Oldest human footprints in Australia found at Mungo, NSW

The world’s largest collection of fossil human footprints have been discovered in Balranald Shire Council’s Mungo National Park, located in south west New South Wales. The footprints were first uncovered by Aboriginal park ranger, Mary Pappen, in 2003, but were only revealed publicly in December last year.

Balranald Shire Council Mayor, Alan Purtill, said over 450 prints were uncovered by earth scientists in a clay pan underneath sand dunes. The footprints, estimated to be 23,000 years old, are believed to have been left by ancestors of the Barkindji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa people, thought to have fled the area during an arid phase more than 18,000 years ago.

“Shifting sand appears to have covered and protected the footprints that were made in clay material that probably hardened like concrete in the sun,” Councillor Purtill said. “I understand that the footprints were made by adults and children and that one set showed a tall male who was probably running quite fast.”

The discovery of the fossil footprints is the earliest in Australia. Artefacts believed to be slightly younger than the prints and other impressions were also found in the clay pan.

The Australian Museum has taken castings of the prints and the site has been covered with sediment for conservation.

For further information contact Hank van Apeldoorn, Balranald’s Manager Economic Development, on 0428 601 266.