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Australian Aboriginals have a tradition
of going travelling across their country,
to visit friends, to tell stories, to collect bush foods, and it's very
much in that vein that I've come here to Australia to go walkabout.
The great thing about the Aboriginal term "Walkabout"
is that you can use it to describe almost any sort of journey.
This is a journey into Australia's past, both recent and ancient.
I'll be travelling across Australia's north-west corner.
It's a land steeped in history,
including ancient rock art that is among the best in the world.
It's art that I'll be taking a long, hard look at later in the programme.
Art which may hold clues to the earliest travellers to this land.
But before I get to the art, there are more recent explorers I want to take a look at.
Starting with the first Briton to arrive here.
When you think of the early explorers of Australia,
the mind automatically focuses on Captain Cook,
but there was another remarkable explorer
who visited these shores nearly 100 years earlier - William Dampier.
Dampier was actually the first Briton to set foot on Australian soil in 1688.
He returned in 1697 and landed here at La Grange Bay.
He was an extraordinary mix of privateer, explorer and botanist,
drawn to travel the world as much by the lure of knowledge
as by the promise of riches.
It's very evocative being here, on this coastline with the rigging creaking -
they're sounds Dampier would have heard,
and that shore has hardly changed since the day he arrived.
Back then, Australia was known as New Holland
and navigation was so primitive
that even finding this massive land was a remarkable feat of seamanship.
It's quite incredible to think that when he set out,
this was just a blank space in the world map.
Nobody knew at that time whether
this was a part of another continent,
an island, or as it turned out, a continent in its own right.
Dampier made detailed observations and kept a record of them in his fabulous journal.
So we know a great deal about his trip, including his very first steps on this bay.
It's strange to think that this is the very place
that in 1699, William Dampier came ashore.
I feel like a time traveller.
It's almost as though when I go over this rise,
I might find the man himself.
Dampier describes coming ashore where he'd seen a group of Aboriginal Australians.
It's as if he were here only yesterday.
When we came on the top of the hill where they first stood,
we saw a plain savannah, about half a mile from us,
further in from the sea.
There were several things like haycocks, standing in the savannah -
which at a distance, we thought were houses,
looking just like the Hottentots' houses at the Cape of Good Hope,
but we found them to be so many rocks.
It's amazing - over 300 years later and the landscape
simply hasn't changed.
There's the savannah and those are the mounds and from here,
they look just like little villages.
But when you get up closer,
you discover these aren't huts at all, they're termite mounds.
Now there's a bit of a mystery because Dampier described these as rocks,
I can only assume he must have been looking through a telescope and hadn't actually come up close
to one, because as soon as you're standing beside one, you can clearly see that they're termite mounds.
And I'm certain he would have encountered those on his earlier travels.
Probably where he saw Hottentot huts.
It's one of the few things he got wrong.
Dampier hypothesised on how the local Aboriginals might have made fire -
what he didn't know was growing on this sand dune that he climbed up
are actually two different species that can be used to make fire by friction
and this is one of them, this is one of the clerodendrums.
This has been used in other parts of Australia for making fire.
I've never used it myself, but I thought I'd give it a go.
Pull out a dead stick there.
'I've used so many woods to light fire that I've lost count.
'I'm always keen to try new woods though
'but I never take success for granted.
'Learning can sometimes be difficult.
'Dampier's journal contains what I believe
'may be the first recorded account of making fire by friction.'
How they get their fire, I do not know,
but probably as Indians do, out of wood.
I have seen the Indians of Bonaire do it,
and have myself tried the experiment.
They take a flat piece of wood that is pretty soft
and make a small dent in one side of it.
Then they take another hard, round stick
about the bigness of one's little finger, and sharpening
it at one end like a pencil,
they put that sharp end in the hole or dent of the flat, soft piece.
And then rubbing or twirling the hard piece
between the palms of their hands,
they drill the soft piece till it smokes and at last takes fire.
