Significant stone-tool manufacturing area discovered - Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park

Thursday 22 October, 2020

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.

This month, Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council are hosting two public information sessions and convening meetings with local community groups to talk about the cultural heritage rediscoveries in the park and outline the process for the future assessments. In the meantime, information and maps for park visitors will be made available on the Parks Victoria website.

Visitors to parks and reserves are reminded of physical distancing, hygiene and face-mask requirements, and to stay home if unwell.

Quotes attributable to Matthew Jackson, Chief Executive Officer–Parks Victoria:

“The Aboriginal cultural heritage of Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park continues to be revealed, with these exciting rediscoveries providing a glimpse into the area’s rich history.”

“We know that protecting natural and cultural values can sometimes mean restricting or limiting public access, but it’s up to all of us to protect these special places for future generations.” 

“Cultural heritage and environmental values can co-exist with recreation – but they must be carefully managed and protected according to legislation.”

Quotes attributable to Stuart Harradine, Manager-On Country Operations Barengi Gadjin Land Council:

“We are pleased as the First Nations people of Dyurrite to play a key role in the reidentification and protection of our cultural heritage in this landscape. This is a part of upholding our sacred responsibility to care for Country and culture as passed to us through tens of thousands of years of tradition.”

“We are also pleased that Parks Victoria is able to commit resources to undertake a thorough heritage survey at Dyurrite, an action that we have been eager to see commence in Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park.”

“This will help us assess and put in place protection measures for what we suspect are many more of our heritage sites waiting to be reidentified, and to do so as quickly as possible to provide certainty for recreational users and small business.”


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Alex Fensome

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