The reason Kakadu is my favourite maritime heritage, is manifold. First of all, before I started studying archaeology, I spend a year in Australia, where I worked and travelled. During this year my interest in archaeology was re-affirmed by the amazing archaeological sites that can be found all over the country. One of the sites I visited while in Australia is Kakadu National Park. While in Kakadu our tour guide told us about the Aboriginal peoples that lived, and still live, in the region. She told us some of the ‘dreamtime’ stories and explained to us the significance of these stories to the Aboriginal people.
One of the things that really struck me about these stories is the importance they hold, not only as ‘mythology’, but also as roadmaps of the surrounding area. By telling stories of how the landscape was shaped during the ‘dreamtime’ people were able to paint a mental image of their surroundings that they could then use to navigate the area.
Secondly, Kakadu has a long and rich history which is told in the rock art in many of the rock shelters that can be found throughout the region. As can be seen in the photos to the left, a portion of the rock art that can be found can be linked to the water. This is due to the fact that in the National Park there are many floodplains, rivers and marshes. These marshes provided both a challenge and a source of food and other resources to the people that live(d) in this area. Therefore, archaeological research on these sites can tell us about the interaction between the Aboriginal people that lived in these rock shelters and the water that was all around them.
Lastly, not only the rich culture, but also the beautiful nature in this National Park leaves an impression on anyone who visits. The vastly varied flora, massive termite mounds that can reach up to 3 meters high, and the rivers full of alligators makes for an mesmerizing view wherever you look.
Kakadu National Park is a living cultural landscape with exceptional natural and cultural values. Kakadu has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, and many of the park’s extensive rock art sites date back thousands of years. Kakadu’s rock art provides a window into human civilisation in the days before the last ice age. Detailed paintings reveal insights into hunting and gathering practices, social structure and ritual ceremonies of Indigenous societies from the Pleistocene Epoch until the present.”
UNESCO World Heritage Convention
by Iris van den Brink