Jabree’s cultural heritage team has discovered the first known source of naturally occurring ochre in the northern Gold Coast region.
‘Ochre Knoll’ was identified during a targeted three-day excavation program informing Jabree’s cultural heritage assessment of Gold Coast City Council’s proposed Greenheart Reserve development (Stage 1). The excavation also uncovered three silcrete artefacts.
Ochre Knoll is located less than 5 km from the Broadbeach Burial Ground where there is also evidence of ceremonial ochre use, suggesting that the sites may be interconnected sites within the cultural landscape, however this is unable to be confirmed.
Ochre has been used by Aboriginal people across the continent for thousands of years.
Early evidence of traditional ochre use includes 19,000-year-old ochre ‘crayons’ found in Kenniff Cave in Southern Queensland and a 30,000-year-old burial and a 32,000-year-old campsite at Lake Mungo in New South Wales. In these examples, the ochre was not local and is likely to have been transported from several kilometres away.
Ochre Knoll is a particularly important discovery for the Gold Coast Traditional Owner community.
It provides more evidence of past occupation with extraordinary ties to a broader cultural landscape. The site is also an extremely rare, local source of a valuable colouring pigment used for traditional ceremony in Aboriginal culture and potentially, for contemporary Aboriginal artists and artworks.
Feature image courtesy of Erin Finnegan, 2016.