The Wandjina are the spirit figures of the current people of the Kimberly. The art is a few thousand years old.
The rock paintings are done with a clay substance called Hunterite, which has the property that it looks very vivid in the wet. The paintings were renewed every now and then – usually every one or two years. Hunterite came from a quarry in the Gulf Country in Queensland, and the men would walk across from the Kimberly to get it, trading on the way. There are songlines which describe the route. There was a certain amount of danger in getting the clay, since not all the tribes were friendly.
The Wandjina are the spirits of the sky – in fact their big heads represent the cumulus clouds of the wet. Sometimes you see a figure with lines coming from his head. These are the lighting – he is the lightning man (actually there are two men usually, the Lightning Brothers). The lightning and thunder of the wet is the spirits fighting and talking.
You will notice that they have no mouths. This is because the original spirit – Coridondondot – told the men of the earth the rules for them to live by. The men of the earth kept asking questions and trying to change the rules. So Coridondontot took his mouth away to stop having to talk to the men of the earth again.
The small figures at the bottom are the men of the earth.
These stories, and many others, were told to me by my old friends in the Kimberly.