That's the set made. My guess is it's not going to be
the easiest of woods to use, it's quite hard,
but that's a good thing when you're looking for dead wood in the bush.
Often dead wood is too soft but this feels quite good.
Never used it before so it's going to be a bit of an experiment,
but I like that, I like trying new woods in new places.
It all adds to your sum - sum knowledge.
What I've got here is, I've got some kangaroo grass, which I'm going to
use for tinder, and I've got some really finely teased pieces here,
and unusually, I'm going to put this underneath the sticks,
for two reasons - it's dry enough here on this shore to do that,
and also, it'll stop the sticks sinking into the sand,
which is a good thing.
Put that stick on there.
The problem with sticks that aren't straight -
they flip about and they also give you blisters.
'There may be smoke, but this is definitely not going to plan.'
'There's no pretending, this is hard work.'
'My hands are beginning to blister.'
Oh, I had an ember!
'I'm running out of time.'
Last chance for this, otherwise I'm not going to be able to hold anything.
HE PANTS WITH EXERTION
Nah, I can't do it.
I can't do any more.
I have to tell you,
those are some of the hardest sticks I've ever made fire with,
Aboriginal people have got incredibly hard hands,
a lot harder than mine, by the looks of it. Oh, ouch!
That's the first time I've failed in about 10 years,
but my hands will heal.
However, this place can be life-threatening if you're caught unprepared, as two German airmen,
Hans Bertram and Adolph Klausman,
found out when they were forced to land in a place like this.
It was the 15th of May 1932
and their float plane was called The Atlantis.
They thought they were just a short hop from Darwin,
but actually, they'd come down in the Kimberleys,
and you could hardly pick a more remote and difficult country to place yourself in.
They found a coastline inhabited mostly by mosquitoes,
a relentless sun and tides that pushed salt water
up the rivers and creeks, contaminating the drinking water.
Bertram and Klausman decided to try and seek help.
Their story is a remarkable tale of endurance, determination and ingenuity.
They gathered what equipment they had and set off.
As if the mosquitoes, the sun and the saltwater weren't enough,
the very land itself seemed to be against them.
Traversing this broken country with sharp sandstone rocks was like trying to cross Hell on Earth.
They didn't get very far. They tried to swim across a river,
only to be driven back by deadly saltwater crocodiles.
In the process, they lost most of their equipment to the river.
They returned to their aircraft distraught and discouraged, but crucially, they didn't give up.
Their most pressing problem was finding drinking water.
There was no easy source available, they had to improvise in order to collect as much as they could.
Plane parts provided guttering to collect water.
There are many features in this story which echo the experiences
of previous survivors in the Australian bush,
and which would be repeated later.
One of the real classics is the constant problem
of dealing with the annoying mosquitoes you find on the top end.
To try and avoid being bitten, they buried themselves as best they could in sand.
Walking had proved futile - they needed to find another way out.
Their attempt was a great leap of logic.
They made a canoe out of one of the floats.
With a tree for a mast, they used a screwdriver as an awl and even rigged a sail using old clothes.
It was ingenious, but the Kimberleys gave them no quarter.
The seas were too rough for their craft.
Repeated attempts to make progress came to nothing
and they abandoned their efforts.
They were lost, with no equipment and dwindling energy reserves.
It was over a month now since they had landed and hope was about all they had left.
Eventually, they took shelter in a cave something like this one.
They made a couple of beds and they started to cook shellfish, but by now things were looking pretty grim.
They were running out of energy at every corner.
Every survivor needs some luck and eventually theirs turned when they were spotted by an Aboriginal.
In fact, they couldn't have had a better rescue party.
Aboriginal people were used to dealing with people on the edge of starvation and they knew
that the two airmen needed the meat they gave them pre-chewing so that they could more easily digest it.
Things had turned right at last.
Bertram and Klausman owed their lives to the Aboriginals
and their intimate knowledge of this part of Australia.
I can't come to this part of the world and not visit the desert.
It's the classic image of Australia.
This is my favourite time of day.
