A seaside Victorian site may well rewrite the history of human occupation in Australia - and change the global story of where we came from.
At Moyjil, also known as Point Ritchie, scientists working with traditional owners have unraveled an extraordinary human story.
From Moyjil you can gaze out over a basalt reef to the mighty Southern ocean.
In the winter and spring, southern right whales can be seen just a few hundred metres offshore and the occasional seal likes to drop by and frolic amongst the kelp.
Immediately to the east of the headland is the mouth of the Hopkins River, to the west is Lady Bay and the Warrnambool Breakwater. At sunrise and sunset the view can be breathtaking.
There's more than a stunning vista to Moyjil. The rocks beneath your feet, the heath-covered dunes and life in the Hopkins River tell a great story - the story of a people who lived at this place for tens of thousands of years.
Some shells found at Moyjil are 120,000 years old.
What Professor John Sherwood from Warrnambool's Deakin University School of Life and Environmental Sciences wants to know is: did people put them there?
"If Moyjil turns out to be proven as a human site, it will double the site time of human occupation of Australia, and it will also have implications for how rapidly modern humans migrated out of Africa, across Asia, down into Australia," he said.
"If you look down here on the rock platform, you can see some very blackened stones," he said kneeling on the rocky Moyjil clifftop on a moody autumn afternoon in Warrnambool.
"There are some some stones which are white and only partly blackened, there are some stones which are red. But there is this clustering of very dark black stones that they suggest to us intense heat.
"Now the important thing about these blackened stones is that we've dated them by a technique called thermoluminescence.
"We know they were blackened 120,000 years ago, at the same time as shells were being deposited the site and sand was being blown up to form the ancient sand dune.
"You can also see over here, some of these broken shell fragments that I was talking about. And if you look closely, you can see they've got very sharp edges; they're not like we'd expect to find on this very high energetic ocean coast where shells are normally tumbled round and round and become smoothed by that direction."
The site has been the focus of intense scrutiny since the 1970s.
It all began 40-years ago when John Sherwood, then a young academic, arrived in Warrnambool from Sydney.
Within a short time he met geologist Edmund Gill.
Warrnambool naturalist Jim Henry showed Gill and Sherwood the unusual collection of shells situated at the mouth of the Hopkins River.
Then Dr Jim Bowler, the geologist most well-known for discovering 'Mungo Man' in the 70s, took an interest in the site.
"Of course, as soon as Edmund saw it, he recognised that it really was an unusual sight and worthy of further attention," Professor Sherwood said.
"Jim Bowler, who some people may know was the man who discovered the Lake Mungo skeletons - the oldest known cremation in the world and the oldest known ceremonial burial in the world - knocked on my door one day literally, and said that it was about time we started to do some serious work to solve the puzzle of the Moyjil site."
Moyjil, which in Aboriginal language means 'long drag net' or 'basket', belongs to the country of the Gunditjmara nation.
The project has been overseen by the region's traditional owners; Eastern Maar, Gunditjmirring and Kuuyang Maar.
Craig Edwards is the Aboriginal cultural heritage manager and natural resource manager for Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.
He is a Gunditjmara man, with Peek Wurrong and Kirrae Wuurong language groups, and Wadawurrung flowing through his veins.
He says the research only confirms what traditional owners already know: that they've been here since the Dreamtime.
"We as Aboriginal people don't put a timeframe on that, we've been here forever, our people have been here forever," he said.
"But in context of what we're looking at, and we all know about the evidence of Mungo Man 60,000 years ago - this possibly could be something a lot older.
"They're talking about 120,000 years, which just is mind-blowing... that just rewrites history altogether."
Mr Edwards pointed out the areas his ancestors would have set up camp, warming their hands up against small fires and harvesting and feasting on the plants and abundant seafood.
Preserved within the rocks and dunes is the story of Indigenous connection to land over tens of thousands of years.
"You have the Hopkins mouth here; the river's flowing, you can imagine the mobs just throwing the moyjil across here while the eels are coming through the migration and it's an amazing thing to see - to see the eels coming through when the mouth is open."
An Ongoing Protection Declaration had been made for the site, which is the highest level of Aboriginal heritage protection available.
Moyjil is also listed on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register.
There's no doubt the sand dune behind the 12 metre-high headland is 120,000 years old.
John Sherwood says controversy lies in whether humans were there too.
"The oldest known sites in Australia are around 60,000 years," he said.
"We have here at Moyjil a site that is 120,000 years old - we're very confident of the age.
"But of course, there are various ways that a shell bed like this could form.
"What the archaeological community is saying is that if you are going to double the time of arrival of people in Australia, then you need a very high level of proof.
"So what the research is doing now is looking for that elusive conclusive proof, if you like, that would establish absolutely, that this site is a human site."
He conceded the shell deposit could also have been collected by a sea bird or other predator.
But Dr Sherwood said the fire evidence is a major stumbling block in terms of ruling out human activity, joking that fireplaces "aren't usually associated with seagulls".
"It's really unlikely here, we believe, and so the evidence could all be explained with a single cause: a human cause."
The research attracted the attention of world-renowned Professor Paul Goldberg from Boston University.
He came out to the site in 2019 and spent weeks extracting samples to take back to the United States to test.
Then the COVID pandemic hit and the samples have been stuck in Melbourne labs unable to be transported to the US.
"It'll be very satisfying to get a final answer to something that's occupied such a large part of my scientific life," Professor Sherwood said.
"But it also I think it will place even greater emphasis on the the longevity of Aboriginal culture and their original occupation in Australia.
"We've already mentioned the fact that it will have international significance for the movement of people out of Africa, in terms of Western science, but I think it will just hopefully raise the profile of Aboriginal society in our own society and continue the process to have greater recognition of our traditional owners."