Summary: The Whale Feast site is a "remarkable" Aboriginal engraving site in Muogamarra Nature Reserve. It has over 60 figures, including a Baiame ancestral being and a line of 31 human figures below a large whale.

The largest Aboriginal engraving site in the Muogamarra Nature Reserve, this signposted site contains 69 figures. It was documented by Campbell in 1899, who described it as “a remarkable example of aboriginal carving” and notes that the engravings were located next to a natural circular rock basin, which “contained several gallons of water which, upon tasting, we found to be very good”. You can see the basin below the whale.

McCarthy later described the group in considerable detail, drawing from Campbell’s description, and adding his interpretation of what the motifs represent:

The two main compositions in this remarkable group comprise firstly the line of 17 men associated with the Baiami type of ancestral being, and the adjoining line of of 13 men and a woman associated with the whale and the big man opposite the whale, the first set of obvious ritual and mythological significance, the second a whale feast, and it is possible that both form part of the one ritual; the men in the line constitute another set of importance in the total ritual as two of them are bigger than the other men and one is apparently copulating with the smaller man; the big man opposite the whale also appears to be of some ritual importance, perhaps as leader of the ceremonies, but why the kangaroo and the woman are so intimately incorporated in this line is not clear; there is another hunting and fishing composition of 2 men, 3 eels and a kangaroo near the basin, and a fish caught on a line at the S end; the little seated figure is posed like a koala bear but lacks the foreleg, and he has a human foot, so that he may be regarded as a mythological human figure.

Campbell regarded all of the human figures as deities or deific and drew attention to the hoof-like foot on the big anthropomorph as a hoof that does not belong to any Australian animal but this type of foot is not uncommon on human figures among the engravings; he also pointed out the unusual nature of the little seated man who resembles a figure in Group 84.

Fred McCarthy, Catalogue of Rock Engravings in the Sydney-Hawkesbury District (1983)

The site has suffered some damage; in the 1890s, a cart track ran straight through the middle of the site. In 1927, a tent school run for children of gangers working on the Pacific Highway was built in Muogamarra on the rock platform; a rock inscription “commemorates” this.

Although not necessarily the most significant figure, the whale is the largest engraving. It’s just over twenty feet in length (6.8m), and has an “irregular oval body with its sides concave from the fins to the head and convex from the fins to the tail”.

Below the whale is the line of 31 human figures, which originally extended across most of the rock platform. Many of the figures have now been destroyed or weathered away.

At the one end of the line of human figures is the Baiami type of ancestral being or anthropomorph: “a figuke like a man twelve feet long; probably representing a deity; the lines about the hips and groin are peculiarly arranged. The feet are dissimilar, one being human-shaped but with three toes only, while the left is pointed, with an ankle band, presenting a hoof-like appearance”.

Above the line of men (and woman) is the “hunting composition“: a leaping kangaroo, superimposed on which is three eels and a man with upraised arms. Some of these figures are very indictinct – you just just make out the eyes and part of the arms of the man, near the tail of the kangaroo.

At the southernmost end of the site is another leaping kangaroo: “straight tail in line with body, posed with its body parallel to the ground after having taken off in a leap”.

Not documented by Campbell but noted by McCarthy as an addendum to his site recording is a dolphin, at the south-eastern end of the site. (An additional shield was recorded, adding two figures to the original 67 documented by McCarthy.)

Note: As a restricted nature reserve, photography and off-track site visitation within Muogamarra is not allowed without a permit.

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 1,093 other subscribers

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Aboriginal Sites by National Park

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.
There are over 350 Aboriginal engraving and sites recorded in the Central Coast region, many of these in the Brisbane Water 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.