South Australia, 28 June 1998
29° 31' 48" S, 137° 27' 55.8" E
Marree Man, Marree
This picture of the 'Marree Man' was produced from a Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) image acquired on 28 June, 1998 using bands 1,4 and 7.
The area is an eroded plateau to the south and east of the dryland salt lake, Lake Eyre, about 600 kilometres north of Adelaide, South Australia. The terrain consists of sparse grassland overlying red soil. The nearest town is Marree, a small village roughly 20 kilometres to the east.
The figure is about 4 kilometres tall and was made by scraping off the vegetation and exposing the underlying surface. Surveyors speculate that the figure was made by bulldozer using GPS measurements for control. So far, no one has assumed responsibility for the unusual artwork and, in spite of investigation, the artist(s) has never been found.
Due to its location, the figure was termed 'Marree Man' by the press which gave wide coverage to the event at the time.
SOURCE: Geoscience Australia
The Marree Man, or Stuart's Giant is a geoglyph discovered by air on 26 June 1998. It appears to depict an indigenous Australian man, most likely of the Pitjantjatjara tribe, hunting birds or wallabies with a throwing stick. It lies on a plateau at Finnis Springs 60 km west of the township of Marree in central South Australia. It is just outside of the 200,000 square kilometre Woomera Prohibited Area. The figure is 4.2 km tall with a circumference of 15–28 km. It is not the largest known geoglyph in the world (that record belongs to the "Readymix" logo, carved into the Nullabor Plain (at 29° 31' 48" S, 137° 27' 55.8" E) and is estimated to have taken between four and eight weeks to create, but despite this its origins are a mystery, with not a single witness to any part of the expansive operation. The name "Stuart's Giant" was given in an anonymous press releases, after John McDouall Stuart.
The lines of the figure were 20–30 cm deep at the time of discovery and up to 35 metres wide.
Selecting a suitable site would have required aerial photography or satellite imagery. Using a computer, the figure could have been superimposed over the photograph and adjusted to fit the geography with the corresponding latitude and longitude coordinates mapped out. Some surveying skills would have been needed to plot the outline, and then with the aid of a hand-held global positioning system stakes could have been placed every hundred metres or so.
The image is gradually eroding through natural processes, but because the climate is extremely dry and barren in the region, the image is still visible. While there is a layer of white chalk material slightly below the red soil, the figure was not defined to this depth. This raises the question why the creators did not dig a little deeper to make the image both more visible and more permanent.
Trec Smith, a charter pilot flying between Marree and Coober Pedy in the remote north of South Australia spotted the figure from the air on 26 June 1998. The discovery of the geoglyph fascinated Australians due to its size and the mystery surrounding how it came to be there. At the time of the discovery there was only one track entering and one track exiting the site and no footprints or tire marks were discernible.
Shane Anderson from the William Creek Hotel, located 200 km north-west of the town of Marree claimed the hotel received an anonymous fax describing the location of the artwork, but they ignored it, dismissing the fax as a joke.
Anonymous press releases
Several anonymous press releases appeared following the discovery, which led to suggestion that the Marree Man was created by people from the United States. The releases quoted measurements in miles, yards and inches, instead of the metric system usually used in Australia. (Metric was introduced in Australia in 1972 and older Australians still often quote imperial measurements.) They also said "your State of SA", "QueenslandBarrier Reef" and mentioned Aborigines "from the local reservations". "Reservations" is a term more commonly associated with the North American Indians. The press releases also mentioned the Great Serpent in Ohio, which is not well known outside the US. But it has been conjectured that these features of the press releases may have been red herrings, inserted to provide the illusion of American authorship.
At the site in a small pit was found what appeared to be a satellite photo of the figure, a jar containing a small flag of the US, and a note which referred to the Branch Davidians, a religious group infamous for being attacked in the Waco raid in 1993. These were the only man-made items found at the site when it was discovered.
Artist Christopher Headley says that he sent two letters, one to Colonel Tom Meade, the head of the former US-Australian Joint Defense Facility Nurrungar, to ask about the possibility of making a permanent commemoration of the American presence in Australia. This could have inspired the idea of creating a geoglyph among locals.
