Northeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting - 2022

Paper No. 42-7
Presentation Time: 10:25 AM


GONTZ, Allen, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 92182, MILLER, Glen, Buchulla Elder, Maryborough, QLD 4650, Australia, STEWART, Lisa, School of Law and Policy, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD 4556, Australia and MCCALLUM, Adrian, School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, 4556, Australia

Aboriginal People have been living in Australia for longer than 60,000 years. Traces of a robust society and culture have been identified throughout the country. However, limited sites with ages less than 10,000 years have been identified in Australia’s dynamic coastal zone. The sea level history of Eastern Australia produced a mid-Holocene highstand at about 6 kya nearly 2 m above present sea level. The regression from these highs is mostly complete and a renewed transgression has begun. With the projection for increased sea level rise, more of Australia’s coastal archaeological record is under threat from erosion.

K’gari (Fraser Island) is native country of the Butchulla People and they have been stewards of the land for tens of thousands of years. The island is the world’s largest sand island with dunes exceeding 240 m in relief that have been periodically active for over 1 My. Presently, K’gari is separated from the mainland by a shallow strait and a large bay. The Great Sand Strait allows water from Hervey Bay, the Mary River and Tin Can Bay to exchange with the Coral Sea.

Oral histories of the Butchulla People speak of walking across the Great Sandy Strait to K’gari. Our research team intends to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to identify these pathways. Through analysis of current topographic and bathymetric maps coupled with shallow marine subbottom profiling, the team will reconstruct the environment at various key elevations: . The elevations represent the mid Holocene highstand elevation and the deepest water depth presently observed in the Great Sandy Strait.

We will present information from oral histories and reconstructions of the environment based on available maps. Locations from the oral histories will be identified on the reconstructions. Our work will continue into the austral winter of 2022 with subbottom surveys and further revision of our environmental reconstructions and integration of oral histories.