Berry Island Engraving
A large and unusual engraving next to the Gadyan track, which is a well-signposted Aboriginal cultural trail around this reserve.

Facts & Figures

Latitude 33.83982° S

Longitude 151.18765° E

UBD 215L13

Google map


Berry Island is actually an isthmus, with easy car access, and contains a reserve with large grassy areas for the kids to play on, stunning views across the harbour, and an interesting cultural trail (the "Gadyan track") a few hundred metres long with informative signposts telling you about the Gadyan people who used to live here. One of these is next to this fascinating engraving site, on the eastern side of the reserve.

The main engraving is a large whale-like object in which the individual holes used in the first stages of engraving can easily be seen, suggesting this engraving was made only shortly before white men drove the Gadyan people away from their homeland. This large figure is draped over a curved rock, so that some parts of it, such as its nose and eyes shown in the photo above, are on a steeply-sloping surface.

Inside it is a large circle, whose significance is lost on us. Just outside is a boomerang shaped object (although not quite a boomerang, and not quite a crescent, so maybe a bivalve shell?) and some interesting axe-grinding grooves next to a rockpool.


To get there

Follow Shirley Road from its junction with the Pacific Highway (at the same intersection as Falcon St.) to the end. Park and then follow the trail up the steps and to the right. The engraving site is near the easternmost point of the isthmus.

For more information

  • Stanbury & Clegg (1990), p. 78
  • Hinkson (2001) "Aboriginal Sydney", pp. 32-33

For full information on books (publisher, ISBN, etc) see the "Further Reading" page.


Image Gallery

Click on thumbnail on left to see full-sized image

Plan of the site.

The boomerang shape. But is it really a boomerang? the angles don't seem quite right. It's more like a narrow version of the strange shapes seen at the Gumbooya site, which have been suggested to represent bivalve shells.


The rock pool, with axe-grainding grooves to the right. The rock pool may have been artificially enlarged to carry water for sharpening the axes. Did people sharpen their axes at theis sacred site so that the creator spirits would make them even more effective?


The nose and eyes of the whale-shaped engraving. Seen from this angle, it could well be a whale, but the tail looks nothing like a whale. And why the circle in the middle?



All material on this page © Ray Norris 2008 except where otherwise indicated.
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