Southern Caver

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Southern Caver
Series Title:
Southern Caver
Gregory Middleton ( suggested by )
Southern Caving Society
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Applied Speleology ( local )
Regional Speleology ( local )
Resource Management ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


General Note:
The Southern Caving Society was formed in April 1965 and in July 1967 commenced publication of "Southern Caver" as its quarterly newsletter. At the time of the 1996 amalgamation of SCS with the Tasmanian Caverneering Club, it was agreed that Southern Tasmanian Caverneers would continue to publish "Southern Caver" in the form of an occasional paper as and when suitable material was available. The publication has in fact appeared approximately annually in recent years and has generally carried reprints of otherwise difficult to obtain reports relating to caves in Tasmania.
Open Access - Permission by Publisher
Original Version:
Vol. 12, no. 4 (1981)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
K26-03769 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.3769 ( USFLDC Handle )
21397 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0157-8464 ( ISSN )

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Karst Information Portal

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Full Text
The Southern Caving Society was formed in April 1965 and
in July 1967 commenced publication of "Southern Caver" as its
quarterly newsletter. At the time of the 1996 amalgamation of
SCS with the Tasmanian Caverneering Club, it was agreed that
Southern Tasmanian Caverneers would continue to publish
"Southern Caver" in the form of an occasional paper as and
when suitable material was available. The publication has in
fact appeared approximately annually in recent years and has
generally carried reprints of otherwise difficult to obtain
reports relating to caves in Tasmania.


ISSN 01 57-8464 P1 Postal Aaaress: r.u. BOX lzl, Moonah, Tasmania, 7009 Cl U b Room: 132 Davey Street, Hobart, 7000 D.Ell iott, leton (N.P.W.S.) Registered for posting as a periodical Category B Price : $2.00 VOLUME 12 NUMBER 4 MAY, 1981 Contents Page An Introduction to the Fraser Cave Discovery.. S. Harris ...................... Days in a Wilderness K. Kiernan A Narrative of an Archaeological Expedition to the Frank1 in River ...................... S. Harris Fraser Cave Date ............................. K. Kiernan Cave Archaeology The Tasmanian Potential ... Don Ranson Area Reports .............................. S. Eberhard Ile du Golfe .............................. S. Eberhard Map of Holocaust ............ S. Eberhard & R. Eberhard


AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FRASER CAVE DISCOVERY Stephen Harris Impetus for the two archaeological expeditions into the Wild Rlvers region early this year was given by the Hydro Electric Commission's environmental impact statement. That document stated that there was no evidence of archaeological sites in the southwest. The archaeology and anthropology component of the EIS was more or less dismissed in one line. On one hand there was slight justification for this. The prevailing belief was that aboriginal man never ventured into the interior of the southwest. Indeed, Rhys Jones (in a 1974 book by Tindale), on the basis of statements by Robinson (13 Mar. 1830:128), claimed that "There were no routes leading inland across the mountains to central and eastern Tasmania and the aborigines did not go thereff although there had been vague ethnological evidence of routes inland. For example, in 1832 W. S. Sharland noted signs of a recent burn on the Loddon Plains and in 1840 James Calder found recently occupied huts near Frenchmans Cap. On the basis of ethnographic information and lack of sites disz covered, Jones in 1974 produced a map showing the whole inland southwest and the inland core of the west coast thought to havt: been unoccupied (see map on page be 1. l 2hys Jones had estimated a southwest tribe to comprise about 4 bands with a total population of 300 a group whose activities oriented about the coast and who travelled the long coastal distances between Recherche Bay and Port Davey, and between Port Davey and Cape Grim in the northwest. The dense and prolific midden sites scattered along the west and south coasts testified to the marine orientation. Until the last couple of years a vast core of the southwest produced no archaeological evidence for prehistoric man. On the other hand, no-one had seriously looked for it. l The Tasmanian National Farks and Wild]-ife Service however, belisved that some basic reconnaisance should have been carried Southern Caver 67 May 1981


v (source: %vs Jones 1974) e Local residence of a band Tribal boundary MW FROY Reporr on the Gordon fiver Power Development Appendix V: Draft Ehvircmntal Seaterrtent. Hvdm-Electric Comnission,Tasmia. November 1979. "?HERE ARE NO KNOWN ABORIGINAL SITES IN THE PROJECT AREA.'' Sou them Caver 68 May 1981


2. 37,TEN\rSi"34;N M9riAINE-Surface site. KimN.??.I ,K .\h;'. iCI8rl j fs?eistcc~ne G:;j&tFon -of The Central West '3oas-t Range ,Tasnm?.s. ih~uh.'%esLs, 'i~~iv. c:rf Ta~~nia.


