Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Riwi Cave, the Kimberley, Western Australia                                                                                                                                            

At this site there are fragments of marine Dentalium sp. shell, artefacts that are thought to possibly be beads. 10 shell beads were found, between 5.2 - 17.5 mm long, that had been made from the anterior end of the shell. Some had natural grooves around their circumference that contained residue that is thought to possibly be ochre. One bead still had a fragment of fibre in the groove that may have come from the string the beads were originally held together with. The site has been dated to at least 29,550 +/-290 years ago to 40,700 +/- 1260, but it is believed it could have extended back to about 42,000 years ago. The site of occupation was about 300 km from the coast. It is believed these artefacts and fragments indicate long distance exchange or transport during the late Pleistocene (Balme, 2000; Balme & Morse, 2006).

A level dated to 31,860 +/- 450 contained ochre, smaller amounts of ochre were found in a lower, undated, level. (Balme, 2000).


The Riwi Cave site is on the Fitzroy River that borders the desert, this river leading to the Sturt Creek (Tjurabalan) that fills Lake Gregory (Paraku) which is an extensive freshwater lake.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008
  2. Cane, Scott, 2013, First Footprints: The epic story of the first Australians, Allen & Unwin

Scott Cane has included in his book, written as a companion to the ABC TV series of the same name, a number of stories from his days living among Aboriginal people in the desert and moving around with them.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated  18/11/2013

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