An enormous Aboriginal engraving site, which was the first to be visited by Europeans in 1788. There are over 100 figures representing different scenes.

An old cart track passed over this significant engraving site, before a road (now the Wakehurst Parkway) was formed in 1888, and more damage was caused more recently from mountain bikers traversing the rock platform, before it was fenced. Bantry Bay is a significant Aboriginal heritage site that’s believed that to be the first Aboriginal rock engraving site visited by Europeans visited in 1788. From an original count of 84 figures in the 1890s, more detailed analysis of the site in 1966 resulted in a total of 116 figures being recorded, which are spread over five adjoining rock platforms.

Site sketch of Bantry Bay Aboriginal Site

Series 1 (Figure 5)

This group has some of the most deeply cut and best preserved engravings, which comprise a range of weapons and animals commonly seen and used by the Aboriginal people. Very prominent are three large fish (probably snapper) swimming head-to-tail.

Near the line of fish is an eel, and a jellyfish, which is a fairly unusual motif.

There are a number of clubs and axes in this group.

Two figures which look like whale flukes also stand out prominently – these were recorded by Campbell in 1899, but not described by McCarthy.

There is one man in this group, who is very weathered. He was described as having a “big half oval head, no eyes, no neck, upraised arms… short truncated legs”.

Series 2 (Figure 1)

This small group has a fish, a small oval and a deity or ancestral being. These are all quite weathered, and are very old figures.

Series 4 (Figure 4)

Containing 39 figures, this is the largest of the five sites and contains a number of “remarkable and unique figures”. These include a number of very large shields, one of which is speared.

Near the shields is a man with an oval-shaped head holding an oval (the lower part of the man is less distinct).

Two men, both fairly weathered, are carrying different objects. Campbell thought the man on the right was carrying a bundle of spears, while McCathy suggested it was a figure with shaped ends that was of “vital significance”.

Among a number of animals in this group, there’s a small wallaby and what is probably a goanna or monitor.

Series 5 (Figure 2)

The two prominent engravings in this small group are a man and a whale.

This grour was thought to represent a magician enticing a whale to become stranded (a similar scene to the ones depicted at Balls Head and Bluff Track).

Featured Guides

An overview of Aboriginal rock art, including engravings (rock art) and cave paintinhs, and a list of significant sites in and around Sydney.
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