In January 1999, officials were told about a plaque buried 5 metres south of the nose of the figure, by way of a fax which was received via a hotel in Oxford, England. The fax also said that the plaque was intended to have been dug up by a "prominent US media figure" shortly before the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Similar clues were said to be buried near the Cerne Abbas giant near Dorset and the Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex, in England. The plaque has a 3 cm long by 2 cm wide American flag and an imprint of the Olympic rings. It reads:
In honour of the land they once knew. His attainments in these pursuits are extraordinary; a constant source of wonderment and admiration.The quote on the plaque buried at the figure comes from a book, "The Red Centre", by H.H. Finlayson, in a section describing the hunting of wallabies with throwing sticks and with photographs of hunters without loin cloths and with other details like the "Marree Man" . In the book it can be deduced that the subject is a hunter from the Pitjantjatjara tribe.
Much of the public and media reaction to the discovery of the figure was positive. The Advertiser, the State's only daily newspaper, called for the figure to be made permanent by excavating the outline down to the white chalk layer. But the site was closed shortly after discovery when some members of the Dieri tribe, whose lands lie east of Marree complained of harm and exploitation of the Dreamtime. It was called "environmental vandalism" by the Environment minister, Dorothy Kotz, and "graffiti" by the South Australian chief of Aboriginal affairs. While the site has been closed by the South Australian government, joy flights are still allowed over the site, which falls under Federal Government jurisdiction.
Authenticity of the figure
While the figure is shown nude, if the picture were copied from a 19th-century photograph it has been said that it may have had a loin cloth, and there was also some suggestion that the size of the genitals have been exaggerated. There was also initially some question as to whether the figure is holding a throwing stick or a boomerang, but these issues seem to have been resolved following discovery of the plaque and the origin of the plaque quote and likely source photographs of similar nude hunters. The hand which is not throwing has the correct posture in the normal Aboriginal technique for throwing. The initiation scars placed on the chest have also been said to have been placed perfectly. The figure appears to be an amalgam of the body of a man photographed in the distinctive throwing stance and the head of another man wearing a headband and chignon.
|Here it is as an overlay.
Photo taken not long after completion and probably closer to the natural colour of the landscape!
Posted by Fremantle_Doctor
|Australian outback miracle. In July 1998 an enormous drawing of an Aboriginal man, beautifully drawn and proportioned, was discovered in the south Australian desert, near Lake Eyre, 400 miles north of Adelaide. Visible only from 3,000 feet above, it measures three miles long, and was discovered after businesses in the nearest town, Marree, received anonymous faxes telling them of its presence. The figure was drawn into the earth with a 20-footwide gouged line, which, from 3,000 feet, appears as a deep rust colour contrasting with the pale desert earth. The circumference of this linedrawing measures 10 miles. Ray Goss was the first person to see the image from a plane, and notes that it is impossible to recognize the shape from the ground. "It is a drawing of an Aboriginal person," he said. "He’sholding something like a spear in his hand." The mystery figure has produced much interest from the Australian and international media, and speculation about its creator is rife. While some people think it was a prank by the local community to attract tourists, others are suggesting it could only be the work of extra-terrestrials. (Source: The Guardian, UK) (Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this miracle was Maitreya'sidea, Who enlisted the assistance of the Space Brothers to perform the task.)|
|Police end hunt
for Maree Man
5 August 1998
POLICE have given up the hunt for the people who carved the giant Marree Man out of the South Australian Outback landscape.
Port Augusta-based Detective Senior Constable Barry Phillips said yesterday no criminal offence had yet been detected.
The 4km-long figure was discovered in June after apparently being etched with a plough into a plateau 60km from Marree, in the State's Far North.
"As far as we're concerned, we're not looking into it any more," Senior Constable Phillips said. "It's not really a criminal matter at this stage."
He said an investigation would be resumed if it could be shown someone had committed an offence.
Meanwhile, The Advertiser received another "press release" yesterday from the people believed to have created the figure.
Describing the figure as "Stuart's Giant", they said they wished to clarify that the figure was not a "warrior" and did not have an "aggressive stance". It was clearly a hunter with a throwing stick.
Marree Hotel publican Mr Peter McGuire said the figure was still attracting tourist flights, and had not been damaged by recent heavy rain.
(C) 1998 Advertiser Newspapers Limited.
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