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