My first reaction, upon receiving a phone call from Yanna Muldi Kon (Darren McElroy) relaying a directive from Ramindjeri Elders, was laced with an overwhelming sense of being lost in the bush. I could appreciate why they needed astronomical proof to validate their belief that in ancient times their ancestors set sail and circumnavigated the globe in a figure eight, but had no idea how that was actually going to happen. Knowing that I can’t even use a compass effectively, and to that day, had not seen or examined any Aboriginal astronomical site, I felt that this was a task beyond anything I had to offer.
Two days after I received a phone call from Angel John Gallard promising to show us massive stone constructions charting the four directions, solstices and the “conjunction of planets.” Whether this was coincidental or providential is all a matter of faith, but irrespective of why and who, I was now standing on-site in the Snowy Mountains.
When Angel John Gallard told me we were to visit sites containing “walls” I had assumed this would consist of a few small rocks stacked into a crude formation that stood perhaps knee-high. I certainly wasn’t prepared for this spectacle!
The first site I was taken to was outside the pages of any book and was completely unexpected. It was made of thousands upon thousands of granite rocks and ran down a fairly steep hill then continued into the waters of Lake Jindabyne. Measuring no less than one hundred metres, the wall was still visible under the water and kept running until the visibility and depth made any further estimation of length impossible. It is quite possible it did continue a considerable distance, but until an investigation through diving into the icy cold water takes place, which was never a possibility for a life-long non-swimmer like myself, it all remains a matter of possibilities. No official count of rocks placed within the wall was made, but I am of the opinion there were no less than ten thousand rocks collected and carefully placed into this stone construction.
The real issue relates to what function is served, in particular, why spend so much time constructing this wall? There can be no definitive answer but there are some compelling indications. The fact that the wall, according to Deborah Smith (Sydney Morning Herald), “runs down a steep slope, exactly east- west, into Lake Jindabyne” seems to suggest that it was an astronomical site. In determining what purposes these walls served, Angel John claims it also marked out the “conjunction of planets.” Surely its precise placement serves only one function? As to how ancient Aboriginal people were aware of the east-west meridian is a matter of further research, but the considerable time and effort taken means this wall was of the utmost importance.
What is also notable is the manner of construction. Typically, European/British walls built in Australia have large stones placed along the outside and then bulked up with a fill of smaller stones in the middle. This is not the case here, the larger stones, some weighing over 100 kilograms, can be found on the top, in the middle and all locations in between.
Of course, many would contend that a structure of this magnitude and sophistication is beyond the abilities of any Aboriginal resident living in Australia before the arrival of the British. But Angel John’s extensive research bears witness to yet another example of the intelligence and expertise of the First Australians. He stated in the Sydney Morning Herald that “the more than 100 metre-long structure was described by an early settler-a Boer War veteran who explored the Snowy Mountains on horseback-as one of several walls built by Aborigines in the local area.”
The length, steep incline and sophisticated manner of construction was a feat of some substance, but when compared to the second site visited, which was also “built by Aborigines in the local area,” the Lake Jindabyne wall occupies a very distant second place.
Smith stated that there is “an even more extraordinary set of three larger stone walls in another area of remote bushland in the district.” Rightly claimed to be a “feat of engineering” which plummets “down extremely steep inclines,” we are of the opinion the combined total of rocks exceeds 50,000. As it was at Lake Jindabyne, the style of construction is unusual in that “some of the rocks are massive, with smaller stones wedged between them.”
This construction, which again we believe serves astronomical purposes, begins at the top of a ridge with two sets of stone lines which run directly east-west. Further down the ridge is the first of three massive walls measuring 42 metres, the second wall, which seems to be of the same length is another 50 metres down the slope which increases in angle. So steep is the incline, that the last half of the lower wall was never personally inspected simply because of the danger involved in even walking alongside this wall. Barely ten metres past the second wall, there is a sheer drop which plummets down to a pool beneath a waterfall.
