Yesterday, I went on a short bus ride which took me to one of Drammen’s suburbs nestled in the hills. I was told by a local curator that there was some wonderful rock art in Drammen which was dated around 6,000 BC. The carvings are known as Helleristningene i Skogerveien or in English The sculptures in the forest area. Located between two houses and with a pergola roof to protect them, these carvings of fish, an elk and a whale are in quite good condition.
Seeing these carvings started me thinking about home and the ancient and precious rock art that is all over Australia. When we first moved to Darwin in the late 1970s, my parents took us to Kakadu. Now, this is nearly a decade before Crocodile Dundee and Kakadu was still quite a hidden treasure. We went to Ubirr and Burrunggui (Nourlangie) rocks with a local Yolgnu guide and were able to go right up to paintings. In those days there was no tourist walkway between us and the paintings. I remember at the time my mind being blown away by these works. Not because of their beauty but because of their age. For a city kid educated by a system that asserted a history of terra nulius, this sort of blew my mind. I realised in that instant that what I had been taught was not the truth and that there was so much more to learn about this country and its people.
It is strange to come so far with the purpose of digging into my own ancestral realms to find myself reminded of home and the deep knowledge held by our sovereign first peoples.
What is also quite wonderful is that I have had some amazing conversations recently about whales – and here I find a reference to one from thousands of years ago.
It is now Sunday in Drammen and most of the shops are closed. In Norway, Sunday is still very much a day of rest. Along Drammenselva, people walk, run and ride their bikes, stopping to chat and enjoy the day.
Tomorrow my plan is to take the bus to Hurum and to find the local church, so I can hopefully learn more about my family.