Tag Archives: Macassans

Pozible campaign is officially launched!

Ancient Australia Unearthed is a unique book for kids that uses archaeology to teach Australia’s ancient history.

Over the past six months, I’ve had heaps of teachers ask me for information – websites, books or anything else useful – that will help them teach the new Australian Curriculum history topic ‘Ancient Australia’. This unit is all about the Indigenous past, and while there are a handful of amazing online activities for kids, there are a total of zero comprehensive books devoted to this topic for a high school audience.

21Yep. Zero.

Powerful and well-funded bodies such as Veterans Affairs provide a wealth of information and activities for topics like Gallipoli and the Vietnam War, but Ancient Australia – an equally important part of our history – has been sorely neglected.

I intend to change that.

As an archaeologist, I have the knowledge and expertise to analyse the science. As a teacher, I understand what is required to translate this academic language into plain English. And as a writer, I have the skills to do just that.

PROBLEM: Large slabs of information about Ancient Australia are locked away in archaeology reports and academic journal papers. And which teachers have a month to sift through a pile of scientific articles and then turn that information into fun classroom activities? None that I know!

SOLUTION: I’ll do the research then translate the academic language into plain English. I’ll add a stack of exciting classroom activities along with heaps of great pictures, illustrations and games. That way, teachers can spend more time on the fun and less time on the work.

I’m working hard to have this book ready for the beginning of Term 1 in 2014. But without funding, I won’t meet that deadline, and if I miss the deadline, then kids and teachers will miss out too, because I’ll have to find another way to pay for design and print, and that could take a long time.

Visit pozible.com/ancientaustralia for more information. Donate, and I’ll send you some great Ancient Australia Unearthed merchandise!

Like this hat!
Like this hat!
Or this magnet!
Or this magnet!

But I can’t do this without your support!

So please spread the word, and help unearth the fascinating history of Ancient Australia!



Contact with the Macassans

During the last 1,000 years, Aboriginal groups along the Kimberley and Arnhem Land coasts had regular contact with sea voyagers from Macassar. These travelling merchants, known as the Macassans, brought with them metal objects such as harpoons, knives, fish hooks, and axe heads, as well as decorative items like pottery and beautiful cloth. In exchange, Aborigines provided turtle shells, pearls and safe passage through territorial waters and to country further inland.

People from both cultures travelled to and from Australia, including Aboriginal men and women to Macassar. The Macassans sometimes built permanent smokehouses and processing sites along the Australian coastline, such as the one at Barlambidj, where they lived in close proximity with local Aborigines.

Contact with the Macassans transformed Aboriginal coastal life. The introduction of metal tools altered the way food was collected and processed. Iron axes enabled people to build solid wooden canoes out of hollowed-out trees, rather than rely on the traditional bark canoes. The hollowed-out canoes were sturdier than the bark ones, and this allowed fishermen to travel further afield.

Metal implements altered fishing techniques, and ultimately changed people’s diet. Before Macassan contact, the diet of coastal Aboriginal communities consisted mainly of fish and shellfish. With metal fishing tools, people began to eat more turtle and dugong, as these animals were now easier to catch. This not only extended the variety in people’s diets, but it also became an important economic activity. In some cases, this even influenced aspects of cultural and spiritual practice, such as the return of turtle shell and dugong bones to the sea.