The Oldest Sites in Australia

Click to watch this animation. By around 40,000 years ago people lived in every part of the country.

1

Earliest occupation of Ngarrabullgan shelters is dated to about 40,000 years ago.

2

Earliest occupation at Madjedbebe rock shelter has been dated to about 65,000 old.

3

The oldest rock carvings at Murujuga have been dated to about 40,000 years old.

5

Human remains at Lake Mungo have been dated to about 45,000 years old.

6

Earliest occupation of Warreen Cave has been dated to more than 35,000 year ago.

7

Earliest occupation of Meekadarabee cave is dated to about 48,000 years ago.

8

Earliest occupation of Warratyi rock shelter is dated to about 49,000 years ago.

9

Earliest occupation of Allens Cave has been dated to about 40,000 years ago.

Find out about some of the places where the first ancestors travelled and lived by clicking the spots on this map.

Language Points

Guugu Yimithirr

English

After arriving in Sahul the ancestors travelled east and west along the coasts and also inland, following the river systems and staying around lakes and springs. By around 40,000 years ago people lived in every part of the country. We know about many places where these ancestors lived. Some of these places are among the oldest in the world.

However it is difficult to find some of these old places because the sea level has risen and much of the land where these ancestors lived, in the north of the country and along the coasts, is now under the sea. In the places where the first ancestors lived, archeologists have dug in the ground and found flaked stones, grinding stones, animal bones, shellfish remains, ground ochre, charcoal, seeds, plant foods as well as human burials.

New techniques are being used to find out how long ago people used these places but it isn’t easy and scientists still disagree about it. Learning about the past is a work in progress.