Dynamic landscape, dynamic practice: Aboriginal dwelling beside the Carran Carran–Durt’yowan floodplains (Thomson River–Latrobe River, Central Gippsland)
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/14931
Recurring occupation beside waterways is an essential part of Aboriginal dwelling and movement in the landscape. Riverbanks and their wider floodplains were repeatedly inhabited as hunting and fishing grounds and to gather plants and other materials; moreover, Aboriginal people used rivers and creeks as routeways and landmarks to navigate Country, for meetings and ceremonies, to affirm boundaries and territorial claims; and they were sacred features whose origins were captured in stories and songs. Archaeological investigations often encounter material that hints at persistent occupation of riverine landforms, but it is rare to conclusively prove the overall duration that a place was inhabited and the length of occupation episodes. Excavations near Sale in central Gippsland, in GunaiKurnai Country, identified one such place. Cultural deposits buried in the sands of an alluvial rise at Fulham include hearths and concentrations of stone artefacts up to a metre deep. Radiocarbon dating shows two distinct occupation phases—in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene eras—that were separated by a gap of up to eight thousand years. The results underline the enduring significance of the alluvial plains around the confluence of Carran Carran (Thomson River) and Durt’yowan (Latrobe River) and show habitation by GunaiKurnai Ancestors over vast timespans as the climate, water level, landforms and ecology of the wider estuarine district changed. They highlight spatial and temporal connections between the upper and lower reaches of these river systems over several millennia, giving a unique, long–term perspective on human responses to shifts in climate and water flows.
© 2021 The authors