NOTE: This is a rather long read but there is a lot of info I wanted to include in this post so grab that diet soda and box of bon bons, get comfortable in your easy chair and indulge 🙂
One of my favorite land is Australia. The “land down under” is nothing short of magnificent! We are going to explore this fantastic land in upcoming posts because there is some geology and prehistoric history there that is significant although it has been much ignored by academia. For starters I want to take a look at what I call the “Bradshaw Boat.” But first we need a bit of history………
Dr. Grahame Walsh: Researcher, Lone Wolf, & Rebel
Grahame Leslie Walsh was the only real expert on the Bradshaw Art (Guion Guion) in which the “Bradshaw Boat” is to be found. He documents and studied this ancient rock art for over 40 years. He was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia in 1944 and sadly passed away in Brisbane in 2007. He was both a scholar and a Bushman, an outsider and an aesthete. He was particularly drawn to studying Aboriginal Australia. Walsh had a rather “maverick style” and a lone-wolf persona. He had a wide range of interests and was described by some as having been a “self-created man wholly free from external influences.” He pursued a life of field research hating the idea of sitting behind some academic desk. When he was in his teens a friend took him to Carnarvon Gorge to see a rock art paradise. To Walsh this site was like Camelot! For years after he operated a service station at Injune which is near the entrance to the gorge national park and while doing so he developed a keen interest in nature, geology, and the areas Aboriginal traditions.
In 1977 Walsh became a park ranger and thus began his love of Aboriginal rock art. He authored several books and publications and when researching he was mostly financed by private sponsors. His first book on the Bradshaws was published in 1994 and by this time he was beginning to get noticed in the academic rock art world. He was a brilliant field photographer too and a persistent finder of lost sites. However, he didn’t have any formal education or qualifications and his ideas about pre-Aboriginal civilizations in the far north of Australia set off a firestorm of fury in academia! That result in a split between Walsh and academia that was unfortunate for both.
Walsh soon found a new group of fans! He found himself becoming popular with the leaders in Australia’s corporate and legal world! These people began funding his expeditions and work. But Walsh was not without controversy even then. Kimberley Aboriginal groups grew upset with his interpretations of the Bradshaw rock art and rock art experts began to resent his refusal to share data or tell them where certain sites were located. However, what became increasingly evident was that his vast and growing knowledge of the rock art was phenomenal and that he alone had uncovered a vast and half-forgotten wealth of Aboriginal art.
Walsh had a thing for old Aboriginal people. In fact, he often hunted them down and soaked up the knowledge they’d share with him. He was considered by them as a kind white man fitted to the bush world and not so well fitted for the modern world. He just didn’t fit in with our modern consumer driven society, in fact. Others who knew him and worked with him said he was most at home out in the bush and that is also where Walsh began the most alive! He loved to tell stories and sitting around expedition campfires he often speak of his wild adventures as a teenager and young man along with retelling entire Wandjina myth cycles or speak of the secret wartime history of northern Australia. This man was a man of many facets, an enigma! In the dead of night in camp he could be heard talking on a satellite phone buying and selling items on eBay!!Mostly it was memorabilia from Japanese Kamikaze pilots from WW2.
Not everyone in academia was against Walsh and, in fact, he had some significant supporters in the halls of learning. In 2004 he was granted a Doctorate of Letters and prior to his death he was awarded a Ph.D. from Australia’s Griffith University. He began as insignificant and ended up being significant, a man and a researcher that HAD to be reckoned with IF one really wanted to know anything about Australian Aboriginal rock art! And with his doctorate degrees he was now on the same level as the rest of academia! His final book focused on the Wandjina and their oral traditions. He recalled the many stories he’d been told by an old and dying Aboriginal man in northern Kimberley and how he’d come to increasingly understand the Wandijina’s as the hero figures of an Aboriginal religion. His last wish was to visit Browse Island which is in the Indian Ocean about 200 km from the Kimberley coast. This was the “Island of Morality” in the Wandjina tradition. The place where the soul goes to upon physical death only to be shocked by the cold waters and sent back to the land as a rock painting! Walsh’s last expedition was to Browse Island via helicopter. There he found it rich in ancient stone arrangements.
