Category Archives: Student Posts

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A Journey Considering Belief

By Tegan Burton, Community Archaeology Field School


This is me and Rachael Kandino. Rachael accompanied my journey from the first day to the last at the Community Archaeology Field School in Barunga, Northern Territory, June 2014. Rachael gave me the skin name Kotjan, after her mother Lilly Willika, a very special woman to many people. So now I am Rachael’s mother too.

As our first day in Barunga drew to a close I found myself accompanying Rachael and others to a local Christian convention at the nearby community of Beswick. When we arrived the service was well underway. Although it was a cold evening everyone was seated outside, on rugs on the ground, in a large circle, with the occasional small fire amongst the seated groups. While there we saw singing and dancing, preaching and healing, with men, women and children all participating.

As I sat in the role of observer, many questions came to mind that I didn’t know how to ask. Questions about how the dance movements developed, as some appeared reminiscent of traditional dance movements. Questions about the pastor’s emphasis on the involvement of all, the whole family, when I knew already that traditional Aboriginal culture locally was highly segregated by gender and also age. And questions about personal responses to the pastor’s words of hope, support, and healing.

Those first thoughts were to become my community project topic Christianity – Our Way.


A picnic lunch by the water at Beswick Falls became the location of our first detailed conversation about Christianity, Barunga way.

From the very beginning it was clear that there can be different ideas coming from traditional Aboriginal ways and what Westerners generally consider Christian ways. However Aboriginal people are adapting their traditions and ‘can understand God through our way’ (Rachael Kendino, pers. comm. 2014).

Given the traditional Aboriginal connection to the spirit world, it is possible that Aboriginal people understand and embrace the idea of the Holy Spirit more readily than non-Aboriginal people.

Rachael feels that Christianity has brought about a community with less drinking and other drugs, and more discipline and respect. I heard this sentiment echoed by others as I collected the information needed for my community project through ongoing conversations.


Rachael will soon be returning to Manyallaluk (also known as Eva Valley), as a practitioner for the church. As part of her church work she hopes to support the community by having barbecues and film nights, and to sell food to the community, to help them out. Rachael is keen to learn more Munanga (whitefella) way to help make this happen, if the end result can benefit community.

Like so many Aboriginal women I’ve met and worked with, Rachael is incredibly strong in spirit. She also has a great capacity to communicate with those like me – an Anglo student from the city. As my other guide in this journey, Claire Smith, said, Rachael understands a little of both ways and can see the similarities and differences.

Rachael travelled to Adelaide and undertook studies at Flinders University herself in 2011. She has a strong desire to keep on learning, all the time, and pass on what she has learnt to her children and community.

Blackfella way don’t say thank you. Whitefella way do. Thank you Rachael for accepting me in to your world, sharing Barunga, and sharing your stories of flying together, like the black crow and white cockatoo.

Finishing up my directed study

By April Webb

It’s the end of semester and my directed study is done, hooray! (Not that I mean to imply that it wasn’t fun… of course.) It was a lot of work (50% research, 25% writing, 25% deleting the gibberish that my cats inserted while I wasn’t looking), but now I can say with confidence that I have a basic understanding of Indigenous heritage management in Australia. And now I can do more than nod politely and give a blank stare when people talk about legislation and government bodies that I previously knew nothing about. I’m sure that’s a good thing. In my previous blog posts I discussed the basic advantages of a regional governance system, and talked a little about the Ngarrindjeri and Torres Strait Regional Authorities. Here’s a summary of my final report.

This segment of Horton's map of Aboriginal Australia shows the locations of the four ARA Test Sites.

This segment of Horton’s map of Aboriginal Australia shows the locations of the four ARA Test Sites.

In July 2013 the Department of the Premier and Cabinet of the South Australian Government announced plans for implementing a system of Aboriginal Regional Authorities across the state. These Authorities would be responsible for a range of functions which would differ according to the needs and capabilities of each region, and would base their operations to an extent on the successful example of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority. Submissions were received from a variety of interested parties, and in December 2013 test sites were chosen. They are:

• Narungga (Yorke Peninsula) – Narungga Aboriginal Corporation Regional Authority;
• Ngarrindjeri (Lower River Murray) – Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority;
• Port Augusta – Port Augusta Aboriginal Community Engagement Group; and
• Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) – Kaurna Nation Cultural Heritage Association.

