I live four kilometres from the confluence of the Page and Isis Rivers. Less as the crow flies. I pass within 500 metres of it every time I drive either to or from home.
As the recently published report, Hunter Estates*, states,
Few other historically recorded Aboriginal ceremonial sites in the region can be so closely identified at a specific place in the landscape.
It may well have added that few other Aboriginal ceremonial sites in the Hunter were as large and complex. It must have been, in its way, spectacular.
On 21 July 1873, William Ridley M.A. of Paddington, Sydney, a journalist, former Presbyterian missionary and expert in the Gamilaraay language, despatched a report to the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales. The report presented “additional information recently obtained” as a supplement to Ridley’s earlier 1871 reports on Australian Languages and Traditions, for which he “had the honour of receiving the thanks of the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies”. In his report Ridley provided information sourced from seven different people, one of whom was a Mr Macdonald who took him to the confluence of the Page and the Isis and showed him amazing things.
I wish these things still existed. I wish that traces of them still existed in this place that still exists.
And also, there are emus here no more.
Ridley’s report was published in The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol 7, in 1878. The section titled The Aborigines on the Page and the Isis can be found on pages 255 – 258. I don’t know if William Ridley lived to see his report’s publication; he died in 1878.
* Hunter Estates: A Comparative Heritage Study of pre 1850s Homestead Complexes in the Hunter Region, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, April 2013,prepared by Clive Lucas, Stapleton and Partners Pty Ltd for the Heritage Council of NSW, p.66.