A significant Aboriginal rock art site, the signposted Gumbooya Reserve in Allambie Heights contains a total of 70 figures, some of which are very weathered. It consists of a large rock surface that was originally called Flat Rocks, on the spurs of a hill to the north of Curl Curl Creek.
The site was first documented by W.D. Campbell in 1899, and later by Fred McCarthy, in three separate groups, or series.
Series 1 (Figure 1)
This group contains the most figures, with 45 in toptal including four whales.
A school of whales dominates this series, and one has a man inside it, another example of rnagic to entice the whale to become stranded and the teeth on one of them form an interesting detail for the sperm whale; the noose, the little decorated man and the Thylacine are unique figures, and the seed pods are very rare; otherwise rhe figures illustrate typical mammals and fish of the area with a rare native cat, and the shark is a well shaped figure. The elaborately decorated man appears to be involved with a stingray, a totemic association of a ritual nature.McCarthy in Catalogue of Rock Engravings
The most dominant and well-preserved figure is the second-largest whale, which is 7.5m in length, which is partly engraved on a steeply sloping section of rock. It has two lines across its body. “It is probably intended for a sperm whale, on account of the teeth, which project from the mouth” – although the whale’s six half-oval teeth cannot easily be seen.
Inside the body of the whale are two figures, which were not mentioned by Campbell, but later described as the seed pods of the woody pear by McCarthy. It’s impossible to verify this – one of them appears to be a fish.
Also within the whale’s body is what was described as an echidna – but it doesn’t look like any recognisable figure.
In front of the whale is a figure described as a dolphin, although it could also be a fish.
Just below the head of the whale is another seed pod, which is much more distinct. (The shape is similar – but slightly different – to figures at the nearby Bantry Bay Aboriginal site, which were described as whale flukes.)
Below the seed pod is a shield, which is also quite weathered – only half is visible.
To thr The third-largest whale is 5.6m in length and “within its outline the figure of a man, and it has the appearance of being an older carving than the others.” The whale is described by McCarthy as having a “long, conical head, 2 rings for eyes, 2 huge pectoral fins one of which is very wide and has a double line bar across it, another big fin, which is attached to the outline, overlaps it and a big well shapewd tail”.
The outline of the whale is quite weathered, but the man is fairly distinct.
At the bottom of the site is a circle, which was described as an oval – but it has a small mouth indent or “mouth” at one end (which was not mentioned by McCarthy).
Outside the area marked by logs is an eel.
A “smooth, circular, weathered portions of the rock” has a number of figures, with some of them overlapping – these can no longer be seen. Some of the other animals in this small area include three eels, two fish and a hammerhead shark.
Other unusual figures in this series, which are no longer visible, described by McCarthy include what McCarthy described as a bird-catching noose and Campbell as a fishing line and loop, native cat, a dolphin, a wombat and a Thylacine, or Tasmanian Devil. (There are very few figures described as Thylacine in Sydney – this is the only one I’m aware of – but over 20 are known in the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region of northwest Australia. The Thylacine or Thylacinus cynocephalus was native to the Australian mainland and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea.)
The most dominant and well-preserved figure is the second-largest whale, which is 7.5m in length, and partly engraved on a steeply sloping section of rock.
A seed pod - an unusual figure
Shield is very weathered
A circle or oval, with a small mouth indent or "mouth" at one end (which was not mentioned by McCarthy).