Located 39km north of the Arnhem Highway, the Ubirr rock art site in Kakadu National Park is a mesmerising display with depictions of traditional foods and tales of creation and laws among the Aborigines. With some rock art dating back over 15,000 years, this sacred and significant site is a must-see experience.
There are three main galleries at the Ubirr site scattered within the rock: the main gallery, Namarrgarn Sisters and the Rainbow Serpent. There are different art styles on display at Ubirr and newer paintings are occasionally superimposed over older creations. Painting styles include X-ray paintings of animals, fish and birds in mineral paints in ochre tones of black, red, yellow and white, as well as yam figures, where the head of humans or animals is depicted as a yam.
The main gallery dates back to the freshwater rock art period, which is less than 1,500 years old, and shows contact art with depictions of 'white fellas', as well as ancient paintings by Mimi spirits on the ceiling. The Namarrgarn Sisters deals with the folklore of the sisters who live in the stars and throw strings down, attach them to people's organs and make them sick. The Rainbow Serpent is a powerful Creation Ancestor believed to be one of the oldest artistic symbols in the world. The usually female serpent is regarded as all powerful and painted her likeness at Ubirr to remind people of her presence. This gallery is linked to a Creation pathway that also includes Mangarre, East Alligator River and other Arnhem Land sites.
From the main gallery, you can climb for 30 minutes to the Nardab Lookout to survey the wetlands and watch the multicoloured sunset. It's free to view the magnificent rock art at Ubirr, and there's also a Border Store and Cafe at the entrance. To visit Ubirr, turn north off the Arnhem Highway 1km west of the Kakadu Highway intersection and drive a further 39km. From the carpark, it's a 1km (one-hour) circular track around the site.