Walga Rock (Walgahna) is the second largest monolith (single rock) in Australia after Uluru, although that is sometimes disputed. It is a 1.8 kilometre long, granite ‘whaleback’ about 50 kilometres south-west of Cue.
There is an extensive gallery of Indigenous art at Walga Rock.
A painting of what may appear at first glance to be a sailing ship is superimposed over some of the earlier works. Underneath the painting are lines of writing that resemble Cyrillic or Arabic script, however, they have not been accurately identified.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the painting, especially considering it is located 325 kilometres from the coast. It has been postulated that it was drawn by survivors of the heavily armed three-masted Dutch East India (VOC) ships Batavia or Zuytdorp; or that it represents a ‘contact painting’ by indigenous Australians who saw a ship on the coast and then moved inland.
While there are many examples of Indigenous art depicting vessels on the Western Australian coast, including others showing what appears to be the SS Xantho and possibly another steamer at Inthanoona Station east of Cossack, the Walga Rock painting is one of the most inland examples.
A visit to the rock created further discussion of the possibilities.