Back in 2003, massive bushfires exposed a rich Aboriginal heritage across the Victorian Alps. 1.1 million hectares of land was burnt, and it led to the discovery of huge numbers of artefacts and sites linked to indigenous habitation of the High Country.
As one example, at the Dinner Plain airport site, on the high ridgeline that leads from Mt Hotham to Cobungra, and which is recognised as an ancient travel and trade route, more than 46,000 artefacts were found. As a result of the fires removing so much vegetation, in total 350 new sites were found across 14 alpine areas in Victoria. This sparked a rethink of how First Nations people had lived in the Alps.
It highlighted the fact that life in the alps was good pre invasion: as an archeologist said at the time, “people were up here eating very, very well’. Foods included bogong moths, daisy yams, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and lots of fruits and berries. As a result, large numbers of people lived in the high country during the summer months. It also highlighted the number of travel routes into the mountains from surrounding low land areas and the fact that people lived for much of the year in some high elevation sites.
The fires of 2019/20 also burnt large areas of the high country, and will have exposed additional artefacts.
Continue reading “Aboriginal Artefacts and What to do When you Find Them”