RPS heritage specialists help bring Aboriginal artefacts home to Country

16 Dec 2019

When mining operations ceased at Charbon Colliery in the Hunter region of New South Wales in 2015, work didn’t stop for mine operator Centennial Coal.


Like any mine closure process, remediation works to regenerate the site and revegetate the land are ongoing. Another important aspect of the closure undertaken recently has been returning of cultural artefacts to the land.

As the Charbon mine grew, archaeological investigations were undertaken to identify and recover cultural items, removing them from the path of impact. This included surface surveys and sub-surface archaeological investigations undertaken in partnership with the local Aboriginal community.

Collected over 30 years, these artefacts have now been returned to Country in a special ceremony, led by Aboriginal cultural heritage field officer for Wellington Valley Wiradjuri Bradley Bliss, RPS heritage specialists and Centennial Coal.

A variety of implements had been identified at Charbon including simple cutting tools and food preparation items such as grinding stones. These stone tools were created using local materials such as quartz, chert, silcrete and basalt.

“Aboriginal people have a deep connection to their Ancestors, and this was revealed through the cultural items left behind at Charbon. Returning these items to the place where they were created is a reconnection for the local community,” said RPS Senior Heritage Consultant, Ben Slack.

“While the process of archaeology and removing artefacts from the earth is an important investigative tool for identifying, understanding and protecting items from our past, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

"Returning these items was the final step in a long and culturally important process of returning. We are very happy to have been involved in bringing them back to Country.”


We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.



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