 years ago and some more than 2000 years ago. It’s amazing the figures are still so sharp.
Sydney Rock Engravings generally show a simple contour of a figure, mostly of people, animals and ideograms. The figures are often life-size and some measure up to 20 m long. You’ll see a couple of life-size figures at the site.
To make the engravings, the Aboriginal would first draw the outline on the rock surface with charcoal or stone. Then they would peck a series of holes along the contour with a hard pointed rock. Finally they would join the holes by rubbing away the rock.
We don’t really know what the etchings mean. They were perhaps created (and routinely re-grooved) as part of sacred ceremonies and rituals.
Bulgandry Aboriginal art site is located an hour north of Sydney.
Drive to the carpark and follow the walking path. Parking is free