out, in the southwest. beforc any dismissal. :~f its archaeologicai-, potential. This opinion was stron4l.y supported also by the .zrchaeological move:nent. T!;e Prenli~r, Yr. Lowe, assured the Australian Ar~;haeologic,al Assoi:ia t io11 that investigation for prehistoric cites would be carri~d i>l>t in the area before damming. The Service seized the initiative and organised a trip for January 1981. Dr. Rtiyr, Jone:;, the3 well-krlowr. researcher or^ Tasmanian prp!i-story was i':'~iL ted to 3;-iompany this first sxpedition. T!~rrrwere grounds for some cauti9us optiniism. Sites had recent1.y been discovered on ttie f>ri,eos P? tt~c s~uttlwest, wi ldernes.;. A save was di~covered in the F!~r~ntine Valley in the 1470's at 400 m altitude, which produ(.sd aborlcinal artifacts in association with material dated at ippr~ximat~ly 20,000 vears aGo. Thin meant that during tt-~~ last glaciation 2bori~;ines occupied high inland sites where vegetation may have been open grassland in vall.eys. Sncw and ice would hav? covered sr~rroundin% peaks. ;r Also, Dr. Keith Corbett recvntly rpporteil the flndlng ~f prolifPic scatters of stonc tools on r idqps 3r012nd Oueenstown. These tools may havebee? left th~ [;rollnd Sefore the eristenc~ of the forest wtlich ~ot~~e ?i?th~d 31;~erl-t,nwnlq cradlir~o; r~dg~s. I:] January 1 1 3 National Park.; and Wildlife Service/Australian Nztiona? l1niv~r:itp expcditisr: f21~nd a core and scrapers on top of a riverins terrace rlear ihc rnol~ttl of the Denisan River. This was the first svidence c:!' ancir:~lt h~irnari occupation from the Wild Pivers region. Iri the Nichollz 2arlg~ arez? lim~~tone eaves and r'?rks!!elt,ers were :earthed in vain for evidence of prehistoric man. The incredibie irony was the discovery of an open sit? in a region heavily ver_otated by rainfore::t. T!le :;Parr 1.: had Seen concentrating or1 caves b~it by extraordinarv ~irz~ce, tools were found at a :;ite where a larci? mvrtlo tri~ had fallen over, reeling off t!le surface layer of gnat, tg rsvsal stone tools. .? Sou them Czver 7 0 Mm1 1981


< Following this discovery in January, the following month a Tasmanian Wilderness Society party discovered a rich deposit of man-made stone tools associated with numerous fractured animal bones in a cave on the Franklin River. It was a significant find. The archaeological expedition which followed this discovery, and organised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Nationai University, in March 1981 made world news. It has been stated by Dr. Jones that the Fraser Cave site is one of the six richest archaeological sites in the Western Pacific. Fraser Cave is now hopefully protected for all time from the threat of inundation. The Tasmanian Government on the 30th April 1981 proclaimed 195,200 hectares of Crown Land as the c Franklin-Lower Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. This proclamation was gazetted on the 6th May 1981 and came into 3 effect on 13th May 1981. This was a farsighted and significant action. Kevin Kiernan taking po l Zen samples from ezcavation in Praser Cave. Southern Caver 7 7 Map 1981


Kevi n Ki ernan We bundled ourselves and gmr out of the chopper as it leant one skid on a c:um of button grass one of few siuqs of the open plain the map had promised us, and which proved to be mostly thick tea-tree. On Goodwins Peak it looked worse much worse and our needle-in-the-haystack quest for a cave rsported there twenty or so years aao seemed daunting. Just any cave would n~t do. This cave was sppcia1,as it was reported to contain bones includi~q hwnan bones, pr~sumably those of an escapee from the Macquarie Harbour convict station. WP knew the area was cavernous Ian Cantle had reported caves on the lower Jane River between the Gilgarnesh and Humbaba gorges a couple of years before. Goodwins Peak rose westwards of the creek of the same name, which flows northwards along the western J margin of the limestone belt to join the Jane. But it was to be a quick trip, the Wilderness Society hoping for some publicity to counter plans to dam the Gordon below the Frank1 in. From my point of view it was a chance to get a look at a new area of limestone. Bob Brown and Bon Burton from the Wilderness Societv were with me as we set up camp by Goodwins Creek. kle quickly four^! the rock was in fact Gordon Limestone, and not dolomite as had previously seemed possible. Our first afternoon was spent initially following the creek downstream for a couple of kilometres, hoping to find a reported blazed route past the cave. Thp sun filtered throuoh onto the burgundv waters and reflected ever moving shadows and light upon the =lutpd limestone which overhung the stream. An inquisitive ~latypus snicfed at our toes, the^ lay back unimpressed. Here beneath the deep areen canopy we had found paradise but possibly a paradi se doomed to darnmi na. We found ourselves in a loncj canyon 5 me'-. ,-. .,, tu d bpdcious


e entrance to the stream, including its resurgence 300m away. Although incompletely erplored it was quite a respectable cave, and we were well satis'ied with the day A quick look upstream revealed nought. Vext ~n?~-rlSng, ou?. second daj/ in t.his wilderness, we climbed Goodwins Peak, ~otids~~ng how mrlv h?? preceded us onto this remote viewpoint. The smoke of S~~silf-ir~s 1ir;:ted v:'

