Over the last year or so, we’ve posted pictures of local stone tools used by the Taungurung peoples that once occupied the Strathbogie Ranges (search for ‘stone tools’, at right). Recently, a landholder near Tarcombe (near Ruffy) showed us another type of stone artifact, axe grinding grooves, that offer further evidence that the Strathbogie Ranges were occupied by Indigenous Australians for many, many generations before European contact.
These grinding grooves were only recently discovered (in 2012) by Shane Monk, a member of the Taungurung Clans, who was visiting the area to carry out blackberry control works as part of a GBCMA ‘Weeds of National Significance’ project.
Interestingly, these grinding grooves occur in granite rocks (rather than ‘sandstone’), that are adjacent to the bed of the creek. The entire landscape here is granitic, though sedimentary and metamorphic rocks occur only a few kilometers away.
The rocks in which the grooves occur were covered with sediment until about 10-15 years ago when a flood carried the covering sediment away. Even so, they went unnoticed until Shane came along. Who knows how long it’s been since they were last exposed?
The granite bedrock in the stream bed is worn quite smooth by the action of water, and the grinding grooves are found over an area of perhaps 100 sq m that is exposed during periods of low-flow.
Though there is similar rock above and below this site, no other grinding grooves have been found. Some of these grinding grooves look a lot older and more worn than others.
Our visit happened to occur later in the afternoon when the sun was getting low in the sky. When observing the rock surface from low to the ground, it was tempting to imagine many more old, worn grooves over the rock surface, though it might have been a trick of the light.
One thing’s for sure, even the shallow grinding grooves represent an enormous amount of time and effort, so it’s likely this spot was visited regularly, perhaps a permanent fixture on a family’s seasonal journey.
This site is on private property and is not accessible to the general public. Many thanks to the landholder for allowing us to visit. For some general information, download the Victorian Government’s brochure on ‘Aboriginal Axe Grinding Grooves‘.