Australia rarely appears in the same sentence along with ancient or historical, given the fact that it’s a very young country with most of its written history commencing from 18th century when Europeans landed out here and decided to use it as a penal colony. However, in the discipline of archaeology, the Australia does occupy a larger space than one would assume, given its rich natural history and inhabitation of aboriginals on the land for thousands of years. Thus, Australian archaeology is normally classified into main forms – Aboriginal archaeology, Historical archaeology and Maritime archaeology. The actual concept of cultural heritage management involves the merging of all the three sub disciplines.
There are innumerable historical locations in Australia and the 7 most significant ancient historical sites to visit can be found below.
1. Captain Cook’s Landing place
In the year 1770, Lieutenant James Cook and his team landed and stayed at Botany Bay’s Inscription Point for eight days. Captain Cook’s Landing Place is located near the silver beach on the Kurnell peninsula headland and is considered as one of the most important tourist attractions in Sydney. While walking through the dunes of Burrawang walk, one can find the place where the crew was spotted and captain landed !
Image credited to Tripadvisor
2. Duyfken Point
Duyfken point is where the first European sighting of Australia occurred. The place doesn’t have much except for the few plane wrecks and memorials built on hilltops. William Janzsoon was the discoverer of this continent. The ride from Weipa to Duyfken point is the most fun and thrilling part!
3. Elizabeth Farm
Elizabeth farm is located in the Rosehill, a suburb of Sydney which was once a home of a renowned wool pioneer John and his wife, Elizabeth. The garden is known to contain a vast collection of documentary evidence connected to the house including a Chinese elm, 1805 planted olive, Kurrajong, Bunya pine, etc which are examples of early colonial architecture and experiments. Currently, the farmhouse is an accessible museum and is also managed by the Sydney living museums.
Image with courtesy from Canvas Factory
4. Port Arthur Historic site
Earlier, Port Arthur was a place of hardship, punishment and rich man’s playground. Now it has turned into one of the most famous heritage destinations in Australia with its entire colonial history written in stone and brick. Port Arthur is a large site holding too many stories from colonial times. The Penitentiary, which was originally constructed as a flour mill in the year 1843, turned out to be a convict settlement and has now turned into one of Tasmania’s popular attractions.
5. Royal Exhibition Building
The Royal Exhibition building in Melbourne was initially built to host the Melbourne International exhibition in the year 1880. During the 20th century, the Great Hall was the only one that survived. It is often regarded as the largest of the remaining 19th century exhibition buildings in the world. The royal exhibition building is currently used as a venue to host many events on regular basis. In the year 2004, it was the first building to be receive the UNESCO world heritage status.
6. Mungo National Park
42,000 years ago Mungo Lady and Mungo Man were found buried on the shores of Mungo lake. This actually represents the emergence of spiritual beliefs and provides a glimpse into the Australia’s deep history. The Mungo National park is also known to contain 20,000 year old fossil of human footprints. The park is located at the heart of NSW’s Wilandra Lakes world heritage area. The most important discovery about Wilandra Lakes is it’s connection with landscape and the climate, which you have to visit and experience for yourself.
Image used with permission from Guardian
7. Kakadu National Park
Kakadu is considered as the “Oldest living culture on earth”. For more than 65000 years, it has been home to Aboriginal people. Kakadu’s rock art ( Gunbim ) and the paintings that are nearly 20,000 years old are considered to be the longest historical records of any group of people in the world, which is what helped Kakadu receive “World heritage status”. The paintings also provide deep information on the Bininj / Mungguy people. Right from waterfalls to rock art, bird watching, swimming, the 20,000km area has it all !
8. Wiebbe Hayes Stone Fort
The Wiebbe Hayes stone fort is considered as the “Oldest surviving building in Australia”. The defensive walls and stone shelters that were constructed by the Wiebbehayes men are thought to be the oldest European structures in the country and the fort that is a tiny, sandstone coloured rectangle building, isolated in the scrub is the first building the Europeans constructed in Australia.