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Podcast: Warrnambool site may rewrite human history, and the mouse plague explained

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Inside the attack of the mice

Regional New South Wales is under attack. A mouse plague of biblical proportions is overwhelming farms and homes from the north-west to the Riverina.

It's predicted the vermin will cut the value of the state's winter crop by at least one-billion-dollars, and some estimates suggest farmers are paying up to one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollars to combat the mice.

This photo was taken by Dubbo resident Bradley Wilshire of the 500 plus mice he caught in one night.

This photo was taken by Dubbo resident Bradley Wilshire of the 500 plus mice he caught in one night.

Farmers and regional communities are taking a huge hit financially and mentally.

So is this normal? And, crucially, is there an end in sight?

The worst trouble is coming out of the three year drought then we're flogged with bloody mice. That's what hurts.

Gilgandra Farmer Norman Moeris

Farmers under siege share their stories, including one who nearly died after contracting a rodent-borne virus.

Re-writing human history in Australia

A smoking ceremony at Moyjil. Picture: Morgan Hancock

A smoking ceremony at Moyjil. Picture: Morgan Hancock

A seaside Victorian site may well rewrite the history of human occupation of Australia - and change the global story of where we came from.

They're pretty close to talking about 120,000 years, which just is mind-blowing, to think that could be the case and that just rewrites history altogether.

Craig Edwards, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation

In Moyjil, also known as Point Ritchie, scientists working with people of the Gunditjmara nation have unraveled an extraordinary human story.

Professor John Sherwood with a shell at Moyjil. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Professor John Sherwood with a shell at Moyjil. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Aboriginal people inhabited the area as sea levels rose and fell, volcanoes erupted and the climate altered. When it was a coastal area they harvested seafood and the evidence they left behind in the form of shells, charcoal and fireplaces has interested scientists for over four decades.

The oldest known sites in Australia are around 50 to 60,000 years old. And so we have here at Moyjil a site that is 120,000 years old, we're very confident of the age.

John Sherwood, Deakin University

They believe there's evidence of human habitation at the site, tens of thousands of years earlier than thought possible.

We find out what this could mean for the story of human history.

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