Discovering the ancient past at Brewarrina


Tour guide Bradley Hardy discussing the history of the Brewarrina Fish Traps. Photo Layton Holley

“Cast your mind back,” Bradley Hardy, the tour guide at the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum, said as he looked toward an old black and white photo of the historic fish traps, “to a time long before the pyramids, long before Christ and his resurrection, and imagine an image of early Man, beginning to evolve and discover the arts and sciences of life.

“Imagine, and you will see our ancestors constructing the fish traps, the oldest example of engineering, as archaeologists and scientists have said, the oldest man-made structure on earth.”

For all we know, we still know very little about the origin of our species – how did we pass from irrational beasts to man, a being who, though at times acts irrationally, still has the power of reason?

Why or how this happened remains unclear, and perhaps forever will.

Still, if you take a trip down the Barwon River to Brewarrina, you can see how the initial seeds of reason began to grow; for if you examine the Fish Traps with a careful eye, you will find it constructed in such a way that, given the same task today, you will find it hard to improve.

“Archaeologists say that the fish traps are between forty thousand and one-hundred and fifty thousand years old,” Bradley picked up.

“They are built in a U or C shape facing downstream; people ask us, ‘why did they build them facing downstream?’


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