An Aboriginal man studies animal bones revealed by the blowing of the sands on the lunettes at Lake Mungo

Posted by Jeremy Eccles | 11.10.17

Dates: 17.11.17 : 18.11.17

The bones of Mungo Man, discovered in 1974 and studied in Canberra ever since, will return at last to Lake Mungo in far western NSW on Friday 17th November. And the Aboriginal Advisory Group (AAG) to the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, where Lake Mungo is situated, has invited people to participate in both the handover that takes place at Lake Mungo, as well as staying for a music and dance commemorative event on the Saturday November 18 in Mildura - a public event befitting such a momentous occasion. They have asked this event to be free of charge for any who wish to come. This invitation from the Elders has gone out to Indigenous communities across the country, and extends to all Australians, as well.

Mungo Man was first discovered in 1974 by geophysicist Jim Bowler working on the shoreline of an ancient Ice Age lake in Western NSW. This discovery and the earlier one of Mungo Lady by archaeologist John Mulvaney and Bowler in 1968 forever changed our understanding of the antiquity of human occupation of Australia, setting it back beyond 40,000 years. The discovery of these ancient ancestors with evidence of ochred ceremonial burials led to the 1981 UNESCO listing of Lake Mungo and adjacent lakes as the globally-significant Willandra Lakes World Heritage area. Mungo Lady and Mungo Man remain to-date the oldest human remains ever found in Australia and are the oldest modern humans found outside of Africa.

Mungo Lady was repatriated with great ceremony in 1992. Now, after 43 long years in the service of science at ANU in Canberra, the time has finally come for Mungo Man to return home - to Return to Country. It is the wishes of the Aboriginal Advisory Group for this to be a moment of national and even global significance, acknowledging this most ancient of human ancestors.

So, Mildura City, one hour from Mungo National Park will be the location for a celebration, on the banks of the Murray at Nowingi Place. The Council has been highly supportive of this event, and Creative Director, Shane Howard has approached Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards and other Indigenous artists to participate and they've said YES to headlining this incredible FREE event. SO WE INVITE YOU ALL TO COME AND BE PART OF HISTORY AND JOIN THE OCCASION!

They also need your help. A minimum of $80,000 is needed, and then up to $150,000 in order to fully fund the event in a manner befitting such a significant and historic occasion in Australian history. These funds – being raised through a Pozible campaign - are needed to bring important Aboriginal leaders, lore men and women from around Australia, to attend this important coming-together. The funds are also for the event itself, the stage, the sound, the lighting, the coordination - it all costs money and to put on a great show. Musicians and dancers need to be paid, as well as have their travel costs and accommodation costs covered. There is professional staff (including, ironically Jim Bowler's son Ben) needed to put it all together.

The ancestral spirit of Mungo Man has a message for all people today. It is a message of truth-telling, of deep healing, and of harmony with nature. The AAG want this message to be heard by everybody when Mungo Man comes home. Everybody can play a part in amplifying this message - the time for this story to be heard is now.


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The moonscape at Lake Mungo created by the wearing away of dune sands from around pelletal clay ziggurats


Barrkindji elders examine footprints in Lake Mungo's sand


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