Attributes, preservation and management of dendroglyphs from the Wet Tropics rainforest of northeast Australia

31st May 2015

Alice Buhrich taking measurements of the Culpa dendroglyph (published in AA80:94).

Alice Buhrich taking measurements of the Culpa dendroglyph (published in Australian Archaeology 80:94).

Alice Buhrich, Asa Ferrier and Gordon Grimwade

This paper describes the attributes, preservation and management of Aboriginal dendroglyphs in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of northeast Australia, the only known dendroglyphs recorded in a tropical rainforest environment worldwide. Our research identifies that dendroglyphs are usually single trees with abstract linear or figurative designs carved into their outer bark and are often associated with Aboriginal walking tracks and other cultural sites. Using existing historical field notes and records, including a fibreglass model of one carving made in 1991, we conclude that the dendroglyphs have changed little over 20 years. They appear to be more resilient to extreme climatic events than previously predicted, and the main threat to their preservation appears to be vulnerability from the effects of ageing, such as insect and fungal attack. Difficulties for traditional owners in accessing dendroglyphs within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area highlight tensions between natural and cultural site management practices.

Buhrich, A., A. Ferrier and G. Grimwade
Attributes, preservation and management of dendroglyphs from the Wet Tropics rainforest of northeast Australia
June 2015
80
91-98
Article
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