The Flinders Ranges In South Australia
The Flinders Ranges in South Australia is the largest series of mountains in the entire country. They stretch for a total of 265 miles. Withing the mountains, there are a number of national parks and protected areas. These areas of popular with mountain bikers and hikers. The mountains are homes to various types of wildlife including red kangaroos, western gray kangaroos, yellow-footed rock-wallabies, and plenty of birds and reptiles. You might also find exotic Australian creatures in the mountains including the dunnart, the planigale, and marsupials.
The First Exploration
The mountains were first encountered by Europeans in 1802. The exploration team was led by an English Captain named Matthew Flinders. He is the one who scaled the peak of Mount Brown. After further exploration, sheep farms were opened and they continued opening throughout the 19th century. Shortly after, coal and copper were discovered, and mining began.
The Adnyamathanha People
The first human inhabitants of the Flinders Ranges were the Adnyamathanha people. They had been living there long before the Europeans arrived. It was once believed that their predecessors had lived on the land for 39,000 years. In 2011, a discovery was made that challenged this belief. A Man Took A Pee In The Mountains – Then Stumbled Upon A 49, 000-Year-Old Archaeological Wonder.
Clifford Coulthard and Giles Hamm
In 2011, an elder of the indigenous Adnyamanthanha people named Clifford Coulthard was surveying the Fling Ranges. He was accompanied by a consultant archaeologist named Giles Hamm. The two men were surveying miles away from anywhere when Clifford stopped to find a suitable place to go to the bathroom. It was then that he came across an ancient cave in the craggy rocks. At the time, he didn’t know that he would find something that changed history forever.
The cave that the two men uncovered has come to be known as the Warratyi Cave. When nature called, Cliff walked up the creek bed and found an amazing spring that was surrounded by rock art. The cave was set back about 65-feet from the creek. It was the smoke-blackened roof of the cave that really caught the men’s attention. They realized that there had once been human activity in the area because the roof was proof that people lit fires in the cave.
An Initial Estimate
When the two men checked out the cave, they believed that it was used by humans around 5,000 years ago. Their estimation was way off the mark. Giles knew that he had to excavate the area to see what stories were hiding inside. Between 2011 and 2014, Giles worked alongside the Adnyamathanha people to excavate the site. They knew that this was the only way that they could be sure how long the original Australians had been there. To successfully unearth what was hidden below, they carefully dug trenches at a depth of just a little over three feet.
The team’s excavation proved fruitful. They uncovered around 4,300 artifacts and 200 pieces of bone. The bones cam from 16 different types of mammals and one reptile. They also found emu eggs, stone tools, and bone needles. The team knew that they had everything that they needed to determine how long the site was occupied by humans. The team had to use sophisticated technology such as stratigraphy which can calculate age in relation to the depths the artifacts have been found. They also used carbon dating, and they measured luminescence to determine the age of the quartz particles found.
The results of the testing proved that the cave had been in use by humans at least 49,000 years ago. This is 10,000 years earlier than experts originally thought. Up until then, it was believed that the oldest site of human habitation in Australia was at Central Australia’s Puritjarra, which dated back 38,000 years ago. The bone needles were determined to be 40,000 years old. The half axes were 40,000 years old. The stone tools with wooden handles were 24,000 years old. Up until now, it was believed that the gigantic animals, known as megafauna, became extinct due to climate change. What was found in the cave was proof that humans lived near these animals and they hunted them.
What the two men discovered that day and later excavated changed Australia’s history forever. Humans were living in the area far earlier than we ever believed. Also, climate change was not the only contributing factor to the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Humans who inhabited the area had a part in the dying out of the animals as well.
This makes you wonder what would have happened if Clifford didn’t have to use the bathroom when he did? What would have happened if Clifford decided to hold it for a bit so that they could get a little further with their exploration? Had he not been in the right place at the right time, we wouldn’t know so much about Australia’s earliest days. This just goes to show you that there are times where fate steps in and amazing things are found.