Tag Archives: Cultural Heritage Management

Overlap between official and unofficial heritage

When people identify places that are important to them, do they overlap with those that have been deemed important officially? The recent City of Marion Cultural Heritage Survey explored the unofficial heritage of the community. It also helped to illustrate crossover points where professional and public opinions regarding heritage overlap.

There was certainly an overlap in the Marion Historic Village, where several buildings are listed officially as having heritage value, either on the SA Heritage Register or as Local Heritage Places. These buildings were noted by many survey respondents, who also identified the remnant almond orchard along Oliphant Avenue as important. Almonds were once one of the main tourist attractions in Marion, with thousands of visitors coming on tour buses every July up until the 1950s to view the almond blossom. Although the almond orchards are no longer part of the Marion landscape, they live on in people’s memories, and the remnants are important tangible reminders of the past.

The Sturt River featured in many survey responses because of the importance of the remaining river red gums, scarred trees, the bike track, its history of flooding before the drainage scheme, its bridges, the wetlands and dense vegetation, connection with the Kaurna people, and the sound of the river flowing. Although the survey comments applied to the Sturt River in its entirety as it crosses the Marion Council area, there is no official heritage acknowledgement of the river, except that it flows through the state heritage-listed Warriparinga area. There is an interpretive tile near the river, however, as part of the historic walk in the Marion Historic Village.

Sturt River interpretive tile

Interpretive tile near the Sturt River in the Marion Historic Village

Another natural element recorded in the survey was the Moreton Bay fig tree in the Fisk Avenue Reserve at Glengowrie. Again, there is some overlap between official and unofficial heritage. This tree was previously recorded in a 1990 heritage survey of Marion, and noted as the dominant feature of the reserve. In fact, the Council bought some of the land at the time to ensure that a proposed new development wouldn’t damage the tree.

Moreton Bay fig tree

Moreton Bay fig tree at Fisk Avenue Reserve, Glengowrie

It’s fair to say that the survey responses revealed a broad view of what’s important to local people. Some of the places recorded as important are already recognised officially on the list of Local Heritage Places or in the SA Heritage Register. However, more are considered important primarily by the local community, for example, trees and the river, but also the Westfield Marion Shopping Centre, local reserves and children’s playgrounds. They lend themselves to recording and recognition through oral histories, community maps, plantings and interpretive signage.

Susan Arthure

Yourambulla Caves Rock Art Trail: Natural vs. Human Intervention

The Yourambulla Caves are an Indigenous rock art site located 13 kilometres south-west from the town of Hawker within the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Yourambulla is a name that is derived from the words ‘yura bila’, which means two men in the language of the Andyamathana people, the traditional owners of this region. The cave paintings are made from manganese, charcoal, red ochre and white ochre. Figures include animal tracks (emu and kangaroo), hand stencils, human figures, camps and ceremonial depictions (FIGURE ONE).

FIGURE ONE: Rock art at Yourambulla Cave One. Photo by Daniel Petraccaro.

The Yourambulla caves are one of the most accessible rock art sites within the Flinders Ranges, attracting hundreds of tourists every year. The Yourambulla Caves trail was constructed in 1995 by member of the Iga Warta Aboriginal Corporation and the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation. The project was funded by the Department of State Aboriginal Affairs, Environment Australia, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and from Commercial Minerals. The Yourambulla cave trail encompasses three rock shelter sites within a radius of one kilometre. A path has been carved allowing access, while interpretation signs are also present to enhance the visitor’s experience.

There are a number of natural processes affecting the rock art at the Yourambulla caves. The rock art at Yourambulla Cave One is suffering from water damage (see FIGURE ONE). Water is seeping through a crack in the overhang and trickling over the art. The area of rock art affected by the water exposure is significantly faded compared to the rest of the site. There is also are a number of old wasp nests on the rock face at all three overhang sites. The wasp nests appear to have been destroyed but not completely removed.

The barriers around the rock shelter sites were established to protect the sites from animals and human interferences (FIGURE TWO). The barrier around Yourambulla Cave Three, in particular, is in very poor condition. The base is eroding out of the sediment (FIGURE THREE) and the top bars have been intentionally bent back. While the barriers have been successful in keeping feral goats and kangaroos out of the shelter, it has not prevented humans from drawing graffiti on the site. Graffiti is present at all three rock shelter sites. The graffiti is either in the form of imitation Aboriginal art or in the form of human figures (FIGURE FOUR). The graffiti is drawn with white chalk or scratched on the rock surface. The staircase leading to Yourambulla Cave One has some nails missing and there are cracks in the wooden planks. It is recommended that visitors are not to use the staircase until repairs have been done.

FIGURE TWO: Eroded fence post at Yourambulla Cave Three. Photo by Daniel Petraccaro

FIGURE THREE: Fence cage at Yourambulla Cave Three. Photo by Daniel Petraccaro.

