Rapid climate change events can have devastating impacts upon agricultural production and human society. Advances in spatial and temporal resolution of palaeoenvironmental and archaeological data enable detailed examination of the nature of human-environment interactions. Recent studies have shown that throughout the Holocene human populations responded to rapid climate change events by existing subsistence strategies adopting to novel environmental conditions. In the case of agriculturalists in New Guinea and hunter-gatherers in northern Australia, climate change set in motion a range of biological and demographic possibilities and restrictions that had long-term consequences for each region. The early Holocene climatic and ensuing environmental transformations heightened natural biomass production and population increases. Consequently, later rapid changes in climate centred around 6000 and 3500 cal yr BP, resulted in the adoption of innovative technologies and diverse subsistence strategies throughout the region that reduced the vulnerability of people in an environment of increasing unpredictable climate variability.