Fieldwork in what is believed to be a significant rock art site in Australia has been stalled after the federal government declined to fund further research. On October 13, scientists exploring the Wollemi National Park, northwest of Sydney, announced the discovery of numerous shelters, many with charcoal drawings up to 5,000 years old. They also discovered what is believed to be the first hefted stone axe found in southeastern Australia. But now the archaeologists are being forced to look for international funding to continue their work and cannot even afford a day's trip to the remote area to protect the site from bushfires, says team co-leader Paul Tacon of Griffith University, Brisbane. He said the Australian Research Council informed him that his grant application, worth several hundred thousand dollars a year over the next five years, had been knocked off in favour of international projects.
According to the archaeologist, the most significant site, an engraved platform is at immediate risk. The platform features large eagle and koala figures and images of what are believed to be ancestral beings. "There is a lot of vegetation around the edge of the platform and fallen tree limbs which will provide fuel [for bushfires]," Tacon said.
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