Walsh left behind a vast trove of writings and rock art images gathered over the years. This man had his own ideas that often didn’t mix well with the “experts.” He was a lone-wolf and a rebel and this is one reason why I admire him! He went against the grain and was like a breath of fresh air bursting through those old dusty, stuffy rooms in the back of the museum!! Something MUCH needed in fact!
A Few Ideas from Dr. Walsh
Dr. Grahame Walsh was the undisputed EXPERT on the Bradshaw rock art of the Kimberley area, Australia. One of the things Walsh discovered here was the oldest rock paintings of BOATS in the world. The paintings date back to at least 17 kya and very possibly to 50 kya!! The picture at the top of this post if one of the Bradshaw boats and Walsh insisted that the high prow depicted on the boat was unnecessary for boats used in calm, inland waterways such as lakes or rivers. He was absolutely RIGHT! Walsh was rather shocked by the function, antiquity, and dimensions of these boats saying they were “massive boats, totally alien.” He noted the boats sophistication and technology he seen in the rock paintings of the two obviously ocean-going vessels in particular! The high prows were not needed for inland waters but they would be absolutely necessary to sail the ocean waves. Walsh believed these vessels were indeed ocean-going vessels and not used on inland waterways. I absolutely agree!
Walsh noted that two of the depictions of boats in the rock art showed one with no less than 23 people on board and another with no less than 29 people on board. Now isn’t such a passenger complement interesting? These numbers of people just so happen to be ideal numbers for FOUNDATION POPULATIONS should one be sailing off to distant unknown lands to colonize!!
So are these rock art paintings of ocean-going boats the mere imagination of the prehistory Aboriginal artist OR are they exact depictions of REAL ocean-going vessels used to sail to distant lands to colonize? I happen to believe that they are of the later purpose. I’ll be examining some of the evidence in the near future which has all but been ignored by academia!
It has been asserted that the rock art found in Northern Australia ought to be deemed as one of the 7 Wonders of the World and I wholeheartedly agree! It is nothing short of magnificent! It is unlike anything seen anywhere else and it is found in about 100,000 sites spread out over 50,000 square kilometers (19.3 thousand sq miles).
The pigment of the art cannot be dated, unfortunately but a fossilized wasp nest found covering some of the rock art was dated at 17,000 years old PLUS! Unlike the rock art in France at the Grotte Chauvet site which was dated using C14 dating, the Bradshaw rock art cannot be dated using the same technique as it is so old that the pigments have become part of the rock themselves!
Now here is something highly interesting. Comparing rock art found in France to the Bradshaw rock art one thing that is immediately obvious is that the paleolithic art in France depicts and elsewhere in Europe mainly depicts animals. In contrast, the Bradshaw rock art mainly depicts HUMANS! The depictions show humans with tassels, perhaps wearing clothing, and using hair adornments. At other sites where we find humans depicted wearing such things those sites are normally connected with prehistoric agricultural societies which had developed hierarchical systems of social status. However, what the Bradshaw rock art shows is that these things existed in Australia BEFORE 10 kya which means BEFORE AGRICULTURE which was about 9 kya!
Walsh believed the rock art was painted by some unknown Asiatic people BEFORE the last ICE AGE. One reason he believed this comes from the oral traditions of Aboriginal people whom Walsh said told him the paintings were made BEFORE THEIR TIME and that they didn’t know what the paintings meant or where trying to communicate! Not only did the Aboriginals not know who painted these fantastic rock paintings or what they meant but their own art, the Wandjinas, was/is DIFFERENT significantly from the Bradshaw rock art!! Most of the Wandjina rock art consists of human-like faces with arcs around their heads representing lightning and little short lines symbolizing rain. The Wandjina art appears to have more to do with “gods” than anything else and specifically the deities who bring on the monsoon season. But, what the Bradshaw art seems to depict is PREHISTORIC HUMAN EXPLORERS WHO MADE AND USED OCEAN-GOING BOATS!!
