Summary: The Lovers and Whales Aboriginal engraving site near the Salvation Loop Track at West Head features an enormous whale, and a copulating couple

Three adjacent sites depict very different scenes; unfortunately many of these engravings are quite weathered. The largest of the engravings is that of a whale, ten metres in length, which has the head of a second whale joined to the first (Fig 2A). “A remarkable feature of the depiction is that the two heads are turned in opposite directions” (McCarthy).

whales Lovers and Whales engravingswhales highlighted Lovers and Whales engravings
Source: Sydney Rock Art

A few metres to the north is a man wearing a girdle and arm-band, and a circle (potentially representing a waterhole), with a bird beside it.

On the very edge of an adjoining rock surface is a shield (Fig 2B), which is very clearly punctured. The shield and whale may represent “a medicine man carrying out magical rite to entice the whales into shallow water, where they would become stranded and provide a feast for the Aborigines“. The man and shield were carved after the whale.

AWAT1347 LR Lovers and Whales engravings

Near the shield are some very weathered carvings, which were described by McCarthy in 1954 as “an indeterminate figure” and were not mentioned by him in 1983.

On a small and secluded rock platform below the whale and shield are the “lovers”: a mythological incident, marriage ritual or “simply an expression of desire by the person who made the carving”.

Montage1 stitch LR 1 Lovers and Whales engravings

While most of the man is still fairly distinct, especially his upper body, the lower part of the woman has almost completely weathered away.

lovers Lovers and Whales engravings
Source: Sydney Rock Art (composite image)

Lovers and Whales engravings - Site Summary

Aboriginal Sites by National Park

A review of different techniques for photographing Aboriginal rock art. This includdes oblique flash, chain and planar mosaic imaging which combines hundreds of overlapping photos.
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.
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.
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.
There are over 350 Aboriginal engraving and sites recorded in the Central Coast region, many of these in the Brisbane Water National Park.
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. Many more Aboriginal heritage sites are located in the Marramarra National Park. The original inhabitants of the 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.
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