Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Saturday, February 10, 2007

New England's History - the way forward

Despite my good intentions and desire to do better, this blog has not worked. The problem is partially a matter of time, more one of focus.

The two are linked. I simply do not have the time at the moment to do major posts that were intended to consolidate other material, presenting New England's history as an evolving story. I am better off, I think, using the site as a log to record thoughts and ideas that might otherwise be lost.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New England Glacial Period

This page is intended to provide an entry point for posts and information about New England's changing geography in the period prior to European settlement.

At present, there is one post:

The Macleay Valley - the Glacial Age

The Macleay Valley - the glacial age

A few years ago I read a very good book by John Mulvaney on the aborigines. This dealt, among other things, with the nature of geological change.

Unfortunately I did not take notes. I was reading just for pleasure, so I missed recording his key points. However, now that I am again writing with purpose, I need to look at New England's geological history.

As in my first post on the Macleay Valley, the material in this post is drawn especially from Marie H Neil's book, Valley of the Macleay. The History of Kempsey and the Macleay River District (Wentworth books, Sydney 1972). While my focus is on the Macleay, I am also using the post to set a broader context.

Over the period from 20,000 to 800,000 years ago there have been four ice ages in New England during which sea levels rose and fell.

Around 125,oo years ago the sea level was around 25 feet higher than it is now, so much of the lower Macleay Valley was under water.

In the fourth ice age which began about 100,000 years ago, the sea level began to fall. This moved the shore line out about six to ten miles, creating a large coastal plain that stretched along the current New England coastline.

Around 20,000 years ago, the sea level began to rise again, submerging the coastal plain. This rise continued until about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, then slowed down. I do not have dates for the arrival of the first aborigines in the Macleay Valley, but it seems likely that they would have experienced this change.

During this period, great quantities of sand were deposited to the north of the emerging coastal islands, creating great spits. These eventually grew into large sand borders or dunes, linking the coastal islands (now headlands) along a line approximating the present coastline.

The current Macleay River deltaic plane came into existence as the River changed its course several times seeking new ways to the sea through the growing sand barriers. In so doing, great deposits of silt were carried down and left inside the sand barriers, creating the delta we can see today. Over large areas these alluvial deposits are more than 100 feet deep.

Additional References on the Macleay

Dr Tim Cohen, The geomorphology of the Macleay River Estuary, study prepared for the Kempsey Shire Council, September 2005

Damon Telfer, Macleay River Estuary Data Compilation Study, GECO Environmental, October 2005

An Apology

I started this blog to provide a central point of reference, a place to consolidate, the writing I was doing on New England's history. I also wanted to encourage interest and debate in this area.

Since starting the blog I have - as will be obvious - in fact done very little about posting material even though I have continued writing in a variety of fora. I will try to rectify this.