corifirt 3rd s~ndf ng :IS duckins for cover. It was an unforgettable expera ience in a most awe i~s~irinq place. soft light ~f a clearing southwest evening escorted us out of Humbaba 91>-o the plac'c! wters of the lower Lane. I looked back with a sadness trvt is becoming habi tml frov wondering if I will ever see again so many bmdt? ful p! aces marked for consumption by man 'S material i stic greed. The water was overhung by Huon Pines and the peaks were wreathed in bands of mist as we slipped from the Jane into the broader waters of the Franklin. The mist gave way to a night sky lit by the flickering of distant lightening. (ii) An early morning visit to Frank1 in cave was rewarded by glow-worms and attractive cave decoration. Two alluvial fills are being eroded by the present stream, with flowstone developed upon the most recent. After another few hours we arrived at Fraser Cave. I had found the cave in 1977, during one of the early trips with the Sydney cavers. We had 3 noted bones in the cave, but thought nothing more of their possible origin after Montagu* I was quite interested in megafauna and keen to have another look. Rhys Jones' and Don Ranson 'S find of a corestone and several flakes on a Denison River terrace a few weeks before added a new dimension to the possi bi l i ti es. After making sure my companions knew where I had landed I headed inland to the cave and climbed down into the small gully in the entrance chamber where I remembered the bones were. Immediately I was struck by their abundance, but more importantly by the difficul ty in accounting for this accumulation by the usual mec hanisms: neither stream transport, natural pitfall or marsupial carnivore occupation was an adequate explanation. I carefully picked up a wallaby tibia and found it was broken in a manner suggestive of fracture while fresh, rather than due to damage in natural transport of the dead animal Others appeared burnt, another was split. Montagu in Tasmania's northwest is the locality of caves containing rich P1 ei stocene bone deposits discovered by Mr. Kiernan some years ago. W. Sou t hem Caver 74 May 1981


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Ksernsn res;l~~c'(~c~ !l??': tb sug~estion was i rlsul tiny 3rd that "wclat Mr. Braid i~ hi5 prnhlem . a11 I would 1 i k~ to do is aet on and do my work and ":he y7 i +ici?r; pv,?~~rs:;e", ?lw:wh:l0 the local "cavers" disinterest~!l?y cc;n::r;ued IC ?:I.-!: the.:!^ tj nnips. A57 Vjce Fresident, John Dunk1 ey, riep';oped the po; 'ltica: interu:erence in work oni the new site. Braid's ill i nformd sug9esti ons that outside experts check the cl aim col lapsed. One cf the experts in fact su~aested that no nydro scheme should be permitted 3 until the paten~iai oi the South-West, for archaeological material had been surveyed. The ABC pickad i!i~ the thew thas reputations and professional i~tegrity wsre bei~q irvpu~nd by the pro-VEC lobbyfsts, and apart from a Cew letters to the prpss the shoctirlg died. "irk M2cph2il. a palyologist Fro.; the ll?iversity of Tasmania, Geography ?eaqpcnent, qatiqp l :h9 pollen sarn~leq, and found evidence of a1 pine flora a': +"1 71 to, ,nl v sci\~r+ 13'3m above sea 1 pup1 4 few weeks after the find 1 rntii~r~c' ',o tb c?vv<'it? Dnrl qanrorl, Qyvs Janes (Senior Fellow in the Depzrtmcrlt oq P-eh;c?grv at the Australiar, National !lrl+versity) and a NP & I~:S team. A ?+m't~c: exca\~s??o~ roved the site to bp incredibly rich with ~orhaps 50,009 -Flakes and an equal number of bones recovered from a pit of 3 less than In". 'ragments of Darwin Glass, an impactite associated with a veteorite crate. in tne Andrew Ya11 ~y to th~ Md were found among the tool S. @hvs Jones compared Fr3ser Cave to the cl assic orehistoric sites of France


* which stone sites he had worked on in his youth. He suggested it is the richest limecave site, and "one of the most important and richest prehistoric ever found in Australia". It was, he claimed, the site for which he had dreamed during his 16 years in Australia. Again the cameras whirled and the presses pressed. In 1977 a number of caves were named after the political figures who would decide their fate. When Fraser Cave was named the Prime Minister wrote expressing his personal thanks, and indicated he considered it an honour. Imnediately after finding the artefacts I wrote and informed him in cnnfidence of the situation. He rep1 ied wishing every success for the work orl this "exciting and important discovery" and asked to be kept informed. FollowSng the excavation trip it became possible to reveal the full story, a1 though it had leaked to at least one political journal ist from the Prime Minister 'S Office. The Tasmanian Chamber of Industries was not amused, sug~esting the smokescreen story of a new cave was "reprehensi blew. Some 1 etters to the editor 0 took the opposite position, one deploring "this display of crass ignorance by these l atter day industrial troglodytes" and head1 i ned "Chamber of C Horrors" by the newspaper concerned. Another advised "my son has an encyclopedia which tells me all I want to know about aboriginals and prehistoric man". Pol i tical reporter Hendri k Gout from TVT6 Hobart, visited the cave wf th a cameraman during the dig and sold his brief documentary item national l y. Nor was the Tasmanian Nomenclature Board amused. The contributions of this body to humanity had i ncl uded denouncing the Sydney Speleological Society for "gross impertinence" in naminq caves outside their own state. The Board itself had given the name Lake Pedder to the artificial impoundment which drowned the true lake, thereby he1 ping confuse the public into thinking the Pedder was merely being enlarged. The name "Fraser Cave" did not amuse them as they opposed so immortali sinq l ivinq p01 i ticians. Their vehement ~rotests drew a question in State Parliament from Democrat, Dr. Sanders: klas it true that Mr. Kiernan, in common with such explorers of Tasmania as Captain Cook and Abel Tasman named his cave after "a contemporary existinq politica'l figure, to whit, Malcolm Fraser?" Two ministers &v the!.vi Gal-m 7 7 Map i9t3i


Ps :be recetlt. ~'zi f, drew to a I sl i pped away quietly one evening --r:r :.TT? 3~:y.e ayrj rqj a t d. Doscendinq i~to tb little F36 depression wst of Craser Caw. L visfited a limestone rock she1 ter set beside the sn?!-led roots cf an 0'6 nyrtle tree. It was an idyllic spot and I felt a gp~s~r:e T co~!lci ?9!. exp1;rin. It WAS like beivu drawn towards something. 3 h,?rie pr?tril~!K! fwm tli.~ clay. I squatted iq the entrance of this cosy sk-ber, aqd qzer! oilJ: 'nto the dri~~in? forests as the darkness rolled in. Reachin? dmw, I found a stone tool ic mv hand, and my mind vanished again c?ngtl?er ~gr? C' . . . . .