Now THAT is HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT in my opinion!! Somewhere in prehistory we had ancient human ancestors making and using boats capable of sailing the ocean waves and using them as a means to colonize unknown lands!!
Hmmm…..now here’s something interesting to think about. Mungo Man? Was Mungo Man the user and maker of the Bradshaw boats? Just a thought………
So what else led Walsh to consider the Bradshaw art to be Asiatic rather than Wandjina art? He noted a lack of skill development in the Bradshaw are, for one thing, as this rock art seems to appeared in their most advanced form. The art shows straight lines, symmetrical curves, and limbs of equal lengths. Walsh believed the painters of this rock art learned to paint on some other surface other than rock walls and once the individual had learned the advanced painting techniques then, and only then, were they allowed to paint on the rocks.
Another reason Walsh considered his “Asiatic Theory” valid was aside from the art evidence of the people who painted the art is nowhere to be found! There haven’t even been any stone tools found from these mystery artists! Other people could have walked over the area for tens of thousands of years and taken all the evidence away with him or the Bradshaw people could have been settled in an area not far away that is now under water and these could be reasons for such missing evidence of their existence but no one knows for sure what happened to them or where they came from to begin with.
Walsh postulated as well that the art might not be art at all but iconography, picture writing. He noted that the art figures where in repetitive patterns and styles. The most intriguing of the figures in the style is the canoe or boat with four people in it. It shows technology believed not to have existed prior to the rise of the Romans and Chinese 2000 years ago! If you look closely it appears to have a rudder at the stern but it is believed that the stern mounted rudder was only invented in the 1st century A.D. Referring to the picture of the vessel above you can see what appears to be a stern mounted rudder on the bottom of the boat.
You can also see clearly the high front and back ends of the vessel which are NOT typical of canoes made and used by Aboriginal Australians who typically made their canoes from hallowed out trees or bark curled upward with the front and back ends being the same height as the center of the vessel. To make such a boat with stone tools would likely be impossible and the metal tools that would be needed weren’t invented until around 4 kya. Animal skins could have been used reinforced with bamboo but these techniques were not known to be used by Aboriginals. Further, the only logical reason for having such high front and back ends would be to make the vessel less likely to take a nose dive in large waves! That would mean this vessel was made for open sea waters NOT for inland waters and lakes.
Another feature of this vessel to be noted is what appears to be a keel which would have been necessary to counter-balance the high ends of the boat in cross winds. If this feature is not a keel then it may simply be paddles below the water line but if so, they do not match the position of the people’s arms.
Now the shape of this boat reminds me of a reed boat, frankly. Reed boats are among the oldest known watercraft which were often used as fishing boats. They are still in use in some places by some cultures today. The earliest known reed boat was found in Kuwait and dated at 7 kya. Reed boats are also depicted in early petroglyphs and were common in ancient Egypt. However, reed boats are also known to have been used from early times in Peru and Bolivia and boats with similar design have been found on Easter Island too. The explorer Thor Heyerdahl constructed and sailed the ocean in a reed boat. Some of these reed boats were very sturdy and could hold more than 20 people. They are also known to have been used on Lake Titicaca in South America and even today the Uros people who pre-date the Inca live on man-made floating islands in the lake and use reed boats. These fabricated islands are made of totora reeds. The Uros people use boats made of the totora reeds for fishing and hunting seabirds. Some of them are made with high front and back ends just like those seen in the Bradshaw rock art.
In North America Tule Reeds were used to construct reed boats by various Native American cultures including the Ohlone (northern California), Coast Miwok in southern Sonoma County in northern California, and the Bay Miwok who lived in Contra Costa County in northern California.
Before he died Walsh said he had a photo of one Bradshaw art depiction showing 29 people on board, however, an academic feud caused him NOT to share the picture, sadly.
