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


Opening an Offshore Maritime Site for Continued Excavation

By Hunter Brendel, Master of Maritime Archaeology student

The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) 2014 Field School, in which I am participating, is a continuation of the total excavation of the Storm Wreck, an eighteenth-century American revolutionary war shipwreck off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida. Most field schools I am familiar with are usually shore dives of sites that entail pre-disturbance assessments. This field school is different. Work on site began in 2009 and has already covered five field seasons of surveying, researching, and excavating approximately 30 1×1 square meter units. This field season continues work from previous seasons.

The Storm Wreck lies approximately a kilometer off the coast in about nine meters of water, so access to the site requires the use of a research vessel. The LAMP research vessel, Roper, is moored over the site to provide surface support to archaeological divers and houses two water dredges that are used to excavate the site. There is a catch, however, as mooring directly on site risks disturbing the site and the archaeologists working on it. The vessel also needs to be soundly anchored to protect it from the elements, such as ocean swells, wind, and the risk of suddenly-turning weather (the shipwreck is named the Storm Wreck, after all).

In order to moor Roper over the Storm Wreck so that archaeological work may be safely conducted, the staff at LAMP have devised a three-point mooring system. Three permanent anchors are located north, east, and west of site. These anchors have individual mooring lines attached to them that are located by divers, raised, and tied to a fixed point over the Storm Wreck site. The lines are then attached to a buoy and submerged over site with the buoy acting as a down line for the divers once they commence work.

When I first arrived in St. Augustine a week before the field school started, my initial task was to help locate the mooring lines and open the site for work the next week. A fellow supervisor and I joked that finding the mooring lines was like opening the curtains on the first act of a play—the 2014 LAMP Field School—with the Storm Wreck site being the stage.

Finding the mooring lines in low visibility is not as simple as diving down to the lines and raising them. First, you have to find them by feeling the area. To do so, LAMP developed a method of circle search that allows both divers to swim around the search area. In a traditional circle search, one diver holds down the zero end of a measuring tape in a fixed position while the other diver searches with the other end of the tape on a 360 degree axis. LAMP’s method of a circle search, however, allows both divers to search by holding down the zero end of the tape with a t-probe and mushroom anchor. This frees up the diver (the finder) who would usually hold down the zero end, allowing him or her to search the length of the tape while the other diver (the navigator) rotates around a 360 degree axis on a northern bearing. When the full circle is complete, the navigator extends the length of the tape another five meters while the finder continues to swim the length of the tape (Figure 1).

Using GPS coordinates, Roper placed my dive buddy and me over where one of the anchors was supposed to be. Diving down, we had three principal tools with which to conduct our circle survey: a t-probe, a mushroom anchor, and a measuring tape. Using the mushroom anchor, which also served to hold our down line, we drove the t-probe and measuring tape into the seabed. My dive buddy, who was in the navigator role, extended the tape out to a length of five meters and with a compass conducted a full 360 degree axis sweep on a northern bearing. My role was finder.

Figure 1. A sketch showing how LAMP conducts circle searches with a pair of divers. The circle displayed is the search area. One diver (the navigator) holds the end of the tape at a distance of five meters and rotates on a northern 360 degree axis. When the circle is completed, the navigator extends the tape five more meters to expand the search area until the objective is found. The other diver (the finder) searches both sides of the tape as the measuring tape is rotated and extended. Sketch by Hunter Brendel.


As the navigator rotated around the axis, I searched up and down the measuring tape, which was held in place by the t-probe and mushroom anchor. Usually after the circle is completed, the navigator would extend the tape another five meters and widen our search area. Fortunately, before the first lap was done, I felt a snag in the measuring tape. Tracing the kink in the tape, I felt the mooring line blocking its path. We had found our anchor.

After lifting the mooring lines for all three anchors, we tied them together with a buoy and down line secured by a screw anchor only two meters from the Storm Wreck. The LAMP 2014 Field School was officially opened.

Whenever Roper finds the site by GPS, we locate the buoy that holds the mooring lines, untie them, and fix the three lines to the bow and aft of the stern. To release tension on the lines, LAMP uses pelican hooks for a safer and more secure hold (Figure 2). Then the real work begins!


Figure 2. One of the three-point mooring lines secured aft of the stern of Roper. To reduce tension on the line, a pelican hook is used. This technique of using a pelican hook was adopted by LAMP from local shrimp trawlers. Photo by Hunter Brendel courtesy of LAMP.

Maritime Archaeology by Braille

by Hunter Brendel, Master of Maritime Archaeology student

As I sit on the edge of a 1×1 square meter unit, all I can hear is the methodical sound of my own breathing through my regulator. The water dredge is operating in full force with my student dive buddy wrestling the dredge (I’ve dubbed it ‘the hydra’ as a term of endearment) and digging down into the darkness of history. Looking to the right, I spot a school of Atlantic spadefish within reach, curiously hovering over a neighboring unit to the west. They scatter when a fellow supervisor emerges from the unit, giving me the “okay” dive signal as he descends back into the darkness. Following a travel line, I swim around the unit into another one a couple of meters south of my position to scope out an artefact that is already plotted on the site plan I have engraved into my memory. I gingerly reach down into the unit with my right hand, feeling the artefact a meter down through the pitch blackness. It is then I realize I am touching history, an eighteenth-century cannon lost to the bottom of the ocean long ago. This scenario gives me flashbacks to a terrestrial field school I participated in a couple of years ago—only the dredge is our trowel and hand signals are our primary means of communication. This is all done with less than a meter of visibility.

