Yankee Hat
  • Length: 6km

  • Duration: 2.5hrs

  • Grade: 2

  • Style: Return

  • Start: Gudgenby Valley

  • End: Gudgenby Valley

  • Closest Town: Tharwa

  • Location: Namadgi National Park

  • Distance from state capital: 71km

  • State: ACT

Summary

Stroll through expansive grasslands dotted with kangaroos to the Yankee Hat Shelter to view Aboriginal rock art. Beautiful mountain views.

Yankee Hat

The only currently known Aboriginal art sites in the ACT occur in Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The Yankee Hat art sites are located within Namadgi in the Gudgenby Valley, (approximately 30 kilometres south-west of the township of Tharwa or a 90 minute drive from the centre of Canberra) in a complex of boulders situated at the foot of Yankee Hat Mountain. Carbon dating of the campsite deposits in the Yankee Hat rock shelter show that Aboriginal people began using the shelter more than 800 years ago. Evidence from nearby sites suggests that people were camping in the area, and presumably painting, as long as 3,700 years ago.

The Rock

The shelter at Yankee Hat is a granite boulder which has been rounded off and under-cut by weathering. The rounding effect is sometimes called ‘onion-skin weathering’ caused by repeated heating and cooling. The painted surface can crumble—one important reason not to touch it. The cream coloured streaks on the rock are feldspar deposits washed down by rain. The black to grey deposits are probably organic in origin which may in future allow a more precise dating of the paintings.

The Paint

The rock art site is protected from regular surface water flow by the high roof overhang. The white paint used at Yankee Hat is clay. The red paint is based on iron oxide or ‘ochre’. The nearest known ochre quarries are at Michelago and Gungahlin. The different shades of red in the paintings may be the result of paint weathering or may have been deliberately caused by mixing some white clay with the ochre. Clay and ochre were normally mixed with a binding agent such as water, sap, blood or animal oils.

The Art

The paintings at Yankee Hat are well preserved and contain the first prehistoric (meaning before recorded history) drawings identified in the ACT.

Getting there

Stroll through expansive grasslands dotted with kangaroos to the Yankee Hat Shelter to view Aboriginal rock art. Beautiful mountain views.

Yankee Hat

The only currently known Aboriginal art sites in the ACT occur in Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The Yankee Hat art sites are located within Namadgi in the Gudgenby Valley, (approximately 30 kilometres south-west of the township of Tharwa or a 90 minute drive from the centre of Canberra) in a complex of boulders situated at the foot of Yankee Hat Mountain. Carbon dating of the campsite deposits in the Yankee Hat rock shelter show that Aboriginal people began using the shelter more than 800 years ago. Evidence from nearby sites suggests that people were camping in the area, and presumably painting, as long as 3,700 years ago.

The Rock

The shelter at Yankee Hat is a granite boulder which has been rounded off and under-cut by weathering. The rounding effect is sometimes called ‘onion-skin weathering’ caused by repeated heating and cooling. The painted surface can crumble—one important reason not to touch it. The cream coloured streaks on the rock are feldspar deposits washed down by rain. The black to grey deposits are probably organic in origin which may in future allow a more precise dating of the paintings.

The Paint

The rock art site is protected from regular surface water flow by the high roof overhang. The white paint used at Yankee Hat is clay. The red paint is based on iron oxide or ‘ochre’. The nearest known ochre quarries are at Michelago and Gungahlin. The different shades of red in the paintings may be the result of paint weathering or may have been deliberately caused by mixing some white clay with the ochre. Clay and ochre were normally mixed with a binding agent such as water, sap, blood or animal oils.

The Art

The paintings at Yankee Hat are well preserved and contain the first prehistoric (meaning before recorded history) drawings identified in the ACT.

About the region

Namadgi National Park

With remote wilderness experiences, a wide range of natural environments, an abundance of native wildlife, and Aboriginal and European cultural sites, there are many reasons to visit Namadgi National Park. Namadgi covers 106,095 hectares, with 160 kilometres of marked walking tracks. Visit the Namadgi Visitor Centre to get expert advice and see displays and audiovisuals. The Visitor’s Centre is open 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 4.30 pm on weekends and public holidays. It is closed Christmas Day.

Walking is a great way to explore Namadgi National Park, with 160 kilometres of walking trails to explore the park.

The following table outlines some of the popular walks within the park. Click on the name of the trail to load a trail guide.

Notes on the park’s 160 kilometres of marked walking tracks can be found in the Namadgi Map and Guide, available at the Namadgi Visitor Centre shop and the Canberra Regional Visitor Centre for $4.50.


For more information, a location map and facilities please visit the ACT Government Information Portal.