The imagery of the Aboriginal culture, as can be seen in many of the sacred sites, rock and cave
paintings, used very few colours, as they were often made from what was available
locally. The colours were often mined from 'ochre pits', being used for both
painting and ceremonies. The ochre was even traded between clans and at one time
could only be collected by specific men within the clan. Some of ochre pits can
be viewed today as tourist attractions.
Ochre - Stone of the Dreamtime
Ochre is integral to the Dreamtime stories 'stories of Creation and Law' of
Aboriginal people throughout Australia. Red ochre deposits often represent the
blood of sacred ancestral beings.
Aboriginal people have extracted ochre from these cliffs in Central Australia for thousands of years.
ochre from here in the West MacDonnell Range is still used by Western Arrernte people, mainly for
The traditional Aboriginal stories and
ceremonies for this site belong to Western Arrernte men. Women and children are
not permitted to dig the ochre, or know of the stories associated with the
site. Therefore it is not possible to relate or show how ochre is used in the
telling of these stories.
However, women use ochre, provided by men, from this site in their own
Rock paintings, common in other parts of Australia, are not prolific in
Central Australia. This could be because in this region fixatives are not mixed
with ochre paint and the rock paintings did not last, or it could be that rock
paintings are not central to local Aboriginal culture. Here, the Dreamtime is
drawn in sand paintings, which are destroyed as part of the ceremonies.
Source: Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission -