History

Australian Aboriginal history timeline

Australian Aboriginal history is the only history that grows both ways—forward into the present and backwards into the past as new scientific methods indicate that archaeological sites are much older than originally thought.

Just as we have learned about your history, please learn about ours.—From the Ngambri petition claiming the area of Canberra, January 2007 [1]

Ancient history

  1. 400,000
     

    Mitochondrial DNA puts the origin of Homo Sapiens much further back and indicates that the Australian Aborigines arose 400,000 years ago from two distinct lineages, far earlier than any other racial group. [5]

  2. 120,000
     

    Analysis of pollen and charcoal giving a date of 120,000 BP suggests that people were using fire to clear land in the Lake George basin in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, about 30 kms north-east of Canberra. [6] Experts also found signs of human disturbance in rainforest pollen patterns in a drill core from the edge of the continental shelf, 80 kilometres east of Cairns.

  3. 68,000
     

    Current estimates for the arrival of Aboriginal people in Australia [2].

  4. 56,000
     

    Suggested age of two north Australian sites (Nauwalabila and Malakunanja, about 300 kms east of Darwin).

    Archaeological evidence suggests that a rock shelter was used by people at a site in Arnhem Land (400 kms east of Darwin) in the Northern Territory. They used stone tools and red ochre probably to prepare pigments for rock painting or body decoration.

  5. 45,000
     

    Rock engravings made in South Australia - the earliest dated petroglyphs.

  6. 43,000
     

    Age of ‘Mungo Man’ (also known as Lake Mungo 3 human remains, or LM3), a hunter gatherer who lived in western NSW. His skeleton is the oldest known remains in Australia. Named after Lake Mungo National Park, NSW, 987 km west of Sydney, where his remains were found. Footprints discovered at Lake Mungo are believed to be 23,000 years old.

    The oldest dated art in Europe is 40,800 years old and was found in the El Castillo cave in Spain. It contains many red hand stencils, similar to stencils found in Australia.

    Sign: Lake Mungo Lake Mungo, New South Wales. Ancient camp sites have been found in this area.
  7. 35,000
     

    Age of a oldest known camping site found in the Pilbara region, Western Australia, near the Jugaling Rock Shelter. The site belongs to a mining lease jointly owned by Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting. Both companies refuse to permanently exclude the site from mining [2].

  8. 30,700
     

    Age of fireplaces (such as underground oven) at Lake Mungo National Park, NSW.

    Aboriginal people living at the Keilor site (20 kms north-west of Melbourne) in Victoria.

  9. 30,000
     

    Oldest evidence of bread making in the world at Cuddy Springs (ancient lake located between Marra Creek and Macquarie River, near Carinda, western NSW).

    A man from the Lake Mungo area (south-west NSW) is buried in a shallow grave. His forearm bones are stained pink from ochre. This is one of the earliest known burials of a distinctly modern people.

    Aboriginal people were living around the now extinct lakes of the Willandra Lakes system. Evidence shows signs of spiritual and creative life and technology linked to much later Aboriginal culture.

    Devils’ Lair in southernmost Western Australia is home to Aboriginal people who leave bone tool artefacts, including unique bone-beads of split-pointed macropod shin bones. The cave is occupied from this time to 6,000 BP.

  10. 28,000
     

    Age of a charcoal drawing found at Narwala Gabarnmung, in the Northern Territory, assumed to be Australia’s oldest known rock art specimen and one of the earliest examples of human art on the planet [3].

  11. 26,000
     

    Age of bones found in sediment at the Willandra Lakes Region of far western NSW.

    The body of a woman from Lake Mungo provides the earliest evidence in the world of ritual cremation. The body is prepared with ochre before cremation.

  12. 22,000
     

    Age of a rock-shelter on the Kings Tableland near Wentworth Falls, NSW.

    Aboriginal people living at Malangangarr in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, use ground-edge grooved axes. Australian technology leads the world.

