Kuwarddewardde: the stone country | David Hancock
A new book by North Australian photographer and writer David Hancock is focused on the Arnhem Land plateau, one of the most forbidding, mysterious and ancient areas of the world.
The plateau (also known as the Stone Country) covers an area of 22,000 sq kms and generates much of the fertility of the Top End of Australia. The region is stunningly beautiful and unique, both physically and culturally.
The traditional home to more than 50 clans of the Bininj Aboriginal people of western Arnhem Land – who know it as Kuwarddewardde ‚Äì the region has long been refuge for them, and rare fauna and flora.
People have lived in Kuwarddewardde for tens of thousands of years – their presence attested to on the walls and ceilings of rock shelters, from images of small dynamic figures that date back over 50,000 years, to ‚Äúcontact‚Äù art that depicts the arrival of Europeans in northern Australia less than 200 years ago.
The rock art of the plateau is extensive, representing the longest continual record of human settlement and endeavor of any place on Earth.
To European newcomers, the Stone Country was an unwelcoming, hot environment with rugged cliffs, bare, layered sandstone and difficult-to-navigate terrain. For Bininj, who crisscrossed the plateau for millenia, food and shelter was plentiful and routes between the coast and inland regions were easy to travel.
David Hancock works closely with Bininj people and has taken ten years to photograph and write this book that gives an insight to a remote and rugged environment populated by dynamic and resourceful people.
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