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Stamps brought to life with 12,000-year-old Kimberley rock art paintings

[by Michael Zappone]

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Rock painting of freshwater crocodiles, in Wandjina style, is from a rock shelter near the Gibb River Road in Ngarinyin Country, which has many waterways and spans the Central and Northern Kimberley. Wandjina imagery dates from about 5,000 years ago and is still being made. Image: supplied

Rock paintings connected to the Wanjina Wunggurr community, based in the Kimberley region of Western Australia are recognised as some of the world’s oldest surviving art practices and are featured in stamps released by Australia Post, available this month.

Australia Post Manager Philatelic, Michael Zsolt said the stunning Kimberley region of Western Australia provides an incredible insight to some of the world’s most historic artworks.

“The Kimberley region of Western Australia is one of the world’s richest rock art sites, a dynamic cultural landscape situated within steep mountain ranges, sandstone and limestone gorges, waterfalls, pristine rivers and a rugged coastline that gives way to islands and coral reefs and we are proud to feature art representative of the Northern Kimberley language and cultural groups of the Wanjina Wunggurr community,” he said.

“Aboriginal peoples created storytelling through thousands of engravings, paintings and markings in rock shelters and surfaces across Australia.  It speaks to the, lands they occupied and cared for more than 60,000 years, and these stamps highlight some of the rich history of Indigenous peoples across our nation,” he said.

Two Northern Kimberley Traditional Owner groups, are represented through this stamp issue: the Ngarinyin people (Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation) and the Wunambal Gaambera (Uunguu) people (Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation).

Wunambal Gaambera (Uunguu), Wororra (Dambimangari) and Ngarinyin (Wilinggin) belong to the Wanjina Wunggurr community.    Their unique and strong connection to Country is profound and is linked to , their ancestral storytelling of Wunggurr (serpent) spirits and the creator Wanjina.  

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