Saturday 6 July 2024

From On Board: Seabourn Pursuit at Jar Island

#expeditioncruising .

Jar Island [Google map link], alternatively known as 'Ngula' by the Wunambal Gaambera people, carries a rich human history dating back at least 20,000 years. Located in the southern part of Vansittart Bay, the island is adorned with the exceptional Gwion Gwion rock art concealed within its caves, overhangs, and crevices, showcasing the enduring cultural legacy of its traditional owners.

Exquisite rock art galleries can be found in caves like these on Jar Island (Nicki D'Souyza)

[Note: images of the rock art cannot be displayed without express permission. Sorry. But you may be able to see examples here]

Named by the renowned Australian explorer and cartographer, Philip Parker King, Jar Island bears evidence of early human activity, with remnants of pottery discovered in the surrounding sands, believed to have been left by earlier Macassan seafarers who utilised the island as a hub for sea cucumber harvesting. The island's ancient artistry, notably the 'sash', 'tassel', and 'action' figures depicted in various styles, captured our fascination and delivering us a captivating and mystical encounter.

Debates surrounding the origin of the enigmatic Gwion Gwion art have persisted for decades, following its discovery by pastoralist Joseph Bradshaw in the 1890s. While amateur researcher Grahame Walsh proposed contentious theories regarding the art's creators, attributing it to a vanished race of Aboriginals with Asiatic origins, such claims have been widely discredited by scholarly circles.

Zodiacs prepare to take us ashore at Jar Island (Roderick Eime)

During our visit we were enraptured by the profound significance of the rock art, augmented by expert insights from the expedition team. The excursion also presented a rare opportunity for us to traverse remote cave sites, affording us a the bonus of some energetic hiking.

As the morning's activities concluded, the skilled galley team served another a delectable lunch before leisurely enjoying the amenities of Seabourn Pursuit and participating in an engaging lecture by the team's resident crocodile expert, Greg, as we continued our voyage towards Ashmore Reef.

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