Category Archives: Posts from the field

Posts about fieldwork

Tennis court tent society at Mallala

“How was the tent?” was one of the first questions my husband asked me during my time at the Flinders Uni Mallala Field Methods Field School (ARCH 8801).  The question arose because of the minor dilemma I had suffered when deciding whether or not to lug my tent to Malalla from Sydney. The Archaeology Department kindly offered one of the Uni tents to aid my plight and, despite my immediate vision of a 2 man pup tent over used by successive generations of Uni students, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I would be comfortably housed in a brand new 3 man dome tent.  Excellent!  Dilemma over.

Our ‘Tennis Court tent society’ at Mallala  was a delightful conglomerate of shapes and sizes, all forming a temporary society consisting of strangers sleeping next to one another, separated by the merest of thin nylon walls.  One of the largest tents, occupied by gentleman Matt, was a suitably impressive family size tent, allowing the luxury of a full standing position (see picture 1). Gentleman Matt appeared quite proud of his comparatively king-like structure as seen by his Napoléonesque poise for the photo.

de Palais Matto

Next door to ‘de Palais Matto’ and previously lived in by Jessica, stood the saddest member of the Tennis Court tent society. A pup tent of dubious nature which had been ‘borrowed’ (see picture 2). Not only was this tent the smallest tent on the block but it failed its prime directive; to stay up and provide shelter. The disappointment is obvious on Jessica’s face.

So sad......

Jessica was able to abandon the premises within a couple of nights of our arrival thanks to the preparedness of Rhiannon. Thankfully, as picture 3 shows, a newer, roomier abode at the other end of the street put a smile on Jessica’s face.

But now much happier!

The Tennis Court tent society was not without its famous residents. Temporary refuge was sought by visiting ABC Radio journalist, Ann. Embracing the spirit of BYO ideology, Ann’s imported lodgings brought lightness and colour, as did her very presence, to the tennis court society (with the possible exception of her fashion choices in pull overs)(see picture 4).

Anna from the ABCRegretfully, the assigned word limit of this blog prevents me from further espousing my thoughts on the  Tennis Court tent society, but special mention must be made of Bob’s true blue, real man swag (picture 5) and, of course, I must assure you that my lodgings, courtesy of Flinders, were extremely comfortable. However this doesn’t stop me from pondering an upgrade next time round. Where did you get your tent from Mick?

Bob, who was my most delightful next door neighbor
Mark obviously didn't want to be photographed with his tent

Di's, like de Palais Matto was also at the high end of the street and just as wonderful

Fashions in the Field

Strutting their stuff on the ‘Red Dust Carpet’ at Redbanks for the April 2012 Field Methods Field School were archaeology students, staff and helpers. Little did anyone realise that as a first time Arch student I was rating the dress sense of my more seasoned colleagues for ‘Fashions in the Field’ Awards. Unlike the red carpets of Paris and Milan, my points were awarded for being practical, safe, dustproof, sun-smart, bite- proof, as well as imaginative and stylish. Participants needed to follow the basic clothing requirements in the course handbook: long sleeve shirt, long pants, wide brim hat, sturdy shoes.

This season’s trends were Akubra style hats and check shirts worn with various shades of khaki; the new black! Those familiar with Munsell Soil Colour Charts know that khaki is dirt camouflage colour. Popular hair styles were short, no nonsense cuts and practical ponytails. But who dared to be different?

Bonnet of distinction – Heather, with her chic beige linen, and Rhiannon, with her embroidered little black Archaeology Society bucket hat, were strong contenders, but the winner was Jess looking a treat in floppy black hat accessorised with green peg!

Artistic Accessories – Bob, with his green anticancer gloves, Matt, with his burnt orange Egyptian scarf, and Viki, with mauve polished nail, were eye catching. Britt, with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, lost points when her precious metal interfered with readings on Julie’s and Rob’s matching WW1 era compasses.  But accessory princess was Amanda, who matched her blue & white bandanna with her nail decal on perfect acrylic nails.











Lovely Locks – Antoinette, with her short, glossy, stylish cut, and Mick, with his ‘no more tears no more tangles’ upstyle pony, looked the part and were practical, but they were outshone by Clare’s wash and wear dreadlocks resplendent with beads and threads!

The overall winner of Fashion in the Field 2012  was Sam, for her delightfully stylish and personalised outfits. The tie-dyed T-shirts, embroidered Nepalese pants, fly-netted hats and arm adornments prove that archaeologists can match function with fashion when in the field.

