Barry H. Brimfield

Because of respect and to minimise vandalism the exact location of sites is only approximate.

What is Ochre?

Ochres are earthy, pulverulent (reduced or crumbled to powder or dust) forms of Haematite and Limonite or friable (easily crumbled), earthy iron ore.

It is widely distributed in Tasmania, both as small pellets in gravels (Tamar Valley) or in reefs (Alum Cliffs). It takes the form of a natural pigment, browns, reds and yellow. Red in its most vivid state is most prized, yellow it seems is rarer.


At the most famous site, “Toolumbunner” in the Alum Cliffs near Mole Creek, it takes the form of a series of hard and soft beds, very brown (Ferruginous ie containing iron) and clay-like. Parts of the site are red brown ferruginous sandstones and grey mudstones.

Ochre is Haematite (Fe2 O3) plus small parts of Goethite (FE OH) and Limonite. Quartz content in the ochre is 50 to 60%.

Read More Palaeo Tasmania


Human history in the Tamar Valley could extend back some 40,000 years considering that at least one site in the upper Forth River 200km west has such a basal date, but the Tamar lacks sites, caves, that could confirm this. The only site to yield a date is at Flowery Gully, near Beaconsfield, being calibrated to c.8,000 BP a bone deposit with a bone tool.

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Tamar Middens

In early 1801 Philip King, now Governor, decided to establish a government coal mining operation at Newcastle. Although the expedition was nominally under the command of another officer, it included William Paterson, newly appointed as Lt-Governor.

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Tasmania’s Aboriginal Palaeo Art

This work is a collection of papers each pertinent to the art produced over thousands of years by the Palaeo-Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Their art had roots extending back to their original homeland “Africa”, to what extent can only be wondered, but with obvious relationships that all foraging people have in common.

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