I love it when the day starts to turn to night - it's perfect.
Especially out here in the desert, there's just a calmness that I...
It's...it's magical - you have to be here really to fully understand it.
All this green stuff, this spinifex,
is very prickly but most importantly,
it's full of a resin that burns very readily,
and it means you have to be careful of bushfires.
Equally, it means it's easy to start a campfire. Just take a lighter.
Why do I like this so much?
Well, just listen.
COMPLETE SILENCE EXCEPT INSECTS
I'm only going to be spending a single night in the desert,
but I'm meeting an English woman who once lived out here.
Pat Lowe is an author who arrived here in 1972.
She married an aboriginal artist called Jimmy Pike and lived with him in the desert for a number of years.
Jimmy died in 2002.
So what was the life in the desert like here?
Well, it was, um, most of the time pretty peaceful. But busy -
we were hunting just about every day, we'd go hunting.
Usually early in the morning, and then we'd walk for hours
and come back later on.
If we caught something early, we'd come back earlier
and if not we'd keep going.
So you basically entered into their lifestyle?
Yeah, we had a few luxuries, we had a canvas for
just putting our things underneath.
You were eating the same foods as the Aboriginal people?
Well, yes and no. I mean, I had this fantasy that we were going
to live off all this stuff, but I got very skinny
and yeah, it wasn't all that appetising to be honest, you know!
It's a huge cultural change.
It's good, it's good food, especially fruit and vegetables,
you know, they're pretty few and far between.
And Jimmy used to catch nearly all our meat. I mean, a place like this,
to be able to just walk into it with nothing,
I know exactly what you mean, I've worked a lot with Aboriginals,
and I understand there's a lot of food here, but I'm still taken aback at the scale of this country.
You know, they are prepared to walk huge distances in search of food and water, and what they call a well
-can just be a little hole in the ground which is like a puddle.
-Hmm, not even a puddle.
I mean, you have to dig sometimes quite a few feet down,
six or eight feet down, till water starts seeping up.
Yeah, that's a lot of effort.
It's amazing and they don't, they don't consider that to be a hardship.
Well, it was just life.
It really was... I mean, I think their lifestyle really required
a very high degree of expertise.
The thing that's always sad for me is that in our world,
we've found no way of grading or giving recognition to their expertise.
-Because in our world these people would be professors and doctors of knowledge,
but because they're Aboriginal,
it's a lower form of knowledge that our system doesn't seem to recognise.
And yet we couldn't replicate it if we tried.
Well, if we come out here as you know from this expedition,
you know, you bring so much with you,
survival gear and satellite phones
and food and water everything and we'd perish without it.
But they didn't need anything except knowledge.
It may seem strange, but it's hard to leave the desert,
but now I want to concentrate on the art.
The Kimberleys have been home to Aboriginals for thousands of years.
Just a couple of generations ago,
people were still living a traditional life here
and their presence is still very real for Aboriginal Australians.
TALKING IN ABORIGINAL
I talk to my grandfather like the old people that lived here,
and say that I was Old Friday's granddaughter
and I came to visit their country.
This is Juju Wilson, a local artist.
She's kindly agreed to give me a history lesson in Aboriginal art -
a lesson that will deepen my understanding not just of the art,
but of the Aboriginal way of life.
We're starting with the representations that show
where a camp site used to be.
When you're actually here at this site,
you can sense your ancestors, can't you?
I mean, I can hear the old people singing,
the old women, children laughing.
Kids, like, splashing waters and things like that, yeah.
-Yeah, I guess for you...their spirits live on.
-Yes, they do.
-So they still inhabit the land?
-Yes, they do.
And that means that you have to show great respect cos they can see what you do?
I mean, you can smell their sweat,
you can hear their tears, like, their crying, their laughters.
I mean, this place was just full of joy that you can fish and hunt also for the food that you want,
I mean, you can get catfish, barramundi,
black bream and all sorts of file eel.
-And that's all represented on the walls here, isn't it?
