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The Turraburra rock art site in Australia
Monday 19 October 2020

An article by Damien Larkins on abc.net.au - Indigenous story wall restored, open to visitors in outback Queensland - reports on the monumental Indigenous art site of Turraburra in remote western Queensland, Australia, that has been officially opened to the outside world.

Indigenous story wall Queensland rock art site Turraburra Queensland Australia Iningai
Iningai woman Suzanne Thompson (left) says the site is a university teaching wall of their songlines.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins). The Iningai people (right) say their ancestors etched pterosaur bones on the wall.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins).

Ancient paintings and etchings of megafauna, emu symbols and the traditional Indigenous Seven Sisters story cover the towering cliffs at Turraburra. Iningai woman Suzanne Thompson explains that "The story wall goes for about 200 metres.....and it is filled with tens of thousands of engravings, of paintings and petroglyphs. We're very lucky and very honoured to be custodians of something so rich, with that much knowledge on it."

Indigenous story wall Queensland rock art site Turraburra Queensland Australia Iningai
Turraburra will be open to school groups and researchers (left) to stay and learn.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins). It is hoped guided tours of Turraburra (right) will help educate visitors and preserve the site.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins).

The site is at Gracevale Station, an hour outside of Aramac in remote western Queensland. The almost 9,000 hectares of land was returned to the local Iningai people's custodianship in 2019. In just one year they have restored cleared land, excavated disused waterways and reduced cattle numbers on the former grazing land. Now it is being opened to visitors as a place of learning, and will be renamed under the traditional owners' name of Turraburra.

Ms Thompson adds that "The wall houses what we call the university teaching wall of our songlines. This is my birth country. It's just something that is innately a part of who we are.....country completes us." Plans are in motion to build a multimillion-dollar education centre made from local materials. University of Queensland architect John de Manincor has been working with the locals to bring their vision to life. Ms Thompson says it would be open to school groups and researchers; "We wanted to make sure it blended in with the environment."

While it is not certain exactly how old all of the art is, Ms Thompson says thousands of past generations have left their mark, and that the Iningai people hoped that the work at Turraburra would preserve those stories for future generations.

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