Category Archives: Student Posts

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Ardtornish, Dry Creek, or Modbury? Locating Ardtornish Estate’s place in history

Ardtornish Estate was established in the 1840s, and the land and the dwelling was the first to be established in what is now the Modbury area. The area was not originally named Modbury, but Ardtornish, and in the following years the area would be referred to as Ardtornish, Modbury, and even Dry Creek. Each name coexisted until the rapid expansion of people in the 20th century, when the name Modbury became prominent.

It became clear when doing the archival research for this Directed Study project that it was not going to be easy to locate the background history of this site. Not only are there limited sources, but the information from State Records, libraries and relevant websites focus predominantly on Angus and Gillian MacLaine, the first Europeans to buy the land under England’s colony expansion.  Having different names for the  general area also made my task a lot longer, and more tedious than anticipated. However, I did learn one thing: always double check if the name of the suburb has changed over time!

triiiiiissssssssss

   Angus MacLaine, courtesy of Ardtornish Primary school. Date unknown.

40,000 years ago, Archaeology says nothing happened at this site.

Reading these other blogs I wish I had some great pictures to show you, or even report that I got some sand between my toes. But alas, my directed studies topic “Archaeology and the development boom: an analysis of professional ethics and standards in Australian archaeology’’ involved less adventurous, but I hope as revealing, telephone interviews.

So interviews done, surprises aplenty, but perhaps some only from my inexperienced point of view. It seems, despite a very small sample (two one-hour interviews with CHM practitioners) that Dr Mick Morrison’s belief that a research project awaits, is well founded.

One surprise would seem to translate across the field of archaeology, even to my untrained ear. CHM has potentially discovered Indigenous artefacts with a date of 40,000 BP, yet the results may never be subjected to academic study or even recording. That would seem to pose a significant problem.

The details: So the entirety of my question to the second anonymous subject, based on criticism in the literature, was: “How often during survey work have you recommended the need for follow up specialist academic investigations (e.g. excavation, dating, detailed lab work, conservation work) and have you encountered resistance to such work from the client: very often, sometimes, rarely, or not at all.”

The answer included (with potentially identifying comments marked with an x):

“I will give you one really good example. We just did some investigations just xxx near xxx and I have some basal dates associated with artefacts at 40,000 years. They only have a TL date and I don’t want to publish it and I don’t want to tell anyone about it because I can’t say positively that I’m happy that the association of the artefact with the age is the real one. Now I can’t get the proponent X … X to actually fork out to do more research. It desperately needs it but I just can’t get him to respond. It is probably one of the most important sites in terms of age in Australia it has got to be the oldest site on the XXXX.

Unless someone has some political will this is going to go on and on and on. And this guy is notorious for taking people to court so we really have to watch what we do. The answer would be in terms of specific research it is rare.”

For now I’ll leave it to far more experienced minds to judge the potential significance.

Miles Kemp

Digital Imaging using “Windows live Photo Gallery’ and ‘Image Concept’ for Rock Art in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges

In this final blog I would like to share some of the photographic techniques that I found useful in digitally enhancing faint rock art motifs. These can be done on a desktop computer with available software.
The study involved illustration and photography of rock art motifs using colour negative film, digital photography and computer enhancement of faint images. Digital images were enhanced more effectively than colour print images by altering: brightness; contrast; colour balance and saturation. Many of the faint motifs recorded were further enhanced using software to reveal deeper red ochres and outlining that was not visible to the unaided eye.
This is illustrated in the central anthropomorphic ‘reptile-like’ figures at Pym’s Road shelter (see Figures 1, 2). Other faint images in a granite shelter near Palmer show connected anthropomorphic figures that also responded well to this technique (see Figures 3, 4). The digital photo imagery show features in natural daylight and computer colour enhancement of the same motifs. This method can also be used on scratched figures that overlie paintings to show the contrast between the two and the rock patina.
The steps to achieve this on Windows 7 are: Open a daylight digital photograph (preferable taken on an overcast day) in ‘Windows Live Photo Gallery’; adjust exposure (top tool bar on right hand side); click on ‘adjust colour’, displayed will be: Colour Temperature, Tint and Colour Saturation. Hold the mouse over the horizontal adjustment bar and manually drag to the right or left. I usually drag the colour temperature to the right a little, and then the saturation bar almost all the way to the right. You can edit the controls to give a brighter or dimmer view. Then make a copy to save in a safe location.
The comparison between the unaltered and enhanced image will give you a greater depth of ochre colours. The background surface will appear green to blue which contrasts the orange-red motifs at the other end of the colour spectrum.
Another method is to use image enhancing software that can be downloaded for a free trial, such as “Imaging Concept.” This software was developed at Charles Sturt University for medical imaging. It is possible to enhance imagery of Aboriginal rock art with this program by manipulating colour histograms via a look up table (i.e. numbers of pixels in specific colours) it makes it easier for the unaided eye to observe (Faith Coleman pers.comm. 2013).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Faint red ochre figures photographed in daylight at Pym’s Road Shelter.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Same image as above but edited with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Faint red ochre motifs photographed in daylight in a shelter at Palmer.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Same image as above but edited with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Ardtornish Estate, the Hidden Gem of the Florey Electorate