'For a while, the water dried up here, something attributed
'to the killing of a sacred python by one of the young people.
'The water returned thanks to Juju.'
The water came back cos, what happened, I came back
here one day on my own, talked to the old people,
"Can you bring water back, can you bring Namit?"
"Namit" means the snake, she's the queen of the water.
Said, can you bring Namit back so give life back to the...to the place that the old people lived before.
So it did.
And I came back a year later and seen the water and just felt overjoyed.
And how long has this place been used as a dwelling?
A very long time, I can't remember.
-Very, very long, thousands of years?
And why is that, what is good about it?
I can't just explain - it's too good.
'With all the art here, it still feels very lived in.'
The Miriuwung people who lived here
have left their mark all over the rock face, there are
hand prints here, you can see adults,
and also children and when I look at those,
it reminds me of all the little Aboriginal children
that we've worked with in the making of different programmes.
There are even some footprints here.
I can't help feeling there might have been a sense of humour
when this was being done, cos it'd be very difficult to put your foot
up there and spray the ochre all the way round it. You'd need help.
'I've tried this myself when I was looking at Aboriginal Britain.
'It's hard to describe how the act of doing it somehow brings it closer.
'My beliefs are very different to Juju's,
'but knowing how to do this does make this whole place come alive.
'They say every picture tells a story and that's certainly true
'of these paintings - they are not just for decoration.'
Oh, that's a really big painting we've got here, isn't it.
What does that depict?
It's a freshwater eel.
Eels make water in the billabongs and gorges, springs.
So this is the ancestral eels - is that right?
-So they created all like the wells and all the water courses?
Yes. I mean, some people walk around for days to look for water
but to us we just look at the ground,
and the paintings and start digging.
So, what it says is...
Let me get this right, the presence of the painting tells you that
-there's going to be a pretty good chance that you're gonna find water there throughout the year?
'Aboriginal art is more than just a picture.
'Each drawing acquires added significance.
'So this eel doesn't just show that the water is present,
'the eels are said to have created the waterways themselves.
'The art takes on a spiritual and cultural significance and its very presence usually
'indicates a place of settlement,
'a site with importance to the Aboriginal way of life.'
It's been a lifelong ambition of mine to come here
and driving through it with Juju is incredible.
This must be the biggest art gallery in the world.
100,000 square miles of paintings.
Our journey across just a part of it is going to take days, but that's
nothing compared to the time it would have taken when Juju's forebears walked this land.
They took months walking from site to site, maintaining the art
whilst hunting and gathering the plants that were in season,
linking life and art inextricably together within their culture.
We're going to see several different styles, the oldest of which may be more than 5,000 years old.
They all have different names and they all seem to have different origins.
But it's not just the art that displays different influences.
This is a lovely tree to find here, it reminds me of Africa cos this is
the baobab tree, although here they call it the boab tree.
It's got lots of uses, it's one of my favourite trees.
In an emergency you can dig up some of the roots and you can get water
from them, you could even cut some of the inner bark out and squeeze that and get moisture from it.
In other parts of the world, people put pegs in them - I've never seen a baobab tree in Africa
that hasn't got pegs hammered into it as a ladder, to enable you to get to the top of the tree where you can
find honey and very often in the top branches there, water, trapped.
You can eat the green leaves, but it's the fruit that's the best bit.
Some you win, some you lose.
That one just doesn't want to come down, that's what's inside it,
we'll do something with that later on.
It's like a... It looks like polystyrene, even feels like it.
In there are seeds, I've seen these seeds roasted up and ground into coffee,
by the Kalahari bushmen. But it's that white material,
that yellowy stuff, that's what we're gonna use later on.
Some people reckon it's a mystery how these trees came to be here.
It's even been hypothesised that they might have come from Africa
with an earlier people, maybe using the baobab food as a survival ration.
It's quite possible because as long as these
canisters here, these velvet-covered capsules are not cracked, the food inside which is very nutritious,
will stay fresh for months,
so it would have been a good survival ration.
