Aboriginal and European Encounter in the Canberra Region:
a question of change and the archaeological record

Table of Contents 
Chapter 1 
Chapter 2 
Chapter 3 
Chapter 4 
Chapter 5 
Appendix 1 
Appendix 2 
Appendix 3 
List of Figures 
List of Tables 


Examination of historical evidence suggests that Aborigines in the Canberra Region may have been able to continue to exploit traditional food supplies until at least the mid-nineteenth century, gradually incorporating European settlements and resources. As European occupation was initially limited, the Ngunnawal were probably able to maintain a hunter-gatherer subsistence with slight modification. By the 1840s European resources were being used by Aborigines as a supplement to diminished traditional food supplies, though social integration remained low. However, as pastoral activity intensified and traditional resources were further depleted, the Ngunnawal became more dependent upon the European invaders. In time, the Ngunnawal appear to have been absorbed into the colonial economy, working and living on various settlements in the region.

A consideration of the possible factors affecting Aboriginal occupation sites in the contact period suggests that their location and composition may have varied over time. The placement of campsites appears to have increasingly taken into account the location of European settlements, whereas the material culture used by Aborigines was eventually dominated by European forms and technology. Other factors, including the number of campsite occupants, and changes in dwelling types, may have further affected the structure of Aboriginal occupation sites during the contact period.

Investigation of the archaeological record suggests a sequence of events in which foreign materials were gradually adopted by Aborigines. The archaeology also indicates that with the increased usage of European material culture by Aborigines, the use of traditional technology consequently diminished. However, the absence of adequate data sources and the problematic nature of the evidence limits both its utility and its value to the understanding of contact history in the Canberra Region. Similar studies in areas less affected by urban development are required to test the results of this research and to further examine the proposed hypotheses.