Monday, October 29, 2012

An Aboriginal Inheritance at Shoal Bay

The earliest inhabitants of the Port Stephens area were the Aboriginal people of the Worimi tribe.

The Worimi tribe consisted of the Grewerogal, Gampingal and Maiangal groups who lived on the waterfronts around the Port Stephens. 

There are many examples of Aboriginal occupation sites in Port Stephens which are still evident today such as shell middens and scarred trees. The sites are protected by law.

Signage for the Tomaree Coastal Walk from Tomaree Head to Fingal Bay
View from Tomaree Head overlooking Xenith, Wreck and Box Beaches
and out to the Final Bay Spit
On the Tomaree Coastal Walk, mid-way along the track to Wreck Beach adjacent to the entrance from Jolleen Crescent, Shoal Bay, there is a significant local Aboriginal shell midden.

A midden is a mound made up of the remains of  shells, fish bones, charcoal, the bones of mammals and sometimes tools. They are generally found at important sites where Aboriginal people have gathered. In coastal areas, they are found near places of good fishing or abundant shellfish, near rocky headlands and estuaries.[ Port Stephens - Great lakes Marine Park, Teacher Fact Sheet, Module 4 Sea and Country].

This midden is located on the steep incline up from the shoreline of Shoal Bay and has obviously been uncovered by the excavation of the fire trail which is the present day track. It extends over a large area.
It is also quite deep as indicated by the various layers which are evident in the photos below. It would have been laid down over a considerable period of time and would hold much Aboriginal history.

Aboriginal midden on the Wreck Beach track showing various layers

 A front-on view of the layered midden on the Wreck Beach track
A closer view of the shells in the midden
Also nearby the Jolleen Crescent entrance to the walking track, there is an Aboriginal scarred tree. These trees were carved out by Aborigines for various purposes such as building canoes or shields. This one would probably be for a spear. There are several examples of scarred trees around Port Stephens including the "canoe" trees at Little Beach

Aboriginal scarred tree  - near  Joleen Crescent, Shoal Bay
As an interesting sideline, there is a photo, from the Australian Museum, of a re-creation of the Aboriginal technique of tree carving. This can been found on the Information board in parkland at Carlingford, NSW, along Hornsby Council's Pioneer Track just near the Roselea Public School.


The Nelson Bay, Port Stephens and Newcastle area is rich in early Australian history.
If you are interested in researching Australian history go to our website at :

All photos taken October 2012

Blog prepared by Mary McGuinness


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