This morning we drove out to Nourlangie which is the Balanda (non-aboriginal) name for 2 areas called Burrunggui (Boor-oon-goy) and Anbangbang (Un-bung-bung). The area is a large rock escarpment and has rock shelters, cave paintings and a pretty cool look out. We just managed to arrive in time to listen to the park ranger, Christian Dibbens (I think), do a series of 3 talks. He talked about the connection between language, law, culture and country. Then he explained the significance of the 'art' in the cave paintings, which are not really art at all as far as I can see. Rather, they are a pictorial representation of the laws and legends of the people. Tied up in the art are lessons about how to behave, where to fish, seasons, laws, etc. The country here has 6 seasons and these are linked together with the plants and animals as well as the weather. When a certain tree flowers, it's time to burn off. When another is finished flowering, it's time to hunt turtles. The Bininj (aboriginal people) have a fairly complex system of relationships between family that prevents intermarriage. You own your father's country but are the manager of your mother's. You are obliged to look after and teach your nephews and your uncles have the same obligation to you. There are people in the clan you must avoid. The legends/laws encompass useful lessons about how to live, such as don't trust crocodiles. Burn your country at the right time (cool season) otherwise an angry lightning god comes at the pre-monsoon season and burns it worse (lightning strikes). We stood in a cave that has been occupied for 20,000 years continuously. That's a staggering number. Before the Eqyptians, before the cave paintings were done in France. And there are people alive today who can explain what the different artifacts are! Because they have seen them, or used them, or their grandfather had one like that! People lived here through the last ice age and they have seen major climate change. They lived here when Australia was connected to PNG and Tassie.
J listened in pretty closely because he is fascinated with the traditional hunting tools such as spears. C was pushed well past her limit of tolerance for boredom.
It continues to be hot and the mozzies are bothering me terribly.
Dinner tonight at the restaurant again. Another wonderful meal: Tandoori zucchini flower with goat's cheese and them crème brulee. Our wait staff were Paul (French) and Laura (German).