This was more than just a tour of rock art. The Guurrbi rock art tour, (click on this link for more details) led by Willie Gordan the charismatic elder of the Nugal-Warra clan. Willie was their story keeper, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years to keep the aboriginal history and stories alive for each generation.
A 45 minute drive from Cooktown took us into the heart of Hope Vale the land that has now been returned to the Nugal-Warra clan. From there Willie took us on a gentle meandering 2 hour walk through the bush and into hills and the rock outcrops and back thousands of years, as he described the society and culture of the aboriginals. A culture that was still alive in Willies fathers generation. He also pointed out the different plants and explained what they had been used for, how dilly bags were woven from the native flax leaves and when we came across small sun lizards he taught the 2 young dutch boys in our party how to give them water. As we walked along Willie drew us all into thinking and comparing the past with the present. Touching on present day controversies such as reconciliation and land rights and getting us to share our stories with him.
We stopped at a number of rock art sites and Willie told us the stories behind the drawings. One of the sites was the birthing place for the women of the clan and it is protected by a huge rock that resembled a serpent. Before we descended into this magical place Willie went ahead first to talk to his ancestors and ask permission to bring us into the site.
The tour was a total of 5 hours and in that time we learnt so much about aboriginal culture. This tour was voted into the top 10 things to do in Queensland and I would say it is certainly a must do if you are in the area, some people travel from all over Australia just to go on the tour, it is an eye opener and I thank Willie for this enriching experience.