But I don't know, these trees might just have been
here from way, way back, but it's nice to find them because it's like finding an old friend in the bush.
At the end of a long hot day,
there's no better sight than a fast-flowing stream.
That's lovely, fantastic.
Lovely way to cool off and a good way to rinse your clothes at the same time.
Strong current here, don't want to get swept too far downstream.
Way down there, that's saltwater crocodile country.
In this heat, my clothes will dry well before dark.
The cool of the evening is a chance to unwind and take stock,
and for Juju to show that she still values the traditional skills as much as the art.
The chain of Aboriginal knowledge that used to pass
from generation to generation today has gaps.
Links have been broken as the people have moved into towns.
Consequently, people like Juju, who seek out traditional knowledge,
are more important than ever.
While Juju's busy showing her intricate skills,
I'm taking the chance to enjoy being out in the wilds.
How's it going there, Juju?
-Looks nice, doesn't it?
-it's a little bird I've made.
Do you like it? It's painted with red ochre and it's also carved.
What sort of bird is it?
It's a ground pigeon.
Would you like to have a try?
No, no, that's yours, I don't want to spoil it!
This is a perfect place for making a drink from the boab fruit.
They're quite brittle
and if I take the shell off, you can see there's this substance that
looks a little bit like polystyrene,
but it actually tastes like, I guess like freeze-dried lemon ice-cream.
It's the nearest thing I could suggest.
I'm gonna collect all that material in the middle there,
fill it into a cup.
Like that, gonna need a few of these.
That one's perfect - look at that.
Nice to see, isn't it, and these are like segments of an orange and it contains seeds in there.
I reckon that's probably enough now.
What I'm gonna do is gonna crush this up so that I can separate
the seeds out from the white material.
You can see now the seeds -
you can roast those, grind them up and make sort of a coffee
but to be honest with you, it doesn't compare to anything you'd buy on the high street.
And I need to separate these out now from the rest.
What I'll do is - I've got a few coarse bits on the top -
I just skim those off,
that's just some of the woody material that held it all together,
and what I'm left with is that fine powder
and I'm gonna mix that with some water with a little bit of sugar to make a tasty, nutritious drink.
Boab fruit contains more vitamin C than six oranges.
There have been genetic studies on the boab tree
which have found definite links to the baobab in Madagascar.
It's possible this drink sustained travellers exploring long before Dampier.
Just gonna skim off some of the top bit, the scum there, bits that haven't dissolved.
Oh, it's sour, lemony, but very nice.
I'm just gonna drop a little bit of sugar in.
I mean, you could drink that as it is if you're out in the bush and it
doesn't taste half bad but a little, just a spoonful of sugar in there,
will just lift it that little bit.
Now that tastes like lemon squash, wonderful.
Ahh. But don't take my word for it.
We've got a good sound recordist with us and in time honoured fashion, time for him to try it.
There you go, Tim, try that, doesn't look very nice, does it?
No, bit milky, sort of...
-But that's nice.
-It's OK, isn't it?
-Like lemon barley water. Tastes like lemon barley,
that's about as near as you get to it, very nice.
There's been a lot of rain recently,
which means that all the creeks and billabongs
are absolutely overflowing with water, which is fantastic.
One of the really nice things is that you can come to places
like this, and fill your water bottle
with no worries of infection - it's a lovely thing.
Aboriginals have a very complex belief system which is central to their way of life.
The art here plays a part that is much more than just a drawing.
These are Wandjina spirits, beings from the local creation myths,
but it's a sign of the times that they're showing signs of neglect.
This one here will have to be repainted but no-one can do it.
If anyone paints it they'll... they get very crook and pass away.
'Once they'd have been refreshed every year by the people who held
'the stories, but they're long gone and no-one else has permission to take care of them.
'But these images were built to last.'
The fat comes from kangaroo bones, like the marrow bones from kangaroo,
even from goanna fat, it's mixed up with ochre and water and bit of glue.
So the painting could last forever.
Not all of the art is quite so serious.