Mungo Man Revisited
I posted about Mungo Man a few days ago (see link below) so briefly, Mungo Man (and woman) was discovered in 1974 in the dry lake bed of Lake Mungo in western New South Wales, Australia. His remains have been dated at 62 kya. His bones are different from other bones found in Australia. Many of those younger remains display large brow ridges and thick skull bones but Mungo Man’s bones appear finer like modern humans. In fact, Mungo Man has a combination of archaic and modern features so he may have been a hybrid possibly the result of interbreeding between modern humans (Homo sapiens) and H. erectus. He may have also been one of the Red Deer Cave People who perhaps found his way to Australia (see RDCP link below). DNA from Mungo Man, specifically mtDNA which comes from the mother only, has no similarity to other discovered ancient skeletons and is NOT similar to Aborigines or modern Europeans. It appears his DNA has gone extinct.
One of the mysteries centering around Mungo Man is that it is hard to explain why an ancient looking people (the Kow Swamp People) occupied Australia AFTER a more modern looking people (Mungo Man). Further, according to current theory H. erectus never reached Australia and is thought to have gone extinct when modern humans reached Indonesia around 50 kya. Researchers do not believe that the archaic looking Kow Swamp People were H. erectus. The Kow Swamp People are dated at about 10 kyr.
New South Wales, Australia is located at the southeastern corner of Australia. Kimberly is located in Western Australia. Mungo Man and the Bradshaw Art are, thus, located at opposite ends of Australia. Is there other evidence across Australia linking Mungo Man and the Bradshaw Art? Good luck finding it because even today the Bradshaw Art is controversial especially the conclusions and assertions made by Walsh. In fact, he ended up being branded a “racist” for “demeaning the Aboriginal population” by suggesting some more sophisticated people created the Bradshaw Art and, frankly, the topic is even beyond discussion now in academia! Ignore it…cover it up….bury it …..forbid discussion…..ahhhh…the EXPECTED silencing techniques by the Overlords applied!! I would have expected NOTHING different from them!!
Thoughts and Conclusions
Honestly, the reed boats still being used on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru resemble the Bradshaw Boat in my opinion. The Bradshaw Boat was obviously built for ocean waters not inland waters. So who built them and where did they come from? Who created the Bradshaw Rock Art that the Aborigines say they didn’t create and don’t know what it means either? Was it the culture from which Mungo Man came from?
In another recent post I spoke of the ancient Indonesians and here is a bit of what I said in that post: “People from Indonesia conducted seafaring expeditions to Madagascar around 2 kya and they typically included pigs, chickens, and dogs. Further, in other places where they settled we find DNA from their dogs in modern dogs but not on this island. For example, the Indonesian dog DNA can still be found in modern dogs found in Hawaii, SE Asia, Cook Islands, and New Zealand along with other places….. Now researchers didn’t find in canine DNA connecting to Indonesian dogs on Madagascar BUT we have found that the PEOPLE there have both maternal and paternal lineages with Indonesian origins!” In short, the Indonesians got pretty far in their ocean voyages and explorations! Are these the people who created the Bradshaw Art? But wait, that was only 2 kya or so and the Bradshaw Art dates to 17 kya and possibly 50 kya. Have Indonesians been seafaring a lot longer than we think?
And then there is the Red Deer Cave People.………. These ancient people lived in China up to about 70 kya as far as we know. They are an enigma as they possessed features both modern and archaic (like Mungo Man) and in my previous post about them I compare their morphology to that of modern Aboriginal people and the similarities are somewhat striking. Problem is we don’t know where the Red Deer Cave People came from!
Frankly, I’m still questioning the Bradshaw Art and I don’t know who made them but one thing is clear. That is, whoever the creators of this art must have made and used BOATS designed for the open seas! That is one of the most significant things about this subject in my mind because it shows that seafaring is, in fact, very ancient.
We’ll take another look at all this in future posts and one of the things we’ll consider is this: Did the seafaring creators of the Bradshaw Rock Art in Western Australia sail to South America and colonize it? And here’s something else….did the Red Deer Cave People develop in China and migrate to Australia or visa versa because they sure do look like Aborigines! And if this is so then we must consider what is known as the “Out of AUSTRALIA” theory that postulates humans had their beginnings there, not Africa! Walsh thought the Bradshaw artists came from Asia and this fits right in with the Red Deer Cave People in my mind.