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4 December 2005
Wollemi rock art shows Aboriginal Dreaming

Archaeologists surveying rugged bushland outside Sydney (Australia) have discovered evidence that an ancient Aboriginal Dreaming track runs through wilderness where the Jurassic-era Wollemi Pine was found. Dreaming tracks record the journey of spirit ancestors as they moved through the landscape, transforming ancestral lands and laying down the laws.
     Around 1000 known tracks are believed to exist, mainly in central and northern Australia, says Professor Paul Tašon of Griffith University, whose work was presented at an archaeology conference in Western Australia last week. Tašon says a survey of Wollemi National Park west of Sydney, beginning in September 2004, has found numerous paintings and engravings. "We found dozens of previously unrecorded rock art sites," he says. "It appears that a traditional Aboriginal travel route, possibly a Dreaming track, runs across Wollemi National Park."
     He says the rock art evidence suggests that there must once have been Dreaming tracks across southeast Australia as significant and detailed as those in the north and centre. The discovery comes after Tašon and his team announced in 2003 they had discovered more than 200 rock paintings in an undisclosed rock shelter deep in the Wollemi wilderness. Some areas were so remote they were only accessible by helicopter.
     The sites are believed to be as old as 4000 years and many represent birds, or human-bird hybrids, which is unusual for Aboriginal art but probably reflected the area's rich bird life. At the time it was hailed as a major find, but since then Tašon and colleagues, including members of local Aboriginal communities, have made more startling discoveries suggesting the area has major cultural significance. "We've been finding some key sites which show influences from several different directions," he says. "It looks like this is a path that people used and marked for many thousands of years."
     Tašon says the sites will remain secret but will be documented for posterity. His team will begin new fieldwork in the area next April.

Source: ABC Science Online (2 December 2005)

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