|morning across Prudhoe Island|
|leaving Shelter Bay|
Monday 17th June 2013
Rock Art at Bigge Island –
Montague Sound and a Lumpy Night in York Sound
It took us exactly two hours to sail from Shelter Bay at Prudhoe Island to Wary Bay on the NW side of Bigge Island some 8n/m away. (14’28.071E – 125’08.669S) This was only a stop-off, stopping just long enough to go exploring and then we were on our way again. The reason for the stop-off; Bigge Island is famous for some amazing rock art paintings known as the Wandjina figures that are spread over many sites.
|track on the beach|
In Aboriginal culture the Wandjina is the Rain Spirit of the Wunambal, Wororra and Ngarinyin language people, the controller of the Seasons, the bringer of rain which equals water which equals life itself. Then it says that the Earth is hot and that it breathes; the Earth it breathes, it's a steam blow up, and it gives cloud to give rain. Rain gives fruit, and everything grows, and the trees and the grass to feed other things, kangaroos and birds and everything. With the completion of their earthly tasks, each of the Wandjina turned into a rock face image. There the Wandjina spirits continue to live.
|figures with smoking pipes|
Wandjina ceremonies, to ensure the timely beginning of the monsoon wet season and sufficient rainfall were held during December and January, following which the rains usually begin. The figures are generally drawn surrounded by the totemic beings and creatures associated with them, on which they depend for sustenance, and these caves and rock shelters become a focus of tribal religion and ritual action.
Aboriginal people believe that if the Wandjina are offended then they will take their revenge by calling up lightning to strike the offender dead or the rain to flood the land and drown the people or the cyclone with its winds to devastate the country. These are the powers which the Wandjinas can use. Aboriginal culture teaches it is possible for new life to emanate from the figures adorning the cave walls, to re-enter the physical world as unborn children. Such places are sites to which local Aborigines have a deeply spiritual attachment. These Wandjina are seen to have considerable powers and the Aborigines are careful to observe a certain amount of protocol when they approach the paintings, fearing that if they do not, the spirits might take their revenge. This protocol normally consists of calling out to the Wandjinas from several yards' distance, to tell them a party is approaching and will not harm the paintings. Although the paintings represent the bodies of the dead Wandjinas, the Aborigines believe the spirits of the Wandjinas live on in much the same way as they believe the spirits of human beings continue to exist after their death.
|the labyrinth of caves|
The Wandjina figures on Bigge Island are known as Kaiaira or Sea Wandjinas; they are close to the sea not up on high cliffs. These Wandjina figures were distinctive with their halos around the head of each figure. These halos represent clouds as the Wandjina are cloud spirits intimately linked to the weather, water and life. The Wandjina figures were painted by the Wunambal people and their legends tell us these Wandjinas were brought by the waterspout from the sea.
|large turtle nest and tracks|
On the way back to the tinny MrJ and I walked further along the beach and came upon some freshly made turtle egg nest. I knew that these nests were fresh as the track of the turtles were still fresh and had not been washed by the sea or windblown. Maybe the tracks were as fresh as the night before?How long does it take for the eggs to hatch? This I will have to read up about! (Gestation: 6-10 weeks.)
What a magical place was this Bigge Island and I was so thankful for having been able to experience its magic.
|MrJ tries his hand at fishing again|
|anchorage in York Sound|