(pronounced Gulkurn Manya)meaning ‘hands of young people’, is a rockshelter atthe northern tip of Gariwerd. From here the smallgroups of Jardwadjali would have been ideallypositioned to see the fires of other groups on theplains to the north. They also used the local fine-grained sandstone to make stone tools. Marks wherestone has been broken from the walls can still be seenin this shelter.The paintings at Gulgurn Manja include bars, emutracks and handprints. Handprints such as these areonly found in northern Gariwerd, and many here weredone by children, hence the Aboriginal name for thesite. These paintings were part of a unique local artstyle which was used to tell stories and pass on thelaw of the people.
(pronounced NG as in sing, DJ as in jaw)meaning ‘white person’, is on the western edge of theranges near a small secluded waterhole. Remains of campfires and stone tools used by the Jardwadjalihave been found here, which suggests it was afavoured camping place.The paintings at this site are unusual because onlywhite clay was used. Elsewhere in Gariwerd thepaintings were mostly done with red pigment. Theremnants of sixteen painted figures are on this panel,but some are becoming very faint. Unfortunatelynothing is known about the meaning of thesepaintings. The traditional lifestyle of the Jarwadjali wasdestroyed before it could be recorded.
Detail from Ngamadjidj
Detail from Gulgurn Manja
RTHow is it made?
The Jardwadjali gathered specialmaterials for their paints. Iron-rich clays (ochre) werequarried from around Gariwerd for red pigments.Kaolin clay was used for white. The pigment wasground, mixed with water, and applied either with abrush (made of bark fibre or the frayed end of a stick)or a finger. At Gulgurn Manja, handprints were madeby pressing a painted hand against the rock – asopposed to the stencil technique used in southernGariwerd, where a hand was placed on the rock thensprayed with a mouthful of pigment.
How old is it?
Only a few sites in Gariwerd havebeen investigated, but these show that Aboriginalpeople have camped in rockshelters here for the last22,000 years. We do not know exactly when thepaintings were made. Research elsewhere hasdemonstrated that Aboriginal people have lived in thearea now called Victoria, for at least 40,000 years.
ARING FOR THE
It is important to preserve these sites so we can learnabout and appreciate the way Aboriginal people live.Today, such places serve as a source of pride tocontemporary Aboriginal people, and are important toall Australians as examples of our continent’s longhistory. The Aboriginal community has recently builtthe Brambuk Living Cultural Centre in Budja Budja,where they share the knowledge of their culture, bothpast and present.Unfortunately the cages around the art are necessaryto protect the sites against vandalism. On your visit,take care not to interfere with the sites in any way.