Category Archives: Student Posts

Posts by students

Keep Digging

My name is Kahlia Pearce; I am doing a Graduate Diploma in Archaeology and  Heritage Management at Flinders University. I am undertaking the Directed Studies topic to give me an insight into what it would be like to do a Master’s thesis.  My Directed Studies topic is on the historical archaeology of Calperum and Taylorville Stations, located just outside of Renmark. I will mainly be focusing on looking at other potential historical sites that could be found within the area.

Research has been tricky, as there have been name changes in many parts of the study area. Chowilla was used as the name for a pastoral property in 1846 (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1995:8). This property was then split into two properties known as Chowilla and Bookmark by Richard Holland (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1995). Holland used the Bookmark property for sheep and Chowilla was used as a cattle station (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1995:8).

The area known as Bookmark was then renamed Calperum (Australian Landscape Trust 2012). This area was subsequently renamed Calperum and Taylorville, as can be seen in the picture below.

Calperum and Taylorville area

I have found in my research a mention of stone homesteads erected at Bookmark and Chowilla in 1876-1877, and woolsheds and shearers’ quarters built on Chowilla (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1995:8).

Further research needs to be undertaken on these aspects, and I am planning a trip up to the local library at Renmark. Hopefully the library and talking to the people in the community can shed some light on the history of the area known now as Calperum and Taylorville.


Australian Government n.d. Calperum and Taylorville Stations. Retrieved 28 February 2014 from <;.

Australian Landscape Trust 2012 History: Calperum Station 1838-2010. Retrieved 1 March 2014 from <>.

National Parks and Wildlife Service 1995 Chowilla Regional Reserve and Chowilla Game Reserve Management Plan. Management plan prepared for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Australia.

A Timely Discovery

By Tegan Burton, Grad Dip in Archaeology

The semester has well and truly begun and research is underway. My topic is clear (Connecting Indigenous youth to culture through rock art recording and conservation) and my industry partner is on board (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service Aboriginal Co-Management Unit).

Work commenced by identifying underlying elements and questions (e.g. Indigenous perceptions of archaeology, and archaeologists. Where are the Indigenous archaeologists? Is this ‘community archaeology’? Is it true that art in particular is more applicable than other aspects of archaeology? What’s so important about connecting with culture?) and hunting around the literature for relevant references.

Then, while searching the office for an old report, a timely discovery was made, a small book called Revival, Renewal & and Return: Ray Kelly and the NSW Sites of Significance Survey (Kijas 2005).


Ray ‘Tiger’ Kelly was the first Aboriginal employee in the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), engaged as a Research Officer in 1973. With Harry Creamer, and under the supervision of archaeologist Sharon Sullivan, Kelly commenced what was to become the decade long NSW Sites of Significance Survey.

The Survey commenced at a time when Australia was shifting from the eras of protection and assimilation to self-determination and reconciliation (Kijas 2005; Smith 2004). The process and results of running the Survey radically changed thinking in NSW, demonstrating that NSW Aboriginal people had not lost contact with sites nor culture, as had been the general belief.

Just two years after commencement, Kelly submitted a report titled ‘A revival of the Aboriginal culture: We, the Aboriginal people, need this to achieve our identity’. His passion for cultural revival, inspired by the Survey, exuded from every sentence. ‘Now that some of us are aware of what we have lost, there seems to be an urgent need to restore whatever is left of our culture. To do this successfully we must involve many more Aborigines in the recording and protection programme’ (Kelly 1975, in Kijas 2005:14).

Around the same period, Kelly identified some challenges to reviving Aboriginal culture in NSW. One of these was the need ‘to encourage white anthropologists, archaeologists and linguists in their ivory towers to give direct feedback to the people they have obtained their material from’, while another was to overcome ‘the white education system, which has not accepted the need for Aboriginal kids to be educated in their own history’ (Kelly 1975:16).

That was 1975. Where do things stand now, in 2014? How much have things changed, in NSW, bureaucratically, and in reality?

