Bull Cave | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Bull Cave

Item details

Name of item: Bull Cave
Other name/s: Bull's Cave, The Bull Cave
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Aboriginal
Category: Art site
Location: Lat: -34.0608797 Long: 150.849009
Primary address: Darling Avenue, Kentlyn, NSW 2560
Parish: St Peter
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Campbelltown
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Tharawal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT235 DP752062

Boundary:

Should you wish to request a SHR curtilage plan, please contact the Heritage Division
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Darling AvenueKentlynCampbelltown St PeterCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Bull Cave is of state significance as it offers a rare Aboriginal perspective on the early contact period. Whilst it is representative of a suite of Aboriginal rock art sites which depict European subject matter in the early contact period, it presents a unique window into one specific and notable historical event: the escape and subsequent flourishing of the First Fleet cattle in the area which came to be known as the Cowpastures. The style and method of the painting is broadly representative of the traditional Aboriginal art of the sandstone landscape in the Sydney Basin.

It is also of state significance for its history and associations with the Dharawal, Gundugurra and Dharug Aboriginal peoples who are understood to each have traditional connections with the riverside landscape which is located close to the intersection of the boundaries of the three groups.
Date significance updated: 13 Mar 17
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Physical description: The site is located in Kentlyn, northeast of Campbelltown, within a pocket of remnant bushland bordered by a suburban landscape. It is comprised of a rock shelter along a sandstone ridge, 15 metres from a creek.
It is one of a network of rock art sites along the small creek valley system which constitute a complex cultural resource.

The shelter faces west and is 8.5 metres wide and 5.1 metres deep.
The walls display pigment art which has been identified as being of Aboriginal origin. There are dozens of stencils within the shelter including a number of white hand stencils along with stencils of arms, fists, a boomerang and several stencils which may be those of sheep or calves feet in white and red.

There are also numerous paintings. The largest paintings in the shelter are two large representations of quadrupeds. Both figures are outlined in black charcoal. One shows signs of earlier red outline and infill.
The first figure is almost three metres long and one metre high. The general shape of the animal, the appearance of what appears to be mature sexual organs, the tail and the cloven feet, suggest that the painting is of a bull. It bears no resemblance to any native marsupial.
The second figure stands to the left of and behind the first figure. The body is thick, the tail is visible and filled in with black but is not as long as in the first figure, and is broader. The cloven front feet suggest that this may be a representation of either a cow or a bull.

The position of the two drawings on the wall of the rock may also be of significance. It has been suggested that one animal could be interpreted as attempting to mount the other in an act of copulation.

The cave has been considerably vandalised. To protect against further graffiti, it has been enclosed by a wire fence installed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1982.

History

Historical notes: Tharawal Dharug, and Gandangara

Although Bull Cave has been popularly considered to be part of Dharawal country it is situated along the natural boundary between the Hawkesbury sandstone of the Woronora Plateau and the Wianamatta shale of the Cumberland Plain along the Georges River (13). Limited archaeological investigation of the site has revealed influences from coastal, hinterland and mountainous regions, suggesting that it is located at the intersection of three tribal and linguistic boundaries; Dharawal, Dharug and Gundungurra (Miller 1983, p. 13).

Dharawal people moved throughout their territories and to a lesser extent those of their neighbours including the Gundangurra and Darug, subject to season and purpose. They travelled widely caring for country in ceremony and practice and harvesting only what was immediately required. People from other language groups travelled from inland to the coast to exchange foods, raw materials and artefacts (Department Environment and Conservation NSW, 2005).
Bull Cave had a role as one of a network of sites along the Georges River and its tributaries. The style of art, pigments and artefacts at the cave suggest possible domestic, educational and spiritual uses into the nineteenth century. Several layers of stencils and drawings in Bull Cave were created by the Aboriginal community over time, the largest and most prominent of which, the figures of two large cattle, were created soon after the arrival of the First Fleet. One interpretation argues that the three colours of pigment indicate multilayered applications of use of the cave and its art in cultural terms; whereby red pigment is associated with bloodlines; charcoal with education; and white with spiritual connections.

