Major archaeological project underway

Dr Jillian Garvey has begun a major Indigenous archaeology project in northwest Victoria.

The project could find evidence of human occupation dating back 40,000 years. It is the first Indigenous archaeology project to be funded by the Australian Research Council in the area.

Dr Garvey’s research focuses on Neds Corner Station and the adjoining Murray-Sunset National Park, an area that has already yielded evidence of 15,000 years of human occupation. 

Archaeological project - Ned's Corner

Dr Garvey believes that the six-year project may find evidence of human occupation similar to that already known from Lake Mungo area in New South Wales that dates back as far as 40,000 years.

‘We know very little about human use of the landscape in this rich riverine environment, despite its proximity to other areas of significance,’ Dr Garvey said.

‘The Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, including Lake Mungo, is only a couple of hundred kilometres to the north, and is well known for evidence of human occupation dating back as far as 40,000 years.

‘This is the first ARC grant for Indigenous archaeology awarded in Victoria in recent times, so it’s exciting to think of the discoveries that lie ahead for us between now and 2020,’ Dr Garvey said.

Dr Garvey visited the site in January for a two-week excavation with a group of students and colleagues. Neds Corner was one of the largest sheep-grazing properties in the state’s northwest and is now managed for conservation purposes by Trust for Nature.

‘We excavated a shell midden adjacent to the Murray River,’ Dr Garvey said. ‘There’s evidence to suggest that this midden has been used by Aboriginal people to cook and eat shellfish collected from the Murray at various times spanning thousands of years, so we are very curious to see how old some of the material here might be.

‘The floodplains around the Murray River are well known for supporting a large number of people in ancient times, but we’ve found a surprisingly high density of sites of human occupation some distance away from the Murray,’ Dr Garvey said. 

‘This suggests that many of these sites are older than we expected as they may date from a time when the river took a different path across the floodplain.’

This research is being conducted with the consent of the traditional owners, the Ngintait, Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri peoples.

Media contact

Suzi Macbeth, Media and Communications: T + 61 3 9479 5353 | E