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Jo McDonald, Wendy Reynen, Zane Blunt, Kane Ditchfield, Carly Monks, Joe Dortch

Eight excavations along the western side of Rosemary Island have shown earliest occupation was around 10,500 years ago at Wadjuru Pool. Early Holocene mangrove-focussed habitation was found in four landscapes and there was a changed economic focus after island formation.

As Rosemary Island emerged, people’s mangrove-focussed economy changed to a more seasonal use. Occupation continued until European contact. Major results include evidence for Early Holocene use of house structures, plant processing through all occupation phases and recent bead wearing on many sites.

The open plain at the north of the island records of shellfish consumption and stone artefact discard from 6,030 cal BP to within the last millennium. Dentalium beads were discarded here between 4-3,000 years ago.

The central valley was first used to consume Terebralia and process plants between 9,630-7,930 cal BP. After a hiatus, this valley was again used in the last 600 years. A buried block with three abraded parallel lines was discarded here before 8,555–8,395 cal BP. This is the oldest dated Murujuga motif.


Thhis stone house structure (see photo) was used on Rosemary 8 between c. 8,000 - 7,300 cal. years BP. Locally procured flaked artefacts at this time were used for plant processing. These stone structures demarcated social space during a period of dramatically changing environment.

At the same time (between 8,070 and 7,200 cal. BP) around a nearby waterhole Terebralia was consumed in vast quantities and stone artefacts used. Occupation of this landscape appears to cease once Rosemary Island formed.

Murujuga Dynamics of the Dreaming Map

Click on each photo to learn more

Chapter Eight details the excavation and analysis of eight excavations on Rosemary Island.

All photographs within this monograph were taken by CRAR+M researchers, partners and students, and have been given cultural approval for publication by Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. Future use of imagery would require additional permissions from Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and CRAR+M.