Walking… and a little bit of archaeology

Surveying for Shipwrecked Mariner Graves off Loch Sloy, Kangaroo Island, SA

By Maddy Fowler and Cassandra Morris

On the 27th March, Kyle Lent, Cassandra Morris and Maddy Fowler, maritime archaeology students at Flinders University, embarked on the Sealink Ferry to Kangaroo Island to participate in the 2012 survey of historic shipwreck burial sites lead by Amer Khan from the Department for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). This project involved conducting an archaeological survey to investigate possible locations of the burials of twelve bodies recovered from the sea following the wreck of Loch Sloy. The vessel was bound for Port Adelaide when it wrecked north of Cape de Couedic in the early morning of 24th April 1899. The location of the remains of the shipwreck is at present unknown.

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10 Canoes! No not really. 5 canoes, but in 2 days!

Our canoe workshop. Top, L to R: Mark Polzer, Wendy van Duivenvoorde, Jason Raupp, Zidian James, Rachel Powell, David Payne, Jacob Jordan. Bottom, L to R: Jennifer McKinnon, John Naumann, Sheena Rodrigues, Roger Halliday, Jonathan Nicholls

We’ve completed our second and last day of the Indigenous canoe building workshop with David Payne of ANMM (more details in previous post). Many of us had our doubts that we’d be able to make working, floating watercraft out of the pile of stringbark and paperbark that lay before us on the first day. However we managed to make five different types of Indigenous watercraft by the end of the workshop! These include a sewn bark canoe, a tied bark canoe, a raft, a bundled paperbark canoe and a “shopping trolley” as David has called it. With a good amount of instruction from David and attention to detail we all managed to make a model that resembled and potentially could even perform as a watercraft. I think we all learnt that the skill and knowledge Indigenous watercraft builders need(ed) to make useable vessels for transport, movement and procurement of food is more than we expected.

Our second day of canoe building included a lot of excitement. We finally were able to light our fire in order to burn off the exterior of our bark canoes we built the previous day. We also had a visit from students in the Screen and Media program who filmed our activities and interviewed David. The most interesting aspect of the workshop to me was how we all needed to improvise. We had a certain set of materials and basic tools but from those and our surroundings we improvised to make our canoes work. For example, we needed sharp tools to sew our bow and stern of the bark canoe together, so one student found that a palm tree in our yard had very sharp spikes on it. She took one of the thorns, poked a hole in it and threaded her line through it to act as a needle and sewed her canoe together. Brilliant! Based on his own research, David related that the communities that built/build canoes take the same sort of approach. They work with what they have available. In the end we had a great time and hope that another workshop will eventuate. I could see this as being an annual event. Next time, though, we are going for the full scale model!

Thanks again David for a wonderful workshop and a stimulating public lecture. Also, thanks to SA Museum Keryn and her crew for procuring our raw materials. Stop by office next week if you want to see some of our models on display…

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HMB Endeavour Makes Port

Although HMB Endeavour arrived 90 minutes late into Port Adelaide due to the rail bridge malfunctioning, the vessel has made its mark on the Port. Monday 20th saw a small group of Flinders students join the hundreds boarding the ship, and many more passers-by simply coming to have a look.

We were met by a guide as we stepped onto the vessel, who began to explain various aspects of the ship in our immediate vicinity such as the operation of the anchor, the cannons and the ‘washing machine’ (better known as a bucket with salt-water). Moving then to the foredeck, more information was given, this time concerning the toilet and the piece of unwoven wet rope used in place of toilet paper. We then had the experience of going below deck and learning about life on board.

Throughout the tour, groups were passed on to each area’s guide and given a glimpse of what like would have been like on board the vessel. Moving through the cramped spaces, into rooms only 4ft high, and up narrow staircases, while fun the first time, would have been awful after months on board. We soon escaped into the open air again, after being shown both Sir Joseph Banks quarters and Captain James Cook’s quarters. The last part of the tour was an explanation of steering and some of the guide’s experiences on sailing the ship recently (now with GPS).

Leaving Endeavour felt rushed, like there was more to see. Perhaps this is from being ushered through the rooms as the guide in front becomes free or simply that only some rooms are open for visitors. To view the entire ship I would have had to sail with it or volunteer to be a night guard or guide (all quite tempting but too late now). However, I also left feeling full of new information and things to go look up later on Google.

To have missed this opportunity would have been unfortunate, as its not everyday that a tall ship sails into Adelaide.

I would recommend any one with the chance to visit Endeavour before it closes on Thursday, or even to view its departure on Friday, to do so. There is also still time to volunteer on board at its next port, Portland, Victoria (applications due 27th Feb). For more information about the Endeavour see its webpage

Written and Photographed by Cassandra Morris

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