    In deep caves under the Nullarbor Plains at Koonalda (at the western edge of South Australia, about 50 kms from the ocean), Aboriginal people mine flint and leave grooved designs on the cave walls. This is early evidence of the close relationship of art and work in Aboriginal life.

    Wentworth Falls, NSW Wentworth Falls, New South Wales. An occupation site has been found in this area dated 22,000 years old.
  13. 20,000
     

    Aboriginal people were dispersed across the entire continent, occupying places as remote as rock shelters on the Franklin River in south-west Tasmania and at Birrigai in the ranges of the Australian Capital Territory, which surrounds Canberra, the national capital.

    Some 10% of Tasmania is covered by glacial ice. Kutikina Cave on the Franklin River is occupied by Tasmanian Aboriginal people at the height of the last ice age.

  14. 18,000
     

    Harvesting grass seeds is integral to Aboriginal socio-economic life on the large grasslands. The seeds were ground and baked or roasted and eaten whole.

    Art at Ubirr in Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory, 300 kms east of Darwin) depicts now extinct animals, the Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), and Zaglossus (the long-beaked echidna).

  15. 16,000
     

    Hearths, stone and bone tools, Shaws Creek near Yarramundi (60 kms north-west from Sydney), NSW.

    Sea levels begin to rise as ice caps melt. Inland lakes such as Lake Mungo have dried up.

  16. 13,000
     

    Land bridges between mainland Australia and Tasmania are flooded. Tasmanian Aboriginal people become isolated for the next 12,000 - 13,000 years.

    At Kow Swamp near Cohuna, 230 kms north of Melbourne, Victoria, Aboriginal people weare kangaroo teeth headbands similar to those worn by men and women in the Central Desert in the 19th century.

  17. 10,000
     

    Present day Australian climate establishes.

    Aboriginal people at Wyrie Swamp near Millicent, 340 kms south-east of Adelaide, South Australia, use returning boomerangs to hunt waterfowl.

  18. 8,000
     

    The Torres Strait Islands are formed when the land bridge between Australia and New Guinea is submerged by rising seas.

    Earliest visible evidence of Aboriginal belief connected with the rainbow Serpent. This becomes the longest continuing belief in the world.

  19. 5,000
     

    Occupation site, Penrith Lakes (about 50 kms west of Sydney), NSW.

    Coastline of Australia takes its present form. Rottnest Island (off Perth, WA), previously connected to mainland Australia, becomes an island.

    Settlement of Pacific Islands.

    Rottnest Island, WA Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Aboriginal people saw the island when it was still connected to the mainland. Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian, sxc.hu
  20. 4,000
     

    Research indicates that humans migrated to Australia from India [4], bringing with them different tool-making techniques such as microliths (small stone tools that formed the tips of weapons), and the Dingo, which most closely resembles Indian dogs.

More Aboriginal timelines:

Footnotes

View article sources (11)

http://www.dreamtime.net.au
http://www.hreoc.gov.au
http://www.austlii.edu.au
NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs
http://www.racismnoway.com.au
[1] Koori Mail 394 p.11
[2] 'Owners fight to protect country', Koori Mail 424 p.10
[3] 'Kiwi finds 28,000 year old painting', The New Zealand Herald, 19/6/2012
[4] 'Genomes link aboriginal Australians to Indians', nature.com 14/1/2013. Some Aboriginal Australians can trace as much as 11% of their genomes to India.
[5] 'Homo sapien sapiens originated in Australia, not ‘out-of-Africa’ – DNA evidence', The Stringer 18/12/2013
[6] 'A history and interpretation of fire frequency in dry eucalypt forests and woodlands of Eastern Tasmania', J. von Platen, PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, 2008 p.15, http://eprints.utas.edu.au/7812/

Cite this article

An appropriate citation for this document is:

www.CreativeSpirits.info,
Aboriginal culture - History - Australian Aboriginal history timeline, retrieved 28 August 2016