26 August 2006

Red Hands Cave

Last weekend Heather and I did some more exploring, this time checking in at Red Hands Cave. It was much easier to get to than Katoomba and Three Sisters since it is only an hour outside of Sydney rather than two hours. The trail itself wasn't as exciting and didn't offer the views of
other parks in the Blue Mountains, but the cave was very interesting. It is believed that the earliest of the red hands were first painted about 1600 years ago, which isn't really all that long ago considering the Aborigines have been here at least 40 000 years.
The hands were created by mixing ochre with saliva or blood, then putting the mixture in their mouths and blowing it over their hands held as stensils on the cave wall. A few hands were solid, created simply by putting the hand in the mixture and applying it straight to the wall. There were red hands, orange hands, yellow hands, left hands, right hands, adult hands, children's hands, narrow hands, fleshy hands. The variety emphasised the diversity and individuality of each one, reminding me that perhaps hundreds of people over a thousand years contributed their part to this site.
There was a barrier over the cave to protect it from vandals. Discovered in 1913, it was covered in charcoaled initials of visitors by 1934. Vandalism was so bad that it was taken off official tourist attraction lists. It has since been cleaned, and in 1987, the barrier was erected to protect it. It is unfortunate that this measure is necessary, but sometimes these things are required to preserve these sites for the future.

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