Category Archives: Posts from the field

Posts about fieldwork

Port MacDonnell: The Jetty and The Unknown Shipwreck

By Safwan Jalil (MMA student)

This is about the Maritime Archaeology Field School on Port MacDonnell, South Australia from 3 to 11 July. This is my first time ever doing an archaeological field school in Australia. The field school was supervised by two Flinders University staff: Wendy Van Duivenvoorde and Jennifer McKinnon. Twelve students were in this field school altogether, some doing it as volunteers while others doing it as a class subject.

The Unknown Shipwreck

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Futtocks, gunwales, catheads – OH MY!

It’s Friday and you know what that means – Master Classes! Today we ran a master class called “Ships as material culture.” This MC examined the “ship” as an artefact. From the wood it was constructed with to all of the fittings like winches, capstans, anchors and cannons, we explored their use, materials and positions on ships. A few fun exercises got the hearts racing. The first was to label the basic ship timbers in a frame-first constructed vessel. The second exercise was a bit more challenging and had a bountiful book prize. Participants were split into teams and given a ship model to label. Approximately fifty ship parts were on the list to be labelled with little stickers. Our winners were Lynda Bignell, Roger Halliday, Phyllis Coxhill and Maddy McCallister. Congratulations!

I think everyone walked away with a finer appreciation of ship construction. When you next see Lynda, Roger, Phyllis and Maddy ask them what a “cathead” is and I’m sure the will enlighten you.

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Phyllis and Maddy hard at work labeling

Mannum boat recording

Hello from Mannum on the river. We are here recording small river watercraft for Phyllis Coxhill’s Honours thesis project. So far we’ve taken the lines off both the port and starboard sides and are taking scantling measurements of timbers. It’s been a challenge trying to measure the boat with another boat over our heads. Lots of bumps on our heads.

The two boats in the photograph are called punts. They’d be used for travelling and fishing and other activities. They are flat-bottomed with no keel and have a hard chine. The interesting bits are the repairs and alterations made during its working life. We’ll be looking for and recording those too.

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Mt. Dutton Bay Maritime Archaeology Field School: one student’s experience

By Pete Colvin

Each year Flinders University runs a maritime archaeology field school as a part of its commitment to student skills development. This year was no exception: from the 31st January to 12th February 2011, an intensive period of field work was conducted in the Mount Dutton Bay region. In previous visits made to this area Mount Dutton Bay was known to have significant historic and maritime cultural heritage potential. It was from these previous visits that the 2011 field school developed, its aim was to conduct further survey and excavation work on the historic shipwreck Caprice and to further develop and understand the maritime cultural landscape of the area.

Mt. Dutton Bay Maritime Archaeology Field School students and staff, 2011

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Orroral Valley Tracking Station

All the way back in February this year, I accompanied Alice Gorman on her field work at the former Orroral Valley Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park, Canberra. Also along for the ride was Rob Koch (Tafe SA) and Ian Moffat (ANU).

Of course, we happened to make the 15 hour car trip to Canberra on one of its wettest weekends since 2002. The average rainfall for February is 55.4mm – that weekend they received 104mm. The rain did not however curb our enthusiasm, we donned our rain coats and went about recording and mapping the site using differential GPS and geophysical techniques.

The Orroral Valley Tracking Station, operational from 1965, was established as part of NASA’s Spacecraft Tracking and Date Acquisition Network (STADAN). The station closed in 1985, and today is visible only through the foundations of the buildings, a ‘footprint’ left as a reminder of the past.

Over the past few months I have been partaking in a Practicum as part of my Masters in CHM. This has involved looking into the history and use of Microlock networks, Minitrack stations and Baker Nunn cameras (all used in the tracking of satellites) at Orroral Valley and within Australia. Hopefully, this will assist Alice in her attempts to record and document the site so that an in-depth understanding of its contribution to Australia’s space history can be established.

Stay tuned for my results…

ARCH8307 “Introductory Archaeological Geophysics” 2010



Thank you to all of my intrepid students who finish up their ARCH8307 “Introductory Archaeological Geophysics” topic this afternoon by presenting the data they have collected from the historic Meadows Wesleyan cemetery in the Adelaide Hills. The students, split in two groups entitled “The A Team” and “The Sextons”, collected, processed and interpreted ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic induction and magnetometer data to try to locate the foundations of the former church and some of the more than 50 unmarked burials know the exist within this cemetery. Students also were fortunate to be able to assist Flinders PhD candidate Martin Wimmer by searching for an air raid shelter in Souter Park, Goodwood. The investigations are still a bit inconclusive, but our preliminary interpretation is that a feature did exist on this site however any material used for it’s construction has now been removed.

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Flinders graduate students in Chile

Our intrepid Technical Officer Louise Holt sends these pictures from the Chile Field School.  She reports that the food is good, and the Chilean wine is great.