Aboriginal art has grown into a million-dollar industry since the first canvas dot paintings of the central deserts emerged in the 1970s. Though seemingly abstract, early canvases are said to replicate ceremonial sand paintings – temporary “maps” fleetingly revealed to depict sacred knowledge. In the tropics, figurative bark and cave paintings are less enigmatic but much older, though until recently they were ceremonially repainted. The unusual X-ray style found in the Top End details the internal structure of animals. The Northern Territory – and Alice Springs, in particular – are the best places to look.

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