Chalala and Rock Art of Kimberley

When brought by Cultural Custodians into rock art areas of Kimberley, it is necessary to let the spirits know that you are coming, who you are, what business you have being there, and how long you will be staying.

Visiting Indigenous Australian rock art areas of the Kimberley with Palya Art Tours.

After hours of 4WD travel, over near impassable roads, deep into the heart of Kimberley, the stillness is almost touchable through the bush as we get out and walk.

Because of long spiky grasses – when fire hasn’t flashed through – we tread in single file. Hot, sunny and with a massive clear blue sky above, there’s a signal ahead to stop.

While we wait, our host goes on ahead, calling out, warning the occupant spirits that we are approaching. When it’s cleared to proceed we do so in mindfulness not to disturb any matter, not to touch in any way the earthly pigments shaping the unearthly beings coming in to view, deeply seeped into, seeping out of, the rock.

Spirit beings are hidden in and around rock forms across Kimberley. They are held sacred and ever more carefully minded. Their living places are often near water, with a view, and are sheltered from the weather. Each has an individual identity and purpose. It has been the duty of every third generation of countrymen to refresh the earthly markings, to bring renewal, such as rain.

The same feeling comes over me as that entering a cathedral, only the roof is endless. There’s a sense of giving and taking, awe and humility. Sitting on the dusty sand, insects busy all about, one can’t help but take enormous deep breaths and let the heart and mind open.

Personally, I walk away feeling stronger, yet minuscule, privileged yet held in check.

An age old warning to those unaware of the presence of rock art sites such as this is a Chalala. A Chalala is a standing rock, made obvious by it’s projection. It signifies potently that you are approaching a significant area. It asks if you have a right to go further. On first sight of a Chalala it’s enough to make one stop, dead still.

Fly with Palya Art Tours to The Kimberley

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