In 2005 Kelly concluded that ‘the future of Aboriginal cultural heritage is bright. However, there is still a long way to go’ and ‘we need Aboriginal land managers, Aboriginal rangers and educators to guide our communities, and play a key role in the cultural understanding of our land’ (Kijas 2005:119).

I’m not Aboriginal, Indigenous, or a First Nations person. But I have had the privilege of working with some incredibly inspirational people who are, and I look forward to expanding that work within the world of archaeology.


Kelly, R. 1975 From the “Keeparra” to the “Cultural Bind”: An analysis of the Aboriginal situation. Australian Archaeology 2:13-17.

Kijas, J. 2005 Revival, Renewal and Return: Ray Kelly and the NSW Sites of Significance Survey. Hurstville: Department of Environment & Conservation (NSW).

Smith, C. 2004 Country, Kin and Culture: Survival of an Australian Aboriginal Community. Kent Town: Wakefield Press.

“Like hyenas…” Conflict on the frontier of colonial settlement at Cambridge Downs Station in 19th century Queensland

 “Like hyenas, the savage crowd come sneaking up to the house, and Charlie chuckles as he coolly drops two of the foremost with his double barrelled carbine. ‘By God! Missus,’ he exclaims, ‘that’s the way to wake ‘em up blackpellow’.”

The North Queensland Register, 21 December 1892

The savagery of conflict on the frontier of colonial settlement in 19th century Australia is apparent in countless reminiscences published in the newspapers of the time, in official documents penned in spidery script using antiquated language, and in the memory and oral tradition handed down through generations of both Indigenous and colonial settler descendants.

Although it sounds like a story from the Boys Own Annual, the above account was published in The North Queensland Register in December of 1892. It refers to events that took place on a pastoral station on the Flinders River in the Burke District of northern central Queensland, presumably sometime during the 1860s, and describes several bloody encounters between local Indigenous people and pastoralists. It is significant in that it describes the spatial context of the conflict – the pastoralist’s hut, and much is suggested by the language and style of prose adopted by the author.

The subjective nature of documentary evidence regarding conflict has resulted in an historical narrative whereby the violent nature of events has been either repudiated or ignored (Foster 2009); that is to say, history has either painted the colonial settler as a valiant innocent, bravely defending their territory, or concealed the occurrence of conflict altogether. And although we’ve long acknowledged the role of bias in understanding history, this is an issue which has been particularly problematic to our understanding of the ‘frontier’. Consequently, some historians have suggested that archaeologists could make a valuable contribution to this field of research (see Attwood and Foster 2003:23).

Cambridge Downs Station, also located on the Flinders River, was established sometime during the 1860s, and was one of the largest and most successful pastoral enterprises in the region. The first homestead built on the property was unusual in that it was constructed of stone, and had a “cane grass roof, flagstone floor, and one inch bars in the windows” (Authurs 1995:267). It was sturdily built and unlike any other homestead in the region. Local anecdotal evidence suggests that the substantial nature of construction was a response to the threat of attack from local Indigenous people and, indeed, other researchers have suggested that fortification of dwellings is apparent in other homesteads in a number of other states (Burns 2010; Grguric 2008, 2010).

The purpose of my directed study, then, is twofold. In the first instance I will be bringing together available documentary sources in an attempt to reconstruct the history of the Cambridge Downs Station during this period of settlement and conflict. I will also be analysing the construction of the homestead in an attempt to ascertain whether it really does provide independent evidence of conflict on the frontier.

Megan Tutty, Master of CHM student


Authurs, J. A. 1995 From Wyangarie to Richmond: An Historic Record of the Richmond District of North Queensland. Richmond, Australia: Richmond Shire Council.

Burns, K. 2010 Frontier conflict, contact, exchange: Re-imagining colonial architecture. In M. Chapman and M. Ostwald (eds), Imagining … Proceedings of the 27th International SAHANZ Conference, pp.70-80. Newcastle, Australia: Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand.

Foster, R. 2009 ‘Don’t mention the war’: Frontier violence and the language of concealment. History Australia. 6(3):68.

Grguric, N. 2008 Fortified homesteads: The architecture of fear in frontier South Australia and the Northern Territory, ca. 1847–1885. Journal of Conflict Archaeology 4: 59–85.

