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Rediscovered rock art reveals an ancient monster



It was a discovery that would illuminate a new light on a centuries-old story – that of a cosmic struggle between the spirit of the creator and his monstrous enemy – claiming to explain why mother and father-in-law should never mingle and change the way forever where you see a double rainbow.

  Rock art has been found in the Hard Mountain and tells a story that links the cave to two other sites that can be seen from the cliff.

The rock art was found in the Hard Mountain and tells a story that connects the cave to two other sites that can be seen from the cliff. Credits: Justin McManus

Although recently rediscovered, the red-ocher bunyyps are probably tens of thousands of years old. But in the decimation of the people and culture that was the colonization, the memory of the cave and its rock art were extinguished.

This happened until May 27, 2016, when park ranger Kyle Hewitt scored a new track that will be part of the Grampians Peaks Trail – he entered the sandstone shelter and brought his bunyips back from oblivion.

Since then the rediscovery has been kept secret. Only a handful of traditional owners, park rangers and archaeologists have been allowed to enter the cave.

Even now, his exact position can not be revealed.

The cave was the last and most significant of about 40 rock art sites to be rediscovered in the last seven years in the Grampians – or Gariwerd as they are called by the people whose ancestors drew those bunyip.

This led to the counting of rock art sites in Gariwerd at around 140 – or 90 percent of all known sites in Victoria.

For archaeologists, they are part of a new wave of rediscoveries, one that is expected to reveal many more ancient treasures in the next decade.

To traditional landowners, the bunyips cement The state of Gariwerd as a sprawling sandstone cathedral, just as significant as that of St Paul's in London – only much, much older.

  Once a goat hunter, Jake Goodes is now part of his efforts to document a new wave of rock art discovered in Grampiani.

Once a goat hunter, Jake Goodes is now part of efforts to document a new wave of rock art discovered in the Grampians. Credit: Justin McManus

Jake Goodes began his life as a park ranger in Gariwerd hunting goats. Now, 15 years later, he hunts rock art. As the coordinator of Parks Victoria's Aboriginal Heritage for Western Victoria and a 36-year-old archaeologist in training, Mr. Goodes was among the first to have registered the bunyip cave.

But old habits, like wild goats, die hard. On the edge of the cliff outside the cave, the man Adnyamathanha-Narungga dances and puts his ear to the wind. If they have children, he says, the goats will come back.

Cicada cicada and cacatua screeches from the tuft of sulfur – nothing emblazoned.

Which is just as good. Goats are one of the main threats to these ocher bunkers, as they are also all Gariwerd rock art. Like people, goats are attracted to these shelters and love scratching their coarse and oily skins against sandstone.

During the excursion to the bunyip cave, Mr. Goodes indicates signs indicating that the bunyip have survived another close encounter. It is there in the blackened trunks of the ropes, in the thick regrowth of the leaves, in the fields of eternal white daisies.

"Fire has the potential to destroy the entire site," he says.

"Heat the air inside the rock and then rock the rock as popcorn."

The other existential threat to the bunyip is represented by small pieces of pink ribbon tied to the branches of trees and bushes. These mark what will be the Grampians Peak Trail, which will open next year and designed to sit along the Tasmania Overland Track as one of the iconic walks in the country.

"People are the ones who do more damage to any site" Mr Goodes says. "Which is unfortunate."

  The rock art of the Grampians is rich in symbols, some of which can not be found anywhere else and many of which still have meanings to be learned.

The rock art of the Grampians is rich in symbols, some of which are not found anywhere else and many of which still have meanings to be learned. Credit: Justin McManus

Damein Bell describes the sites rediscovered as "revelations". For the Gunditjmara leader, it is a small miracle that any rock art survived Gariwerd.

"With all that we have gone through, all that country has passed, with invasions and colonizations, not to mention natural disasters, there is always intense storms and fires so we are lucky to have what we do", He says.

Mr. Bell directs the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, which jointly filed an application for the 1672 square kilometer crown land title in the Grampians National Park as part of a coalition of First Nations people.

