Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

First Australians arrived in planned mass migration – study

21 June 20190 comments

The first Australians arrived in a planned migration that saw more than a thousand settlers sail here more than 50,000 years ago, according to stunning new research.

A team of researchers led by Flinders University’s Professor Corey Bradshaw claims their research suggests the ancestors of the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Melanesian peoples first made it to Australia as part of an organised, technologically advanced seaborne migration to start a new life.

They say it would have taken more than a thousand people to form a viable population and they arrived by boat from the islands to the north west.   

The migrants would have encountered a continent very different from the one we know today, the researchers say.

At the time New Guinea, mainland Australia, and Tasmania were joined and formed a mega-continent referred to as Sahul which existed before the time the first people arrived and up until about 10,000 years ago.

The researchers developed demographic and mathematical models to try to determine where the settlers most likely came from and how many people were needed to survive the rigours of their new environment.

They found a northern route connecting the current-day islands of Mangoli, Buru and Seram would probably have been easier to navigate than the southern route.

“Our simulations indicate at least 1,300 people likely arrived in a single migration event to Sahul, regardless of the route taken. Any fewer than that, and they probably would not have survived,” the researchers said.

“Our data suggest that the peopling of Sahul could not have been an accident or random event. It was very much a planned and well-organised maritime migration,” they said.

The results suggest that the first ancestors of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Melanesian people to arrive in Australia possessed sophisticated technological knowledge to build watercraft, and they were able to plan, navigate, and make complicated, open-ocean voyages to transport large numbers of people toward targeted destinations.

“Our results also suggest that they did so by making many directed voyages, potentially over centuries, providing the beginnings of the complex, interconnected Indigenous societies that we see across the continent today,” the researchers said.

“These findings are a testament to the remarkable sophistication and adaptation of the first maritime arrivals in Sahul tens of thousands of years ago,” they said.