Monday, November 22, 2010

Australia - Giant Horse Gallery at Laura

Giant Horse
Giant Horse Gallery, Laura. This is post-European contact art. This is one of the last great paintings -- the horse is 6 metres long and 3 metres high. It was painted after 1848 when Edmund Kennedy and William Hann came through this area.

Sent by pygletwhispers, a postcrosser from Australia.

Small outback town famed for the exceptional Aboriginal rock galleries in the district.
Laura is a tiny settlement on the main Cape York road, 314 km from Cairns and 2104 km from Brisbane. Today it comprises a pub, a general store, two service stations, a school, a police station, an office of the Department of Community Services and a few houses. It is basically an Aboriginal settlement with a population of less than 100. The local services have picked up some passing trade from the increased 4WD traffic which passes through the town on the way to Cape York.

The Laura River was explored and named by Archibald Macmillan in 1873 - he named it after his wife. The following year cattle were brought into the area by James Earl and by 1874 it had become a thriving township catering for the miners who were making their way from the port at Cooktown to the goldfields at Palmer River.

A railway line between Cooktown and Palmer River reached Laura in 1888. The decline of the goldfields meant that Laura became the terminus for the route. The final section of track was never laid. At its height the railway had more than 20,000 passengers each year.

In the 1970s Percy Tresize (his son became the town publican) and a local Aborigine, Dick Roughsey, collaborated on a series of children's books which tell the Aboriginal legends of the area. The best known of these are The Giant Devil Dingo and Banana Bird and the Snake Men.

Aboriginal Art Works
The importance of Laura today is contained in its Aboriginal artworks. It is recognised as one of the most important areas for archeological study in the country and already archaeologists have found evidence of local Aboriginal settlement which is the oldest in Australia.

The area is famous for its giant figures known as Quinkans. The brochure to the Giant Horse Gallery explains: 'The Quinkans after whom this region is named were spirit figures that usually lived in cracks in the rock and came out to frighten people and to keep them 'in line'. They were the 'boogie men' of the Laura area.'

There are literally dozens of Aboriginal art sites in the area. However, many of them are not open for general inspection. The most accessible are the Split Rock and Guguyanlangi Art Galleries (signposted Split Rock Galleries) which lie approximately 10 km south of the town. They are only open to visitors after a formal application to the Aboriginal Ranger in Laura. This can be done by driving into the town - the Ranger's office is on the corner of the Peninsula Development Road - or telephoning (07) 4060 3260.

The galleries are very old and there is evidence of many layers of paintings. There is a powerful sense of continuity about the sites. They may have been used for up to 13,000 years. The age of the current paintings is not known.

Famous in the area is the Giant Horse Gallery. It not only features a horse but there is also a fallen rider and a number of animals including a stingray and bush turkey. Permission to inspect the gallery has to be obtained from the Department of Community Services in Brisbane. Tours of both sites can be arranged in Laura.(Source)

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