Gariwerd, he explains, was always a place of both "immense spirituality" and "gathering".

he says.

Now he sees him play a key role in reconciliation. Mr Bell wants to see some of this knowledge shared with the wider community.

"We really need to do everything we can to better protect, not just rock art, but the knowledge that comes from rock art," he says.

"From my personal point of view, you have to share stories to protect stories.

" And what is revealed to us today will teach us for the next hundred years. "

  Although faded after years of neglect, park rangers and archaeologists use the new technology to reveal traces of ocher that may have tens of thousands of years.

Although faded after years of neglect, park rangers and archaeologists are using new technologies to reveal traces of ocher that may have tens of thousands of years.
Credits: Justin McManus

The story of the bunyip cave, as Jake Goodes recounts, links that cliff hole with a billabong – it is said to be bottomless – and the most amazing and famous works of the art area rock: Bunjil & # 39; s Shelter in the Black Range near Stawell.

But it begins with the spirit of creation, Bunjil, on top of the cliff of the Difficult Mountain.

"The story was that Bunjil lived here with his family: wife, two children and mother-in-law," says Mr. Goodes.

Bunjil jumped off the cliff with his wife and children safely in his arms. Then it was his mother-in-law's turn.

"She did not have time to take it out on her and she fell apart when she hit the ground."

Still alive, however, he headed for the nearby Mokepilly waterhole. There he was taken by his resident bunyip.

"He was about to eat it, but he offered his son in law," says Goodes.

And so the mother-in-law lured Bunjil to the puddle of water, where the bunyip broke the spirit of the creator.

During dreams, people took the form of birds. Finding the fragments of their creative spirit destroyed, the bird-people prepared to gather it. A little bird used a small rainbow as a net, but it was too small. So another bird used a larger rainbow to collect the pieces.

"I do not know if you've ever seen the double rainbows before? Well, that's what was used to put Bunjil back together," says Mr. Goodes.

Looking out from the cliff, he traces the tree lines and roads leading to Mokepilly and then to Bunjil & # 39; s Shelter as he talks.

this day there is a cloud in the sky. But the meteorological office predicts sudden flooding and strong storms the next. Perhaps then, the rainbows will reappear.

Mr. Goodes defines this story as a story of love. Even its survival is a small miracle. He was reminded of a research by historian Ian Clarke, who had discovered a newspaper article published in 1925 by a reverend, who was told the story by an aboriginal source referred to only as "a woman from Wimmera". [19659006] I wonder how those intermediaries have shaped and colored that story.

What matters is that now, both history and art still belong to the traditional owners of Gariwerd, says Mr. Goodes.

  With other Victorian natives returning control and management back to their ancestral lands, some predict that many other ancient sites will be rediscovered in the coming years.

With other Victorian natives who have regained control and management of their ancestral lands, some predict that many other ancient sites will be rediscovered in the coming years. Credits: Ken Irwin

Jamie Lowe recalls that he had lived and worked in his country in Gariwerd and saw the fingerprints of his ancestors as one of the "most cathartic experiences" of his life.

10 years ago. Now, Mr. Lowe is the CEO of the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, also part of the claim of the Gariwerd native title.

He says that it is not so much the grandeur of art, nor the detail of history, which has had an impact

"It is knowing that your ancestors were there, fundamentally, forever," he says.

Because when you speak from 40,000 to 100,000 years of employment, it could also be. [19659006] Despite this ancient and lively connection, Lowe states that the devastation of colonization has fragmented the cultures of many First Nations. Like the birds in the history of bunyip history, they are now bringing together stories, art and sacred places.

"My people, the population of the Djab Wurrung people has decreased to about 50 people," says Lowe. [19659006] "So, if you take 90% of people from any society, what follows is a lot of cultural knowledge and power."

Mr. Lowe says his trip, and that of many other Australian natives, were both resisting and reimagining those ancestral stories for today.

"And whenever there is a significant rediscovery or a discovery of artifacts or sites like rock art, it helps us put together another piece of that puzzle."

Joe Hinchliffe reports the latest news for The Age.

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