'These Guyon images are representations
'of characters that we'd call gremlins.'
They're, like, making fun of people like,
taking their things away from the camp, hiding it -
like their wallets or mainly they hunt for food.
They like just getting in a tucker box.
Every night always put out a plate of food, by the time in the morning, there's nothing left.
They are mischievous little people - they're very smelly.
It seems crazy to come all this way, see so much art
and travel with a bona fide artist without having a go myself.
There really is no excuse and it may well help in my understanding of Juju's world.
Today she uses some modern materials, but the powder is still sourced from the earth.
Right then, Juju, what we gonna do?
Come on, young fella, you want to do some painting?
Oh, I like that you've called me young again! Oh, that's good.
What do you like to paint?
I don't know - what we gonna paint? What about something from the water?
-That's a good one.
Well, we paint the background yellow.
What are you using for the yellow?
It's an ochre from the ground.
-And it's also mixed with water and glue.
So that's a natural pigment that you've made yourself?
When did you first start painting?
-Were you small?
Were you big?
Um, I went up bush with my grandmother and my mother,
for a couple of years and I started seeing my grandfather's paintings.
-On the rock faces?
-On the rocks
around Hidden Valley.
-And gave me an idea to earn my own quid.
so I started painting...
..the same style like the old bloke.
But on canvasses.
Started drawing goanna,
Can you paint anything?
I had to ask permission to paint...
..like, sceneries of countries,
it's very sacred.
So you had to ask the elders?
-And they were happy?
I'm enjoying this, maybe I'll change my career!
That's it, mine's finished. Yep.
Lift it up if you got gaps in it.
Why is painting important to Aboriginal people?
It's to keep...
To keep their culture alive,
cos nowadays, I mean, the young kids
wouldn't have the chance to go out the bush to see the art that the old people done years ago.
And the story about the country.
What is difficult to express to people who aren't used to working with Aboriginals
is HOW important these stories are,
they're very important, aren't they?
They are, all the animals we paint on the canvases...
There are, like, pollutions and burnings
that the people make will destroy the animals.
So how can the next generation of kids
ever, ever see a barramundi,
or a kangaroo?
Now is that a freshwater crocodile?
-It's a saltwater croc,
and what did you make the black paint from?
'Drawings like this are very important because of the role of stories in Aboriginal life.
'Even today, they help to ensure that their culture can thrive.'
I don't like the way your crocodile's grinning!
By doing my own painting, I'm beginning to understand
how this art can be a cornerstone of a way of life.
Not just for decoration, but for understanding,
education and community.
This is an old crocodile.
-Old crocodile this one, this one's a big one!
This one attacks fishing boats,
he's lived 100 years and he's fed up with the sound of outboard motors!
You got it, mate, he's a killer.
Time holds no tyranny for people
who used to take months to walk and visit family.
We'll finish these paintings tomorrow.
Ahh, if Top Gear could see me now!
The romance of the open road.
The ever-distant horizon.
Well, not exactly.
Documentaries on off-road travel in Australia always look really,
really romantic don't they, but let me tell you,
the truth of it can be hours on end travelling on
corrugated roads like this, which is wearing for both man and machine.
Of course, we've got a time and a place, a destination somewhere to be,
and that makes it all the more wearing because
we can't just stop when we feel like it, we've gotta push on.
And it makes the whole thing quite challenging, really.
You have to take great care not to break the vehicle,
occasionally you get deep pot holes hidden in shadows, it's very easy to go into them too fast.
Some fantastic country but it is massive.
I've been reading about the art here for years, but to actually be here is something else.
Today, we're going to finish our paintings, and where better
than under the watchful eyes of more Wandjina spirits.
These images drive home just how strong the Aboriginal values can be.
They've been refreshed recently
but Juju tells me the people who did it have all died,
victims because they didn't hold the right stories.
Juju, tell me about the Wandjina paintings -
they're a little bit different to the others?
