THE ABORIGINES OF VICTORIA:
of shells, though of smaller dimensions, which is spoken of by Capt. King as having been found at Port Essington:—"A curious mound, constructed entirely of shells, rudely heaped together, measuring thirty feet in diameter and fourteen feet high, was also noticed near the beach, and was supposed to be a burying-place of the Indians."
The shell-mounds in Victoria are, as a rule, never opened by any one. Few people know that they have been formed by the natives; and there is therefore no wanton injury done to them. In one or two places I have seen a shell-mound cut through where a track to the coast has been formed; but the old middens are not interfered with; and future archæologists will find abundant fields for research, in all parts of Australia, when more attention is given to the habits of the natives and a deeper interest is felt in their earlier history. What may be disclosed by a thorough examination of some of the ancient mirrn-yong heaps and shell-mounds one cannot guess, but it is not at all improbable that valuable discoveries may yet be made. It would be of the highest interest to find any such stone implements as those of the Tasmanians, or any implements in a transition state; and those who have the opportunity should not neglect to investigate the old mounds wherever they are opened. In the mirrn-yong heaps tomahawks of a remarkable form have been discovered by accident; and it is altogether too early to suppose that all that can be known is known respecting the Australian natives.
Stones, arranged in a circular or semicircular form, are found in some places on the wide plains in Victoria. They appear to have been set up to afford shelter in places where there was no natural break-wind. This is probable, but by no means certain. Very little is known respecting these ancient stone-circles.
In January 1873 I received a letter from Mr. R. E. Johns, a gentleman holding an important Government appointment at Avoca, in Victoria, drawing my attention to a statement in a paper on the Monuments of Unrecorded Ages, in No. 125 of Chambers's Miscellany of Useful and Entertaining Tracts, to the following effect:—"Even in Australia, in the Colony of Victoria, they [stone-circles] are to be seen in numbers, sometimes circle within circle, as at Avebury, and without any tradition among the natives as to their origin." Mr. Johns made enquiries, and being unable to learn anything respecting such structures, he wrote to the editor, and found that the authority for the statement regarding the stone-circles of Victoria was a paper by the late Sir James Y. Simpson, in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (Scotland). Mr. Ormond had written to Sir James Simpson, informing him that he had seen many such stone-circles, especially near the Mount Elephant Plains, in Victoria. They were from ten to one hundred feet in diameter, and in some there was an inner circle. The stones varied in size and shape, and human
- King's Australia, vol. I., p. 87.
- Mr. Frank Stephen informs me that in digging into one of the shell-mounds at Frankston Point a stone tomahawk was found at a depth of six feet from the surface. The numerous shell-mounds between St. Kilda and Point Nepean contain, no doubt, many such relics; and the more ancient implements are likely to be of great interest to the ethnologist.