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)
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Aboriginal 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.