- Kimberley Rock Art
- Our Research
- Support Us
1830's: George Grey stumbled upon Wandjina paintings which he drew and recorded in his journal. An account of his travels, Journal of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North West and Western Australia, was published in 1841.
1890's: Joseph Bradshaw, an English pastoralist who travelled in the Kimberley in the 1890s, is thought to be the first European to have documented the elongated, dynamic figures that initially came to bear his name. Bradshaw recorded and sketched these paintings and was fascinated by their aesthetic sophistication.
1938: Dr. Helmut Petri was the leader of a German expedition to the Kimberley organised by the Frobenius Institute of Frankfurt. Other members of the research expedition were Dr Andreas Lommel, Agnes Schulz, Gerta Kleist, American journalist Douglas C Fox and Australians Patrick Pentony and Arthur Capell.
1950s: Petri returned to the Kimberley in 1954/55 and then visited regularly from 1960 through to the 1980s.
The late Dr. Grahame L. Walsh and others appreciated the importance of publishing the findings of the Frobenius Institute’s expeditions in English. Die Unambal by Andreas Lommel and The Dying World in Northwest Australia by Helmut Petri were translated into English by Dr Ian Campbell of Armidale NSW.
1970's to 1990s: Amateur archaeologist and rock art expert Grahame Walsh proposed three distinct epochs of rock art with a number of different forms in each, of which the Bradshaw/Gwion and the Wandjina forms are the most well known.
Walsh was renowned for his seminal works on rock art, including a prized volume titled Bradshaws: Ancient Rock Art Paintings of North West Australia, 2000.
Many respected scientists have since contributed to the body of scientific and cultural research on the Kimberley. KFA's Qantas Rock Art Index lists numerous references.
2007 onwards:The significance of the changes in art styles and the time frame in which they occurred warrant scientific investigation using a broad range of scientific approaches. The Kimberley Foundation Australia’s research program began with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation. Their contribution has enabled KFA to significantly strengthen its research commitments and capability.
KFA’s research program spans key scientific disciplines. These include rock art, archaeology (both closed and open sites), palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology, geochronology, palaeolinguistics and, more recently, geomicrobiology.
In 2011 KFA has five ‘first-stage’ projects and three ‘second-stage’ projects in progress involving more than 20 researchers from eight universities. These projects embrace the investigation of a wide range of fundamental questions relating to the cultural history of human settlement in the Kimberley and the climatic and ecological contexts in which it developed.