Cathedral Cave, a rockshelter in Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland


  • J.M. Beaton Anthropology, University of California, Davis



Cathedral Cave is a large rockshelter site in the uplands of southeast central Queensland. In 1975 I excavated a sample of the site as part of a study into the regional prehistory of this remote part of Queensland. At that time, archaeological data of any kind for the state of Queensland was at a premium. At 1,727,000km², Queensland takes up about as much of the world's surface as do France, Italy, Spain, and Germany combined. Yet, by the early 1970's in this northeastern tropical and sub-tropical one-fifth of the Australian continent we had not quite a handful of archaeological studies. In 1963 R.V.S. Wright (1971) had broken ground in a rockshelter at Mushroom Rock, near Laura, on the spine of the Cape York Peninsula, and had also determined the human genesis of the massive shell mounds at Albatross Bay in the gulf waters of the west coast of the Peninsula. Laila Haglund (1976) had worked for several seasons during the years 1965 through 1968 at the Broadbeach cemetery site in the far southeastern corner of Queensland, and the years of 1960, 1962 and 1964 had seen John Mulvaney's classic excavations in the south-central Queensland highlands (Mulvaney and Joyce 1965). It would be a decade, and later, before these pioneering studies would be followed by regional reconnaissance and excavations programs such as those of Geoff Bailey (1977) who in 1972 followed on from Wright's work at Albatross Bay, my own in 1974 through 1977 in the southeastern uplands (Beaton 1977, 1982, 1991 - this volume, Beaton and Walsh 1977), Michael Morwood on the western slopes of the Dividing range (Morwood 1979, 1980, 1981), Jay Hall and associates in the Moreton Bay area (Hall 1982, Hall and Hiscock 1988), and John Campbell (Campbell 1982) in the northeast.