We are the Aboriginal djungkay (custodians) of Injalak Hill - a very special place in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, with multiple rock shelters containing hundreds of priceless paintings made by our ancestors. We take small-group guided tours to Injalak Hill every dry season. We are now crowdfunding to print a 42 page fully illustrated, color book about the rock art and history of Injalak Hill. The book is to share with everyone - visitors who will take tours of our Hill and those who have visited in the past and anyone else interested in Australia's Indigenous cultural legacy. With quality information and superb photos it will valued by anyone with an interest in Aboriginal art and culture and the rock art of the Top End of Australia.
Injalak Hill & Injalak Arts
West Arnhem Land is our home and we are Kunwinjku speaking Aboriginal Australians whose ancestors have been residing in and on this country since time immemorial. Injalak Hill is the spectacular sandstone outlier that lies directly east of the art centre of the same name, clearly visible across Adjumarllarl billabong. Injalak Arts is in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) community, 300 km east of Darwin. Injalak hill is only 10 minutes away by road and is easily accessible during the dry season. The Hill is one of Australia's iconic rock art locations with multiple rock art galleries. Home to Aboriginal Australians for millennia and visited by non-Indigenous people since the late 1800s it is recognised as a world class rock art site with thousands of images ranging in age from recent to more than 25,000 years old. Paintings from Injalak Hill were featured on the original $1 note.
Guided tours of Injalak hill are conducted daily in the dry season led by local guides and take around 3 - 4 hours. Every year people travel from all over the world to Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) to take a tour of Injalak Hill and visit our art centre. The tour is public and suitable for all ages.
The Injalak Hill book
Until now we have not had any high quality and easily accessible information about Injalak hill to share with visitors. To address this we have researched, illustrated and designed a 42 page book. This beautiful and informative document contains contextual information about the human and natural history of West Arnhem Land and the significance and styles of the art found on the hill as well as cultural information.
The book will be a must-read for those people who get the opportunity to visit the hill but is also interesting for anyone with an interest in Aboriginal art, culture, lifestyles and occupation and rock art in the Top End.
Originally conceived as a pamphlet it became clear that we had much more to share so the format expanded - and so did the cost of printing.
Above: Injalak Hill tour guide Christina Djorlom was taught by her father, acclaimed artist and guide Garry Djorlom
The Injalak Hill tour
For more than 25 years local guides working through us, the local incorporated non-profit Association Injalak Arts, have been escorting small groups of people to visit the extraordinary galleries of rock art found on Injalak Hill. The responsibility for taking care of the Hill was given to the Association by Traditional Owner Donald Gumurdul (now deceased). Some of the senior guides have now retired from active touring however they continue to teach and mentor new generations of guides. Injalak Hill has seven main galleries of rock art and many more images painted on the walls of rock shelters and vertical surfaces.
If reading all of this has got you interested - yes, you can visit us and take an Injalak Arts Rock Art Hill Tour yourself. If you have your own transport you can get more information on how to get here and book with us direct here:
Or travel with one of our partners including Top End Day Tours, Venture North and Brookes.
Where is Injalak Hill?
Injalak Arts is in GUNBALANYA (OENPELLI) West Arnhem Land in the dark green bit (on the map) called Arnhem Land - you can find us just east of Kakadu National Park. Injalak Hill is only 10 mins drive from our art centre and we're a 50 minute drive from Jabiru and about 300 km by road east of Darwin in the "Top End" of Australia. It's possible to visit us during the dry season and you can find out more about how to do that here. You can come with a tour company or self-drive because we're only 15 km from the border of Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land.
What's amazing about our location is that it's spectacularly beautiful. Gunbalanya is located on the edge of a floodplain and to the east is a billabong called Adjumarllarl (can see it behind our artists in this photo) and the hill called Injalak that the art centre is named after. The drive from Cahills Crossing to Gunbalanya is one of the most scenic in the world.
