Viewing platform for Jibbon engravings

Jibbon Headland has some of the region's most outstanding Aboriginal rock engravings.

Where are Jibbon engravings?

Jibbon engravings are located at the end of Jibbon Beach, Bundeena within Royal National Park.

What are they?

These Dharawal engravings are some of the richest and most preserved Aboriginal rock engravings in the Sydney metropolitan area. Rock engravings were a common form of art work in the Sydney Basin and were created for lessons and ceremonies, boundary marking and for showing sources of food in the area. The Jibbon engravings include whales, kangaroos, a stingray and a spiritual figure.

How are the engravings made and maintained?

Sydney sandstone is a very soft stone and is relatively easy to work. To make a figure in the rock it is first ‘pecked’ and then ‘rubbed’ (like joining the dots) using traditional tools to create a groove about 10 millimetres deep and 20 millimetres wide. Over time the grooves erode due to the softness of the rock. They also get filled in by grit, sand or lichen. Senior men oversee their maintenance. Highlighting of the Aboriginal rock engravings is done by the Dharawal people, the Dharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Protecting the site

Last year the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in consultation with the Dharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council and Dharawal community members, undertook site protection work at Jibbon Aboriginal Engravings site. Conservation work included the installation of a 60-metre raised board walk and a viewing platform elevated above the engravings. This work gives visitors a unique aerial view of the engravings. Work also included a gathering area at the start of the boardwalk and interpretive signage. The walkway was designed to ‘float’ on the ground surface to reduce the possibility of impacting any buried cultural items should they be present. The La Perouse Men’s Group cleared vegetation around the site and installed timber barriers to protect the engravings.

Conservation work will help protect an important piece of Dharawal cultural heritage as well as making access to the engravings easier, with more meaning, for visitors to the site. It will also benefit the local Bundeena business community by increasing visitor numbers to the area.

How much did the project cost?

The project cost around $500,000. This was largely due to the remoteness of the site which meant that components of the walkway had to be lowered in by helicopter.

The work was part of a larger $2.2-million program to improve the experience of walking the Royal Coastal Track, including new signage and improved camping opportunities. Track improvements include the installation of sandstone stairs, raised boardwalk and track resurfacing.

For more information about the engravings visit the conservation programs page on the NPWS website.