Koonadan Aboriginal Place

The sand hills at Koonadan are a fundamental significant site; the presence of skeletal material establishes Koonadan as an ancestral Wiradjuri burial ground.

The dune system extends for a distance north beyond the historic site and it is likely that further pre-historic burial sites exist. A Bora Ground, used for ceremonial purposes, was located between the Koonadan dune and Tuckerbil Wetlands before being ploughed, and the wetlands has a connection to a Corroboree site at Yanco.

The numerous scarred trees that existed were removed in the clearing work.  Evidence of occupation remains, includes a thin scatter of stone tools with pieces of grinding dishes over the whole area, and ground ovens.  These sites can still be interpreted to show the domestic and spiritual life of our forebears.

The first conclusive evidence of the Koonadan sand hills containing Aboriginal remains dates from about 1939 but the suggestion that the sand hill was a large pre-historical burial site containing up to 2,000 graves may have been reported as early as 1872.

Quarrying operations that led to the discovery of skeletal remains in the 1970’s and early 1980’s ceased in 1983, through the active intervention of members of the local Aboriginal community, after which Koonadan was gazetted as an Aboriginal place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act in 1983, and purchased by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service it was reserved as an historic site in 1988.  Areas destroyed by quarrying activities were rehabilitated during the late 1980’s by vegetative stabilization and exclusion fencing as a means of preserving the sites. 

Fivebough Wetlands, Tuckerbil Wetlands and the surrounding lands were traditional hunting and fishing places for the Wiradjuri people.  The wetlands were extensive and supported sufficient wildlife to permit a permanent existence when managed sustainably.   Koonadan sand hills are one of the few large dunes in the region and it, too, provided a significant source of food.

A Plan of Management, prepared in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974, exists to guide operations for Koonadan Historic Site with a focus on the protection of its cultural significance, and to provide opportunities for educational use.  The Leeton & District Local Aboriginal Land Council is actively involved in partnership with DECC in the management of the area, under the provisions of the Plan of Management, thereby retaining continuity of association of Wiradjuri people with Koonadan and Tuckerbil Wetlandss from pre-European times to the present day. Koonadan is now a Keeping Place for repatriated remains. 

Office of Environment and Heritage Website