Grguric, N. 2010 Staking a claim: Fortified homesteads and their place in Australian settler identity construction. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 25: 47–63.

Anonymous  1892  In the Sixties. The North Queensland Register 21 December 1892, pp.14–19. Retrieved 29 March 2014 from

Aboriginal Regional Authorities

By April Webb

My directed study focuses on the establishment of Aboriginal Regional Authorities in South Australia, a system that aims to restore effective regional governance tailored to Aboriginal people. With the implications such a system could have for cultural heritage management, it is of course important for any hopeful archaeologist to get an idea of how it might work.

Unfortunately, this hopeful archaeologist did her BA at the University of Sydney and majored in Classical Archaeology. Specifics about Greek housing 700-400BP? You got it. Latin inscriptions? Sure. Australian heritage legislation…

….. what?

I had a lot of work to do.

Luckily, my research so far on Regional Authorities has proven as fascinating and informative as Allen and Greenough’s Latin Grammar (which is to say—very). The establishment of adequate systems for Aboriginal government, from what I have read, seems to rely on two things: self-determination and a regional approach.

Such a system has already been attempted with The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), which was established in 1990, and provided for the establishment of regional councils. Unfortunately, for a range of reasons (many of which had to do with Howard’s policy of ‘mainstreaming’ and scandals involving the ATSIC’s leadership, rather than the system itself) it was abolished in 2004.

More relevant to the current proposed system is perhaps the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority. Established in 2007 by the Ngarrindjeri Nation, this Regional Authority could be considered an exemplar for regional Aboriginal governance. One important point made by the Ngarrindjeri Authority in their submission to the South Australian Government on the topic of Regional Authorities could have important implications for heritage management—they wish for South Australian and Commonwealth agencies to transform the existing management regimes in the region towards recognition and support for healthy Ngarrindjeri Ruwe/Ruwar (country). Recognition that Indigenous people have their own views on what constitutes their own heritage is nothing new. But, with a regional system of governance, Indigenous heritage management could become much more nuanced.

This is my understanding, anyway. It’s a lot of information to digest, especially for someone who at the beginning of the semester had to google ‘What is an Act’ (sort of joking). Next blog?, I hope to have a much more in-depth idea of what these Regional Authorities will mean for cultural heritage management.

To Read or Not to Read: How to Choose Suitable Scholarly Sources

Back in the days when you had to go to the library and search through the table of contents of tens or even hundreds of scholarly journals, the sources available were limited by access, time and restricted by choice. You had to rely on the title of the article, the topic of the journal or even just the historical focus of the author. Then you would have to read the abstract in order to assess its value to your study. With today’s technology and the progression of online databases for peer reviewed journals, publications and library catalogues, coupled with the now commonplace use of electronic documents, the researcher now suffers from too much choice. The world has expanded tenfold from what was researchable as little as ten years ago thanks to the World Wide Web. When faced with the problem of “too much choice”, how can we filter quickly through the results of a simple database search that may provide over 10,000 matches? This blog will outline the easiest and quickest way to continue your research journey without wasting time on reading articles that are vaguely related to your study or not at all.

As part of my post-graduate Directed Study course (ARCH8404) at Flinders University, I am doing independent research with the aim of producing a professional, industry standard field report in my field of maritime archaeology. While my focus is very specific, the guidelines outlined in this blog are applicable to any research project. I use these same tips for compiling my thesis literature review and Directed Study reference list.

1)      Plan your work and work your plan.

The source finding process can be painless by developing an effective strategy (Hays et al. 2012:54). This means that you have your research question and aims compiled before you start searching for sources. Have a checklist of the types of data you need from your sources (like research design templates, theory, methods, case studies, etc.), as well as a list of keywords from your topic that may be helpful in a database search, just remember that to include alternative spellings and common abbreviations and acronyms to ensure full search coverage (Hay et al. 2012:55; Neuman 2009:28). It has also been helpful to me to use some ‘self-help’ writing guides (Figure 1), many of which helped me to write this blog, like: Making the Grade (Hay et al. 2012), The Dissertation Journey (Roberts 2004), and Understanding Research (Neuman 2009).

