Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Axe Stone Quarrying Prior to European Contact

Mount William, near Lancefield, Victoria

At Mt William in Victoria, on the southeastern slopes of Mount William, Near Lancefield, evidence has been found of extensive exploitation of the rock outcrops. The evidence of stone working is present for more than 1 km along the ridge. There are more than 250 circular to oval pits from which the rock was extracted on the eastern and northern side of the ridge. There are also about 30 flaking floors, circular mounds about 20 m across that are formed by worked stone and waste flakes. Quarry waste and flaked stone are piled up into heaps about 50 m long on the western side of the ridge. The axes were not finished at this site, instead they produced blanks that could be traded, the axe blanks being trimmed and ground by the eventual owners.

The stone from this quarry was hard, tough volcanic greenstone, that had the characteristics suited to the purpose of a heavy duty stone axe. The scale on which this activity was carried out was far greater than needed for a subsistence community. It could only have been mined for the purposed of trade. The Mount William area was obviously a centre of stone-age industry, with large numbers of smoked eels and axe blanks being prepared for trade.

The early anthropologist A. W. Howitt gained insight into the activities at the axe stone mine through his informant, Barak, who saw the final operations at the mine. The last man to work the site, Billi-billeri, died in 1846.

Moore Creek, near Tamworth, NSW

The quarry at Moore Creek was the largest in New England area. The quarry was based on an outcrop of greywacke extending about 90 m along a saddle-back ridge. At this site a trough was cut in the greywacke and the stone was levered out. There are signs of prolific activity at this site.

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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading