Alta Rock Art

Alta, Norway

Alta, Norway

The rock art in Alta, Norway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In actual fact, what look like paintings are carvings into the rocks surface. When the site was discovered in the 1970’s they coloured in the images so that they could be seen more easily, this technique is no longer practiced making some of the carvings less prominent than others.

There are several sites within the museum and walking the outside viewing route takes about 45 minutes.  The age of the carvings ranges from 2000 to 6000 years old. The carvings in the photography above are thought to be between 5300 to 6000 years old. What is interesting is why this particular spot was so interesting to the artists and how long the carvings went undetected before they were discovered.

This isn’t the only time I have visited historical rock art. I have also visited a few locations in Kakadu National Park, Australia and you can see those photographs and my experiences HERE.

Aboriginals in Tourism

With the encouragement of the Australian Government Aboriginal tourism has been established as a way for the indigenous people to tell their story in their own way. These people can now share their cultural insights, traditional practices and contemporary concerns with international visitors and non-Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous people of Australia see this type of tourism as a way to educate others about their culture while creating employment and training opportunities at a local level.

Aboriginal tourism is a broad and varied experience but there is one common thread, the inclusion of insights into and about the cultural knowledge, lifestyle and benefits of Australia’s Indigenous people. Aboriginal tourism goes beyond the lifestyles and traditions of the Indigenous people who live in these remote communities and includes urban Aboriginal tourism, focusing on rock art, politically themed art exhibitions, live theater and stories from the Dreamtime.

With the interest of preserving and marketing of Aboriginal culture the Australian Tourist Commission has defined Aboriginal tourism as “a tourism experience or service, which is majority owned or operated by Aboriginal people and/or owned or operated in partnership with non-Aboriginal people.” This is not always the case, for example, in New South Wales only 39 of 250 Aboriginal tour operations were Aboriginal-owned in 2001.

Since 1995 the Aboriginal Tourism Australia (ATA) has been operating on the behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia. The ATA is a non-profit company that provides leadership and focus strategies for the development of Aboriginal tourism keeping in mind Aboriginal economic, cultural and environmental values. In Aboriginal culture land is very significant and many areas are sacred and spiritual to these Indigenous people. Traditional owners have a responsibility to the land and to look after the environmental, cultural and spiritual well being of those areas.

This unique relationship and respect for the land is increasingly attracting visitors seeking to ‘touch the earth’. These areas include Uluru (Ayers Rock) and many sites in the Northern Territories that contain cave paintings over 5000 years old. Another major element of Aboriginal tourism is cultural control. These people have been around for a long time and already many of them have been attracted by many parts of modern society. It is important that we are aware of these differences and considerate towards them. For example many areas are scared and photographs are not allowed, also the visitor center in Uluru contains a book of apologies for taking pieces of rock known as the ‘Sorry book’, claiming that they caused bad luck.

Lately a priority has been to develop guidelines for the accreditation of Aboriginal tourism operators and after two years consulting with Ingenious communities, industry stakeholders and tourism operators, ATA has developed the program Respecting Our Culture. By encouraging businesses to protect Indigenous cultural, social, religious and spiritual values. The program aims to help find a balance between businesses, communities and the environment in the overall pursuit of sustainability. For more on this subject and further posts about Australia make sure to follow Our Shadows Will Remain.

Kakadu National Park – Ubirr Lookout

Following up from a previous post about the Aboriginal rock art in the Kakadu National Park I wanted to share a short video made at the Ubirr site where some of the oldest rock art can be found.

Below is my view from the Ubirr lookout into Armen Land, unfortunately I wasn’t there at sunset. I have shared this photograph before as part of another post but thought it also fits here.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park