My Directed Study project involved a study of existing ARAs and similar structures in order to determine how such bodies might function, and what their pros and cons might be.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, regionalism was generally seen as a desirable model for Indigenous governance, as evidenced in the academic literature on the subject and in submissions made to the South Australian Government on the topic by interested parties. A caveat was that regions should be decided by Indigenous people themselves and not be the product of ‘top-down’ approaches, such as that derived through census data. It was also noted that Regional Authorities would most likely need to have statutory authority  or some sort of legislative recognition in order to achieve effective governance, although there are some examples of bodies who are able to govern effectively without this, such as the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority. Funding was another major concern. It is likely that Regional bodies will require more intensive funding from the government in their early stages, and that this will enable them to become more self-sufficient as time goes on. The funding arrangements of existing bodies such as the NRA and Gumala Aboriginal Corporation provided insight into possible schemes for self-funding. Lastly, Aboriginal Regional Authorities might provide clarification in South Australia on whom to approach for heritage matters, and exactly how much authority Indigenous groups have in these instances.

So, I am happy to say that my report is finished and submitted! Now it’s the holidays, time for me to concentrate on other things, like watching TV and continuing with my botched attempts to learn to play the flute (sorry, neighbours). Oh, and continuing to work on this report. My industry partner has mentioned that we might be able to turn the report into a joint publication eventually, which is very exciting. So, still a lot of work to do!

Fortification or furphy?

Today, there is little evidence of the thriving pastoral station that was known as Cambridge Downs, an enterprise so successful that it was once renowned as the largest station in the Burke District (The Queenslander 11/8/1894). But archaeological survey of the site has confirmed that the building would have been sturdily and skilfully constructed. Local historians have claimed that the homestead also had bars in the windows, designed to protect occupants from attack (Authurs 1995:267), but these have long since been removed.

Cambridge Downs Homestead, 2010
Photographer: Matthew Moran

The aim of my directed study was to document the history of Cambridge Downs and reach some conclusions regarding the rationale for the construction technique and style of the homestead. With several other researchers (e.g. Grguric 2008, 2010; Burns 2010) having identified examples of fortified dwellings on the pastoral frontier, it was hoped that this work might further contribute to this field of enquiry.

There is little doubt that the settlers at Cambridge Downs would have been fearful of attack. There is ample historical evidence to suggest that violent conflict was a real and inescapable consequence of life on the pastoral frontier. At Cambridge Downs, the murder of Chinese shepherd Ah Shong in 1885 is testimony to this fact. But although we can be reasonably certain that conflict took place, and that the homestead was strongly built, we cannot definitively conclude that Cambridge Downs Homestead was built to withstand attack from the local Indigenous population.

It can be said with a great deal more certainty, though, that the homestead at Cambridge Downs has become a physical manifestation of the non-Indigenous ideology and lore that surrounds pastoralism in north Queensland today. Burns (2010) argued that the fortified dwellings of the pastoral frontier were built as symbolic talismans to ward off attack. As symbols, these dwellings were designed to convey strength and invincibility, and to demonstrate the settler’s ‘upper hand’ in racial confrontation. Whilst this may or may not be the case, at the very least such buildings have become symbols of pioneering courage and strength. They undoubtedly reinforce the transformation of events on the frontier to a narrative of pioneer triumph.

These stories of frontier conflict sit uneasily within our culture. On the one hand they illustrate accomplishment of European settlers in the face of adversity; on the other they kindle our shame about a past of injustice and violence. Perhaps the crumbling ruins of homesteads such as Cambridge Downs are a fitting tribute to this paradoxical past. They represent our success and failure, our pride and shame, in equal measures.

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, Qld: 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, NSW: Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand.

Grguric, N. 2008 Fortified homesteads: The architecture of fear in frontier South Australia and the Northern Territory, ca. 1847–1885. Journal of Conflict Archaeology4: 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.

