Federal Heritage Minister Tony Burke announced that Wilgie Mia, located in the Weld Range near Cue, WA, will be recognised amongst the nation?s top heritage places to broaden people?s awareness of ?traditional Aboriginal involvement in mining, dating back many centuries?.
Wilgie Mia is the largest and deepest underground Aboriginal ochre mine in Australia. The mine?s creation story suggests the ochre at the site was produced by the blood of a wounded red kangaroo. For generations, Aboriginals traded the mine?s red, yellow and green ochre throughout much of western and central Australia and as far away as northern Queensland. It is estimated that 19,600m3 of ochre and rock, weighing 40,000 tonnes, was removed using traditional Aboriginal mining techniques.
Excavations at the mine have occurred for at least 2000 years, according to dating on stone tools recovered at the site. However, researchers believe the mine may have been operating as far back as 30,000 years ago.
Sources: OptusZoo, Australian Mining