The investigation of new archaeological sites and the application of new techniques of inquiry extend our understanding of humans in the past and their interactions with their environment. The rockshelter site of Gledswood Shelter 1 (GSI), northwest Queensland, provides an opportunity to investigate the key archaeological models of this region. Horton's (1981) 'water and woodland' colonisation model; Hiscock (1984) and Veth's (1989, 1993) LGM settlement models and the proposal of a Holocene seed grinding economy by Morwood (1990), and Gorecki and Grant (1994) for the northwest region have all been explored through the analysis of the GSI wood charcoal assemblage.
The construction of a wood reference collection, composed of the significant taxa of the region, was the initial concern of this research. This collection of charred reference wood was used to identify archaeological wood charcoal specimens from four temporally significant phases. Through the identification of these specimens the palaeoenvironment surrounding this site was reconstructed and the key regional archaeological models assessed. Wood charcoal analysis can provide a palaeoenvironmental dataset in environments that do not support palynological catchments (i.e. lakes, swamps). Wood charcoal analysis provides valuable insights into the palaeoenvironment, even in the arid/semi-arid environments of the Australian continent.