• Uncle Jimmy Smith pours water over the engravings to make them more visible. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
A collection of Aboriginal rock engravings known as ‘Moon Rock’ has been given the NSW Government's highest heritage protection to preserve the site for the benefit of all Australians.
Nancia Guivarra

14 Nov 2016 - 4:49 PM  UPDATED 3 Apr 2017 - 6:04 PM

The Moon Rock site, located at one of the highest points in Kuringai Chase National Park, 20km north of Sydney's CBD, includes extensive sandstone engravings by the Garrigal clan of the Cammeraigal peoples.

It is unique because it includes rare engravings of the 8 phases of the moon, beginning with the creator Biame's boomerang. Its presence adds further weight to national evidence demonstrating that Aboriginal people were keen observers of the sky and indeed, the world's first astronomers.

The Moon Rock site is owned by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (Metropolitan) since being handed back under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.  

Among the ridges and spurs, there are more than 50 engravings, including depictions of spirit figures, wallabies, shields, fish, sharks, whales, eel, mundoes (or footprints) and tools that are estimated to be more than 5 thousand years old.

It's registration as a significant Aboriginal Place under the NSW Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 means that Metropolitan and the NSW Parks and Wildlife department will jointly manage and protect it for future generations.

Metropolitan CEO Nathan Moran told NITV: “We’re very proud to be share able the Aboriginal cultural history of the Garrigal people with everyone.  To think that this culture still remains here despite colonisation, and a thriving metropolis of Australia’s largest city being a stone’s throw away, is an absolute godsend.” 

The engravings depict the creation story of Biami.

“This is when the world changed forever, the sky lifted and life began … Astronomy and paying homage to the astrology is something that I see as intrinsically important to this site alone,” Mr Moran explains.

The Moon Rock engravings were first identified in 1973. Since then, they have been commonly known to the local communities and recreational groups. Metropolitan nominated it for state protection as a significant Aboriginal place due to misuse and damage caused by negligence from recreational groups in 2014.

“The damage and misuse of this place prior to being registered was sacrosanct to the site.  This came to a head and we had to nominate it due to illegal motor cross riding and pushbike riding in 2014.  Mountain bikers were using it for a thrill seeking adrenalin rush.  They claimed it was the highest point and claimed that it was their right to do that,” said Mr Moran.

There are more than 800 Aboriginal engravings across Sydney's northern shores and national parks. Metro’s CEO Nathan Moran says they are pleased that this very important cultural site, which is testament of Aboriginal peoples’ knowledge and observation of astronomy, now has the highest level of protection possible under the NSW Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Moon Rock’s Aboriginal protection status now allows Metropolitan and the Government to work together to look at best ways to manage, preserve, protect and promote its cultural and heritage significance.

Metropolitan’s Cultural Education Officer Uncle Jimmy Smith, says sites like this enable current and future generations of Indigenous youth to learn about traditional knowledge of astronomy.

"It’s their pathway to knowledge of who they are, and the power and the beauty we have as the oldest culture on the planet. To bring them places like this on excursions and bushwalks, the kids are happy, the parents are happy. Especially the Koori kids. They're over the moon!" says Uncle Jimmy.

Metropolitan believe that management plans for Moon Rock will set a new benchmark for all future cultural heritage protection.

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