Dreamtime on Christmas Tree Hill

Dreamtime on Christmas Tree Hill  

21st July 2010  

By Geoff Russell  

I had a phone call  from Keith about 10am on a pretty wet and cool Wednesday, he said he wasn’t fishing because of the weather and wondered whether I’d like to see some recently discovered Aboriginal carvings on Christmas Tree Hill and as there was not a lot happening at the kiosk we made arrangments to meet up there about 2pm, weather permitting.          

Keith is a local fisherman with a keen interest in local Aboriginal history and Aboriginal rock carvings which proliferate in the area.  I’ve been out with him on his “Tinnie” more than once, observing the rock art from the water.  

Christmas Tree Hill is about 2km from Cottage Point, a steep but short drive; from the summit you’re able to walk south along a short track which overlooks Smith’s Creek, or you can, as we did,  follow a track in a north easterlydirection along a ridge which leads to a “Trig Station,” the track then continues another few hundred metres ending at an escarpment overlooking “Coal and Candle Creek” with views west towards Berowra, east towards the Bahi Temple,  and south towards Terrey Hills.  

Escarpment View

  

The weather had cleared by the time we met, still a little unsettled but mostly fine; the bush was moist, the leaf litter spongy, the smells fresh and earthy; a perfect afternoon for scrambling about in the bush. We soon came across “The Trig Station” which appeared to have been struck by lightening; the composite pole, from which the mapping disk is suspended, was severely bent and charred.  

Charred Trig Station

  

          From the escarpment, Keith launched himself (bum first) down a fairly steep rock face and almost disappeared into the bush, there was still a little water around with moist channels and pools so one had to be a little careful. There was no track so it was quite possible to loose sight of each other and be only metres apart. We soon came to a rock clearing where we were able to skirt around the edges until we came to a much larger rock ledge, with beautiful colours of red and browns, with water channels and tiny rock pools, there were small pockets of vegetation where sand had collected in a rock pool, this in turn would retain the water enabling moss and tiny shrubs to survive.   

   

The flow of water over the rock ledge had created natural sculptures of exquisite beauty.  

We also noticed a number of small rock “cairns,” which Keith explained were symbolic; some of which were in a stable condition while others had collapsed. Although the rock ledge on which we were standing is relatively remote and secluded, to have small rock cairns still intact after 200 years seems to me a little unlikely.  

There was a certain peacefulness surrounding the whole area all the same. 

 
 

Dragon Man

  

Keith was able to find a carving which he called ‘Dragon Man” a tall carving with 4 shields in close proximity; he claimed as the shields displayed crosses they were symbolizing that this area is “men’s business” and women should stay away.  

Dragon Man's Shield

  

 Keith had previously been informed that there is a 24ft carving of a whale in this area and was keen to find it; he chose to dream on his own for a while to try and sus out where  the whale carving might be.  

He did discover another rather large carving, very faint and weathered, almost invisible in parts, but unquestionalbly a carving. Keith was hopefully excited should it be the whale, although it turned out to be another tall figure, of similar proportions to “Dragon Man,” quite obviously a male so I named him “Whale Man.”  

Whaleman

  

   

I was also shown “Warrior Man” a somewhat smaller figure than the others but depicted in the same stance. We were unable to find any shields that may have accompanied a warrior, but these could have subsequently been covered with vegetation.  

Warrior Man

  

          We explored the rock shelf for sometime, dreaming Aboriginal history, using the binoculars to scan the valleys and escarpments for possible cave sights.  

Keith suggested the ravine in the foreground stretching from the road down to water at “Coal and Candle Creek” could be traversed by leaving a boat at the water level end and beginning the walk from the road. He felt reasonably sure there would be many examples of rock carvings and “ochre blown” hand prints along the water course.  

Although I knew in which direction we needed to follow to return to the car, there was absolutely no evidence of where we had entered the rock ledge; I did have the GPS with me, so it wasn’t a worry about getting lost, but it all looked pretty steep all the same. Keith suggested we skirt around the cliff edge heading south, but after a few metres it became so precarious I suggested we try another route, straight up.  

          We scrambled through bushes and up rock faces, working up a little sweat as a result, finally joining the track leading back to the “trig station.”  

          We arrived back at the road before twilight, feeling pleasantly fatigued and awe inspired that there are so many remains of  early Australian history within only a few kilometres from home.