WORK on the western side of the new Romiaka Channel Bridge in Yamba has been suspended after the discovery of shell middens in the area.
Clarence Valley Council civil services manager Tim Jenkins said Aboriginal artefacts were found on the western approach to the bridge last week, but that did not affect the construction of the bridge itself.
Mr Jenkins said when the council or its contractors discovered artefacts during construction, it was required to issue a public notice advising of the discovery.
"(The) council is working with the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Yaegl people and the contractor about how to manage the discovery," he said.
"Works in that area will be quarantined while that happens.
"The contractor is also finalising his works program around the Christmas break."
According to a council notice, the shell middens are close to the existing Romiaka Channel Bridge on Palmers Island, and the area is adjacent to determined Native Title held by Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC.
Corporation office manager Michael Randall said further archaeological assessments would determine the significance of the find.
"We will be conducting more investigations and get a best plan of management to Clarence Valley Council on how best to look after the site," Mr Randall said.
"Romiaka was a prominent place for the Yaegl people years ago. It was a channel crossing like it is now, so it was a gathering place to sit and eat along the river.
"Pippies and oysters would have been plentiful there all those years ago, as well as crabs and fish, they were all through there which made it a prominent gathering place.
"We're very keen to see what comes out of it and what further investigations reveal."
Mr Randall said shell middens were a heap of discarded pipi and oyster shells which can indicate a meeting spot or potentially a burial site.
"What they'd do was put people's remains in the ground and cover them with shells," he said.
"We're not sure if that's the case at Romiaka, so we'll do further investigations to determine the extent and how deep the midden is."