Kimberley rock art is one of the world’s richest rock art regions. Indigenous Australians are the Traditional Owners, makers and custodians of the rock art.
KFA receives many enquiries about visiting these ancient rock art galleries. Most rock art sites are not accessible to tourists without permission. The Kimberley is now 93.5% native title and permits are required for visitors wanting to go out on country and see rock art. If you plan your itinerary well in advance many of the Aboriginal communities have websites and permits can be purchased online before arriving. Links are provided below.
Aboriginal people of the Kimberley are developing their own Visitor Passes to share their cultural and natural assets with visitors. The Kimberley Foundation Australia values their cultural connection and we ask that visitors also value and respect that Aboriginal Australians have lived on the land for millennia and developed a strong commitment to look after it.
We share the vision of David Mowaljarlai who said: “If we share the stories of our country with gudia (whitefella), then they will have our country in their hearts as we do, and they will understand and love it, and never damage it.” David Bungal Mowaljarlai OAM (c.1926-1997).
Rock art enthusiasts and bush walkers should contact the Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation for permission to visit the Drysdale River National Park. Custodians of the DRNP are the Balangarra people. <http://www.kalumburu.org>
If you are visiting rock art sites with a registered tour company, we suggest you make sure the tour operator has the permission and/ or participation of the Traditional Owners. There are some sites we can recommend that are endorsed by the Traditional Owners for visitation: On the Kalumburu Road/Mitchell Plateau Road there are two excellent sites known as Munurru with both Wanjina and Gwion (formerly known as Bradshaw) figures. These sites are sign posted for the public. We suggest you purchase the book by David M Welch called Aboriginal Paintings at Munurru. His book can be found in local bookshops or at Roadhouses along the way. At Mitchell Plateau there are excellent walks where rock art can be found. The sites and stories are promoted on public boards for tourists. The Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPaW) Rangers will direct you to places where rock art can be seen.
Rangers and guides at Kalumburu are sometimes willing to take tourists out to their art sites. This can only be arranged once you are in Kalumburu and traditional owners are available to accompany you. There is also a local art gallery where the artists sell their paintings.
El Questro, on the Pentecost River has some sites, but it is only permissible to access these sites with the traditional owners. There is no access for visitors to view rock art on Drysdale River Station, Doongan or Theda Stations.
For information on recommended tours featuring rock art we suggest Jilinya Adventures. Francis Woolagoodja is a Worrorra man who comes from the Oomeday (Horizontal Falls) and Mulendom (Prince Regent River) regions of the West Kimberley and is the owner and operator of Jilinya Tours. Jilinya is operating day tours from Cape Leveque to Horizontal Waterfalls +7-day overland hiking trips. Their focus is on cultural tours, teaching about Wandjina; all guides are Dambimangari people. They are offering a Rock Art by Air adventure as well as taking expressions of interest from serious and experienced adventurers to join them on treks overland through Worrorra country. Visit their website at https://www.jilinyaadventures.com.au/about-jilinya
Wundargoodie Tours out of Wyndham and Kimberley Wilderness Adventures out of Broome with APT are also recommended. Wundargoodie Tours, Wyndham (Colin, Maria and Ronnie Morgan) run indigenous tours including visits to rock art galleries. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberley Wilderness Adventures have tented safari tours up to the Mitchell Plateau and show people rock art galleries with traditional owner consent. Contact: email@example.com
There are many tours that don’t feature rock art. At Kooljaman, Cape Leveque the man to see is Brian Lee. Join one of the Kimberley’s most colourful characters on an adventure based around the turquoise waters of Hunters Creek. https://www.kooljaman.com.au/tours/hunter-creek-tagalong
For additional information visit related links on our Region tab.
Munurru Rock Art Site- These sites are sign posted for the public.
There are two clusters of rock outcrops near the King Edward River Crossing on the track to the Mitchell Plateau. The Wunambal people know this area as Munurru, the borderland between their tribe (language group) and that of the Ngarinyin people to the east of Mungara, the King Edward River. Today, Wunambal people live at Kandiwal and Kalumburu to the north and around Derby to the east.
The first rock cluster is located 700 metres after crossing the King Edward River heading westward, and the second cluster is approximately 4.5 km along the Mitchell Plateau track after leaving the river, heading north-west. For the purpose of describing the rock art at these clusters, they are referred to as the Wanjina Complex and the Brolga Complex, respectively. Each of these complexes contains rock art sites, and each site contains one or more art panels.
This area of the Kimberley consists of open woodland on flat to gently sloping ground. Access to the Munurru sites is seasonal because this part of Australia lies within the tropics. Art motifs found at the Munurru sites include Wanjina deities, ceremonially decorated human figures (Gwion paintings) and plants and animals occurring in the landscape.
Visit Kimberley rock art styles for more information.