A NARRATIVE OF AN ARCHA53LOGTCAL EXPEDITION TO THE FRAMKLIN RIVER Stephen Harris '\ftcr tk~e zucresc of the flrst archaeological expedition into the wild rlvcrs region, which rysultpd in t9e discovery of evera: anclent human artifacts high on a river bank, we were .rilr:~d for future clues to pr~hlrtoric human occupation of + *rn reElon. As soon as Kevin Kiernan's party returned to Hobart, they contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service and planning b?qan immediately for a second expedition into the wild rivers area, The party would comprise Dr. Rhys Jones, A.N.U. (eminer,t prel-,i.storian) ; Kevin Kiernan, University of Tasmania ~~e~morphologist); Don Ranson, N.P.W.S. (archaeologist); sarry Slain, N.P.W.S; Greg Middleton, N.P.W.S. (speleologist :~inci coordinator of the expedition); and myself. Bob Eurton of tile Tzsmanian Wilderness Society assisted the expedition in + F' L !A:; ~nal days. O!ir journey began on Macquarie Harbour on Monday the 9th March, wit,h some of us and our gear travelling in the James Kelly, while other equipment with Blain 2nd Middleton, travelled in 11. L~le jnt boat with Peter Davis, the Strahan based N.P.W.S. r-znger. Ai the terminus of the Kelly's trip on thp Gordon (Marble Cliffs) p~ter Davis took on board the remaining gear and personnel and bl~nded back up to Shingle Island on the Lower Franklin River 1n1hPre he had unloaded earlier. 'Tbe weather :;tartpd to fold into raln and mist. The punt and t9e rubber "Beaufort" boat were loaded so high with gear that L!? were seriously beginning t,r, 'consider whether we shou1.d have l;;-. make two trips. .;,?xtF,ern Caver


. f-,ii,;~ir!g mr!.ni:~g it, wa:; sti; l r-2 i!l;!lF 2nd 01:r firl::t. desire IsJ;iC; t_,-, p!.%c-.r.: .. -; pcr.r.-:2r-15nt .:?rnn. An excr?llent rampsit? 10, jI; I* --g v. A fire pit, ;:: I, or piP! tI +S t 1 Our m :; I. l!:= i;ni! .:nor: tool: or, : coslr inviting : v!,? :; :l !., 6: ,-Q ,? t i,j -., :..rail rrn!:,L-,-> ,ir'l:-t,~-d thrcllgt: L"l ttrees. -,. . r1-r::~ bj-ll.; !,;:!,--, LJ?1Lj.r;>? >.


locality and Barry investigated possible helicopter landing sites up the river. We had been informed before we left Hobart, that Bob Burton would guide a TVTh film crew into the site during our work there. On Wednesday the actual digging commenced. Everyone was employed as a link in the chain from the excavation to the sieve and over the next days of digging we were to alternate duties. We found it was much more efficient to wet sieve the material rather than dry sieve it. The wet sieving was done in the river down by the boats. By early afternoon plastic bags full of stone tools and aniaal bones began to pile up. These "finds" comprised the overwhelming proportion of the buckets of excavated material ~ipped into the sieve. The friable loamy matrix "melted" away after only 3 souple of washes, revealing glistpning stone tools of handsome quality, along with huge amounts of broken bone. Despite theawkward conditions involved in sieving, especially on the days it was raining, each person taking his turn was constantly delighted at each tray of material. It became totally absorbing pickins over the trays before emptying them into the bulging plastic bags. The bags piled up at an astonishing rate. In the cave the stratigraphy began to show a complex pattern of 2lternating layers variously comprising burnt clay, charcoal, bone and tgois, with occasional sterilt layers, sometimes inter:paving. The evenines after work were always happy times. Occasionally, some of the party worked late into the evening in the cave completing a spit excavation or measuring and taking notes. When there was still light after our work, time was spent sitting quietly on a bluff overlooking the river, quietly infusing our ,onsciousvess with the incredible beauty of the wilderness. As the towering silhouettes of the rainforest beside the river darkened, it was time to return to the warmth and cosiness of the C i~re. We had made ourselves very cornf'?rtable there. The sounds cf sizz1i:lg frying pans and bubbling billies at the evening meal Sovthern Cover 81 May 1981


