Victorian offshore islands in a mainland coastal economy

23rd January 2014

Islands off the Victorian coast (published in Australian Archaeology 40:40).

Islands off the Victorian coast (published in Australian Archaeology 40:40).

Denise Gaughwin and Richard Fullagar

Introduction*

In English literature, the sea is often seen as a testing ground for the human spirit, and islands, like ships, provide a ready literary device for isolating people from society and their familiar activities. However, islands need not isolate people, but can be part of a broader economic and social system. We argue that Aboriginal exploitation of Victorian offshore islands was certainly part of a mainland economic system but question the degree to which island resources were integral to its operation. We examine the hypothesis that this mainland system focused not on marine resources but rather on the wetlands and forests of the coastal plains. This hypothesis can in part be tested from mainland coastal sites but as they are geographically located on the margin between terrestrial and marine resources it is difficult to isolate the marine component of technology and settlement. Islands, on the other hand, are surrounded by a marine environment and require a marine technology to visit and exploit. We suggest that the terrestrial resources of the small Victorian islands were not significant. In this paper we examine both historical and archaeological evidence in order to assess three aspects of the marine technology: frequency of and reasons for island visitation; watercraft; and stone tool production. This survey will provide data that will clarify the use of the islands in Victoria as well as further our knowledge of economies and settlement history on the adjacent mainland territories.

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

Gaughwin, D. and R. Fullagar
Victorian offshore islands in a mainland coastal economy
June 1995
40
38–50
Article
You must be a member to download the attachment ( Login / Sign up )