Documenting culturally significant Aboriginal sites of the Hunter Valley

In the publication Spirit of Place, Warren has written about his cultural journey – about conversations with his father and his rediscovery of his country through the wonderful sites that show such powerful imagery from his people. Much of his knowledge has come from stories told by his father and visits to sites. His ancestral family have inhabited these sites.

The fantastic photographs in the book have been taken by Allan Chawner and Carol Carter. Allan is a well-know Newcastle photographer and former Associate Professor of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle. Carol has worked in Visual Arts education.

The introductory essay by Professor John Maynard, Professor of Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous History), on some aspects of pre-colonial life in the region.  John is a well-respected writer, researcher and historian – a Worimi man born in Newcastle.

Spirit of Place documents the country and the art sites.  Some photography of engraving sites has been taken at night. Very faint engravings can be seen by a method using artificial lighting. The engraving is lit low across the surface of the rock to reveal the shadow of the engraving, which enables the engraving to be seen in detail. The surrounding rock face and landscape are illuminated to place the engraving in the landscape. This technique reveals the magical qualities of the engravings that are rarely seen by people visiting the sites in daylight.

For many engravings, cave sites, and rock placement sites, their dreaming importance is linked to their placement in the landscape, for example, having Mount Yengo visible in the distance.  A selection of images can be viewed below.

Spirit of Place will have long-term benefits as an important record of Wonnarua traditional culture within the context of country. This will be the first publication of an extensive photographic record of Wonnarua sites. It will add to the body of research on Aboriginal traditional art on a national level.