Archaeological Evidence for a Sealer’s and Wallaby Hunter’s Skinning Site on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Keryn Walshe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Wallaby hunting began by sealers on Kangaroo Island south of Australia in the early 1800s as an off-season supplement to their whaling and sealing activities in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to the northern hemisphere, very little is known about the activities of sealers who ventured to the south, particularly their means of survival between seasons and what occurred after leaving the industry. Other archaeological investigations around coastal Kangaroo Island have identified sealing and whaling, but sealer's camps are largely absent in such studies. This article presents the first reported archaeological site related to the "wallaby hunting" industry that operated on Kangaroo Island in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Wallaby hunting allowed sealers in this part of the southern hemisphere to shift to living permanently on Kangaroo Island. This site also provides critical ecological information on the impact of sustained hunting of mammals on islands. Prior to the arrival of whalers and sealers, Kangaroo Island underwent a hiatus in occupation for 4,000 years. Their arrival led to the local extinction of the Broad Faced Potoroo (wallaby-sized mammal) and the Kangaroo Island (dwarf) emu. The article adds to the poorly known biogegeographical data for these two animals as well as other mammals identified in the site assemblage.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)130-143
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


    • biogeography
    • formation processes
    • historical ecology
    • human impacts
    • indigenous people
    • taphonomy
    • zooarchaeology


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