Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 


A rock shelter in open woodland west of the nearby Cahill's Crossing on the East Alligator River within Kakadu National Park. It was first excavated by Schrire and was dated by radiocarbon to 23,000 years ago. This shelter is a deep overhang in a residual outlier of the Arnhem Land Plateau. The back wall has a few paintings and shells are visible on the floor. The shell midden in the deposit covers the period from 7,000-6,000 years ago to the recent past.

Further down are sandy layers, containing charcoal in the lowest levels that dated to from 23,000 to 18,000 years ago. The stone tools in these lower sandy levels are characterised by flaked core tools, steep-edged scrapers, utilised flakes, and small ground-edge axes with grooved sides. Later excavation revealed a sequence going back to 32,000 years ago (Jones & Smith). The lowest artefacts were 2 m down the sequence.

447 nodules of ochre have been found in this deposit. There are red, yellow, orange, white and purple ochre. The colour range matches that of the ochre in a more recent midden at the site. The middens date to between 24,000 BP and 18,000 BP. 201 ochre pieces, dating from 6,000 BP to recent rimes, have been found in the shell midden, as well as a piece of shell that is believed Celoina shell, that appears to have possibly been used as an ochre palette. In a "transitional zone", between the sand deposits of the late Pleistocene and the later midden deposits, were found another 115 ochre pieces. (Schrire, 1982).

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J. B. Publishing
  2. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008


Anthropological History
Aboriginal History
Aboriginal Occupation Sites-Tasmania
Aboriginal physical type
Archaeological Sites
Birrigai Shelter
Fire-Stick Farmers
Genetic Evidence
H. erectus near Australia
Cloggs Cave
The First Boat People
Evidence from Lake George
Regional Continuity Theory
Social Organisation
Trade - Macassan Traders







Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading