Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Windjana Gorge

The Unggumi and Bunaba people gave the gorge its name. There are a number of paintings of the Windjana beings and animals and birds, and there are some burial places high up on the cliffs.

This gorge in the Napier Range, that is one of the most picturesque in the Kimberleys, also cuts a cross section through the ancient Devonian barrier reef that allows full access of the history of the reef. It is about 4 km long and has an average width of about 180 m, between 60 m high orange cliffs. On the upper section of the cliffs black rainwater marks form streaks and the caves in the cliffs also add patterns of shade. The lower part of the cliffs have been given a white varnish, and grottoes carved out of the cliffs, by the Lennard River in flood during the wet season, when the monsoon delivers huge quantities of water.

Where the river passes through the gorge it has white sandbanks that extend to the cliffs with trees in some places. A number of waterholes remain throughout the dry season that are home ot freshwater sharks, Johnston River crocodiles and some fish species. The fresh water in the waterholes make it a refuge for wildlife in the long dry season.

A cave high on the cliff was the hideout of an Aboriginal, Pigeon to the whites, Jandamarra to his people, in the 1890s, who was previously a tracker for the police, but was later regarded as a bushranger, though he was probably more of a guerrilla leader, instigating a campaign to drive the whites from the Kimberley, his country. Because of his activities the gorge came to be called Devil's Pass by the whites. Some of his people warned the police of some ambushes he had set, because they didn't completely trust him, apparently because of his earlier allegiance with the police. He had killed 4 people and terrorised others. There were 2 major skirmishes at Windjana Gorge. He doesn't appear to have been a particularly bloodthirsty leader.


Windjana Gorge National Park


Sources & Further reading

Hellen Grasswill & Reg Morrison, Australia, a Timeless Grandeur, Lansdowne, 1981


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading