A NSW Government website

Koalas in First Nations art

Aboriginal people have depicted koalas in rock art, carvings and paintings for thousands of years.

Art is a powerful cultural expression for many First Nations Australians, and is an important way to share Dreaming stories.

Painted art often used ochre or clay applied to cave walls. The ochre was sometimes mixed with gum tree resins or animal fat to help it stick to the rock.

Sandstone carvings are common across the escarpments and rock platforms of the NSW Central Coast and Northern Sydney regions. These carvings pass on important stories, laws and values taught to children as they grow up.

Today many Aboriginal people  use media such as acrylic paints, canvases, sculpture and pottery. The ongoing connection many Aboriginal peoples have with animals and Country lives on their art as it has for thousands of years.

Rock carving of a koala at Blackfellows Head, Westleigh in northern Sydney

Rock carving of a koala at Blackfellows Head, Westleigh in northern Sydney. A rock carving of a noose which was used by Aboriginals to get koalas out of the trees is located nearby. Photographer: Ralph Hawkins, circa 1970.

Please note that all Aboriginal art and carvings are an important part of Australia’s history and heritage and are therefore protected by law. It is a criminal offence to deface or damage Aboriginal objects, places, or ceremonial areas in New South Wales.

Indigenous artwork


Indigenous artwork by Rosie Nicolai


Aboriginal content on these pages has been compiled and reviewed by the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council and Flying Fish Blue.

The term ‘First Nations’ recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the sovereign people of this land. It recognises various language groups as separate and unique sovereign nations.