Australia - Aboriginal rock art


This was an 18-day Andante Travels tour, with most of the group from the UK.  Margaret Grant left a few days before I did, to visit relatives in the Brisbane area.  The UK travelers (mostly) went from London to Singapore to Brisbane; both Margaret and I went from Denver to Los Angeles to Brisbane.  Similarly, the UK group returned from Darwin to Singapore to London, while Margaret and I went from Darwin to Sydney to Los Angeles to Denver.

Most of the photos are "geotagged".  This adds GPS data (latitude, longitude, elevation, etc.) to the photo metadata, just as the camera brand and model, date and time, exposure info, etc. are automatically recorded by the camera itself.  Therefore, you can see exactly where each photo was taken, usually to within a few meters.  The “Photos” links don’t show the geotagged information, but Google’s Picasa web site does an excellent job with geotagged photos, including integration with Google Maps and Google Earth.

The photos here are not edited, except for the GPS info, though some would benefit from some adjustments.  They’re size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you individual photos or a DVD with the full-resolution photos.  (A few photos on Day 8 had their timezone corrected, but no other editing was done.)

Days One/Two
Scheduled overnight flight to Singapore, late afternoon arrival.  [As noted earlier, Margaret left a few days early, to visit relatives, and I started out on August 5, arriving a day before most of the others.  We flew to Brisbane via Los Angeles, not via Singapore.  Since we cross the International Date Line, we “lose” a day, too.]]

Day Three
Singapore: After a proper night’s sleep an introduction by land and sea, ending with afternoon tea at Raffles before evening flight to Brisbane.  [I arrived in Brisbane, about a day before most of the others; Margaret was already in country.]

Day Four Photos  Picasa
Brisbane: city exploration and visit the Queensland University Anthropology Museum with important collections.  [We also had a pre-dinner lecture by Dr. Annie Ross on some of the history of European contact with the Aboriginal peoples and issues since.]

Day Five  Photos  Picasa
By air and overland to the Carnarvon Gorge, in lush tropical forests, deep gorges with waterfalls, and deep rock crevices here conceal many of Australia’s significant Aboriginal rock art sites, including astonishing stencil art. We stay in the only possible accommodation here: the aptly named Wilderness Lodge.

Day Six  Photos  Picasa
A full day visiting the extraordinary rock art sites of Carnarvon Gorge. Second night in the Wilderness Lodge.

Day Seven
Returning to Emerald, we take a flight south to Sydney (via Brisbane).

Day Eight Photos  Picasa
A day to see Sydney’s unmissable sights: the Opera House (tour optional), the Australian Museum.

Day Nine Photos  Picasa
Fly to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock,  the renowned sandstone rock formation nearly 350 m high and famous for its colour changes in different light and weather conditions. It is sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area, and is now a World Heritage Site. Ancient paintings surround its base, and we see the rock at sunset, the best time (also a chance for a walk along Olga gorge).

Day Ten Photos  Picasa
Watch the sunrise over Uluru and then spend the day crossing the red desert of the centre with a local guide explaining the landscapes as we pass. Evening arrival in Alice Springs.

Day Eleven Photos  Picasa
Visit Emily Gap, with its ‘caterpillar dreaming’ sacred art site and other aboriginal rock art. Afternoon explore Alice Springs Desert Park.

Day Twelve Photos  Picasa
Ewaninga Conservation Reserve to view superb examples of Australian rock art.  This evening board the famous Ghan railway for an exciting overnight journey north to Katherine.

Day Thirteen Photos  Picasa
Katherine, in the Northern Territory,  was (and still is) an important meeting point for the Aboriginal people. We drive immediately to the spectacular Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park and board a boat on the Katherine river to see some of the many ancient rock paintings. Cross through Kakadu National Park to Jabiru.  [Slight change of program - instead of taking the river cruise described above, we took a Yellow Water cruise, leaving us more time in Kakadu and also seeing more wildlife.]

Day Fourteen Photos  Picasa
The Nourlangie Rock, a sacred shelter with rock art, including some ‘X-ray’ paintings, and Ubirr rock art site are our goals today, before boarding our chartered plane at Jabiru, to fly to Mount Borradaile, in the heart of the largest Aboriginal reserve in Australia.

Days Fifteen/Sixteen  Photos15 Photos16  Picasa15 Picasa16
Two days at Max Davidson’s Camp in Mount Borradaile. Some of the world's oldest, most profuse and exceptional indigenous rock art is here, and we  spend two whole days exploring.

Day Seventeen Photos  Picasa
Today we leave Mount Borradaile on our specially chartered flight to Darwin, where (time allowing), after an introduction to the city, we visit the museum and galleries. Evening depart Darwin for flight home.  [For Margaret and myself, it’s actually in the wee hours of day 18!  Since we cross the International Date Line again, our 32-hour travel time is all day 18.]

Day Eighteen
Arrive London.  [This was another of those travel days you’d like to forget.  MY flight from Max Davidson’s to Darwin was delayed when the right engine wouldn’t start on the chartered plane.  Margaret was in the first group thus and not delayed, I was delayed about 15 - 20 minutes, and the third group was delayed by a couple of hours when the “good” plane flew to Darwin to drop us off, returned to Max Davidson’s place, and flew back to Darwin with the last group, about an hour each way!  Then our flight from Sydney to Los Angeles was delayed by several hours, causing us to miss our LA/Denver connection.  Qantas had already rebooked us on another flight, but that flight was late also!  But we knew we’d get home eventually, no one would be inconvenienced by flight delays, etc., so it was no big deal.]

August 5-22, 2012

The itinerary here and on the per-day pages is adapted from the Andante pre-trip briefing materials, with the addition of the “Photos” and “Picasa” links to the photo galleries for each day, and occasional addenda in brackets.