Geologists say an Aboriginal tale describing the creation of a volcano in south-west Victoria could be the oldest story in existence – and they have scientific evidence to back it up.
The story told by the Gunditjmara people details their version of the formation of a volcano called Budj Bim, which came into existence about 37,000 years ago.
The ancient tale describes how four giant beings arrived in south-west Australia and three spread themselves across the country while one remained in one spot.
The lone being crouched down and his teeth became lava while his body turned into the volcano known as Budj Bim.
The ancient Aboriginal tale about the formation of the Budj Bim volcano in south-west Victoria (seen here in a 19th century drawing) could be backed up by hard facts, scientists believe
Scientists believe the tale describes the creation of a real volcano that formed in Budj Bim National Park (pictured)
New evidence has revealed that Budji Bim and another volcano did rapidly form in the area around 37,000 years ago, according to Science Magazine.
Geologist Erin Matchan from the University of Melbourne has been working with her colleagues to examine an ancient stone axe that was found buried in volcanic rock near the region’s ancient Tower Hill volcano in the 1940s.
Both these rocks and the rocks from nearby Budj Bim, just 40 kilometers to the northwest, have been dated by the geology team using a well-established method that relies on measuring radioactive decay.
Their findings confirmed that both volcanoes were formed around 37,000 years ago in a rapid process that could have seen them rise several metres in a matter of days.
This could hold the key to the Gunditjmara story as a sudden dual eruption may have inspired the tale of the four giants.
A team of geologists dated volcanic rocks found at Budj Bim Park (pictured) at 37,000 years old
Ms Matchan said that there have been no other large volcanic eruptions in the meantime that could have impacted the humans in the area.
The CEO of the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Damein Bell, said that the new findings highlighted their ancient connection to the land.
He said: ‘As with all First Nations around the world, our stories, heritage, identity and survival are connected to our traditional homelands and waters.’
The 37,000-year-old Aboriginal legend describing the history of the Budj Bim land (pictured) could be the oldest story in human history