Mutawintji National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. I was there all of forty minutes- a quick visit stolen from a long day of travelling – but the landscape and the sense of history made a big impact. So did the heat, and the squabble with the kids, who were not so keen on a thirty minute walk in desert conditions in the middle of the day. But that’s another story.
In the short time I had I just couldn’t do justice to the landscape I saw, and I’m not going to try. Flickr user Beppie K has a thorough set with lots of information, and it is well worth looking through.
The casual visitor such as myself can still see a lot in a little time. A short walk takes you to an escarpment with some ancient art and handprints made by the Paakantji people.
If you read the official web site for the park, it rather diplomatically mentions a rock face with historical marks of Indigenous and European significance. Reading between the lines, I hadn’t liked the sound of this. And indeed I found Paakantji rock art and European graffiti.
William Wright passed through twice, on both occasions leaving his initials in a triangle of blue paint on the rock wall. Both of these marks remain visible. One is on what at least now looks to be a blank area, well away from the rock art. The other is plastered over the most prominent figure painted by the Paakantji.
I wonder what changed his attitude. I didn’t take note of which of the triangles came first.
Wright is best known for leading a support team for the tragic Burke and Wills exhibition He wasted months before setting off, and was of no use. He was pilloried in the government report into the ill-fated expedition.
The Paakantji ochre seems to be weathering better than Wright’s blue paint. I want to add to this palimpsest, so I offer this, in which I have done my best to remove Wright’s graffiti. Even though all my shuffled pixels will endure for a tiny blip of time even compared to the duration William’s blue paint, it felt very calming creating this image. I’ve left some Photoshop artefacts to indicate this is s concoction, not a reversal, not a revision. Even so, I don’t quite know how I feel about this image. I’m interested to hear what you think. Comment away 🙂