The Appin Massacre of 1816 is considered to have been the most detrimental and tragic historic event for the Aboriginal people of Campbelltown and Camden. It occurred in the early hours of the morning of 17 April 1816, the outcome of a military reprisal raid against Aboriginal people ordered by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. At least 14 Aboriginal men, women and children were killed when soldiers under the command of Captain James Wallis shot at and drove a group of Aboriginal people over the gorge of the Cataract River (Dictionary of Sydney, 2008).

Although largely depleted, local Aboriginal people maintained a connection with the Cowpastures region. From the late 1820s magistrates provided lists of local Aboriginal people who might be eligible for the annual distribution of blankets. Comparison of the lists of neighbouring police districts for the 1830s suggests that the surviving Dharawal and Gandangara moved between Campbelltown, the Cowpastures and Picton, rarely venturing to more populated Liverpool (Liston 1988, p.55).

Tribal life continued in a limited way. Corroborees were held nearby at Camden Park and north of the Nepean at Denham Court until at least the 1850s, usually celebrated when other Aboriginal groups were passing through the district (Liston 1988, p.55).

The Wild Cattle

In 1787 the First Fleet, bound for Botany Bay, stopped at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, to collect livestock for the new colony. Among these were 11 Cape Cattle, of which 7 live cattle arrived at their destination; one bull, five cows and a bull calf (Collins 1793, p.296). Despite being kept under the watch of a convict herdsman in what is now known as the Domain, in June 1788 these cattle escaped their bounds. After several unsuccessful attempts at recovery Governor Philip abandoned the matter and they were thought lost to the colony. (Lyon, Urry 1979, p.42).

In October 1795, in line with reports from the Aboriginal community, two convicts came across a herd of wild cattle while on a hunting expedition across the Nepean River. On hearing the news Governor John Hunter arranged for a party to verify the sighting, and later set out himself with a group from Prospect Hill on November 8, 1795. After travelling for two days south and having crossed the Nepean they found a fine herd of over 40 cattle grazing in "country remarkably pleasant to the eye, and the finest yet discovered in New South Wales, the soil good and eligible for cultivation, everywhere thick luxuriant grass" ('First Fleet Cattle' The Sydney Morning Herald, August 13 1932, p. 9).

With the assumption that these were the descendants of those cattle which had escaped 7 years earlier, the cattle became known as "the wild cattle" and the Campbelltown-Camden area they inhabited became known as the Cowpastures (Mitchell 1939, p.129). The area and cattle were declared property of the Crown and, under its protection, their numbers increased further. In 1795 the herd was estimated to be approximately 60 head; in 1801 Governor King estimated there to be 500-600 head; and by 1806 there were thought to be 3000 head (Lyon, Urry 1979, p. 42).
Although some land had been granted to figures such as Macarthur, the region was not settled until 1822, and the wild cattle remained largely undisturbed until 1826 when they were gradually dispersed into other government herds (Lyon, Urry 1979, p.43).

European Development

Whilst the greater Campbelltown-Camden area began to be settled by Europeans in the 1810s and 1820s, Kentlyn mostly remained bushland, with only a handful of land grants given out. In 1879 the Kentlyn area was proclaimed the 'Campbelltown Common'. It was comprised of 2,000 acres south of Peter Meadows Creek, east of Smiths Creek and west of the Georges River and provided firewood and temporary grazing for local property owners (Dictionary of Sydney, 2008).

In 1894, during an economic depression a number of small farms were established on newly opened land and three earlier land grants in the area were privately subdivided by a Sydney developer. The estate was promoted as the 'Kent Farms' (CA Liston, 1988).

