Cape York - Early Settler and Visitors
The Aboriginal people of the Cape York peninsula, Kie Daudai, have lived here for 30,000 years. Traces of their existence are evident in the markings left behind, such as the deep engravings in the sandstone rock. Bird tracks, concentric circles and lines record shapes of ancient histories.
Evidence of ancient practices are still in use today. Controlled burning as a land management tool has been in use prior to colonization. As the expedition team moved south from the mouth of the Starcke River toward Starcke Station, blackened sections of forest and undergrowth indicated present land management practices continue in the bush. After a bush fire, 6000 year old Xanthorrhoea grass trees remain as if to stand guard over the ancient land. Fire continues to be the seasonal tool used to flush out wild game and to promote the regrowth of natural vegetation.
As Captain Cook’s Endeavor sailed up the east coast of Australia during the 1770s, he noted smoke rising from the nearby hills. This provided evidence that Aboriginal people practiced these controlled burns, starting the fires with a pointed firestick twirled into a flat piece of dry softwood. Although today’s burning practices are conducted by more modern techniques, the burns, as in ancient times, still provide a useful tool in managing the environment.