rT. > 1 < 't ,;l L:: .., .; U rolled ucn? us. Rarrv and Kelriri were usually out of ., . ;: .L L!. irlt? ;;:?am r;sL!lg from a fresh brew and curling C:O G'L ,.~ly intc the oarly rnorninq light was a welcome sight to the c~ra~,qii?rs. Rhys and I took a turn in the cave while Don ::l iived. i:?::-L.,ji and Greg continued their accura t~ surveving of f,ris i:3~<2, %c13 Kevin recorded ~bservations on the cave's georzorphoiogy. Due to rain the prnvinus night and a rising riY:::r, 3:;rrp 2nd I later !?e=lded ~~pstr~arn to lo~k for an alternative helicopter site. We proved correct in suspecting that CirlF3 originally c5osen would be under water. We wPre begin??.ng 5o be sceptical as to whether t,9e film crew would ,-~?riv?. Ths plastic bag of "finds" were heir15 stacked at the campsite 3 ~lon,~side the fond ar~d t,hey were looking like a large wall. We began to worry about how to get the stuff safety back to civili.I nation. Certainly we reduced our luqgage by the food we ate bu: this in no way compensated for the huge pile of archaeologir3l material. We had arrived at the site clinging like wet rzts to t,he tap of our gear piled aboard a small duck punt and a rl.;bker dinghy. Both had minimal freeboard. We knew however, that !do would cet '3ur finds out even if we had to carry it all on our Pack;. Yov~ment ~bout the campfire wasn't without its hazards. Dank, dirty and crumpled clothing !lung from makeshift clotheslines !I:id~.r the tarp and near the fire. If you weren't careful to look w+ere you were going you could easi1.y get a faceful of somebody's drying underpants, hanging out for an airing after a few days ~f service. There was also the p:roblem of accidentally wipin6 yolir ncse on a pair of socks, or an old shirt would fall -. off the ~lne and come close to landing in the stew. Sout7zern Cc;?er 8 2 May 1982


The Sound of heavy rain on canvas awoke us on Friday morning and it wasn't to cease all day. Unfortunately for me it was my turn to sieve and I just put my head down and became absorbed in the work ignoring the potentially miserable situation. Water obscured my vision through my glasses and trickled over my face, while heavier rain forced itself through the seams of my japara. An occasional piece of Darwin glass or some other interesting ~bject in the trays served to channel my thoughts into quiet and comfortably narrow contemplation. A large billy of hot water was kept next to the fire all day so that hot mugs of tea could chase away a little of the coldness. Saturday came with fine weather and we were already engrossed in work when someone reported hearing a helicopter. Soon it appeared right above us, hovering, circling and then headed up river to land. The chopper disgorged it's passengers out of sight upstream and Barry raced off in the punt to pick them up. The rest of the day went quickly as we continued our work at greater pace in order that we might accomplish our task before leaving the camp the following day. Work was performed partly before the camera and was punctuated by interviews and explanations on film. The helicopter returned later in the day to pick up its passengers and we leapt at the offer to carry 9ut the large weight of bags of excavated material. Zunday came too quickly. Breaking camp is always a melancholy / event. Bob burton of the Wilderness Society stayed behind after the helicopter had left to volunt~er his assistance. We were glad of the extra pair of hands, particularly during the portages on our homeward voyage. It rained heavily on Sund2y and the Frankiin River rose steadily. By the time we reached the Gordon we were all chilled by the cold. Camp was made overnight on the Lower Gordon River anid the squalor of an abandoned H.E.C. campsite. Southern Caver 8 3 May 1981


FRASER K. K1 C!~arcoal from t11e basal ( has been assayed by the i 19,000 + 1100 BP (ANIJ 271 ~resent at Fraser Cave b( ditiovs during the late I after 18,800 + 500 BP (A! cQast range (Kiernan 1980) Whereas literally only a small handful of Pleistocen~ ctone tocls had previously been recorded from Tasmania, the Fraser Cave find and dat~ changes the situ3tion dramatically, with probably hundreds of thousands of tools present in the cave. Some of the upper horiznnC m2V of course still be Holocene. The extra or dinar:^ pis 9f the find, together with its %reat zntiouity. 3re immense interest. Moreover if the magnitude of the ~5tatidard deviat,i?n rsflects contamination c~f th~ mineralised rharcoal by humic acid from the surfqce, th? tru,? . d3tf


EE~.?iTc-mt<,?n ,f ~.~mestons areas s:./zk zn 9& hcve revecled the Krc.@emp of may limestone caves almr kkc. c7ardon ad Franklin .F'

CAVE ARCHAEOLOGY THE TASMANIAN POTENTIAL Don Ranson Caves have long held an attraction for man, acting for thousands of years as focii for his occupation, industry and ritual. With the recent confirmation of the presence of archaeological deposits in Fraser Cave (Anon, 1981a, b,c; Brown, 1981 ; Dywer, 1981 ; Harris 1981a; Kiernan, 1981 ; Roberts, 1981 ) first noted simply as a "bone deposit" by Mr. Kevin Kiernan (Middleton, 1979a ,b) following hi s rediscovery and subsequent naming of the cave in 1977, it is perhaps pertinent to discuss the range of past human activities that may be found in Tasmanian caves. Such a discussion may not only he1 p to increase the awareness and enjoyment of caves by cavers, but will hopefully stimulate further exploration for evidence of this island's exciting past. Caves have offered through time fixed and re1 iable areas for protection and shelter. They have a1 so inspired a certain awe and reverence which has led in the past to their association with ritual and magic. (It may not ., be an exaggeration to suggest that thi S association continues to thi S day given the pecul iar habits and customs of some elements of our society in crawl ing around in them!) Thi S continuing use over the years has caused, in particularly favoured caves, metres of well preserved man-made deposits to build up on their floors. Archaeologists are therefore particularly attracted to caves, for while man has continued to occupy many niches in the environment, it is caves, by their very richness and ease of identification in comparison. to "open sites" that enable the researcher to focus more readily into the past. In fact most of our present understanding of Tasmanian prehistory has been gained through the examination and excavation of caves and rockshelters (Jones, 1966:Z-6, 1971; Bowdler, 1974a, b, 1975, 1979; Goede, 1977a, b; Vanderwal 1977; Murray et al., 1980). It cannot be overemphasised how important caves are to the archaeologist. By their very nature they confine and channel human activity and the deposits thus formed offer concentrated palimpsests of human endeavour v Sou them Caver 8 7 May 1981