Using guides can make your life a lot easier. Odds are, if you are struggling with something, others have too.

Figure 1. Using guides can make your life a lot easier. Odds are, if you are struggling with something, others have too. Photograph by: C. Colwell-Pasch.

2)      Use databases.

While it is understood that some sources, such as large texts and primary sources, will not be available in a database (although some of this data could be, in a digitised form), most of the scholarly sources you will need for your study are available in full text online. Some of the more generic databases, like Google Scholar or your library’s search engine (Figure 2), will provide a great starting point for your journey (Roberts 2004:88). More specific databases can include publisher’s websites that can search through peer-reviewed articles for your topic or keyword. A helpful tip is to use a journal or spreadsheet to keep track of what you have already done in case you need to replicate the search: include date, keywords used, Boolean terms and databases searched (Hay et al. 2012:55; Neuman 2009:28).

Figure 2. Flinders University search engine for locating sources within the library or within accessible publishers websites.

Figure 2. Flinders University search engine for locating sources within the library or within accessible publishers websites.

3)      Check source type credibility.

The task is to find high-quality, relevant, reputable sources (Hay et al. 2012:58). It is  credibility of the source that determines whether or not it is scholarly or useable. Peer-review is a type of quality assurance for sources (Neuman 2009:30). While it is tempting, Wikipedia is NOT a scholarly source. It can be used to point you in a research direction but its lack of regulation and open source format hurts its credibility (Roberts 2004:88). The most credible sources are official government websites, peer-reviewed journals, reputable news sources, edited texts and institutional sites (universities, regulatory agencies, and governing bodies). Individual or business websites, web forums, blogs, materials published with ulterior motives are not recommended for use.

4)      Check specific source relevance.

This means evaluating the new source you just found following the above criteria and looking at it through the lens of your research topic. Some of the important points to think about when considering a source are: relevance, author affiliations (sometimes hard to distinguish), credibility of source, the date of publication (it is important to keep up with the times), and the sources cited (did THEY use credible sources?). This is almost like conducting a ‘background check’ to make sure that by using this source you are not going to get any criticism. By making sure you tick these boxes, there will never be an issue with the source chosen.

5)      When is enough, enough?

You followed the steps above, making sure you have a plethora of scholarly sources to add to your arguments in your study, but when do you stop looking? This is arguably the hardest part of the entire exercise (Roberts 2004:74). Gardiner and Kearns (2010:12) call this ‘readitis’. Always chasing the next source or the next idea. This can be dangerous to your study, because, while having a lot of information is good, you have timelines to meet and formatting to keep in mind. Set yourself up a simple reading schedule where you find and read two articles a day for week. The larger the project, the longer your schedule, but be realistic and set yourself a cut-off date and stick to it!

6)      Organisation is key!

The larger the project you are working on, the more need you will have to keep your sources organised. Programs like Endnote or Readcube are excellent for organising your sources and making them your own personal database of sorts. Do not, however, underestimate the power of a proforma and a binder. I use this method as a way to keep my thoughts organised and I even rate the reference in terms of its relevance to the different sections of my study (Roberts 2004:80). By writing down important theories or arguments while reading, you can make the process of integrating that information into your assignment that much easier (don’t forget the page numbers!) (Neuman 2009:37). Burke and Smith (2004:337) suggest that the minimum you record from a source is:

  •          source title
  •          author
  •          title of journal or book from which source was found
  •          publisher
  •          date of publication
  •          place of publication
  •          page range of source in journal or edited chapter


Burke, H., and C. Smith 2004 The Archaeologists Field Handbook. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.

Gardiner, M. and H. Kearns 2010  Turbocharge Your Writing: How to Become a Prolific Academic Writer. Adelaide: Flinders Univerity.

Hay, I., D. Bochner, G. Blacket, and C. Dungey 2012 Making the Grade: A Guide to Successful Communication and Study. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Neuman, W.L. 2009 Understanding Research. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Roberts, C. M. 2004 The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.