I had thought the giant rainbow serpent impressive, but there was even a bigger surprise in store when Max brought us out on to a large rock overhang. He called the place (for want of a better name) “Major Art”, as if everything else was minor compared to this.
When we saw the massive wall, covered from top to bottom with paintings, I could see what he meant by it. It really was a history of civilisation.
Paintings aren’t redrawn but drawn over, so that the story remains. There were illustrations of spirits and detailed paintings of animals. There was a depiction of a sailing ship as well as guns that illustrate the arrival of westerners.
And there were hundreds of handprints.
That was just what was on the surface. As a matter of fact, the wall was thick with ochre. I was very moved, more moved than I’ve felt sitting in some grand cathedrals. The 50,000 years of civilisation, how many people have come here to illustrate their lives? It brought home that Australia is a very ancient country. Ancient and grand.