1: sL:?~::ld ?nC -,j?~ ... thoi~cbi :;:at zrchaeoloqists are interested only in these ? ,^ ; ,.-,-, C ; L .05. :;!er C,~;~F:S wit? ;I l irnited .-!n~rl~1-;t or a small scatter of ';i*+~',~c's :'n+,n~;t t(1.7) !-?~~,2rckr. TT: t3xt.n?r? nly previous analogy further, s~ir' .,rv?l qvunq of find5 can hn considnrec! as important "chaptersu in 4 -:?,L ';:y\/ c "hp L -":S arc'laeoiogy moves away from the sim~le antiquar. ., ,.. a ,.. + P' t5e earlv D?)": of this centur,y, :he "col1 ecting for collecting's sal/,,', 2nd W:-e towrds be'nq a science in its own right, more information is ?!:l. to be extracted from less and l ?ss. A fraqnent of bone for i~stz~co. car be readily identified as to the species of animal it origina teS from. 11 sval l coJlection of bones can provide information in hunting -A,. L\: ,.--?gy; wh8t ;pxies of animal S, age, weight and sex were preferred. '.-,c:: <~:ch a col 1 ~t'isn, rnconstruc.tions of the inhabitants' diet can be va.ic. their efFic!'ency ss hunt.ers, their butchering practices even the sms9q of ths year thac :;~ev made a particular kill. Similarly, the stone twis they left behind can inform us as to their aptitude as artisans, their know1 edae of +hp local geology, their trade and transport routes for ~mti t .n? tp'-iii ew.? Some resmrc hers claim the identification of @artic!:l a. i-li vir?u;(.l too;wkers !I\/ their c haracteri stic "fingerprint" or uniqde wzy of f!akiviq stone. I do not in:?;\? tc dwel'i c,n archa~oloaical methodology, but mention the cctential that, is held I?:/ wen s, s'nqle find in order to stress to readers tr~ intsrest c" ~rc?aeoio~i sts in the ap~arently mundane, and to encourage the re;? of an:/ .i

L. deposits I have outlined in the remaining part of this article a simpl ified "Identikit" method for discovering and indentifying caves of archaeolocial interest. "Caves" mean different thinqs to archaeologists than they do to speleologi sts. Perfectly respecta bl e caves from the spel eoloqical viewpoint might be shrugsed off in passing by archaeologists (e.g., Harris, 198lb:s). Caves that may be dismissed out of hand by speleologists will attract the avid attention of archaeologi sts for weeks. For instance, dark damp caves with large bodies of water in them would have been avoided in the past being too uncomfortabl e for prolonged occupation. Large, dry, we1 l -l it caves offering good prospects may a1 so be archaeoloqically sterile simply because they have been flushed out periodically by flowing water. Conversely, relatively open "rockshelters", that is, areas below overhanging cliffs or large boulders offerinq shelter for wind and rain may be eminently suitable, yet would not readily attract a caver's attention. *** Archaeologically interesting caves fa1 l into four general categories: l. Horizontal caves found in karsts. Usual ly we1 1-1 it c hambers with fairly open accessi bl e entrances. Occupation may be found to the rear, especial l y if secondary roof entrances provide l ight. Ideally are dry, though many contain small bodies of running water. Not subject to periodic fl oodinq and consequent destruction of deposit Usually associated with a distinct earth talus at the entrance. No specific size entrance chambers can vary from a few square metres in extent with little head-room, upwards in size. 2. Horizontal Caves. Found in pseudokast. For example sea caves in dolerite. as for (l). 3. Rockshelters. Usual l y found in sand stone country though common wherever provides overhanging cl iffs, large hollow at the base of c boulders under which a dry, sheltered area can be gained. probably not be defined as a "cave" by speleoloqists. U ,'c,iti?err, C(:*~er 8 9 Specifications the topography liffs, or large This type would


4. Pot-ho-ies or shafts. a I i at. No4 inhabited, hut by t.L:cCr \:i?rj: formation act a; r~atlli-a* tr3~s for a~iml S and material The depos3ts at their base provide ancil'ary information for tF,e archaeologi st, e climatic and vegetation change, charcoal Once a cave or rockshel ter has been ident g., evolution of fauna,

Fig. 1 Examples ?f split wallaby l'3ng b-nes that 9ave been split to extract the marrow. Flg. ; a) inlallabv l~rgbone st-rarp~ned at one end to mak~ a "hntl~ point". b! ~II~IP ,qr~lir~d at 0710 end to form a spatula. Souf;hsrn Caver May 1981


Fig. 3 Examples of stone tools. (i-iii) various aspects of a "notched" scraper, most likely used for planing back of a branch to form a spear. iv) simple f1.y~ that could have been used in cuttins. (a) striking platform where hammer stzne was brou

Fig. 4 An example of a hand-st,encil produced by spraying ochre frcrn the mouth fin to the cave wall; the persons hand being used as a stencil.


