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Aboriginal Society the Original Owners

They Left Few Permanent Memorials

The Aboriginal people did not keep written records on paper like the whites. They used carvings on trees, mounds of earth, burial sites, sacred places, bora rings, rock carvings, grinding stones, fish traps on rivers and cave paintings. Since these meant little or nothing to the whites, they were ignored or destroyed if they got in the way of white progress. Bush fires destroyed the trees and within a few generations the settler’s plough destroyed the bora rings and obliterated the grave sites. It is only in very recent times that anything has been done to preserve what is still left.

The Indigenous people lived in this area for tens of thousands of years but left little of any permanence so it is impossible to list any dates of when notable events occurred. J G Steele (Aboriginal Pathways) notes that at Schnapper Point, near Evans Head NSW, the manufacture of the uniface pebble chopper tool took place. He notes that a similar site in the Clarence River area, which was carbon dated, registered an age of at least 6,500 years. (p. 3-4). Oyster middens, near Ballina NSW, are 400m long and up to 4m high which would have taken some 1,650 years to accumulate (p.5). On p.23 he mentions small clay figurines dug up near Nimbin NSW which were impregnated with fragments of charcoal and possibly shells. They were buried in an alluvial deposit which was about 700mm deep and probably took a long time to accumulate. Such figurines were in use in the 19th century along the east coast.

Constance Petrie records in “Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland” that the Turrbul tribe owned the land, vegetation, animals, birds but certain individuals, men and women, owned specific trees, fishing spots and personal items such as spears, nets, dilly bags and other items; there is no mention of permanent dwellings (p.117)