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Grampians and Stawell Aboriginal Rock Art Shelters

Five Aboriginal rock art shelters are open to the public and are all easily accessible: Manja and Billimina shelters in the Western Grampians, Ngamadjidj and Gulgurn Manja shelters in the north and, one of the most important sites in Victoria, Bunjil's shelter, near Stawell.

The shelters are:
Billimina – Grampians National Park (Billywing Road off Henty Highway, Western Grampians)
Start this walk at the Buandik camping ground and follow Billiamina Creek upstream to the Buandik Falls. From there a short walk leads you to the shelter. This massive rock overhang was once a meeting place for the Jardwadjali people, and is covered with over 2,500 motifs that consist of red ochre bar strokes. Billimina was a centre of activity and a staging post for seasonal access into the adjacent mountains. It is one of the most striking Grampians / Gariwerd rock art sites and is a vital link with the extensive Aboriginal occupation of this area.

Gulgurn Manja – Grampians National Park (Mt Zero Road, Northern Grampians)
Gulgurn Manja means 'hands of young people'. The shelter is located next to a rock platform that looks out over the northern plains. The Gulgurn Manja Shelter displays small handprints of many generations of young people, about 8 to 12 years old in red ochre. Signage outlines some of the stories and legends of the Jardwadjali people and the mountains they call Gariwerd.

Manja – Grampians National Park (Off Harrap Track via Glenelg River Road and Henty Highway, Western Grampians)
This fascinating large rock shelter is on the western side of the Grampians. Manja symbolises the link between the Jardwadjali and their land. It is believed that the hand stencils were a way of recording a visit to this incredible rock overhang. This rock site also has more hand stencils than any other site in Victoria. Ninety hand stencils cover the walls of this shelter, 25 of which are visible. The hand stencils were made by spraying a mouthful of red ochre paint over an outstretched hand and signify the person's connection with the place.

Ngamadjidj – Grampians National Park (Plantation Road and Grampians Road, Northern Grampians)
Take this self-guided walk to an Aboriginal art site that depicts the dancing spirit with white painted figures. Ngamadjidj means white person and refers to the white figures depicted in the art at this site. This is the only art site in the Grampians / Gariwerd that solely features white figures. The walk from the car park to Ngamadjidj Shelter is short and suitable for people with limited mobility.

Bunjil's shelter - (Stawell-Pomonal Road)
Bunjil Shelter is located in the Black Range Scenic Reserve near Stawell and this is the only rock art painting of Bunjil known. It is a very special place that would have been used for ceremonial purposes linked with the image of Bunjil, the creator being.

Access is sign-posted off the Stawell-Pomonal Road. A return track, of about 200 metres in total length, leads via steps to the painting. It is located in a small alcove or ‘shelter’ at the base of a large granite boulder. A steel-mesh fence protects the painting.


Gulgurn Manja
When we visited Gulgurn Manja, it was closed due to recent heavy rain. The access point is Hollow Mountain Carpark which is off Mount Zero Road. From the north of the Grampians it can be reached from the Wonwondah-Dadswell Bridge Road. Turn south onto the Flat Rock Road South and turn right at the T-intersection with Mt Zero Road. Continue along this road until you see the sign for Hollow Mountain Carpark. From the carpark there is a short stroll (1 km return) through Banksia forest to the shelter where art depicts "the hands of the people". There is a toilet at the car park.

From the Hollow Mountain Carpark there is a 2.2 km return walk to Hollow Mountain (Mount Wudjub-Guyan). There are short steep hills and many steps. From the carpark, follow the clearly defined track as it climbs to the base of an iron stained cliff. A short rock scramble then leads you up and over rocky boulders and rock ledges to a sparsely vegetated outcrop. A short scramble then leads to the summit and amazing views. return via the same route.

In late 2016, Ngamadjidj was still closed due to bushfires in 2014.

Bunjil's shelter
The turnoff is located 6.7 km from Stawell on the Stawell - Pomonal Road. Follow the one-way Bunjil Cave Road for 3.5 km until you reach the parking area. From here there is a short walk (about 100 m) to a huge boulder with an alcove in the wall where there is a painting of Bunjil and two other animals (dingos) who are Bunjil's helpers. The paintings are protected by a large metal cage.

Bunjil appears in many of the creation stories of the Aboriginal people of south eastern Australia and is known by different names across this area. Bunjil created the land and the water, the plants and animals, the laws and the religion of the Koori people.

There are also some nice views from the hill.


Bunjil's shelter

Map: X920 Ref: E11

Web Links

Link Rock Art Shelter Information (PDF)

Link ‘Bunjil Shelter’ Black Range Scenic Reserve, Stawell Visitor Guide (PDF)

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