Rock art is a regular sight here at Mount Borradaile; a beautiful and remote expanse of land on the flood plains of western Arnhem Land, a little-known region of Australia’s Northern Territory. The area, ‘Awunbarna’ to the local Gunbalanya people, is a part of the largest indigenous reserve in Australia. In one sandstone cavern, five metres above the ground, a six-metre long painting spanning the roof of a large overhang. Red haematite outlines two eyes, a tongue and hundreds of scales. White, chalky ochre solidifies the body giving the feeling of strength and fierceness. The Rainbow Serpent, a powerful and immortal creature known as a creator of life and protector of land and people is one of most important figures in aboriginal culture. This particular painting is potentially 2,000 years old, if not more. In addition, hand stencils are painted alongside depictions of life-size women, fish and ochre-filled, more recent drawings of guns and sailing ships.
To visit Mount Borradaile, guests must book in at Davidsons Arnhemland Safaris – a luxury camp and tour operation that acts as a gateway to the area. While the founder, Max Davidson, sadly passed away in 2017, his daughters Diana and Lee now run the camp, working with Max's friend and local traditional owner, Charlie Mangulda, to showcase the14 major art locations and several burial sites of the region. Alongside learning about Aboriginal history, travellers can experience the extraordinary flood plain ecosystem, which is home to kingfishers, barramundi, crocodiles and white-belled sea eagles. The guides are a dab hand at spotting the wildlife, too.