The Hunting Site and Lyrebird Site are two Aboriginal engraving sites in Terrey Hills, One represents a hunting scene, and the other is named after an engraving of a lyrebird.

A short bushwalk in Terrey Hill leads to a couple of well-hidden Aboriginal engraving sites. The walk to the first rock platform is pretty easy, with the trail winding through eucalyptus trees and long grass.

Terrey Hills Hunting Site

Although the walking trail to the “Hunting SIte” is unmarked, a blue sign in front of the rock platform states that this is a protected Aboriginal site. It was first described in 1940 by Fred McCarthy, who describes it as a hunting scene: “the hunter, wearing a rayed forehead band, is shown beside a large and small kangaroo, a doe and its young or a buck and doe. His footsteps (it should `be noted that one is reversed) lead down the middle of the rock to his shield, which he had apparently dropped. His two wives are engraved on the eastern side of the rock”.

Terrey Hills Hunting Site
Hunter and kangaroos Woman Woman Mundoe Mundoe Mundoe

Hunter and kangaroos

AWAT4803 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

A man (described as the hunter) is carved above a leaping kangaroo, which has been speared. Below the larger kangaroo is a doe (a female kangaroo).

Woman

AWAT4811 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

One of two women, described as the hunter's wives

Woman

AWAT4815 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

One of two women, described as the hunter's wives

Mundoe

AWAT4816 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

One of eight mundoes across the site

Mundoe

AWAT4817 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

One of eight mundoes across the site

Mundoe

AWAT4819 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

One of eight mundoes across the site

Stanbury & Clegg in their Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings also refer to this area as the “Hunting Site”, suggesting that it denotes a successful kangaroo hunt.

AWAT4805 LR Terrey Hills - "Hunting Site"

The site may have been used for an “increase ceremony”, designed to promote the fertility of particular plants or animals. There’s also an argument that because the man has a large penis, and is wearing a head-dress, the site might be associated with creator spirits such as Baiame (Ray Norris). The line of mundoes (footprints) may represent the steps taken by the hunter as he stalks his prey (there are 8 between the man and the creek).

AWAT4824 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

Terrey Hills Lyrebird Site

It’s a bit tricker to reach the second site, which is on the other side of a small creek. A rough and sometimes indistinct trail heads down to the clear and picturesque (unnamed) stream, which flows into Kierans Creek.

IMG_4041-LRIMG_4045-LR

Further up the hill on the other side is a long series of rock platforms, one of which contains a number of engravings.

Terrey Hills Lyrebird Site
Lyrebird Large kangaroo Leaping kangaroo Leaping kangaroo Flying phalanger

Lyrebird

AWAT4856 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

Large kangaroo

AWAT4833 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

The largest kangaroo is almost two metres in height, and shown standing upright.

Leaping kangaroo

AWAT4829 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

Two leaping kangaroos are shown in file.

Leaping kangaroo

AWAT4868 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

Two leaping kangaroos are shown in file.

Flying phalanger

IMG 4048 LR Terrey Hills Aboriginal Engravings

A "flying phalanger" (a lemur-like tree-dwelling marsupial which is part of the possum genus).

In the middle of the site is a lyrebird, after which the site is named (the tail feathers indicating it’s male bird). It’s the “most important feature of the group and the finest portrayal among the few known of this bird” (McCarthy).

AWAT4856 LR Terrey Hills - "Lyrebird Site"

Other engravings on the rock include kangaroos (or wallabies) and a flying possum (below) as well as two echidnas and twelve arrows around the site, which may represent lyrebird tracks.

Not far away are some interesting rock formations and a sandstone cave, with a large column that’s been sculpted by the wind and rain.

On the ceiing of the cave is what appears to be another Aboriginal carving. I was initially advised it may have formed part of a larger drawing (the remainder having been damaged or eroded over time), and later discovered that it’s complete: “the head and arms are on the lower right with the body stretched around with the legs on the left”.

IMG_4072-LR

It’s a well-preserved site, especially considering its relative ease of access.

Indigenous sites by National Park

Over 40 sites have been recorded within the park; many were located along the river bank and were flooded by the building of the weir in 1938.
Many sites Aboriginal engraving sites across the inner suburbs of Sydney have been destroyed or are very weatheredl. The sites which remain are isolated from their natural environment.
Located to the north-west of Sydney, just south of the Dharug and Yengo National Parks. Maroota has a high concentration of (known) Aboriginal sites. The original inhabitants of the Maroota area were the Darug people.
Yengo National Park was an important spiritual and cultural place for the Darkinjung and Wonnarua People for thousands of years, and 640 Aboriginal cultural sites are recorded in the park and nearby areas.
There are over 350 Aboriginal engraving and sites recorded in the Central Coast region, many of these in the Brisbane Water National Park.
Over a hundred Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the Hornsby region, with many of these in the Berowra Valley National Park and around the suburb of Berowra.

3 Comments

mattniven · November 25, 2020 at 5:15 am

G’day, enjoying your content
Just wanted to leave a comment regarding the drawing in the cave, I’ve seen several sites that have similar images and the one you show is complete. The head and arms are on the lower right with the body stretched around with the legs on the left. As to what it represents we’ll probably never know but something spiritual would be my guess. None of the drawings in white I’ve seen had much detail other than an outline.
Sure is interesting looking at them and pondering on the magnificent peoples that once occupied the land on which we now live.
Happy Trails
Matt Niven

    oliverd :-) · November 25, 2020 at 6:59 am

    Thanks Matt – that’s good to know. I asked a few people who are more familar with Aboriginal art than me, and they thought part of it may have been lost to erosion. And yes, it’s amazing how much rock art still exists that reflect such a different culture! Appreciate your feedback. I’ll update the blog post!

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