Why Wallen Wallen?: Identifying factors in the formation and preservation of Pleistocene archaeological sites in the coastal sand masses of Southeast Queensland
Some 30 years ago Neal and Stock (1986) published details of an excavation at Wallen Wallen Creek, on the west coast of North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay, that yielded a sequence of ages for human occupation ranging from the late Pleistocene (20560 CRA) to the Late Holocene (450 CRA). It was the first, and remains today, the only site in southeast Queensland with occupational evidence commencing in the Pleistocene. It is also one of the few sites on the east coast of Australia with evidence of Pleistocene occupation. Thirty years on the question remains, why Wallen Wallen? Why is this only Pleistocene site to have been found in coastal region of Southeast Queensland? What are the critical factors that contributed to its establishment and survival, and could the identification of these factors lead to the discovery and documentation of more such sites in the region?
In this seminar we address some of these questions. and we argue that a geoarchaeological approach is required to develop a general model of site formation for Wallen Wallen itself. Such a model, coupled with an understanding of the developmental history of the SEQ sand islands and taphonomic factors relating to site formation, will form a basis for the identification of more locations that may yield evidence of sites with long or old occupational histories. Given the impact of development over much of coastal Queensland, including North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands, such models are an important requisite for the management of the Islands’ archaeological evidence.
About the presenters
Dr Errol C. Stock
Dr Errol Stock is a director of Triple-E Consultants. For almost 30 years he was attached to Griffith University where he taught earth sciences and planning at the Nathan Campus. Before joining Griffith University he worked for 12 years on mining and exploration projects throughout Australia. His teaching, research and consulting interests are in applied geosciences, geoarchaeology, geosciences heritage assessment, environmental education, and natural resource management associated with development projects (particularly mining and settlement infrastructure). Since retirement he has continued research and consulting in these fields and working with colleagues to test out new ideas and write up “stuff in the files”.
Much of Errol’s focus in geosciences research and consulting has been towards understanding dune terrain in Australia (since 1969) and elsewhere in the world, particularly along coastal western USA (since 1990). For 15 years, commencing in 1980, he consulted to the Australian Heritage Commission primarily in compiling inventories of Australian coastal sand masses and as an assessor for places listed on or proposed for the Register of the National Estate. This work and travel has allowed him to generate a substantial knowledge base about dune landscapes and processes, across a range of geotectonic and climatic conditions.
Dr Richard Robins
Dr Richard Robins is a Director of Everick Heritage Consultants and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland. He has been director of Everick Heritage for 14 yrs. Prior to that he was Senior Curator of Anthropology/Archaeology at the Queensland Museum for 17 Years. He has been an adjunct Associate Professor with the School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale and Adjunct Professor at the School of Australian Studies at Bond University, Gold Coast.
His main research interests are in Aboriginal and Historical Archaeology and Museums. He has undertaken extensive archaeological work throughout Queensland; including southeast and southwest Queensland, the Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and Torres Strait.
Richard has published on the results of site recording, excavation, taphonomy, museum studies, and heritage issues. His main research interest is in site formation processes and taphonomy. He has edited a book on museum practice for small museums and edited professional journals, He had also taught courses to Aboriginal Rangers and heritage workers, museum workers and undergraduate and postgraduate tertiary students.