Arts & Culture

Research about Aboriginal society is not news to this Moruya audience

By Ian Campbell 25 July 2017
Kangaroo Grass bread. By Toby Whitelaw

Kangaroo Grass bread, made and shared by Bruce Pascoe at Southeast Harvest, April 1 2017. Photo by Toby Whitelaw.

News this week that Aboriginal people reached Australia at least 65,000 years ago won’t come as a surprise to those who saw Mallacoota based writer Bruce Pascoe speak in Moruya last April.

Research out of new excavations of a rock shelter at the base of the Arnhem Land escarpment in the Northern Territory has pushed back estimates of human arrival on the Australian continent.

The shelter, known as Madjebeben has been described as the earliest evidence of humans in Australia.

Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland told ABC Science that the new date would have a big impact on our understanding of when humans left Africa and moved through South- East Asia.

One of the artifacts unearthed is the world’s oldest known ground-edge axe head, one made by grinding rather than flaking. The full story has been published in the journal Nature.

Bruce Pascoe spoke of such evidence to a captivated audience during his lecture at Southeast Harvest at Moruya Showground in April 2017.

Bruce is a man of Bunarong and Yuin heritage, and the author of the acclaimed book, “Dark Emu“. Based on the diaries of early European settlers, in the book Bruce makes the case that Australia’s original inhabitants designed and constructed sophisticated irrigation systems and cultivated vast areas of land.

He dispels the idea that Aboriginal people were simple hunters and gatherers before European settlement and points to evidence of a civilisation that can legitimately be described as pioneers of agriculture, architecture, and engineering.

Speaking to Awaye on ABC Radio National, Bruce said he was excited to hear this latest news.

“I am very hopeful, hopeful that we can continue this conversation,” Bruce says.

“This is a fabulous continent, the continent wants to talk to us, it’s been trying to talk to us, and white Australia has been deaf to it.

“Now today when we see this news, maybe we can start to listen, maybe this is one of the ways we turn the corner,” Bruce says.

Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla and Moruya filmmaker Toby Whitelaw have made Bruce Pascoe’s Southeast Harvest lecture available to all…

Thanks to About Regional members, Amanda Dalziel, Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, and Amanda Stroud for supporting local stories.

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