Around the World: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Sydney, Australia

Only 16 miles north of Sydney, Australia lies one of the oldest national parks in the country: Ku-ring-gai.  Within the national park is a stretch of Aboriginal sites, including rock paintings, rock carvings, and burial sites. These cultural treasures can be viewed on the park’s “Aboriginal Heritage Walk,” a designated trail that highlights some of the best sites. Part of this trek includes the Red Hands Cave where you will see painted stencils of hands made over 1,000 years ago.

 

Before Sydney Was Sydney

Long before Stonehenge or the pyramids of Giza were constructed, the Aboriginal inhabitants were roaming Australia in nomadic bands. Aboriginal culture remained unbroken for more than 50,000 years. As such, it is the longest unbroken culture on the planet. The original inhabitants of the area where the park now stands were the Garigal people, also known as the Carigal people. However, the name of the park comes from the Guringai people who were also inhabitants of the region. They relied heavily on the bays and harbors for the majority of their food. All told, there are over 800 Aboriginal sites in Ku-ring-gai. This is part of the reason Ku-ring-gai was placed on the list of Australian National Heritage sites.

 

Ancient Astronomers of Australia

Some of the artwork has led anthropologists to believe the ancient Aboriginal people had a firm grasp of astronomy. Several paintings correlate to cosmological bodies in the Milky Way. One such body in particular is quite apparent in the rock engravings. The Coalsack Dark Nebula is referred to as the “Emu in the Sky” by the Wardaman people. An engraving of an emu lines up perfectly with the position of this nebula when real life emus lay their eggs. (See picture above.) This suggests Aboriginals may have used the engraving as a primitive calendar.

 

Experience Sydney’s Backyard

Aside from being a treasure trove of Aboriginal culture, Ku-ring-gai is a great way to experience the natural beauty near Sydney. Picnic areas are great for taking a break from a walk and enjoying a meal with the family. Numerous boardwalks allow you to choose how extensive your hike will be. If you’re looking for something more aquatic, there are several areas perfectly situated for boating and fishing. Ku-ring-gai is also brimming with wildlife including wallabies, bush turkeys, native ducks, and goannas.

For more information, visit Ku-ring-gai’s website here: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Kuringgai-Chase-National-Park

 

Photo Credit:

http://www.atnf.csiro.au/people/Ray.Norris/SydneyRockArt/sites/Elvina/index.htm

/Ray.Norris/SydneyRockArt/sites/Elvina/index.htm

Around the World: Goak Batik Bali

Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

 

On the island of Bali, traditions are thriving. One such tradition, though relatively new to the island, has already established itself. This tradition is called “batik.” Popular throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, this art form has been around for centuries. It involves a wax-resist dying technique. Essentially, the wax creates a negative space that will remain a natural whitish color during the dyeing process.

To apply the wax, a special tool called a “canting” is used. This technique allows for a more free-handed approach and is similar to decorating a cake with icing. Another method involves a copper stamp called a “cap.” These caps look similar to cookie cutters, but instead of cutting shapes into the fabric – as normal cookie cutters would cut into dough – specific areas within the cap are filled with wax. These are often used for more intricate patterns and produce a more uniform look to the final product. Once the fabric has been dyed, the wax is boiled off with water.

 

Life Patterns

The most popular designs are floral and geometric patterns. However, images of human figures and scenes from everyday life can also be found. Some patterns may be used for cloth that will wrap newborns while others may be used to show someone’s social status.

In Bali, high class batik is especially popular for showing someone’s social status. Though batik has had a presence in Indonesia for centuries, it is noticeably different from its Balinese cousin. Though Bali is part of Indonesia, there are subtle differences in culture. It will be interesting to see how the Balinese develop the art of batik in coming years.

 

A Protected Tradition

In recent years, UNESCO named Indonesian batik a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The organization has encouraged Bali and Indonesia to preserve the art.

 

Take Home Your Own Batik

The Goak Batik Bali was established to educate visitors, pass on the tradition, and showcase local batik artists. Visitors have the opportunity to browse the gallery and take home handmade souvenirs from the shop. Guests may also sign up for tours of the workshop and take a class. Participants of the classes will bring home their own batik painting. This gallery is only 25 minutes north of downtown Denpasar and makes a perfect day trip for those looking for the authentic Bali experience.

 For more information, check out their official website: http://goakbatikbali.com/

 

Looking for something off the beaten path? Not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

Photo credit: http://goakbatikbali.com/category/gallery/#jp-carousel-503