In a portrait on the website of The National University of Australia, anthropologist Ian Keen, tells about his research among Aboriginees in Australia. Among other things, he wanted to find out why pre-colonial Aboriginal societies tended to be more egalitarian than some of their counterparts elsewhere in the world:
In a paper published in the journal Current Anthropology, Keen argues that for any society to develop lasting social hierarchies, it must have access to plentiful, localised resources that could be defended. In this event, some people can assume authority over others. On the northwest coast of North America, for example, recent hunter-gatherers enjoyed a stable climate and concentrated, defendable resources, especially plentiful salmon. As a consequence, these societies developed such enduring inequalities as inherited chiefly office and marked social classes, while some even kept slaves.
In contrast, Aboriginal societies did not develop such enduring inequalities. (...) Keen argues this relative egalitarianism was the result of constraints arising from variable food resources and an unstable climate, meaning there was limited scope for people to assume dominion over others by asserting exclusive access to territory and resources.
"It’s not exactly an environmental determinist argument, but it is suggesting that those conditions imposed restraints. I make the assumption that wherever they can, some humans will take the opportunities given to them to establish some kind of dominion over others. So my paper argues that even if people knew how to dominate one another, and wanted to do so, the opportunities were not there.
Brian Hayden, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is not convinced and criiticizes that Keen does not put enough weight on the ecological and economic aspects of complexity that develop among some hunter-gatherers in Australia.
Keen is the author of the book Aboriginal Economy and Society. The website of the book is quite informative. If you click on Supplementary Materials you'll find several cases studies and several pages about aboriginal technologies. In the paper Variation in Indigenous Economy and Society at the Threshold of Colonisation, Keen tells about more about his book:
Just how similar and how distinct were Aboriginal societies in different parts of the continent at the time of British colonisation of Australia? The book I am currently writing attempts to answer this and related questions by comparing the economy and society of seven very varied regions of the continent as they were at the threshold of colonisation.
Such a comparative study is long overdue. There have been no recent systematic comparisons of Aboriginal ways of life in different parts of Australia, comparable to, for example, Marshall Sahlins on Polynesia or Rubel and Rosman on New Guinea.