During the Great Depression in the 1930s the Kentlyn area became inhabited by unemployed persons who built makeshift homes in the bush, attracted by Campbelltown Council's offer of 2 days' work per week building roads in the area ("Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs - How and why they got their names" written by Jeff McGill, Verlie Fowler and Keith Richardson, 1995, published by Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society).

With the population explosion of the 1970s Kentlyn was declared a 'scenic protection' zone with a minimum lot size of five acres. This converted some of the bushland area into sprawling estates (Jeff McGill, Verlie Fowler and Keith Richardson, 1995).

This pocket of bushland along Peter Meadows Creek has been maintained to the present as an open space corridor (Office of Strategic Lands, 2016).

Recent History

Bull Cave was first recorded in June 1971.When the site was significantly vandalised in 1982, National Parks and Wildlife Service installed a wire fence around the mouth of the cave to prevent further incursions (AHIMS site card).
There have since been numerous incidents where the wire fence has been compromised and vandalism has continued. Despite much graffiti, the bull images remain visible.

Although investigations in previous decades concluded that graffiti removal would be impossible, recently developed techniques may allow for restoration in future. Aboriginal people value the cave highly in the present and describe its importance within the broader cultural landscape.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Bull Cave has historical significance at a state level as it provides a unique insight into the earliest period of contact between Aboriginal people and European settlers. It tells the story of the transportation of cattle on the First Fleet, their escape upon arrival and the subsequent development of the Cowpastures from an Aboriginal perspective.

The site has a special place in the post contact history of the region, having been one of the last places in the area where Aboriginal people were able to live a traditional, independent life.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site and art are significant for their special association with the Dharawal, Gundugurra and Dharug Aboriginal people, being located at the intersection of three tribal boundaries.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The rock art is of state heritage significance for its aesthetic values as evidence of a painting style identified with sandstone landscapes of the Sydney Basin. Distinctive characteristics of the art include symbolic motifs of which stencils are common.

While the bull theme is highly unusual, the painting technique is characteristic of Aboriginal art in the Sydney Basin. It is significant that on both figures the feet are clearly shown to be cloven and drawn in profile. Aboriginal artists commonly drew representations of the tracks of the animals they encountered. Feet are important for identification of Australian rock-art fauna, and are usually drawn so as to include enough information about the feet to infer what the animal/being’s tracks looked like. The clear representation of the feet on these paintings may have been one way in which the animals and their tracks were thought of as distinctive by the painters.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Bull Cave is of state heritage significance to the community of NSW, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, as a unique documentation of the early contact period as viewed by the traditional owners of the land. It is also significant in a traditional and historical sense to the local Aboriginal community. In addition to being valued as part of a relatively intact and complex group of sites along the creek system, the community also express a connection to the site as an important teaching place which is symbolic of the challenges faced by Aboriginal communities in trying to balance their desire to recognize and celebrate their heritage, with the need to protect it.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Bull Cave is of state significance for its archaeological research potential. To date, only a small portion of the entrance to Bull Cave has been subject to archaeological excavation.

Further research into the art could provide additional information for interpretation of early-post contact art, allow revelations about on-going use of rock-art sites after European settlement, and help to reveal further undocumented Aboriginal reactions to European settlement.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Whilst there are several examples of Aboriginal rock art with European subjects, animals and pieces of material culture which date to the early post-contact period, Bull Cave is unique for its connection to a particularly specific and significant story. It is the only painting of cattle executed very soon after European settlement, linking the Aboriginal community with a dramatic event in the first years of colonisation of Australia—the loss and rediscovery of the first cattle landed on the continent.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The pigment, method and style of the paintings are a good representation of Aboriginal rock art of the Sydney Basin.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977
ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL
Bull Cave
SHR No. 01993
I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of
section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule "C" by the owner described in
Schedule "B" on the item described in Schedule "A".
The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP?
Minister for Heritage
Sydney, 22nd Day of August 2017

SCHEDULE "A"
The item known as Bull Cave, situated on the land described in Schedule "B".

