Dry rainforests: a productive habitat for Australian hunter-gatherers

W. Beck, Jane Balme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most recent work on hunter-gatherer use ofrainforests has concluded that, although they are resourcerich,they are difficult environments for people to live in.This is largely because of the inaccessibility of many of theresources. However, most of this research has been ontropical or ‘wet’ rainforest types. Dry rainforests (seasonalrainforest) have not been so extensively studied, yet theyhave a wide distribution throughout the world and, in thepast, had a much wider distribution. In Australia duringthe Pleistocene, the distribution was much wider than thepresent Holocene remnants suggest, especially in thenorthern and northeastern margin.A comparison of plant resources from differentrainforest types in northeastern New South Wales indicatesthat dry rainforests, in contrast to wet rainforest types,were potentially productive environments for IndigenousAustralians in the past. Many of the species present inAustralia’s dry rainforests would have been familiar to thefirst human colonisers. The food resources are easier toaccess than wet rainforest species and the plant partsavailable occur in different proportions from those in wetrainforests. Accessible seeds are particularly abundant andso the successful exploitation of the full potential of theseforests relies on specialised technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-20
JournalAustralian Aboriginal Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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