Australian Museum Journal The rock-engravings of Depuch Island, north-west Australia

Shortform:
McCarthy, 1961, Rec. Aust. Mus. 25(8): 121–148
Author(s):
McCarthy, Frederick D.
Year published:
1961
Title:
The rock-engravings of Depuch Island, north-west Australia
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume:
25
Issue:
8
Start page:
121
End page:
148
DOI:
10.3853/j.0067-1975.25.1961.660
Language:
English
Plates:
plates ix–xv
Date published:
05 May 1961
Cover date:
05 May 1961
ISSN:
0067-1975
CODEN:
RAUMAJ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Subjects:
ABORIGINES: AUSTRALIAN; CULTURE: INDIGENOUS; ETHNOGRAPHY
Digitized:
05 August 2009
Reference number:
660
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (176kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (8526kb PDF)

Abstract

Depuch Island was named by the Baudin Expedition (Peron and Freycinet, 1824) in 1801 in honour of Louis Depuch, mineralogist of the expedition, who died at L'Ile de France in 1803, the year in which the Forestier's Archipelago was discovered and named. It is by far the most prominent island in the archipelago, all of the others being low and sandy. M. Ronsard, the engineer, spent almost a week examining Depuch Island, which he recorded as being in lat. 20°35'30", and long. 115°12'50", and between four and five miles in length. None of the scientists were allowed to accompany him or to land, and this omission probably explains why the remarkable series of rock engravings was not noted by the expedition. Ronsard remarked on the columnar basalt structure of the island, with the prisms lying at all angles and, in some places, forming pavements. The colour of the rock he noted to be bluish grey, and the texture very fine and compact. Only one quadruped was seen, which was thought to be a dog, and one of the seamen saw a small kangaroo. A few kinds of flycatchers and waterfowl were seen, and also a brown serpent, about 5 ft. in length, of the boa kind. Various insects and shells complete the fauna recorded on the island. A small quantity of ferruginous water was obtained from hollows, where beautiful shrubs and trees formed pleasant groves; elsewhere there was absolute sterility. Ronsard was impressed by the melancholy and monotony of the island, and the discomfort of the walking. No natives were seen, but fireplaces and newly-broken pieces of basalt proved that they visited the island.

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