e) ROCK ART. Can be of two types: paintings 01pecked engravings of circi es, l ines or rows of dots (Fiqs. 4 & 5). No rock enaravings have yet been disco\,:rcd ;:I Tasmanian caves. Only two na;ntir~q sites ihih'~h exhibited hand stmcil s, have found (De TP: jqa and Bryden, 1958, Stockton, 1975). Rock art is common on the mainland and further Tasmanian examples arp bound to come to ligM as cave exploration progresses. 3efnra entering a cave, examine the talus for eroding areas to see if 3nu stone flakes or bones are present. Caves were used for she1 ter at qiqh: and in periods of inclenent weather. During the day many activities occurred outside the mouth of the caves and artefacts would have been C deposited aroc~nd the entrance outside the drip lioe. On entering the cave closely examine the cave floor in the naturally l it areas for remains o' fjres 2nd artefacts. If drippjng water from the roof has washed hollows in the cave floor, look for evidence that may have been revealed. If qtream beds are present, check them for artefacts that have been washed out of the deposits. Examine the sides of the gullies for artefacts eroding out of the sections. Movina into the cave check the roof for soot marks ad the base of the walls where concreted artefacts and "bone Sreccia" may remajn. Examine the wall s for art. If areas to the rear of the cave are i l i umi na ted by day1 i sht enteri na through secondary passages in the roof, examine these areas carefully as they could be likely activity areas. Finally as you pass into the deeper recesses of the cave there is still the faint chance that evidence may be present. In some cases ritual evidence, engravings, paintings, artefact caches, have been found many hundreds of metres in from cbve entrances. Of course written instructions can never take the place of on-site field


F 5 An example of rock-engraving produced by pecking at the rock with sharp, hard stone. training. Yet it is almost a truism that many archaeological sites are not found by trained archaeologists but rather by interested members of other professions and occupations. In a special ised field such as this, where very few archaeologists are also cavers, it is still possible for members of the caving body to make major discoveries. This is especially so of Tasmania where the potential for cave archaeology is only just being real i sed. ******** Author's Note It is illegal to collect or excavate for aboriginal artefacts without a permit. It is a1 so ethically wrong for an artefact to be taken out of its context. Only the artefact within its context can he1 p archaeologists understand the past. If you find evidence of early man don't disturb it. Instead record it by way of notes and/or photographs and contact: National Parks and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 210, Magnet Court. Sandy Bay. 7005 Tel : 30 6487


Bowdl er, Sarrdra, 1974b P1 pistocerle date for man in Tasmania, Nature 2.52, 597 -60s. De Teliga, S. and Bryden, W., 1958 Tote on Tasmanian Aboriginal Drawings. ?CW's P,. PrmwpL?7m _"ai)c~*, 1 2 (4 ) Yarris, Stephen, 1981 b 4rchaeological Expedition to the South West. Ta.-)nav-:.;.n fcv.@orwL;c?i Tlr~st Yaxi:ott,-r, NO. 140 (part 1 ) April 1981 and No. 141 (part 2) May 1981 Jones, Rhys, 1966 A speculative archaeological sequence for North-west Tasmania in 'C i)-~'-'3: &Pc) (,?ldrl~~ I';ot7p 96 ,%U 19R:


Jones, Rhys, 1971 Rocky Cape and the Problem of the Tasmanians, Ph.D. thesi S, Uni versi ty of Sydney. Kiernan, K., 1981 Days in a Wilderness, Southern Caver, l2(4). Middleton, G., 1979a Sydney Speleological Society Franklin River Expedition, 1 977, Journal of the Sydnep SpeZeoZopicaZ Society 23(3) : 51 -91 Middleton, G., 1979b Wilderness Caves of the Gordon Franklin River System. Centre for Environmental Studies, Occasional Paper 11. Murray, P.F., Goede, A. and Bada, J .L., 1980. Pleistocene Human Occupation at Beginners Luck Cave, Florentine Valley, Tasmania, Archaeo Zogu and Physical AnthropoZoLq?r of Oceania 15: 142-1 52. Roberts, Peter, 1981 Prehistoric cave hailed as an archaeological treasure house, The Age, 19th Flarch, p.3. Stockton, J., 1975 Preliminary Description of Aboriginal Art in Megs Mit Cave Site, Tasmania, A. I.A.S. Site Recorders Nmsletter, 1 Vanderwal R .C ., 1 977 The Shag Bay Rockshel ter, Tasmania, The Artefact 2f4) :l 61 -170. Southern Caver


7, I he 24th Janaar~f was tho Seo'nriing of a t?t+ee day trip t~ thi S area by Leiah Gleeson, Qolan Eberhard, Aleks Terauds and Phi1 Jackson. Low water level s ensured a throlri;? trip ircir: Georoics H211 to Dan~erous cave where some talus bashing resulted in the discovery of lOOm of spacious stream ?i-'sC?qes. bmstrearn tierherts Pot as a1 so patronised but no notable di scbveries were made. IBA BAY Fiq Tree Pot (IS?) was located by T.C.C. in 1967 but not entered until ,Janury l PS0 wqen V.U.C.C. descended a series of pitches (30m, 15m, 12m, .l I ,l m res~ective1:y) before beinq ha1 ted on the edge of a big drop. On Christmas Day, 1980, Stefan Eberhard accompanied David Barlow, Carey Mvlan, Mark Wilson, Shane Wilcox (S.S.S) and Ed Garnett (C.T.C.G.) on the further exoInv9~n of this cave. Ootimistically, 7h of rope was l owered clown the drop Sut another 50r7 had to be added before the bottom was reached. David and Shane abse~led into a llh shaft of massive prooorti3ns. It ws confj6ently assumed that IR9 would lead into Exit cave but orogress was unexyectedl y ha1 ted at a grotty, muddy sump some 200m down (see tackle description and map in J.S.S.S., 1981, 25(2)). In early Januarv Stefan and Rolan Eberhard explored a spectacular 42m


