MORE than 3000 artefacts have been found during Aboriginal heritage excavations in the Newcastle rail corridor near the site of the planned Wickham transport interchange.
Analysis is under way to determine their age. They were discovered in a deep deposit over about six weeks.
"The significance - it's pretty high because there's a series of these big artefacts scatters all around the foreshore of Newcastle," Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council culture and heritage officer Peter Townsend said.
"You've got the KFC site [in Newcastle West], the new university site that's going up - we've already done the archaeology work in there and pulled thousands out of there as well."
The items, including stone tools such as scrapers for spears, were found in four salvage pits established after small test pits were dug between Wickham and Hamilton stations.
"The date of the artefacts is not known yet, however, there were at least two distinct geological layers in which artefacts were found," a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said.
The Awabakal warned in January that the government's plans for overhauling the rail corridor would put artefacts in jeopardy.
The land council was unsuccessful in making a land claim for the corridor.
It followed the concerns of Aboriginal groups that priceless artefacts were lost because of inappropriate consultation before the development of the Hunter Street KFC restaurant.
The final excavation report for the project rated the site as having "high to exceptional cultural and scientific significance", but was not completed until about a year after the restaurant was built.
A final report on the artefacts found in the corridor is expected to be completed by early next year.
"We were just happy that we got to salvage the artefacts out of there. Who knows if they'll put tall buildings all over [the corridor]," Mr Townsend said.
The items are then expected to be "returned to country", or reburied, as "that's where they belong", Mr Townsend said.
The Transport spokeswoman said further consultation would take place with Aboriginal groups and the broader community to identify ways to acknowledge the Aboriginal history uncovered.