Red handprints found in Glenbrook in the Lower Blue Mountains – and thought to be culturally-significant Aboriginal artwork – have turned out to be fake. In fact, they’re the handiwork of a 13-year-old non-Aboriginal boy, almost 50 years ago. 

The ‘artwork’ was found in March this year during the removal of a 20-tonne boulder near the Glenbrook Train Station.

The find resulted in weeks of delays while experts decided what to do. In fact, if you’re a regular on the Blue Mountains to Sydney commute, we’re pretty sure you’re now best friends with the replacement bus drivers.

Despite an archaeologist – who specialised in Indigenous history – declaring the handprints ‘culturally significant’ it turns out they were actually created by a 13-year-old boy and his friends back in 1969, when they became fascinated by Aboriginal culture.

A 50-Year-Old Confession

One of the men recently wrote a letter to the Blue Mountains Gazette asking to remain anonymous and apologising for the fuss.

He said: ‘We loved Aboriginal culture and history and making the handprints was just another of our activities which imitated their culture.’

‘We ground some local red sandstone to make powder, mixed it with our saliva, rubbed it on our hands and simply stamped them onto the cave wall. I was amazed an expert did not realise they were not genuine as we did not stencil them, as Aboriginals would have, we just stamped them. We were not keen about putting the mix in our mouths, so we just rubbed it on our hands. We had no intention of offending anyone.’

Well, on one hand (pun kinda intended) it’s a shame that more Aboriginal artwork wasn’t found so that it could be kept and protected. But, on the other hand, let the bus-free commutes commence!


Feature photo by Erin Mcgauley

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