The Wandjina is a dream time for the wet season, the old people always
call out to the spirit to bring rain,
when there's no food around for the animals.
But these Wandjinas, why don't they have mouths?
Cos the old woman and the old man said,
if they do draw a mouth on the face,
like if, when it's rain, it will never stop flooding.
-Cos they're cloud spirits, aren't they?
So if they had mouths then
-it would rain and everywhere will be flooded forever?
Just as well they don't have mouths.
Once more, Juju reminds me how recently Aboriginals lived the life of the bush.
My grandfather walked
through this place when he was a young bloke,
In his twenty year.
He used to walk out here - how long did that take him?
It'd take him about eight months to get here.
And why did he walk here?
Came here to maintain the story
and the lifestyle of the animals that are round here.
So he, he was on walkabout?
-What does "walkabout" mean?
Walkabout, it's like telling their boss they've gone bush,
and they doesn't know what they going out for.
-These were important meetings to do with ceremonies?
'It's not just the canvas that's getting painted.'
Oh, I've got black everywhere!
Put on there, paint the top white, eh!
A few more lines to represent water and my painting is finally finished.
I was thinking of a crocodile I met once,
and I wanted to keep him deep in the water, just stay there.
So is it all right?
It looks excellent, mate, very, very good.
Brilliant. Thank you!
But it's a time-consuming business, this painting, and our camp awaits.
With a chance to meet the neighbours.
There's one golden rule out here and that is never put your hands or your fingers into places that you can't
see into and I can show you why over here, have a look at this.
See that spider in there?
This campsite has an established fire site here on this bare rock.
That helps prevent bushfires and I'm gonna use it as well
but I thought it'd be fun to suspend the billycan using a tripod,
in a kind of Australian way.
The Australian outback is a big place and people living
out on the cattle stations
or travelling through this country had to be very resourceful.
One of the materials they made very good use of were old tin cans,
and bits of wire, and I'm gonna show you a traditional Australian way
to suspend a pot that's quite neat.
The first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna wire -
fit a wire on the top of this hooked stick, that's gonna be the hook to hold the billycan.
Just give that a couple of twists.
What I'm gonna do now, is I'm gonna make a hole in the top of this tin can.
That'll do just fine.
What I'm gonna do there is gonna pass this piece of wire...
..up through there.
And attach it to this stick.
So there we go, that holds the peg there,
I can adjust this length in a moment to make it just right.
Now I've got three sticks that I've already cut,
these are the legs of my tripod.
Put them together like that
and you just pop the tin can over the top and now all I have to do
is adjust the length on that hook to where I want it to be.
Then, the billy can be suspended.
It's been a really interesting day.
To be painting at that rock art site with Juju, that was very special.
It's a very peaceful place, it's only five minutes from the river,
where there obviously are crocodiles at some times.
And there's a lot of bush food in that area.
So you can see why it would have made a good campsite,
shelter, water, and food.
And there we were under the overhang of a rock
and underneath, it's painted like a crocodile
and later on, I stood back and I looked at the rock,
and the rock itself looked just like the head of a saltwater crocodile.
'No wonder Juju believes so strongly in the presence of living things in the landscape.'
There's a lot that Juju is unprepared or unwilling to
allow us to record about her traditions and her beliefs.
Even though I've worked with Aboriginal people for many years, I still struggle to really
understand the way they see the world, it's so multi-dimensional.
Today, their ancestors, their ancestral beings
that they say created the world,
they all seem to still exist in a real, a real and present sense,
it's really fascinating and it's something I wish I understood better.
Tomorrow, the art will also be a history lesson -
a lesson that is becoming increasingly controversial.
These are the pictures I know best, the ones I've pored over at home.
I can hardly believe I can touch them if I wanted to.
This is a staggeringly beautiful painting.
This style of art is called Bradshaw Art,
after one of the first Westerners to encounter it
and people have said that these pictures look very un-Aboriginal,
and they looked at the costumes
that the figures are wearing and have suggested that they even look African.
You can see where they get the idea from and there is a real
African quality to these paintings.
