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Facts About Australia for Kids: Aboriginal Rock Art

Updated on April 17, 2017

Aboriginal History

Aborigines are the indigenous or native peoples of Australia. They have occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years. When Europeans started to settle Australia about 200 years ago, there were up to a million native people still living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Hunter-gatherers are people who depend on hunting and gathering food for survival. They spoke about 250 different languages. There are about 200,000 aborigines living in Australia today. These native Australians created a type of art known as rock art because it was made on outdoor rocks.

Aborigines are the native peoples of Australia
Aborigines are the native peoples of Australia

Aboriginal Rock Art

Aboriginal people created paintings, drawings and engravings on sheltered rock surfaces thousands of years ago. These paintings, engravings and drawings are called rock art. The pictures show things like small stick figures, kangaroos, emus and animals tracks. Some show lines, dots and hand prints.

The aboriginal artists used colors made from different types of clay. They ground up the clay and added water. They painted pictures using their fingers or brushes made with feathers. Stone tools were used to make engravings in the rock.

It isn’t known why ancient aboriginal people created rock art. It may have been part of religious rituals. Or it may have been done to record important events.

Because rock art was created on outdoor rocks, there is a risk of erosion wearing away these artworks. Erosion is the wearing away of rock by wind or rain. The government of Australia wants to protect the rock art but many are in very remote areas. This makes it difficult to protect them.

An example of Aboriginal rock art
An example of Aboriginal rock art
An example of rock art in Australia
An example of rock art in Australia

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      Adrianna Reyes 3 years ago

      thank you so much i think Ill get an A on homework

    • profile image

      someone3 3 years ago

      really good it helped me with my project thank u

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      someone 4 years ago

      this helped a lot

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      pop 4 years ago

      helped me so much on my homework!!!!!!!

    • JoanCA profile image
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      JoanCA 4 years ago

      You're welcome Jenny.

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      Jenny 4 years ago

      This helped a lot! Thanks!

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Art usually does.

    • JoanCA profile image
      Author

      JoanCA 5 years ago

      Thanks Rod. It was surprising to me when I looked into this that researchers were unsure about the purpose. I'm sure it probably served multiple purposes.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      I'll say thumbs up and useful. I think Aboriginal art was done for the same reasons art has and is done everywhere else in the world. Of course it had to do with ritual, with the reaching out to a greater power than yourself. It also had to do with recording special events. The two have never been mutually exclusive anyway. Check out the corroboree for some clues.