Celebrating 8,000 years of connection to Country

8,000 year-old Aboriginal hearth stones have been returned to site at Prince of Wales Hospital, in a moving ceremony led by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council and Gujaga Foundation.

One of the most significant excavations in NSW Health history, the hearth stones will be permanently displayed at the entrance to the new Acute Services Building as a symbol of welcome, healing and shared knowledge.

The stones were uncovered by archaeologists and several others in 1995. At the time, they were safely removed and in recent years returned to the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council on behalf of the Aboriginal community.

Evidence of fish oil was found on the stones, with a carbon date of up to 8,000 years old, evidence that Aboriginal people lived in this area hundreds of generations ago. Where the hospital stands today was once a landscape of enormous sand dunes, creeks and swamps. The stones formed an ancient fireplace, also called a “hearth”, that was used by Aboriginal people who lived in this landscape long ago.

This significant cultural display is representative of Prince of Wales Hospital’s commitment to celebrating the unique cultural heritage of the site and recognising the La Perouse Aboriginal Community’s continued and unbroken connection to Country.

Staff and visitors are encouraged to go and view the display, which is located outside the main entrance to the Acute Services Building to the south of the vehicle drop-off. Local schools and community groups will be invited to visit, sit around the hearth and learn about the cultural heritage of the site.

Archaeologists positioning ancient hearth stones