Summary: Dark red ochre paintings preserved in two rock shelters on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Manning, in Yengo National Park.

The well preserved paintings in two adjacent rock shelters were most likely first seen by Europeans in the 1930s, and subsequently “chalked” in 1961. These markings have all since been removed, when the artwork was researched in the 1960s by N.G.W. Macintosh. These are though to be the first Aboriginal rock art to have been dated in Australia.

img 3807 lr Mount Manning Shelter

The six ochre paintings in the southern shelter are thought to have been painted around AD 1400, from a radiocarbon analysis of charcoal associated with matching ochre in the floor deposits of the cave.

img 3843 lr Mount Manning Shelter

The paintings include a female and male echidna, male dingo and two anthropomorphs (above) and another dingo. The figures are of ritual significance, perhaps associated with rain, lightning and fertility. Dingos and echidnas are also thought to be related to fertility rituals.

img 3823 lr Mount Manning Shelter

Further along the cave are more paintings of a similar style, but much fainter – they are thought to be a replica of the first group. At the very end of the cave are charcoal drawings of wallabies or kangaroos.

image Mount Manning Shelter

The paintings in the northern shelter are more recent, thought to have been painted between 1750 and 1830 and in a different style.

img 3847 lr Mount Manning Shelter

The northern shelter paintings are in charcoal, white and ochre colours – and are much harder to discern.

img 3851 lr Mount Manning Shelter

The motifs are generally of local fauna, and include snakes, eels, wallabies or kangaroos, stencilled hands, shields and a boomerang. I couldn’t make out any of these with certainty.

image 1 Mount Manning Shelter

What’s also interesting is that there are (at least) twelve additional caves within 500m of this one – many seemingly better for shelter, cooking or painting – but none were found in the 1960s survey to contain any evidence of Aboriginal occupation…

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hiking the World, and receive notifications of new posts by email. (A hike is added every 1-2 weeks, on average.)

Join 1,134 other subscribers

1 Comment

Jim nixon · January 24, 2023 at 4:59 pm

I’m interested in visiting the mount manning art site, is it easy to find?

Leave a Reply

Aboriginal Sites by National Park

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.
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.
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.