Can rock engravings be re-grooved?

There is no management technique that involves physical contact to engraved figures that is permissible without a permit from the NSW State Government. Currently the only permissible technique to make the grooves more visible would be ‘highlighting’, which involves trained site conservators with a permit. It requires a lot of preparation (even specialist night recording) to ensure only the correct engraved lines are done. It is a non-harm technique that does not damage or disfigure the rock in any way.

Regrooving or re-engraving is not considered appropriate as 1) the majority of Aboriginal people including heritage managers in this area consider they do not have the traditional knowledge or permission to regroove (culturally you need to know why, how and when to re-groove or re-paint something, which requires instruction by the Elder/s who have that particular knowledge. There are no known descendants with that knowledge in northern Sydney), 2) it destroys the underlying original groove and is very difficult to keep to the original outline, and 3) it is illegal (with fines up to $275, 000 and prison terms).

Poor attempts to ‘save’ engravings by illegal and inappropriate re-grooving have lead to permanent damage to some sites.

Posted in: About Aboriginal Heritage