Extending the archaeological frontier: A review of work on the prehistory of North Queensland


  • John B. Campbell Behavioural Sciences, James Cook University of North Queensland




Work on the archaeological frontier of the vast region known as North Queensland is still very much in its infancy, though ten years ago it had hardly even been born. As with work on the prehistory of Australia in general (Mulvaney 1971, 1975; Horton 1981a), work on the prehistory of North Queensland has had a number of "false starts". During and after the Second World War there was at times a certain limited amount of amateur interest and even the odd amateur excavation (e.g. Stephens 1945). Professional archaeological work had a "false start" in the early 1960s (Wright 1964, 1971) and then a new, more permanent start in the mid-1970s. A review of work up till 1979 may be found in Coventry et al. (1980). The early 1980s have already seen the commencement of many additional research projects, at least compared with what had happened before, though North Queensland is certainly still quite a long way from being filled up with archaeological projects. In addition to mainstream research, since about 1980 there has also been, at long last, a reasonable increase in the number of environmental impact surveys being carried out which have actually included an archaeological component, though this has sometimes been added as an afterthought. I will not attempt to review the environmental impact work, as much of it is still inaccessible and most of it only reports surface occurrences.