‘The shearing dispute’  1894 The Queenslander 11 August, p.283. Retrieved 1/3/2014 from

Taylorville: A Place of Mystery

Boggy Flat was established by James White in 1871. James White held approximately 21 pastoral leases, covering an area of 1,386 square miles. In 1908 Frederick George Taylor, a famer, renamed Boggy Flat to Taylorville. Taylor is also known as the father of Taylorville. Taylor and his family’s first home was located under the cliffs at Gillen East; their permanent home was completed in 1911 on the Murray.

James White

James White

At Taylorville there was a river landing for paddle steamers, and the Kookaburra and the Queen were constant visitors.

There was a stage coach that ran between Morgan, Renmark and Wentworth (when required), operated by Moody and Plush. F.G. Taylor opened a post office on April 13, 1915; it closed on July 31, 1967. In 1914 F.G. Taylor created the F.G. Taylor and Sons Mail Lorry.


Mallyons Restaurant

Western’s Flat was part of Taylorville; on the site was a building built in 1841 that was specifically designed as a rest stop for overlanders travelling to Overland Corner. This building is an organic restaurant today known as Mallyons. A hotel was built within the area and the rest stop became a stable for passengers and staff of Cobb and Co. These buildings were also used as a shearing shed in the 1900s during the Second World War and for barn dancing for the adolescents from Morgan and Taylorville.


Anon. 1919 The Late Mr F.G. Taylor, The Father of Taylorville. The Murray Pioneer 13 July n.p.

Anon. 2010 Mallyons celebrates a decade of fine food. Riverland Weekly 16 September p.10.

Nunn, J.M. 1994 History of Waikerie: Gateway to the Riverland. Waikerie: Waikerie Historical Society.

Taylor, M. 1995 Taylorville South Australia Towards 2000: “Southward Ho” to Adelaide on The Barque “Himilaya”. Mildura: Victoria.

Using Google Earth in Archaeology

Google Earth and Archaeology.

By Tom Georgonicas

For my 3rd blog post for my directed studies, I thought I would discuss the main program I  decided to use to help complete my report on potential archaeological sites buried under the car parks of Adelaide. I am sure most of you have used Google Earth at some point—either as a way to plot road trips, create maps to a site, make mud maps (I have), or for actual reports and papers. The most widely used version is the free version available online via the Google home page. The better version, dubbed ‘Google Pro’, could set you back around $300.

In relation to my directed study, the use of Google Earth has been an important part of my work. Besides using Google Earth to locate ground level open-air car parks around Adelaide, I have also used Google Earth’s image overlay function to place historic maps of Adelaide over the current satellite image of Adelaide.

Currently I have managed to find 33 car parks around the city of Adelaide that may have potential archaeological value. Google has also added a ‘time scale’ function on Google Earth. It allows the user to review past satellite images of the location they are viewing. In Adelaide, for example, I was able to observe the development in the city from the first satellite image added on Google Earth to the latest image. This function also shows which areas of the city have undergone redevelopment in the past few years.

In 2009, Dr. Adrian Myers, then a grad student from Stanford University used Google Earth for his research on Internment Camps. He quite famously in 2009 used Google Earth, satellite images, aerial photographs and other data on Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to show that the prison had been expanded during the beginning of the War on Terror. It was interesting to see how the Camp had expanded as the war progressed. Myers also states that Google Earth has been used by other researchers to investigate looting of sites over the past few years, as well as locating and recording sites that are in inaccessible or dangerous areas for field work.

In conclusion, Google Earth is a powerful tool that can be utilised in archaeology. Desktop studies, such as my directed study, have been possible because of Google Earth and its functions. But, interestingly enough, Myers also makes the  point that if archaeologists can freely access Google Earth to locate sites, then other people looking for potential sites, such as looters, can also use it.

For those interested in reading up on Google Earth’s use in archaeology and its potential. I would highly recommend these two papers.

‘Field work in the age of digital reproduction’ by Adrian Myers.

‘Camp Delta, Google Earth and the Ethics of Remote Sensing in Archaeology’ by Adrian Myers.

 and finally a link to Google Earth