University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Wala-gaay Guwingal: A twentieth century Aboriginal culturally modified tree with an embedded stone tool

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 20:49 authored by Spry, C, Hayes, E, Kathryn AllenKathryn Allen, Long, A, Paton, L, Hua, Q, Armstrong, BJ, Fullagar, R, Webb, J, Penzo-Kajewski, P, Bordes, L
Aboriginal culturally modified trees are a distinctive feature of the Australian archaeological record, generating insights into Aboriginal interactions with wood and bark, which rarely survive in archaeological contexts. However, they are under-studied, in decline and typically presumed to pre-date the 20th century. Here we investigate the origin of a scar with a stone tool embedded in the scar overgrowth, located in the Central Tablelands, New South Wales, on Wiradjuri Country. We consider three datasets for this purpose: the tree and scar features; macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of the embedded stone; and chronology and age of the tree and scar. The origin of the scar and its relationship with the stone tool are unclear. However, the results, together with documentary and oral evidence, suggest that Aboriginal people quarried the stone and probably used it as a wedge to lever bark from the tree, or to make a sign. The results provide a rare glimpse into the continuation of Aboriginal cultural practices and knowledge transmission in the second half of the 20th century.


Publication title

Australian Archaeology








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Routledge Taylor & Francis Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Australian Archaeological Association

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connection to land and environment