November 8 - 14, 2015: Issue 239


Raft Point


By George Repin

Located on the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia Raft Point is the site of “galleries” of indigenous rock art of the Wandjina period.  Unlike Bigge Island no examples of Gwion Gwion art (occasionally referred to as Bradshaw Rock Art) are in these “galleries”. 

Wandjina art was first recorded in the Kimberleys by George Grey, an explorer, in 1837.  Characteristically the painted figures appear to have haloes around their heads with mouthless faces and round eyes on either side of an ovoid nose.  They are believed to be over 4,000 years old.

Raft Point is an impressive rock headland.  Boab trees are notable on the easily accessible beach.

Boab trees on the beach

The tree Adansonia gregorii, commonly known as the “boab”, is indigenous to Australia occurring in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and east into the Northern Territory.  It is easily recognised by the swollen base of its trunk giving it a bottle-like appearance. Trees range in height from 5 to 15 metres. The trunk base may be very large with some trees recorded with bases five metres in diameter. The trunk may be so large that hollowed-out boab trees have even been used as lock-ups.  The Boab Prison Tree in Derby was used in this way in the 1890s to hold indigenous prisoners awaiting sentencing.

The tree is a succulent, flowering and deciduous - and very slow growing. A boab at Wyndham is 20 metres high and is estimated to be 2000 years old.

Species occur in Madagascar, mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

The tree has many uses.  Most parts are edible.  The young leaves are rich in Vitamin C.  Indigenous people have valued it for its ability to store water in dry seasons.  The bark can be used to weave fabric to make clothing or ropes.

Many common names have been applied to the tree including “bottle tree”, “upside down tree”, “gouty stem tree” and “dead rat tree”. Some indigenous Australians call it “gadawon”.  The species name recognises the Australian explorer Augustus Gregory.

Young boab trees

The accessible rock art at Raft Point is in two recesses under overhanging rocks – one above the other.  These two recesses are referred to by some as the lower and upper galleries.  The photographs accompanying this article are examples of paintings in both galleries.

Photographs taken by George Repin in 2002

 Above and Below: Rock art in the "lower gallery"

 Above and below: Rock art in the "upper gallery"

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre  Around Angkor - 1963  Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross The Oceaographic  Museum in Monaco  The Island of Elba Russian Fairy Tale Plates Meteora Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska Cloisonné Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories Not A Chagall! Did You Listen? Did You Ask? Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells Murano  University of Padua Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi  Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park  Aphrodisias  The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre  Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island  ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997 Hotere Garden Oputae Children of the Trobriand Islands Page Park Market - Rabaul Rabual  Kotor, Montenegro  Galleries of Photographs I  Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II  The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor  Delphi  Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai 

Copyright George Repin 2015. All Rights Reserved.