The archaeology of the arid and apparently inhospitable spinifex plains of today's inland Pilbara, Western Australia, is dominated by sites with bedrock grinding patches. These range from single and sometimes barely visible areas of ground granite to sites with more than a hundred flat, slightly concave or sometimes deeply grooved ground patches. Sometimes a solitary feature, sometimes associated with engravings or scattered stone artefacts, these sites contribute to the story of the movement of people through this arid landscape. But what do they tell us? Using ethnohistorical, ethnographic and experimental studies, this paper evaluates data collected from sites with bedrock grinding patches recorded on the Abydos Plain. Our results highlight the need for 'grinding' patches to be reconsidered as more than 'grinding' patches, for better modelling of freshwater ecology and inland fishing, and for the potential of spinifex fibre technology to be actively incorporated into reconstructions of hunter gatherer lifeways in arid landscapes.