Menang-Noongar people ‘blown away’ by rock discovery re-writing Lake Pleasant View’s history

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Menang man Larry Blight with South Coast Natural Resource Management.
Camera IconMenang man Larry Blight with South Coast Natural Resource Management. Credit: South Coast NRM

A discovery at Lake Pleasant View has changed the way Menang man Larry Blight and his elders understand the ancient cultural meeting place.

Earlier this month, Mr Blight joined Torbay-based ethnoarchaeologist Paul Greenfeld, South Coast NRM’s Karl Hansom, Menang-Noongar elders, and young Nowanup Boodja rangers at the lake they know as Ballogup.

They were “blown away” by the discovery of chert — a stone used for making axes and knives.

At the granite outcrop, where his ancestors had gathered for thousands of years, Mr Blight cracked rocks open, revealing glimmers of chert.

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Chert is a hard stone which forms sharp edges when cut.

“The rock quality, as far as tool-making goes, is first class,” Mr Blight said.

“This is the best site we know of in the region as far as the quality of stone goes for toolmaking.”

Mr Blight said it was a significant discovery because until now, archaeologists had thought stone for the tools was most likely quarried from the lake’s eastern shore.

However, finding chert naturally occurring in the wetlands told a different story.

Chert is used for making tools.
Camera IconChert is used for making tools.

“We’ve always assumed the main quarry site was alongside the side of the granite outcrop on the eastern side,” Mr Blight said.

“Paul found a site in the wetlands itself where the rock was naturally coming out of the ground, and there was a lot of evidence of people quarrying it from there.

“It was pure gold for us, as it changes our concept.”

Mr Blight and elders including Vernice Gillies and Eugene Eades said a walk across the dried lake bed revealed lumps of the rock rising out of the mud.

Tracks around the lake contain stone tools and rock scatter, pointing to a history of toolmaking.

Mr Blight said there had been other recent discoveries of artefacts, including a stone oven and evidence of camping grounds.

Lake Pleasant View or Ballogup.
Camera IconLake Pleasant View or Ballogup. Credit: South Coast NRM

He said the uncovered chert would remain on-country, where Ballogup’s traditional custodians continued to meet and teach the next generation.

Their project to restore Ballogup to its “original beauty” has been running for at least 10 years.

“It’s very significant, it’s ours to look after and maintain now. We want to turn it into an educational place for our young people and everyone,” Mr Blight said.

“For our elders to get out there, it’s almost like medicine.”

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