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Kimberley traditional owners complete rock art course

Rock art conservator Dave Lambert advises Ngarinyin traditional owners
Rock art conservator Dave Lambert advises Ngarinyin traditional owners Jo Erskine, Parks and Wildlife

A hands-on rock art conservation course coordinated by the Department of Parks and Wildlife has provided Kimberley Aboriginal groups with invaluable skills in art site protection and conservation.

Projects and policy officer Jo Erskine said five traditional owner groups participated in the course, which focused on techniques for protecting art from damaging impacts including water wash from rain, and leaching of salts and minerals from the rock.

“Rock art sites are of immense cultural importance to Aboriginal people and are an important part of maintaining their relationship to their land,” Ms Erskine said.

“While many of the previous rock art projects in the Kimberley looked at scientific research relating to art dating, the aim of this project was to build specific skills in art site conservation.

“This included managing sites for external impacts such as vegetation, fire, animals, insects, graffiti and visitors.”

Ms Erskine said the course was developed by NSW-based rock art conservator Dave Lambert specifically for Aboriginal rangers and communities.

“We were fortunate to have traditional owner groups from throughout the east Kimberley participate, including Parks and Wildlife Mirriuwung Gajerrong rangers, Purnululu rangers, Reserve 31165 rangers, along with Armbangardi rangers from Carson River Station, Balanggarra rangers and the Ngarinyin traditional owners who speak for Jilariba (Walcott Inlet).

“One of the great outcomes of the course was that it gave rangers the confidence and skills to carry out practical rock art conservation themselves, including managing immediate conservation concerns and predicting future issues.

“Each group was also given a rock art kit to enable them to undertake their own rock art conservation and maintenance.

“The Kimberley region has the greatest diversity and some of the most spectacular rock art in Australia, so it is in everyone’s interests to protect it.”

Mirriuwung Gajerrong ranger Raymond Bradshaw was enthusiastic about the course.

“It was good spending time with old people, learning about sacred sites and the importance of protecting them from animals, fire or anything destroying it.”

 

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