Off-track exploration of the Aboriginal engravings on Topham Hill, just south of the Topham Track. 

Many Aboriginal engraving sites are scattered over Topham Hill in West Head, an area which seems to have been of great spiritual significance to the Garrigal people. A number of the long rock ledges on both sides of the hill have carvings with a range of motifs. 

Topham Hill Kangaroo

On of the lower ledges is a kangaroo or wallaby.

Aboriginal engraving of a kangaroo on Topham Hill (West Head)

Topham Hill Trig Ledge engravings (McCarthy Mankind Group 17)

Higher up on the north-east of the hill, a series of ledges (Topham Hill Trig Ledge engravings) has shields, boomerangs, fish, a stingray and two koalas (or a koala and an emu).

Topham Hill Trig Eel and Club

On the southern end of the hill are views over West Head to the north, and more tesselated ledges interspersed with dense scrub. 

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There’s two more individual engravings on small rock platforms, with an eel and what appears to be a club

From the eastern side of Topham Hill are views over West Head toward Pittwater and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. 

IMG 3629 LR The mysteries of Topham Hill (West Head)

Topham Hill Fish (Campbell Plate 17 Fig 6,8 and McCarthy Group 103 S1) 

Also on the eastern side of Topham is the Topham Hill Fish, an Aboriginal engraving site that many years ago had a walking track up from West Head Road. Today, just the old National Parks (NPWS) sign remains.

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The site includes a school of 30 fish being attacked by a shark, as well as shields, a bird track and two figures a bit further to the west. Many of the fish are fairly distinct, but it’s a spectacular setting for the engravings, with Pittwater visible in the distance.

AWAT6213 LR The mysteries of Topham Hill (West Head)

Topham Trig Red Hands Shelter

Continuing up Topham Trig towards the Trig Station is one of two (known) shelters with art on Topham Hill. The Topham Trig Red Hands Shelter has two very clear hand stencils in red ochre.

AWAT6130 LR The mysteries of Topham Hill (West Head)

Continuing up Topham Hill, there’s another view of West Head Road; on the horizon is the Bahai temple at Ingleside and the city skyline.

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There’s no shortage of caves, overhangs and rock formations to explore on the way up.

From time to time there are views of Pittwater through the trees.

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There are a couple more potential unrecorded engraving sites higher up the hill – although I really can’t be sure if they are are natural erosion or Aboriginal rock art. I suspect there are many more Aboriginal sites to be “discovered” on Topham Hill.

Topham Trig Station

At the very top of the hill, with an elevation of 223m (only 10m less than the Willunga Trig, the highest point in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) is Topham Trig Station (TS5653). The trig consists of just a steel post, with the rusted vane lying a few metres away.

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There’s distant views of the ocean from the trig station; a few years ago the views were more extensive after a fire went through the area. Dependig on the you route you take up Topham Hill, there are some nice views over West Head and toward Pittwater in the distance from the ridge.

Topham Trig Station Engraving site (McCarthy Mankind Group 16)

Below Topham Hill in a natural amphitheatre is the most significant Aboriginal site. The Topham Trig Station engraving site features Daramulan, a large deity, as well as a man and a woman who is urinating and defecating.

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While the Topham Track is a nice walking trail (with a “secret cave” at the end), heading off-track to explore Topham Hill is an even more rewarding experience.  

Summary of Topham Hill Aboriginal art sites

Site NameNo. MotifsMotif DetailsAHIMS ID
Topham Hill Trig Ledge (3 sites)29Fish, stingray, shields, boomerangs, koalas45-6-0198
Topham Hill Club 1Bulbous-headed club45-6-3926
Topham Hill Eel1Eel45-6-1875
Topham Hill Kangaroo1Wallaby or kangaroo45-6-0895
Topham Hill Fish66Fish (30), shark, bird, goanna, kangaroo45-6-0200
Topham Hill Man1Man with rayed headdress45-6-3925
Topham Trig Red Hands2Red hand stencils45-6-0894
Refuge Bay Shelter2Red hand stencils (faint)45-6-3743

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.

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Topham Hill rock art (West Head) – OkRoam · May 24, 2020 at 3:34 pm

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