SCHEDULE "B"
All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lot 235 DP 752082 in Parish of St Peter, County of Cumberland shown
on the plan catalogued HC 3042 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE "C"

EXEMPTIONS UNDER SECTION 57(2)
Exemptions Reason/ comments
1. All Standard Exemptions These cover a full range of activities that do not require Heritage Council approval, including Standard Exemption 7 which allows consideration of additional unspecified types of minor works for exemption.

2. Bush regeneration activities:
Bush regeneration activities including native vegetation planting and fauna management where such works do not involve ground disturbance or excavation which would expose, move, or damage relics and/or
Aboriginal objects. To ensure that ongoing bush regeneration activities would not require Heritage Council consent. Should there any doubt as to the presence of relics and/or Aboriginal objects in a given area an archaeological assessment would be required to demonstrate that any potential archaeology is not impacted by these works. Should archaeology be affected by the proposed works an approval under the relevant provisions of the Heritage Act 1977 and/or National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 would need to be sought.

3. Bushfire hazard reduction:
Bushfire hazard reduction activities including controlled burning where such works do not involve ground disturbance or excavation which would expose, move, or damage relics and/or Aboriginal objects. To ensure that ongoing bushfire hazard reduction activities would not require Heritage Council consent. Should there any doubt as to the presence of relics and/or Aboriginal objects in a given area an archaeological assessment would be required to demonstrate that any potential archaeology is not impacted by these works. Should archaeology be affected by the proposed works an approval under the relevant provisions of the Heritage Act 1977 and/or National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 would need to be sought.

4. Erosion and sediment control:
Erosion and sediment control activities including stabilisation of riverbank erosion and in-stream works, laying of sediment traps and mats and site revegetation where such works do not involve ground disturbance or excavation which would expose, move, or damage relics and/or Aboriginal objects. To ensure that ongoing erosion and sediment control activities would not require Heritage Council consent. Should there any doubt as to the presence of relics and/or Aboriginal objects in a given area an archaeological assessment would be required to demonstrate that any potential archaeology is not impacted by these works. Should archaeology be affected by the proposed works an approval under the relevant provisions of the Heritage Act 1977 and/or National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 would need to be sought.

5. Dangerous tree removal:
Removal or pruning of trees considered a danger to the public. The stumps of dangerous trees are to be left in situ or ground down to ensure that significant impacts to archaeology are avoided. To ensure that urgent dangerous tree removal activities would not require Heritage Council consent.

6. Pest management:
Weed and feral animal eradication activities including, spraying and ground shooting and trapping where such works do not involve ground disturbance or excavation which would expose, move, or damage relics and/or Aboriginal objects. To ensure that ongoing pest management activities would not require Heritage Council consent. Should there any doubt as to the presence of relics and/or Aboriginal objects in a given area an archaeological assessment would be required to demonstrate that any potential archaeology is not impacted by these works. Should archaeology be affected by the proposed works an approval under the relevant provisions of the Heritage Act 1977 and/or National Parks and Wildlife
Act 1974 would need to be sought.
Aug 29 2017

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0199328 Aug 17 2017-954586

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2008Kentlyn
Written 1932First Fleet Cattle
Written  Bull Cave Site Card
WrittenCampbelltown: The Bicentennial History1988C. A. Liston
WrittenDepartment of Environment and Conservation2005Aboriginal Illawarra
WrittenJeff McGill, Verlie Fowler and Keith Richardson1995Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs - How and why they got their names
WrittenK. Lyon, J. Urry1979Bull Shelter: A Cow Pastures Conundrum
ElectronicNSW Government Gazette2017NSW Government Gazette View detail
WrittenR. D. Miller1983Bull Cave
WrittenThe Dharawal and Gangangara in colonial Campbelltown, New South Wales, 1788-18301988Carol Liston

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5063573
File number: EF16/11996


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