It’s difficult to describe the surreal experience of excavating underwater in low visibility, but archaeology by braille is a task that requires all five senses to be fully functional. The site I am fortunate enough to be working on is known as the Storm Wreck, a British loyalist revolutionary shipwreck discovered off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida in 2009 by an American non-profit underwater archaeology organization, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). Since then, LAMP has dedicated a field school each summer to excavating the Storm Wreck by bringing in students and volunteers from around the world to work on the project.

Currently, we are in the throes of the 2014 field school, and I couldn’t be more excited about the work we have done and what we have yet to accomplish. The field school extends the full month of June, so I am blogging my experiences on certain aspects of the project as a directed study and to inform the public on how Flinders Maritime Archaeology students conduct archaeology outside of the crystal clear waters of South Australia.

This blog post focuses on what I consider to be the primary environmental difference between my previous experiences on maritime archaeology sites in South Australia to that of Florida’s northeastern Atlantic coast. The Flinders 2013 field school that I participated in near Port MacDonnell was focused on two sites that had diving conditions of relatively clear visibility. We students were able to document the sites by taking photos with cameras in underwater housings and sketching archaeological features on Mylar. On the Storm Wreck, however, site documentation by photography is nearly impossible unless the visibility is unusually good. In order to work on the site, I’ve had to memorize the site plan, trust my instincts, and follow travel lines to get where I want to be.


Figure 1. Students during the 2013 Flinders University Archaeology Field School near Port MacDonnell, South Australia.


Figure 2. A diver during the Storm Wreck 2009 field season installs a screw anchor to mark an anomaly. This photo was taken on what is considered to be a good visibility day. Photo courtesy of LAMP.

Even if visibility is excellent on the Storm Wreck site, by the end of the day it is nonexistent because of water dredges silting the site. To train students and supervisors to be ready for site conditions, LAMP staff devised an obstacle course in a freshwater dive shop pool that was riddled with obstacles such as barrels, wheelbarrows, and tangled line. The goal of finishing the course was to descend a down line, retrieve a flashlight, follow a travel line through the assortment of obstacles, clip the flashlight on the end down line, and ascend to the surface. Furthermore, the diver was further challenged by LAMP staff and supervisors by blacking out his or her dive mask with electrical tape. The course was to be completed without vision and taught the diver to trust his or her instincts and the travel line. Divers were also clipped to the bottom of the pool by bungee cords at certain points of the course to teach them how to comfortably unsnag themselves. At one point in the course, divers were to take off their BC (buoyancy compensator) and put it back on.

Since I was new to the project, I went through the course myself and nothing could have prepared me better, other than actually being on site, to navigate the Storm Wreck. I had a blast doing the course, as did all of the other divers, and I hope to see similar training on low visibility maritime archaeology projects in the future. Now to get back in the field!

Figure 3. A student is challenged to follow a travel line with his or her blacked out mask during the LAMP 2014 field school obstacle course. Photo courtesy of LAMP.


Bark hut or stone fortress? The architecture of pastoral Queensland.

In South Australia we tend to take for granted the robust forms of farmstead architecture that proliferate in the agricultural regions of our state, and that are synonymous with our pastoral history and heritage. Little old stone cottages, homesteads, and ruins are so ubiquitous in the rural landscape that it’s difficult to imagine that they might be considered somewhat of an oddity in other parts of Australia.

In northern Queensland, European settlers constructed very different dwellings on the pastoral frontier during the late 19th century. In his rather poetic description of the architecture of the frontier, E.B. Sorenson writes of Queensland houses in 1911:

Though one finds all sorts of curious habitations sprinkled over the country, there is a certain architectural style marking the periods of settlement. What may be accepted as typical of early selection days is the ‘old bark hut.’ … The roof, as its name implies, was covered with stringy-bark, secured with bits of green-hide, and held down with crossed poles, called riders and jockies. The doors and shutters were made of split pine battens, and swung on leather hinges. There wasn’t a pane of glass in it; neither was there in the shingle-roofed cottages that became the vogue at a later period.

Whilst it’s true that this type of dwelling was typical for the earliest phases of settlement, architectural historians have noted that even the more permanent homes, intended for occupancy over the longer term, were still constructed predominantly of timber, or sometimes mud and rubble (Bell 1984; Sumner 1974).

No 10 Cambridge Downs, Stawell - Cambridge river in backgrou
Cambridge Downs n.d., Burke District, Queensland
Original stone homestead to the right was replaced by the timber building on the left, probably in the 1890s.

Cambridge Downs homestead, built sometime in the 1860s or 1870s, is therefore rare, although certainly not unique, for the region. Examples of other stone homesteads do exist, like Old Westmoreland Homestead and Elderslie Homestead, both on the Queensland Heritage Register. Nevertheless, in north Queensland, these types of buildings are few and far between.

The massive stone walls of the first Cambridge Downs homestead, the remains of which still stand today, were skilfully constructed from ‘flagstones’ collected in the vicinity. Photographic evidence and archaeological survey suggests that these walls were broken only by three to four windows, and a door to the front and the rear. Given that most settlers built much humbler bark and timber dwellings, what then, was the motivation for the construction of this comparatively substantial residence? Did the threat of attack really inspire the earliest settlers on this pastoral run to build a stone fortress?

Megan Tutty, Master of CHM student

Bell, P. 1984 Timber and Iron: Houses in North Queensland Mining Settlements, 1861-1920. St Lucia, QLD: University of Queensland Press.

Sorenson, E.B. 1911 Backblock homes and builders: The architecture of the pioneer. The Catholic Press, Thursday 13 April 1911. Retrieved 29 March 2014 from

Sumner C.R. 1974 Pioneer homesteads of North Queensland. In Dalton, B.J. (ed) Lectures on North Queensland History, pp. 47-61. Townsville: James Cook University.