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Carpenter’s Gap stores secret of man’s first tool

As if anyone needed another reason to visit the Kimberley’s, the Australian National University has unearthed a historic find in the region ­– at Winjana Gorge National Park’s Carpenter’s Gap ­– which suggests it was in that very location that man first developed tools.

Professor Sarah O’Connor found the fragment of the axe, buried in a layer of charcoal sediment that was radiocarbon-dated to almost 49,000 years old – far outdating a similar item discovered in Japan from 35,000 years ago.

Work by a team of researchers at the University of Sydney revealed the axe had been made from basalt then polished by grinding it on a softer rock, such as sandstone, until it was smooth.

Windjana Gorge National Park is one of the Kimberley’s most stunning gorges, with water-streaked walls that rise majestically to heights of one hundred metres.

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