Aboriginal occupation of the Southern Highlands: Was it really seasonal?

23rd January 2014

Map of the southern highlands (published in Australian Archaeology 41:30).

Map of the southern highlands (published in Australian Archaeology 41:30).

Debbie Argue

Introduction*

This paper examines the nature of Aboriginal occupation of the Southern Highlands, a region above 900 m altitude in southeastern Australia, using archaeological and biotic resource data to obtain some indication of seasonality of occupation.

The Southern Highlands are part of the Great Dividing Range (Fig. 1). Formed from stepped plateaux extending to over 1800 m asl and heavily dissected by rivers and valleys, they sweep south from the Wee Jasper area in New South Wales to Gippsland in Victoria. They lie between 80 and 300 km inland from the coast of New South Wales and Victoria, between latitude 36′ and 38’s. Two views of the occupation of this region have been put forward to date. Using archaeological evidence and the results of ethnographic research, Flood (1973) suggested that the higher areas of the highlands were the focus for large numbers of people who exploited the aestivating Bogong moth (Argotis infusa). This harvest allowed participation in social and ceremonial activities. She suggests that, while other resources were available, the moths were the main source of sustenance. As these were present during the summer months only, it was during this season that the highlands were occupied.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Argue, D.
Aboriginal occupation of the Southern Highlands: Was it really seasonal?
December 1995
41
30–36
Article
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