Gulgurn Manja Shelter Ancient Indigenous Australian Cave Art

Gulgurn Manja Shelter is an ancient Indigenous Australian cave art site where there are hand prints of young people on the wall.

Other than just little hand prints inside the cave, you’ll also see paintings of Emu foot prints and burnt rock from when Indigenous Australian’s were using these caves as shelter. They’d get the indoor fire ablaze and enjoy beautiful views of the sun setting on the horizon that rests on top of golden plains. What a sight! No wonder they decided to decorate.

‘Gulgurn Manja’ translates to ‘hands of young people’ and is pronounced Gulkurn Munya. It’s believed that the hand prints are of several generations of children between the ages of 8 and 12.

The cave art is at the very northern tip of the Grampians National Park which is known by Indigenous Australians as Gariwerd. Gariwerd translates to ‘meeting place’ as several tribes use to live in the huge mountain range and other tribes would visit. This is just one of five sites that are publicised and there are around 100 more ancient cave art and rock sites in the Grampians that are kept quiet and for good reason. Since tourists have been visiting these sites, they’ve been heavily damaged and now a lot of them have huge cages around them.

It’s an incredible place to visit. By just looking around at the rugged landscape made up of jagged sandstone cliffs and caves, it’s easy to see why this place has been sacred land to the Indigenous Australian’s for tens of thousands of years and has the largest amount of cave art out of anywhere in Victoria.

The age of the Gulgurn Manja cave art isn’t known, although other similar sites in the area have been dated back to over 22,000 years, so it’s probably super old.

Gulgurn Manja Shelter Cave Art

How to find the Gulgurn Manja Shelter

You’ll find the start of the short walk to the Gulgurn Manja Shelter at the Hollow Mountain car park.

The car park is about a 40 minute drive north of Halls Gap, if you’re to head their directly via Mount Zero road, otherwise you can head along the main tourist route that goes past Boroka Lookout, the Balconies, Mackenzie Falls and other main attractions of the Grampians National Park. The tourist route takes a lot longer, but the sights are all worth seeing.

Heading directly from Melbourne, turn-off the Western Highway about 25-30 minutes after Stawell at Wonwondah-Dadswells Bridge road and follow the signs to Hollow Mountain, which is just off Mt Zero road.

The Gulgurn Manja Shelter is 750 metres from the car park. The track is one of the first that goes off to the left on the Hollow Mountain walk. It’s well signed and easy to find.

Walking to Gulgurn Manja Shelter
Gulgurn Manja Shelter from the distance
Aboriginal cave art inside the Gulgurn Manja Shelter

Accommodation & Camping near the Gulgurn Manja Shelter

There are dozens of campsites to the south of the Gulgurn Manja Shelter, throughout the Grampians National Park.

Almost all of the camp grounds must be booked via the Parks Victoria website, other than two large sites near Halls Gap.
You’ll be able to find full campground and booking details here.

Other than camping, there are loads of accommodation options near by. If you’re planning to head further north, onto South Australia and over to Adeliade then your best option is to drive to Horsham which is the largest town in the area and less than 30 minutes from the Gulgurn Manja Shelter.

If you’re planning on staying in the Grampians for longer, then head back into Halls Gap. Halls Gap is the main tourist town of the Grampians and full of accommodation and private camping options.

On the other hand, if you’re heading back to Melbourne, then Ararat is the largest and nicest town that’s close by in that direction, or try Dunkeld if you’re continuing on to the Great Ocean Road as it’s a very nice small town with a private camping and caravan park that’s right on the southern edge of the Grampians, just an hour or so from the coast.