As impressive as the two walls are, the difficulties and engineering skills involved in building the third wall would still be a daunting task today. Located on the opposite side of the creek, it climbs no less than 50 metres up what is virtually a sheer cliff. As yet it hasn’t been inspected and to do so would involve ab-sailing from above, it is far too steep to approach by foot. The engineering expertise and effort involved to create the third wall scaling up this much steeper slope is quite staggering.
As stated earlier, we are convinced more than 50,000 rocks were needed to construct these walls. But it’s not only the volume of rocks but quality of construction of these walls that is worthy of closer inspection. As it is at Lake Jindabyne, the larger rocks are spread throughout the wall, but much higher standards of construction are evident. What I was impressed by was the placement of the smaller surrounding rocks. Deborah Smith noted that the some of the larger rocks were “massive with smaller stones carefully wedged between them.” It is obvious a lot of time was spent in determining how to arrange and place each rock, and I could not find any rock that was easy to dislodge. Also worthy of consideration, was that this wall ran along then down the top of a steep ridge, and some of the larger rocks we believe would have needed six, maybe even more, people to lift then haul them up the slope.
The walls are at least half a metre higher and wider than the wall at Lake Jindabyne, contained many heavier rocks and would have taken much longer to construct. In what is purely a subjective call, I would suggest the amount of time needed to build this massive construction would exceed 1,000 hours.
Standing on-site, it is obvious this massive construction has no function for any non-Aboriginal and owing to the immense amount of rock and labour, would only be built, openly spoken of in pubs and around the camp-fire, if it provided an economic benefit. Angel John checked shire maps, consulted locals and found no claim of any settler building these walls. Why would they? They are located on a steep ridge in a very remote location with some of the poorest topsoil in the district, and could serve no productive agricultural purpose. It doesn’t, and in our opinion, was made by Aboriginal people to satisfy astronomical and religious needs.
Although not bearing a direct nautical connection, the origin and location of the stone tool technology that not only dominated the Snowy Mountains but most of Australia until quite recent times, opens up ancient channels of communication linking the people of high alps with the Ramindjeri. Referred to as Kartan Tool Technology, this academic category was basically an acknowledgement of the place from which this ancient form of technology originated then spread: Karta (Kangaroo Island). Not only is Karta part of Ramindjeri land but Karno Walker is the cultural custodian of the island and one of Elders sharing their past and lore.
What needs to be emphasised is that these astronomical constructions are but some of many, and, in our eyes, a means to an end. In one of our earlier articles we presented evidence of a variety of sites containing engravings and paintings depicting what we believe to be ocean-going boats. However, the existence of such vessels is merely half the story. For the Ramindjeri claim of circumnavigating the world in a figure eight to succeed, these ancient Aboriginal mariners must have been conversant with navigational skills that are claimed to have never existed in Australia until the British invasion. However, these constructions stand in open contradiction to this mistaken assumption. It has already been accepted by most academics that the oldest astronomical device made by humans is found at Wurdi Youang (Victoria) and has been dated to be over 10,000 years old. That being the agreed case, it should come as no surprise that the massive stone arrangements located in the Snowy Mountains, along with others we are familiar with, seem to indicate that there is an Aboriginal Australian history which is direct opposition to that taught and written about throughout Australia .
These constructions, along with ample evidence of boats capable of sailing across oceans, leads to another truth. The Aboriginal people of this region, and many others, spent a huge amount of time and effort marking out the movement of the sun, moon, planets, “dark spaces” and stars, and this was occurring well before anywhere else on the planet. This knowledge is essential if sailing across great expanses of ocean. Moreover, if the Ramindjeri Elders are so specific as to describe the route taken (figure eight) when circumnavigating the globe, they could only do so if able to accurately record that journey through knowledge of movement of the stars and planets.
With evidence of ocean-going boats and astronomical constructions found throughout Australia, supplemented by the claims of the custodians of Ramindjeri lore, we believe these three truths lead to the same conclusion. It was from this continent, not Africa, as we have proposed in all four of our books and articles, the First Australians set sail, and then introduced to the rest of humanity knowledge of religion, sailing, astronomy, navigation, gender equality, art, and all the nobler pursuits that take us all a little closer to Wirritjin (Ramindjeri term meaning ‘Black-fella White-fella Dreaming’).