Wimmera Attractions - Aboriginal Rock Art

In the Grampians National Park, the public can visit rockshelters where Aboriginal people camped and painted images of their life and law on the sandstone walls. About 60 known sites have been located throughout the ranges, although only a number are publicised for visiting.

"In many ways, Gariwerd's rock art is as diverse yet unique as its famous wildflowers. Aboriginal occupation of the Grampians dates back beyond 5000 years and the area contains the majority of rock art sites in south-east Australia."

Nearly 4000 different art motifs have been recorded, although the major designs are emu tracks, human figures, hands, bars and straight lines. The oldest hand stencils are over 2000 years old, while the most recent where painted around the time Europeans discovered Australia.

The western and northern sections of the Grampians contains the most accessible rock shelters for visiting.

Bunjils Shelter

Black Range State Forest
Pomonal-Stawell Rd
Easygrade walk. 10mins return

"Bunjils Shelter is the only known art site in Victoria containing figures painted in more than one colour, as well as a representation of someone whose identity is known."

A rock shelter painting located east of the Grampians depicts Bunjil,
the principal legendary hero, the creator who provided all the peoples needs.
For more information on Bunjil read the
The Yardwadjali and Djap Wurrung Story.

Billimina Shelter

Grampians National Park
Buandik Picnic Area, Billywing Rd, off Henty Hwy
1.7 km circuit, medium grade, 45mins

"The largest and most spectacular art site in Victoria, Billimina is an impressive, isolated boulder, with a smooth, steeply-angled rock overhang that forms an ideal canvas for the artwork. Once a meeting place for the Jardwadjali people and their predecessors, Billimina's single massive rock art panel is covered to above head height with over 2,500 motifs, most of which consist of red ochre bar stokes that possibly acted as 'tallies' for initiations or some other sacred ritual.

High in a deep gully, hidden in dense bush, Billimina Shelter serves as a powerful climax to a gradually climbing trail starting in the Buandik Campground next to Cultivation Creek.

Manja is pronounced Manya and means 'hand' in Jardwadjali."

Manja Shelter

Grampians National Park
Off Harrap Track, via Glenelg River Rd and Henty Hwy
2.6km return, easy grade,1hr

With a total of ninety hands outlined in red against the shelter's creamy walls, Manja has more hand stencils than any other rock art site in Victoria. Hand impressions are a common motif in rock art throughout the world. Signifying the artist's presence, they are a way of saying " we are here, we are are part of this place."

A 1.3km walking trail leads you through a series of distinct vegetation bands to Manja Shelter at the base of a prominent sandstone outcrop, just below the ridgeline near Deep Creek in the Victoria Range."

Gulgurn Manja Shelter

Grampians National Park
Vic Plantation Rd and Grampians Rd
100 metres return, easy grade walk, 5mins

"With over 190 motifs, consisting of emu and kangaroo tracks, hand prints and bar stokes, the Gulgurn manja shelter is the richest art site in the northern Gariwerd-Grampians ranges.

Gulgurn manja has more red ochre hand prints than any other shelter in Gariwerd. All the 26 prints are of right hands, which holds true for most hand prints found in Aboriginal shelters across southeast Australia. All the handprints are small in size, as though they were children's hands."

Ngamadjidj Shelter

Grampians National Park
Via Plantation Rd and Grampians Rd
100 metres return, easy grade walk, 5mins

"Ngamadjidj's animated art panel of white-painted dancing, squatting and standing figures is completely different in colour and style from most other northern Gariwerd art sites. Aboriginal people, like many Asian cultures, associate the colour white with death and the spirit world. Ngamadjidj is pronounced Nama-dij and means 'white person' in Jardwadjali.

In spring it's a short walk from the picnic ground through a blaze of wildflowers to the squat, dark sandstone outcrop sheltering the spirit dancers of Ngamadjidj."

The Black Range Shelters- Mugadgadjin and Burrunj

Black Range Picnic Area
Via Western Hwy, Campbells Rd and Black Range Rd

"Mugadgadjin has a number of squatting figures in white clay, but it is the panoramic view of the Mt Difficult Range, the Asses Ears and the Victoria Range from the Burrunj Shelter's rock ledge which makes a trip to these art sites rewarding. Buurrunj also has a strange spiral and comb design, as well as Gariwerd's only stenciled hand and forearm.

Mugadgadjin takes its name from a nearby spring. Gadjin means water; the meaning of mugad is unknown. Mugadgadin is pronounced Muga-dajin.

Burrunj means darkness or night and is derived from the Jardwadjali name for the Black Range."

(Selected quotations from "People of the Gariwerd", Aboriginal Affairs Victoria)

For more information on Aboriginal Heritage:

Aboriginal Heritage

Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre
European Settlement
Koories in the Gariwerd Area
The Yardwadjali and Djap Wurrung Story

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