The dating of alluvial deposits is frequently hampered by a lack of good-quality charcoal or other material for radiocarbon samples. We have dated two sites in southeastern Australia using traditional radiometric methods with minimal pretreatment. Results yielded an inconsistent chronology, affected by contamination with younger humic materials. A more consistent and older chronology was achieved using AMS dating of rigorously pretreated samples of fine-grained charcoal. The results have important implications for the radiocarbon dating of many Late Quaternary stratigraphic sequences with low charcoal abundance.