shaft on the northern side of Marb l e Hi1 l The h01 e was dubbed Holocaust (see survey elsewhere in this issue). A search for Hobbit Hole and Re1 evation cave proved frui tl ess The following month, the same party entered a small hole (1 004) located close to Mini Martin. A 15m pitch followed immediately by a 30m drop onto a small ledge brought an impressive view of the main pitch in Mini Martin 1004 is the origin of the large fissure in Mini 'Martin. An extra 50-6011 of rope would be required to continue right through to Mini Martin proper, On the l st March, Fred Kool hof and Steve Harris exposed some film in Exit Cave. One elaborate mu1 tiflash exposure of the stream passage took ha1 f an hour to complete. JUNEE/FLORENTINE a In late December, Stefan Eberhard partic David Barlow, Carey Mylan, Shane Wilcox, Garnett (C.T.C.G.). On the 27th Cauldron Pot was bottomed by ipated in a trip to this area with Mark Wil son (S.S.S) and Ed Stefan, David, Mark, Shane and Ed d urn the in an enjoyable six hour trip. Relatively high water levels in Khazadmade for a wet but sporty eleven hour trip for the who1 e party, on 2% h. On the following day Stefan, Ed and Mark visited Serendipity. The undescended waterfall pitch was surpassed and the narrow meandering streamway followed down via 4m and 15m pitches to a significantly larger drop. Lack of gear prevented the descent of thi S obstacle. A return trip the next day with David, Carey and Shane had to be aborted due to a car breakdown. Ed and Shane were therefore given the epic task of derigging the cave. Further exploration of Serendipity by S. Eberhard, R. Eberhard, P-Jackson, 3outhem Camr 9 9 ,Va;.: 19 R 1


Plli: i ,.lackcot: was among a party of T .C .C. hods a\?d W .A.S ,G. members which , . ., ,> -, 5 c, ,-! ::, \. ;. .. .. . ,.. ,. ;,,-:r.n! ill ::/lF l~\,;r,r cf ;::-i;;;!inq Swgf:et on +!:,L L# ,,l 7th January. ,-. :hi. 21::'? ??i;.-:!--v Staai-t Niciizlas led a ~?rty of Ga3ff "isher (T.C.C .), 90!?~ Eher%rd 3rd Stefsn Eberhard t:, 'The Chairmrl where several hours were speyt, pi~r,hi ng f!lr-t her downstrear !! n th! s very extensive system. Acknowledp?nts rust g=! to the sherpas, Trevor Wailes, Malcolm and Bruce. The lath Parch saw a trip to the Flor~ntine Vali ey where Andrew Briggs iT .C.C .), Stsfan Eberhard and Rolan Eberhard visited the horizontal extension in Tassy Pot, r~entl y discovered by S .U.S .S. The significance U of the discovery was certzinly verified with the neaotiation of at least 2 kilometm 9' spacious, decorated stream passage. Numerous side passages r-~fniai P urlches ked A downstream extension was found, encompassi ng some 150n horizontally and perhaps 10rn greater depth. in early April, S. Eberhard led a visitor on a trip to a swallet hole located on a previous scrub bashing trip. A cold, wet 25m pitch was iadrl~red +r! a depth of 6h but continued descent of the Ice Tube was ha1 ted at a 30m plus ~aterfal l pitch. 3n April 11 t?. Rolsrl Eberhard. St~fan Eberhard and Andrew Briggs (T.C.C .) forrn~d a small team which bottomed Yhazad-dun via the Dwarrowdel f route in ? hours. GOODNINS CREEK Over the 6th, 7th and 8th February, Kevin Yiernan, toqether with Bob ,7;70~ t??p-vi Cctr~ r 10'3 ?%7, 19P1


.. Burton and Bob Brown, visited this previously unexplored l imestone area which is currently under threat by the Gordon below Franklin H .E.C. project. Goodwins Ck. itself was found to sink into a cave 300m long whilst time did not permit the examination of other cave entrances. Exit was made through the impressive Jane River gorge. FRANKL IN On the 9th and 10th February, Kevin Kiernan, Bob Burton and Bob Brown visited Frank1 in cave, Bingham Arch and Fraser cave; finding abundant evidence of aboriginal occupation in the latter. SPENCE RIVER This new l imestone outcrop was located by Kevin K of the Spence River, south-west of Mt. McCutcheon efflux was found. 4 I Snuthern Cover iernan on the west bank A smal l impenetrabl e


C, -I= U' -7 7 h ro v v s 0 h aJ n Q, C, m L C, W 'L W a C, 0 c U -r U m m W > m U m OJ U? L W E 0 U_ h 7 C, C .* a a rc .. F I C1 'tCL' 5c:


ILE DU GOLFE ,;;;' W ----;,, ,c ~ock'y,, Plains',. Pt. Vivian Sout hem Caver May 1951


ASF Grade 4.3 Flow s\-one


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