Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  15 / 163 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 15 / 163 Next Page
Page Background


Joseph Bradshaw was one of seven children of a

Melbourne farmer who, during the depression of

1890, at the age of 35, decided to set off for the

north-western part of Australia and establish

himself as a farmer in undeveloped country. In the

Kimberley, he received the right to use ca. 4,000

km² of unregistered land as pasture for

17 years. He set out in 1891 with a small group

of people to find and stake out the land based

on hand-drawn maps. The group got lost several

times on the difficult terrain, as is documented in

Bradshaw’s writings. Bradshaw not only described

important landmarks and river courses, but also

the rock paintings he encountered, which struck

him as both strange and mystical. They primarily

portrayed human figures and were completely

different stylistically from the rock paintings

of the Aborigines living in the area. After his

return, he presented his sketches to the Royal

Geographical Society, and afterwards the figures

he described became known as ‘Bradshaw figures’.

Roughly a century later, the originals were once

again discovered amid the rough terrain, and a

comparison with Joseph Bradshaw’s sketches

revealed his talent for artistic reproduction,

eliminating any suspicions that the original

drawings were merely the fantasies of exhausted

land hunters.