Like many other students on this blog, this semester I am undertaking a directed study. The idea of undertaking a project with minimal supervision was daunting! Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I headed to meet Lea Crosby, a prominent member of the Florey district chambers, and a well-known person in the district.

Upon meeting Lea, my fears towards the project subsided, and reality kicked in. I was soon in  research mode, and handed six different historical sites with folders full of information. However, one stood out more than the rest, Ardtornish Estate. To Lea and her colleagues, this place is a mystery. Found through a colleague attending an open house inspection at 9 Quintal Avenue, Modbury (it could be yours for $690,000 – $720,000!), it is only by chance that the Ardtornish Estate is known to them.

The front facing of Ardtornish Estate, Modbury. South Australia (2013). Photo courtesy of Century 21, Modbury.

Upon initial investigation, this grand house is a prominent feature in the Modbury district. In fact, this particular house is one of the first, and largest, estates to be established in the area. Built in 1843, the homestead was built on approximately 80 acres by Angus MacLaine and used as a cattle farm.

You may at this point be thinking, Ardtornish estate? Isn’t that in Scotland? How did it get that name? The answers to these questions, and the people involved will all be revealed in blog #2. Stay tuned!

Tristan Grainger

What’s really wrong with the National History Curriculum?

Is anybody happy?

Prime minister Tony Abbott drew attention to his concerns about our national history curriculum in the last week of his election campaign, stating that it focused too much on trade unionism, neglected to reference the work of great coalition leaders and, perhaps most tellingly, didn’t place enough emphasis on the heritage of western civilization.  Commentators have been quick to interpret this last point as criticism for the level of Indigenous history content within the curriculum, and while it is true that this type of sentiment is not an unusual angle for conservative politicians to take (John Howard banged the same drum last year in his lecture to the Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation), you could be forgiven for thinking that the Right are the only ones with an axe to grind about how young Australians are taught to understand their history and heritage.

On the other hand, you might not be surprised to learn that criticism for the curriculum has been fielded from other quarters.

In 2011, Helen Moran, Indigenous Co-chair of the National Sorry Day Committee labelled the draft curriculum as “clumsy” and “insensitive and insulting”.  She claimed that it didn’t “have enough content regarding Aboriginal history” and more specifically explained that there was inadequate discussion surrounding the Stolen Generations and removal policies (Moran 2011).  These sentiments were supported by the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU 2011), and some academics concluded that challenges to Eurocentric perspectives within the curriculum were at best ‘rhetorical’ (see Salter 2010).
But is content the real problem with our national history curriculum?

How did we get a national history curriculum, and what is it supposed to do?

To better understand what all the fuss is about, it is worth taking the time to look at the political context in which the curriculum was developed.

In 2006 the Australian History Summit was convened in order to draft a national curriculum for the teaching of history in response to the perception that Australian school students lacked a basic knowledge of critical historic events.  Instigated by the Howard Liberal government which was subsequently defeated in the 2007 election, the outcome of this process, namely the Guide to the Teaching of Australian History in Years 9 and 10 (Australian Government 2007) was discarded by the Labor government in 2008, and Stuart Macintyre was appointed to the newly established National Curriculum Board, the remit of which was to produce framing documents for the development of a new national history curriculum.  In December of that year the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians was approved by all states and territories, and in 2009 the Board released the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History.  It is these two documents that ultimately guided the content of the existing version of the National History Curriculum.

What is significant is that the change in government is believed to be clearly reflected in the socio-political perspective of these documents.  Whilst conservative governments have sought to enforce the teaching of a version of Australian history centred around Western civilisation, Christianity and Australia’s Anglo-Celtic heritage, Labor’s curriculum is seen to have a distinctly ‘multicultural’ flavour.

The prevailing rationale behind the existing curriculum is that students will be better equipped to live in today’s globalised world if they can understand the history of their country within an international context (ACARA 2013).  In keeping with the principles outlined within the Melbourne Declaration, it has three main foci: understanding the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, appreciating Australia’s position in the Asia-Pacific region and developing awareness of global interrelationships. 

