Ngarrabullgan Archaeology Project

Ngarrabullgan is an 18km-long, 6.5km-wide Dreaming mountain at the heart of Djungan Aboriginal country, north Queensland. Almost entirely surrounded by 200-400m high cliffs, it forms a dramatic sandstone monolith completely surrounded by volcanic and metamorphic sediments. It is, in this sense, a geological and biogeographic ‘island’ in a terrestrial landscape.

Ngarrabullgan is an important part of the Djungan world today, as it was when Europeans first arrived in the region some 100 years ago. A wondering evil spirit, Eekoo, has its home on the mountain-top. As a result of this, Djungan traditional owners rarely camp on the mountain.

This project aims to investigate the antiquity of these ethnographically recorded perceptions of the mountain as a spiritual, Dreaming place by studying changing uses of the mountain through time. Archaeological excavations have revealed more than 35,000 years of Aboriginal occupation on the mountain. During the last 600 years the mountain was largely averted, in line with its ethnographic significance.


2006 by B. DAVID. Archaeology and the Dreaming: toward an archaeology of ontology. In I. Lilley (ed.), Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific islands , pp. 48-68. Blackwell, London.
2005 by B. DAVID. Sur les traces de l ‘ancienne religion des Aborigènes d’Australie. Religions et Histoire 2: 36-43.
2004 by S. Haberle & B. DAVID. Climates of change: human dimensions of Holocene environmental change in low latitudes of the PEPII transect. Quaternary International 118-119: 165-179.
2004 by B. DAVID. Rock-art and the experienced landscape: the emergence of late Holocene symbolism in north-east Australia. In C. Chippindale and G. Nash (eds), The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art: Looking at Pictures in Place , pp. 153-181. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
2002 by B. DAVID. Landscapes, Rock-art and the Dreaming: an archaeology of preunderstanding . Leicester University Press, London.
2002 by B. DAVID. Hand Shelter (Ngarrabullgan), Cape York Peninsula, Australia: site report. The Artefact 25: 19-25.
2001 by R. Goodall & B. DAVID. Mineralogical and chemical analyses of an ochred rock, Ngarrabullgan Cave (N Qld, Australia). Rock Art Research 18: 58-60.
2000 by B. DAVID. Painted Ell: further evidence for late Holocene abandonment of Ngarrabullgan (north Queensland). The Artefact 23: 35-40.
1999 by B. DAVID & M. Wilson. Re-reading the landscape: place and identity in NE Australia during the late Holocene. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 9 (2): 163-188.
1999 by M.I. Bird, L.K. Ayliffe, L.K. Fifield, C.S.M. Turney, R.G. Cresswell, T.T. Barrows & B. DAVID. Radiocarbon dating of ‘old’ charcoal using a wet oxidation, stepped-combustion procedure. Radiocarbon 41 (2): 127-140.
1999 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. Landscape as mind: land use, cultural space and change in north Queensland prehistory. Quaternary International 59: 107-123.
1999 by J. Brayer, H. Walt & B. DAVID. Quantitative Assessment of Rock Art Recording . Internet WWW document, at URL : http://www.rupestre.net/tracce/newport.html
1998 by B. DAVID (ed.). Ngarrabullgan: Geographical Investigations in Djungan Country, Cape York Peninsula. Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science 51. Monash University, Melbourne.
1998 by B. DAVID. Introduction: ‘a mountain once seen never to be forgotten’. In B. DAVID (ed.), Ngarrabullgan: Geographical Investigations in Djungan Country, Cape York Peninsula. Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science 51, pp. 1-26. Monash University, Melbourne.
1998 by B. DAVID. The rock art. In B. DAVID (ed.), Ngarrabullgan: Geographical Investigations in Djungan Country, Cape York Peninsula. Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science 51, pp. 143-156. Monash University, Melbourne.
1998 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, L. Bekessy, R. Bultitude, C. Clarkson, E. Lawson, C. Murray & C. Tuniz. More than 37,000 years of human occupation. In B. DAVID (ed.), Ngarrabullgan: Geographical Investigations in Djungan Country, Cape York Peninsula. Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science 51, pp. 157-178. Monash University, Melbourne.
1998 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. Rock art and socio-demography in northeastern Australian prehistory. World Archaeology 30 (2): 193-219.
1998 by J. Brayer, H. Walt & B. DAVID. A quantitative assessment of freehand drawing and some suggestions for its imporvement as a rock art recording method. In M.S. de Abreu (ed.), Congresso International de Arte Rupestre: Atravessando Fronteiras. Programa Official , p. 30. University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real.
1997 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. 37,000 years and more in tropical Australia. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 63: 1-23.
1997 by R. Fullagar & B. DAVID. Investigating changing attitudes towards an Australian Aboriginal Dreaming mountain over >37,000 years of occupation via residue and use wear analyses of stone artefacts. CambridgeArchaeological Journal 7(1): 139-144.
1997 by B. DAVID, R. Roberts, C. Tuniz, R. Jones & J. Head. New optical and radiocarbon dates from Ngarrabullgan cave, a Pleistocene archaeological site in Australia: implications for the comparability of time clocks and for the human colonisation of Australia. Antiquity 71: 183-188.
1997 by L. Hall & B. DAVID. A rock in time. Australian Geographic 46: 106-121.
1996 by B. DAVID, M. Barbetti, R. Bekessy, L. Bekessy, R. Bultitude, D. Butler, C. Clarkson, J. Clarkson, C. Conn, M. Dredge, T. Eyre, R. Fullagar, R. Goodall, L. Hall, J. Head, Q. Hua, G. Ingram, R. Jones, E. Lawson, H. Lourandos, T. Loy, C. Macrokanis, I. McNiven, C. Murray, C. Ogleby, M. Osborne, M. Pole, R. Roberts, M. Schulz, A. Spate, J. Stanisic, G. Summerhayes, C. Taylor, C. Tuniz & J. Whittier. The Ngarrabullgan Homeland Project: current research in Kuku Djungan country, north Queensland. Australian Archaeology 43: 32-36.