In September 2021, Jabree conducted a preliminary archaeological investigation within the Natural Bridge area of the Springbrook National Park, alongside Cave Creek. This investigation was conducted prior to a proposed Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) upgrade of the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road approaches at Cave Creek. This upgrade is anticipated to improve the safety of Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, which currently has areas classified as high risk to drivers.
A total of 24 stone artefacts were retrieved during subsurface excavation, consisting of stone flakes and a stone core derived from chert, chalcedony and silcrete materials. Most of the soil where excavation took place was undisturbed, indicating the artefacts had not moved far from their original places of deposition.
The undisturbed nature of this site, and the density of Aboriginal artefacts found, suggests there is a high chance further archaeological deposits and artefacts could be present. As no significant earthworks are proposed at the site, the likelihood of harm to subsurface cultural material is low. The project is being managed under a Cultural Heritage Management Agreement and Chance Finds Protocol.
The Cave Creek, Natural Bridge artefact scatter is located within an ecologically and culturally significant region, near several other registered Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. One of these sites is Bushranger’s Cave, located only five kilometres from the Cave Creek artefact scatter. Bushranger’s cave is one of the oldest dated sites in southeast Queensland (9,270 BP) and represents a site of long-term occupation encompassing a variety of resource bases and environments. The discovery of the Cave Creek artefact scatter presents a further segment of knowledge in Aboriginal Australian history for this significant area, and contributes to its ongoing protection.
Featured image: Cave Creek, facing southwest towards the Nerang River.