But regardless of the origin of the people who made them,
what we do know is that they're very old,
and they may represent the art work of the earliest people here in Australia.
These are national treasures.
To leave them so open is staggering.
It's like leaving the Mona Lisa in the middle of the street.
But maybe that's part of the appeal of the art here.
For me looking at them, though, the thing that I really like
is the energy in this painting,
it's full of movement, it's three dimensional,
even the face up here, you can see delicate outlines in the face,
it's not just bits of red ochre slapped onto the rock face,
there's real energy, there's real attention to detail.
They're very moving.
It's like the ghostly images cast by a campfire onto the rock.
The Bradshaw may be the art I know best,
but it's not the treasure
I've travelled halfway round the world to uncover.
That's hidden away in a very remote place.
It's art that holds clues from the time this land was called New Holland, from before Dampier
and perhaps before anyone lived here
and there's only one way I'm going to get there.
Dotted around the Kimberleys are sites of so-called "boat art".
Images of canoes that may have brought early travellers,
sailing ships and other records of an unknowable past.
HELICOPTER PROPELLERS ECHO
There are caves on this remote beach -
they're a bit of a squeeze to get inside but once you come inside,
you feel like this is a shelter, it's an even temperature.
It's very, very comfortable in here, it's even quite nicely lit.
On the floor there are bits of stone that show the signs that they've
been worked by people and on the walls there are even imprints of hands.
So we know that this was a shelter site, but really tantalising
here in the Kimberleys, you find depictions of boats.
That's really significant cos it's evidence for people coming and going to this continent.
Take a look at this one. Is this a dugout canoe?
Are these marks here on the hull axe cut marks,
and look there are three people in there, they're all smoking pipes.
It's fascinating - are these traders coming down? It's difficult to know.
This is amazing, look - doesn't that look like a Dutch woman?
In an 18th century dress with... with a bonnet on?
For centuries, there have been legends of Dutch people
arriving in the continent and being lost
in the Australian outback and there were certainly Dutch sailors
shipwrecked on this coastline.
And round the corner, there are even more tantalising clues to past visitors.
If you look here, there are more canoes depicted, big ones,
small ones, and then look at this,
it's a ship with sails.
Could that have been Dampier, visiting this coast,
But even more tantalising, much older, and very faint,
if you look over here to the right of it,
there is just the faintest outline of one of the reed boats.
Maybe that depicts the first arrivals here in Australia,
we'll never know.
These caves have silted up with sand.
There's a lot of art work at ground level in them but up here in these
little nooks and crannies, you've got these alcoves and shelves.
There are bits of worked stone left by the original inhabitants.
Look at that piece of stone - that's actually been worked!
You can see, see there it's been worked by people.
Wonderful to see archaeology in such a good state of preservation.
Everywhere I look now I'm starting to see paintings, my eyes are accustomed now to the...
To see the shape and the form, and I've come in here looking
for boats and we've found 18th or earlier century galleons,
dug out canoes and just the vaguest outline
of what might have been a reed boat and then look, I looked up here.
Look at this, a massive great reed boat!
That is incredible and it looks like it's been painted more than once.
It's been painted and refreshed,
the darker line underneath that - normally the darker line's often much, much older.
That's fantastic, it's like treasure hunting.
And that's exactly what I feel I've been doing.
Digging up treasures to take home with me.
Not in a physical sense, but very real nonetheless.
They say you should travel with an open mind,
take only memories and leave only footprints.
It's a way of travelling "walkabout" encourages by its very name
and I've left plenty of footprints
but gathered memories that will stay stamped in my mind forever.
It's only when you actually get close to rock art that you...
That you can really appreciate it, you can feel the energy and sense the location.
Almost the location is as important as the art.
I find it hard to believe that back in the so-called
civilised corners of the world,
there are art critics who say that rock art isn't art at all.
What do they know?
From my point of view, this is as dramatic and as exciting
as any of the grandmasters' works that I've ever gazed upon.
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