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The Australian National University

Warramunga Seismic Station

Based on linguistic evidence Tindale (1974) has noted the Tennant Creek area as the lands of the Waramangu people. It is highly likely that boundaries and ranges were fluid and varied over time. As a consequence, the patterns recorded in the recent past may represent only the situation at European contact.

Contact between white explorers and the aboriginal people of the Darwin region occurred as early as 1837 when Captain J. Stokes made contact with a party of aborigines (Stokes 1846). George Goyder, leader of the Northern Territory Survey Expedition of 1868 to 1870 reported continuous contact with the aborigines, describing them and making collections of spears, baskets and boomerangs (Stokes 1846; Kerr 1971). Stokes' (1846) diaries contain detailed descriptions of the aborigines of the Darwin area and beyond recording many instances of both friendly contact and unfriendly contact with deaths occurring amongst both groups.

The earliest observations of Aboriginal people in the region around Tennant Creek were in 1860 by J. McDouall Stuart who noted campsites around Bishop and Attack Creek's, noting the local habit of interring the dead in the trunks of hollowed out trees (Stuart 1965). Stuart left the area after conflicts arose between his men and the local Aboriginal people (Giles 1926; Mudie 1968; Stuart 1965; Pearce 1984). The next two decades saw increased contact between the settlers and Aboriginal people, especially with the introduction of the overhead telegraph (Nash 1980).

Anthropologists W.B. Spencer and F.J. Gillen undertook one of the earliest studies of the Aboriginal people in the area in 1901. These studies highlighted the mythological importance of the area to the local people whilst also recording ceremonies and various types of stone tools (Pearce 1984).

A site search of Aboriginal Area Protection Authority Register of Sacred Sites located only two known sites in the area of the Warumungu Seismic Station. There is one registered sacred site and one recorded site not listed on the register. Further searches of the Northern Territory Heritage Register and Archaeology Resources Database of an area of 841 square kilometres surrounding the Warramunga Seismic Station showed that there are no archaeological studies for this area. There is a high likelihood of there being undisturbed Indigenous sites in the area of the Warramunga Seismic Station.

Updated:  12 December 2013/Responsible Officer:  Director, Facilities & Services Division/Page Contact:  Systems & Information Technology