Although ACARA’s ‘trinity’ of socially and politically expedient themes seems somewhat incongruous, the objectives of the curriculum are at least admirable.  It aims to ensure that students develop not only an interest in ‘historical study’, but also an appreciation of the ‘forces that shape societies’, an understanding of the ‘use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability’ and, finally, the ‘capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication’ (ACARA 2013).  If these aims are achieved, students should, at the very least, emerge from school with the ability to question the historical narratives they are presented with, and appreciate that our understanding of history and heritage is value-based, never truly objective, often contentious, and always open to interpretation.  If this is the case, the actual content of the curriculum becomes less problematic.

So what is the real problem?

Are the concerns about how the curriculum has been politicised really valid?  Perhaps not.   The reality is that within the 222 page curriculum document there is scope for teaching just about anything you want.  The curriculum is structured in such a way that only minimal time is intended to be devoted to teaching an historical overview and the remainder is comprised of elective studies of particular societies, events, movements or developments.  Teachers must select their own historical examples to demonstrate the themes they are trying to teach.

Therefore, with the left wing/right wing debate aside, the real problem with the teaching of history in Australian schools today comes down to the question of resourcing.

One of the major concerns levelled at the curriculum with respect to Indigenous history, questions how teachers will be equipped to implement it (for example, see Harris-Hart 2009, Henderson 2008, Salter 2010).  As Anna Clark explained in History’s Children: History Wars in the Classroom (Clark 2008), ‘some teachers feel reluctant to touch on aspects of Indigenous history because they’re not comfortable speaking about someone else’s experience’.  Similarly, as educator Chris Sarra points out, the real problem is how teachers deliver what is in the curriculum (Sarra 2010).  Sarra also concludes, however, that the new curriculum provides the scope and mechanism for the involvement of local Indigenous communities in the teaching of history.

The teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is undeniably a critical part of our curriculum. Neglecting to address these topics within primary and secondary schools potentially leads to indifference, and this might just be one of the greatest threats that faces Indigenous history and heritage today.  The real challenge then is to find ways to firstly support teaching staff in the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and secondly develop opportunities for the involvement and participation of Indigenous communities in the teaching of their own history.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority  (ACARA)  2013   The Australian Curriculum: History.  Version 5.1 dated Monday, 5 August 2013.  Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Download/.

Australian Government  2007  Guide to the Teaching of Australian History in Years 9 and 10.  Canberra: Australian Government.

Clark, A.  2008   History’s Children: History Wars in the Classroom.  Sydney: University of New South Wales.

Harris-Hart, C.  2009  The national history curriculum: tragedy or triumph?  Draft paper presented at the Biennial Australian Curriculum Studies Conference Hotel Realm, Canberra, October 2-4, 2009.  Retrieved 4/9/2013 from http://www.historyteacher.org.au/htdocs/national_curriculum/ACSA%202009%20Paper%20Catherine%20Harris%20Hart.pdf.

Henderson, D.  2008  The apology, the Aboriginal dimension of Australian history and a national history curriculum: beginning a new chapter?  QHistory, December. pp. 8-22. Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17843/1/17843.pdf.

Howard, J.  2012  Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation Inaugural Lecture,  Winthrop Hall, The University of Western Australia, 27 September 2012.  Retrieved 11/9/2013 from http://resources.news.com.au/files/2012/09/27/1226482/801957-sir-paul-hasluck-foundation-inaugural-lecture.pdf.

Independent Education Union  2011  National Curriculum Needs to Tell the Real Story of Australia’s Indigenous History.  Media Release – Monday 26 September 2011.  Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://www.ieu.org.au/index.php/tista-branch/item/273-national-curriculum-needs-to-tell-the-real-story-of-australia-s-indigenous-history.

Moran, H.  2011  Aboriginal History Lost in New School Curriculum – Interview with Simon Santow, ABC.  Retrieved 10/9/2013 from http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3324015.htm.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs  2008  Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.  Retrieved 10/9/2013 from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf.

National Curriculum Board  2009  Shape of the Australian Curriculum.  Retrieved 4/9/2013 from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Australian_Curriculum_-_History.pdf.

Salter, P.  2010  The new national history curriculum: we can’t change history…can we?  Proceedings of the 2010 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, 4-7 July 2010, pp.1-11.  Townsville, QLD: Australian Teacher Education Association.

Sarra, C.  2010  Response to Indigenous Perspectives in ACARA National Curriculum – Audio Interview.  Retrieved 10/9/2012 from http://www.mediafire.com/play/yeq53jzzm2z/CHRIS_SARRA_Curriculum_EDIT.mp3.