Fitzroy River (Photo: alybaba/

The discovery of a human skull on a crumbling riverbank in Western Australia has led to one of the largest recoveries of human remains from unmarked grave sites in Australia.

Now scientists are using the latest DNA technology to try to return more than 70 sets of these long-lost bones to their living relatives.

Last year, children playing on the banks of the Kimberley's Fitzroy River thought they had found an old football in the eroded bank — but had instead uncovered a human remnant from one of the town's earliest inhabitants.

Bunuba Elder Mary Aiken grew up by the river which snakes through the town of Fitzroy Crossing.

She said the community began to panic when they realised that years of flooding and erosion had started to sweep the bones away from the old Pioneer Cemetery.

"There was a sense of urgency," she said.

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