Aboriginal History of Montague Island

Aborignal History of Montague Island – Sapphire Coast NSW

Montague Island was called Barunguba by Aboriginal people. According to legend, Montague Island is part of a social and cultural complex which includes several important landscape features, particularly Mount Dromedary.

Island Aboriginal sites are rare, and the artefacts located on the island provide useful historical information on how aboriginals used watercraft and transported raw material.


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Aborignal – Montague Island – Sapphire Coast, New South Wales

The Aboriginal sites have not been dated, and appear to be older than 4,000 years and almost certainly post date the last rise in sea level. The sites are small and have little depth, indicating seasonal use of the island by small hunting groups.

The island contains numerous Aboriginal sites, comprising artefact scatters and middens.

These have high scientific value because of their potential to provide information about Aboriginal use of island resources such as mutton birds and penguins, the use and manufacture of water craft and the transportation of raw materials for making stone

Montague island was an important seasonal food source for the Aboriginal community. Shearwaters were valuable because of their high fat content and together with fish, penguins, other seabirds, eggs and possibly seals would have made the dangerous trip to the island worthwhile. Freshwater springs on the island would have enabled extended visits by groups of Aborigines.

A thin scatter of artefacts and hearth stones occurs over most of the island but concentrations appear to coincide with the locations of bird breeding colonies, particularly shearwaters.

Most of the artefacts found on the island are made from silcretes and other acid-rich stone which must have been carried over from the mainland since this rock type does not occur on the island.

Aborigines were still visiting the island well after European contact. A newspaper article in the Moruya Examiner dated 1892 recounts a story by local Aborigines about the drowning of 150 members of the Wagonga Tribe when their canoes were swamped in a squall during their return from the island early in the 19th century.

Things to do around Montague Island

Accommodation Montague Island Fishing at Montague IslandPenguins around Montague Island – Bird Life around Montague Island