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1 February 2006
Ancient stone houses uncovered by a bushfire in Australia

A bushfire at Tyrendarra (Victoria, Australia) last month has unearthed some of the biggest Aboriginal stone houses ever seen in Gunditjmara land. Undocumented sites  have been uncovered including a village thought to be 30,000 years old. The Winda-Mara Aboriginal Co-operative made the discovery during an analysis of its Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area.
     On January 22 fire burnt 240 hectares, blackening 90 per cent of the property's rocky outcrop on the Mt Eccles lava flow. Previously inaccessible land is now showing shells of stone houses as wide as five metres, eel traps, water traps, walking tracks, water ways and the remnants of cutting tools. Winda-Mara chairman Damein Bell said further finds were expected in coming weeks as Aboriginal Affairs geologists scour the property. "This is solid evidence of a permanent dwelling and villages. They could house up to four families at once. It was a complete society," said Damein Bell.
     It has been more than 80 years since fire has cleared the rocky landscape. Until 1999 it was used as farming land but has since been revegetated and used for Aboriginal tourism and cultural purposes. Until the fire the site had more than 150 sites of Aboriginal cultural significance.
     Mr Bell said the new findings were further evidence that Aborigines in the south-west were not nomadic. "This should add significantly to the cultural heritage values of this land," he said.
     The houses are scattered across the rocky outcrop, most on higher rising land neighbouring fresh waterways with eel traps. Mr Bell said the aquaculture system was the main source of trade and food for the inhabitants.

Source: The Standard (1 February 2006)

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