Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Ingaladdi Rock Shelter, Nimji                                                                                                                       

This rock shelter, west of Katherine in the Northern Territory, is situated around the large, permanent Ingaladdi waterhole, around which is a series of sandstone outcrops, and is the last in a series of permanent waterholes in the gorges along Price Creek. Past this point, to the east, the country becomes open and drier with black [?]. It is a large semicircular rock shelter in a weathered sandstone outcrop. The dark sandy floor, with stone artefacts on the surface, as well as ochre, it is situated within the Delamere Plains and Benches, on a sandy plain with hills to the north and south. The rock of the shelter is part of the Antrim Plateau Volcanics. More than 48 rock art sites have been found in the outcrops in this area.

This rock shelter provided the first firmly dated example of Aboriginal art. There are paintings on most of these outcrops, and on the back walls of some of the shelters are petroglyphs of animal tracks and human feet. There are also thousands of linear abraded grooves. In the 20th century similar grooves were made 80 km to the south of the rock shelter at Yiwarlarlay, as part of a rain-making ceremony. The ceremony was associated with the Lightning Brothers, multicoloured paintings of which are present at Yiwarlarlay.

Pieces of engraved rock were found on a 7,000 year old layer, and below a 5,000 year old layer. This gives the age they fell from the roof/wall, but a large bird track and parallel abraded grooves are common motifs from sites that are suspected to be from the Pleistocene.

The basal level of this site was dated to 6800 +/- 270 by radiocarbon.

See Aboriginal Art - the Pilbara Engraved Stones


  1. Nimji, Garnawala 2, Gordolya and Jagoliya sites

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J. B. Publishing


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 07/12/2013

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