In 1998, a huge engraving of a Aboriginal warrior appeared in the Australian outback.
It was 4km long, held a throwing stick, was bearded and had a penis which was estimated to be 200m in length. The markings appeared to have been made by a tractor pulling some sort of plough which created furrows 10m wide in the difficult terrain. To this day, the artist is a mystery.
Charter Pilot Trec Smith was flying over SA towards Coober Pedy in June 1998 when he saw something that nearly made him fall out of the sky – a 4.2-kilometre tall man etched into the landscape.
The perfectly proportioned figure is that of an indigenous man, holding a spear above his head towards some unseen prey. The perfectly proportioned figure, dubbed Maree Man due to it being 20 kilometres from the town of Maree, was made from 30-centimetre deep x 350-centimetre-wide gouges scraped into the earth.
Even though the figure was clearly achieved using machinery, exactly how this was achieved is perhaps the biggest mystery. It is widely assumed that GPS was used, as making a figure that is as tall as the city of Adelaide would need some sophisticated machinery.
But the Maree Man was only discovered in 1998 (although how long the figure was there before someone found it is anyone’s guess) and GPS was still in its infancy, not being readily available for use to the public.
Surveyors speculate that the figure was made by bulldozer and could have taken weeks to complete, yet no one claims to have seen or heard a thing. Only one track led into and out of the site, but no footprints or tire marks were discernible, and a thorough police investigation conducted at the time came up with nothing.
Curiouser and curiouser - An anonymous fax was sent in 1999 that lead to a discovery of a plaque, buried five metres deep near the figure’s nose. The plaque was buried with a USA flag, the Olympic Rings, and a reference to a book The red centre: Man and Beast in the heart of Australia by HH Finlayson. Could the American military have provided GPS technology to assist in the creation?
Some have concluded that it was actually South Australian artist Bardius Goldberg, who had reportedly talked about making art that could be seen only from above and further reports that he was paid $10,000 for his involvement. Goldberg, unfortunately, died in 2002, unable to confirm or deny any speculation.
Latest Status? The Marree Man is set to be restored, using earth graders and GPS, by Marree locals this year. This is great news because whoever is responsible for the world’s second largest geoglyph still has everyone searching for answers nearly 20 years later.