Aboriginal Rock Engravings at the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains provide a picturesque escape from the busy streets of Sydney. Here, Australia’s natural beauty is in full bloom, with lush greenery and velvet peaks that dip and soar across the horizon. As well as a vibrant display of wildlife and pretty scenery, the area is home to a rich and lengthy Aboriginal history.

Throughout the landscape, there are numerous Indigenous sites that formed an important part of life for the local tribes. Today, these sites provide an insight into the area’s history, as they are still flecked with centuries-old rock paintings.

Within the Blue Mountains, there are rock engravings, art sites, burial sites, caves, and shelters, all of which made up men’s areas, women’s areas, birthing areas, and places to manufacture tools thousands of years ago.

The rich Aboriginal history is well worth exploring if you’re in the region, and there are plenty of tours and guides who can show you around.

The Rock Engravings in the Blue Mountains

There is a smattering of rock paintings in the Blue Mountains, so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled as you explore. In one spot, the engravings that are etched onto a flat, tree-less ledge date back between 5,000 and 7,000 years. They were created by pecking, hammering, or scraping to form shapes that resemble animals, tools, people, and the surrounding landscape.

Many of the Aboriginal people who lived in the Blue Mountains believed they were created from animals, which is why there are so many animal carvings throughout the region. As well as serpents and wallabies, there are plenty of carvings of emus and fish. The sandstone that the pieces are carved into is Sydney sandstone. This particular type of rock is easy to engrave, but fades quickly.

This meant that the Guringai people who resided in the area would have come back a few times each year to re-engrave their artworks.

But it’s not just wildlife that adorns the rock faces. Some of the carved patterns represent the Milky Way and might have been used as an astrological guide. These spots would also have been popular meeting places for Aboriginal ceremonies and corroborees.

The best way to see Aboriginal rock paintings is in the natural environment, not in a museum or gallery, as these are their most authentic setting. Each carving signifies something different, too, for example certain stencils would have acted as messages to let other members of the tribe know that the cave or ledge it is carved on is a safe place to stay.