Four interrelated sites around the America Bay track at West Head, depicting different scenes.
Along the America Bay Track are two significant sites; one of them was previously signposted but the signage has now been removed (as is the case with many sites, where visitation is being discouraged). Two additional sites are in the vicinity of the America Bay Track.
America Bay main site
The upper, or main, America Bay site has a number of overlapping figures, with a whale in the middle of the group.
The large and still very distinct whale was described by W.D. Campbell in 1899: “the group comprises a whale sixteen feet long and three small figures. The whale has a double line at the anterior and posterior portion of the body; the large fin also has a narrow double line near its extremity, and a narrow triple line at its base. In the middle of the body opposite the large fin is a circle with a sword-like projection; this, doubtless, has a mystic meaning.” (Plate 19, Fig 1).
Overlapping the whale below its posterior band is the figure of a woman.
Below the large fin and outside the figure of the whale is a goanna.
To the west of the main site is a representation of Daramulan, an ancestral creation being and the son of Baiame and Bootha, and a number of additional figures.
The Darumalan figure is over six metres long and a metre wide, with one leg (Darumalan has only one leg, and is said to possess a deep thundering voice). He was described in detail by McCarthy: “His bird-like head has a long and open beak-like mouth, five or six eyes, and a pointed spur a the back. On the middle of his neck is what appears to be a pair of human forearms and hands: the upper one has ill-defined fingers, the forearm extends across the neck, and the elbow juts out on the girdle across his waist. The penis, marked with a tranverse line, is long and sinuous and ends in a single line at the edge of a small pothole…” Below his foot is a boomerang, and within the figure is a mundoe. Another seven mundoes above the figure (some very shallow) lead away from the rock towards Topham Hill, another very significant area with multiple engraving sites.
Next to the Daramulan figure is a small fish (described by McCarthy as a leatherjacket).
Below his foot is another goanna (Campbell uses the term iguana, a term used by the early European settlers for monitor lizards, which eventually became corrupted into the word “goanna”).
Man Striking Wallaby
Another site above a small waterfall depicts man and wallaby (although the man is very hard to make out): “they depict a man, below natural size, striking a wallaby with a boomerang, and a number of straight lines which probably belong to an unfinished figure. The site is an obvious habitat of rock and scrub wallabies but it is not possible to determine whether the hunter stalked and struck his victim, or whether he threw his boomerang…” (McCarthy Group 34).
Just above the wallaby are the “unfinished” lines, which resemble an unfinished shield.
Close by is another figure not described by McCarthy, which is a very faded engraving of a skate, or stingray.
Kangaroo and Shield
On the opposite side of West Head Road to the America Bay track is a large kangaroo and shield, on adjacent rock platforms.
The kangaroo was recorded and described by Campbell as “a very fine figure of a kangaroo over eighteen feet long, with all four legs shown and open mouth.” (Plate 17 Fig 5).
Parts of the kangaroo are quite weathered and the area around his head is very rough, making it hard to identify the “open mouth”. Conversely, some of the detail in the kangaroo’s paws are very well preserved.
On an adjoining rock platform is a shield, with many of the puncture marks still clearly visible.
- Aboriginal carvings of Port Jackson and Broken Bay. W. D. Campbell. 1899. Plate 17 Fig 5 (p.63) and Plate 19 Fig 1 (p.62)
- Records of Rock Engravings in the Sydney District: XXXIII to XXXVII. F.D. McCarthy in Mankind Vol 3, No. 9 (July 1946). Group 33 (Plate Z, Figs 1-2) and Group 34 (Plate Z, Fig 6).
- A Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings. Peter Stanbury & John Clegg. 1990. pp.60-62