Research for the publication
Preparing the booklet had been a collaboration between Injalak Arts members/tour guides and staff and academics with long-standing relationships with Injalak Arts and our beloved hill.
Injalak side: tour guides Garry Djorlom (dec), Thompson Nganjmirra, Christina Djorlom, Roland Burrunali and Ezariah Kelly, Benson (Isaiah) Nagurrgurrba (Co-Manager) and Gabriel Maralngurra (Co-Manager).
Friends: anthropologists and archaelogists Dr Sally K. May and Mel Marshall who prepared the text with Felicity Wright, Mentor Manager. Sally has been working on an academic book about Injalak hill for a number of years. We hope to see it released in 2018. She has shared some content with us in this booklet.
The guiding principle of our art centre is 'sharing and teaching our culture'.
Injalak Arts is an 100% Aboriginal owned non-profit artists cooperative (incorporated as a NT Association) located in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) in the Nothern Territory of Australia. Injalak Arts is also one of Australia's longest running and most successful remote community art centres.We have more than 300 active artists as members. See this lovely short video about Injalak Arts.
The commonly spoken language in the area is Kunwinjku and members of Injalak Arts must be Aboriginal Kunwinjku speakers. Located in West Arnhem Land and famous as the home of 'x-ray' art, the artists of the region have been making collectible and acclaimed artworks for more than a century. Based on imagery found in rock art throughout the region, and part of a continuous culture dating back more than 20,000 years, the figurative themes in the paintings of the region feature animals, plants, spirits and creation ancestors. Being a non-profit (it's in our Constitution that any proceeds need to be used to support members social and cultural needs) we have very limited funds for activities and need to rely on social entrepreunerialism to generate income and fund projects.
This is our third (!!) crowdfunding campaign and we are so grateful that the last two were successful. We really appreciate the support we receive from our friends from all around the world.
Above: Roland Burrunali is one of our much loved tour guides. We get fan mail for him from around the world.
Find out more about us
For more information about Injalak Arts, who we are, what we create and do please visit www.injalak.com
For examples of our beautiful products including hand-printed fabrics, cushion covers, bags and The Kunwinjku Counting Book and Mayhmayh - Different Birds book - please visit our online Injalak Arts Etsy Shop.
How The Funds Will Be Used
We will use the funds to pay Finsbury Green to print the booklet. As a non-profit Association we do not have sufficient funds to pay for any major projects like this. We have received a quote for around $15,500 to print.
We have used Finsbury Green in the past for publishing projects and not only are they Australia's greenest printers, they also do an excellent job and are really nice people - so we feel confident the booklet will be high quality.
In 2016 we crowdfunded to support the publication of our own book - The Kunwinjku Counting Book. Finsbury Green published it for us and it has been so successful we recently reprinted with them.
The biggest challenge has been finding the time to work on this publication. We are a dynamic art centre with so many activities and projects it's been difficult to find the time to coordinate the different collaborators for their bits. We have been doing this work alongside all our normal work. If you have visited in dry season you will know how busy this remote little place can become. We received no funding for the research and it has ended up taking hours of staff time.
The other related challenged has been to decide what to put in and what to leave out. This project began life as a DL flyer (an A4 piece of paper printed on two sides that was going to be the size of a standard brochure) but it became clear that there is so much we could share about Injalak Hill and the experience of visiting - and so much people want to know. It just had to grow.
This book is designed to complement the experience of visiting Injalak Hill with a local Indigenous guide, not replace them. We decided to expand the history section because so many visitors are interested in the history and time factors. In fact, non-Indigenous people love asking our guides questions about 'how long', 'when' and they are very challenging questions to answer.
We began this project in 2015 and it's now 3 years later. It's sat on a back burner and we've missed the last two dry seasons. People who visit us for the Injalak Hill Tour tell us how much they enjoy it and we are disappointed we haven't been able to share it with them sooner. Not any more! We are launched!!!!