Rare finds

By Evelyn Leckie

ABORIGINAL artefacts are slowly being discovered on properties across the Taungurung Land catchment, with the latest find by the Mayor of Strathbogie.

Cr Amanda McLaren and her husband Ian found a greenstone axe head on their Graytown farm after a significant rain event.

“I hadn’t seen greenstone or Aboriginal artefacts prior to this but I must have learnt about it from an ecology course we did when we first arrived here,” Mr McLaren said.

“I honestly thought that any history like this would be buried too deep to be uncovered.”

Taungurung Land and Waters Council cultural heritage programs manager and archaeologist Francisco Almeida inspected the artefact, saying the greenstone material was typical to Victoria only.

“The greenstone geological formation can only be found in Taungurung country, or at the boundary with other Aboriginal cultural groups,” Mr Almeida said

“It has been traded all around Australia though as it was equivalent to gold back in the day. Aboriginal people would trade many items like possum skin cloaks in exchange for this material.”

A greenstone axe head
which could be anywhere between 200 and 30,000 years old. (Photo: Kathy Mexted).

Mr Almeida said axe head artefacts often dated back 30,000 years ago, meaning the artefact on the McLaren’s property could be aged anywhere between 200 and 30,000 years old.

“It is a harsh environment in Graytown and when there’s so much excellent country within the Taungurung traditional lands, I wonder why they chose to stay in this spot,” Mr McLaren said

“We are strategically positioned between four unique hills, so this could have been a good meeting point between those landmarks.”

Elder and natural resources officer Shane Monk said a better relationship has developed between property owners and Traditional Owners over time.

“Originally property owners would be weary hearing I was an elder completing land and water council work on their property,” Mr Monk said.

“But I helped one woman who found artefacts on her property to officially register it, encouraging her to keep the artefact with her.

“After that, word spread and we started getting more phone calls for us to inspect more artefacts being discovered.

“Some people had collected items in eskys, thinking they looked unique, and after many years of storing them in their garage – they called us to have a look.”

Mr Monk said Taungurung people encouraged people to keep their discoveries.

“We think if property owners have been protecting those artefacts with them for many years, it should stay with them – that’s where they belong,” he said.

“We ask them to hand it down to their family, and if they are going to sell up, they can contact us and we can provide a ceremony and bury it back on Taungurung country.”

After the discovery Cr McLaren said a healthy relationship had grown with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council and she felt a stronger connection could be made with the cultural group.

People can share knowledge or discuss artefact finds by emailing culturalheritage@taungurung.com.au.