A vast stone-tool quarrying and manufacturing site of potential national significance has been identified at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park, in Victoria’s west.
The production site, which extends for around 200 metres around the base of a rock face, is where Traditional Owners – the Jadawadjali, part of the Wotjobaluk Nations – manufactured a variety of tools from stone sourced all over Dyurrite (Mount Arapiles).
These included sharp-edged knives and spear-heads for cutting and hunting, and flat stones for grinding foods or crushing materials, such as to make pigments for painting.
The manufacturing site was also used to prepare the quarried stone for trade – stone from Dyurrite has been found throughout south-east Australia, part of the extensive Aboriginal trade network that existed prior to European arrival.
The rediscovery was made during condition assessments on six known rock art sites in the park. During this process, quarry sites, artefact scatters and cultural material were also identified at three other locations, highlighting the area’s rich history. This included a ‘Hertzian percussion cone’ – evidence of the initial step in the Aboriginal quarrying process.
To protect these special places, protection measures will be put in place along with signage so that people don’t inadvertently enter these areas.
To better understand and document these cultural values, Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council will undertake surveys throughout the park, starting imminently and to be completed within six months.
This assessment process will provide greater clarity for rock climbers as climbing areas are sometimes in places where cultural values are more likely to be present.
The impressive stone-tool manufacturing site is located around the areas known as Plaque Rock and Tiger Wall, which include some of the highly regarded climbing routes in the park.
The other rediscovered cultural places in the park are at the locations known to climbers as ‘Mr Chicken’ and ‘Castle Crag’. Another location is at ‘Lil Lil’, in the nearby Red Rock Bushland Reserve.