FIGURE FOUR: Graffiti at Yourambulla Cave Two. Photo by Daniel Petraccaro.

There has been no management plan established for the Yourambulla Caves determining who is responsible for the long term management of the site. Pastoral leases and tourism companies develop rock art trails in the Flinders Ranges for financial gain. However, neither party really understands about the long term management and conservation issues of these sites. Neither the land owners nor the tourist groups contribute to the management of the site.

The failure of site management has resulted in a number of conservation and liability issues. The graffiti needs to be removed to prevent encouragement from the public to vandalise the site. The barrier around Yourambulla Cave Three also requires significant repair. Further, this site needs to be monitored in another few years to determine whether the area of water damage over Yourambulla Cave One is expanding or receding. The Yourambulla Caves should have a management plan detailing relevant stakeholders who should be contributing funding to the management of the site.

By Daniel Petraccaro (Masters in Archaeology Student)

Savouring Caviar in Marion

Morphettville Racecourse is the last remaining horse racing course in metropolitan Adelaide. It’s on the northern boundary of the Marion council area, surrounded by stables and houses. There are a number of ways it contributes to the cultural heritage of the area. The races of course. And the fact that the 1913 grandstand is on the SA Heritage Register. But it is also a large green space, with a wetland, in a suburb. Stable owners leave bags of horse manure outside for people to take for their gardens. In fact, you can even turn up with a shovel and take it yourself if you wish – horseshoes turn up frequently.

Road sign near Morphettville racecourse showing black racehorse on yellow background

Road sign near Morphettville racecourse

On 12 May this year, when Black Caviar won her 21st consecutive race at 4.20pm, making a new Australian record, there was a sell-out crowd of 30,000 at the racecourse. As well as the paying crowd inside the course, a group of people numbering about 150 gathered at the perimeter fence at the rear of the racecourse near the starting point – all ages, and arriving mainly on foot from the surrounding houses.

As the horses rode up to the starting boxes, there was a great deal of murmuring to children about Black Caviar, and some queries between strangers about which horse exactly she was. The starting gun fired, the horses raced off and the crowd dispersed … as far as the nearby traffic management van where the two workers had increased the volume on their radio so that the crowd could hear the race. Black Caviar won, everybody clapped, and nodded and smiled at each other, and then went back to whatever they were doing beforehand.

Tangible and intangible heritage – I’ve been pondering on this for the past couple of months, and how their combination helps to defines cultural significance. The grandstand, the racecourse, the horse manure – all tangible items (although the manure is also ephemeral). The experience of Black Caviar is a shared intangible experience – we can’t re-create it, or experience it again, we can only remember it. And in saying that, a week after the race I came across one graffiti artist’s endeavour at capturing the essence of the moment, on a water tank at the rear of the racecourse, and successfully blending the intangible memory and the tangible expression of contemporary art.

Black Caviar graffiti on water tank

Black Caviar graffiti on water tank at rear of Morphettville racecourse

Susan Arthure

The archaeology of ‘guess who?’

Directed study in cultural heritage management
Adrian Fenech

This semester, I’m undertaking a Directed Study in Cultural Heritage Management as part of my Graduate Diploma in Archaeology. My industry partner is Adelaide-based heritage firm Australian Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (ACHM).

ACHM do a lot of work for the mining industry in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. One of the issues out there is that often it’s not easy to tell if a rockshelter has been used by Aboriginal people in the past. My job is to collate all the available information to see if there are some characteristics of rockshelters that will help us to work this out.

The key issue here is a site with Potential Archaeological Deposit, which usually means it displays features that are related to use by Aboriginal people, such as proximity to water sources. There may be no evidence of the use of the site by Aboriginal groups on the surface.

I am going to use information in previous reports to create a database of all these PADs and genuine rock shelters, recording such data as shelter dimensions, number and type of surface artefacts recovered and excavation details where applicable. Hopefully, when I analyse this data, we will be one step closer to working out how to distinguish between legitimate archaeological rock shelters and those that haven’t been used at all in the past. This information will help all future archaeological work in the Pilbara region.

Cultural Heritage and Little Marion

This semester, I’m doing a directed study in conjunction with the City of Marion. This involves analysis of the results from a cultural heritage survey called ‘Stories of Our City: Now and Then’. The survey is currently underway, and it aims to collect information and ideas about the community’s living cultural heritage. It closes soon, so if you are a Marion resident, hurry along and fill it in! It can be accessed via the City of Marion website at http://www.marion.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=50&c=8140.

In preparation for the analysis, I’ve been doing some background reading and exploring. Driving along Marion Road in recent years, I’ve been struck by the statue of a little girl lying on the ground and peering into a hole, at the corner of Finniss Street and Marion Road. She just seemed to appear there one day. And cycling along the Sturt Creek on another occasion, I noticed her looking over a bridge. She’s about 1.2 metres tall, and always has fresh ribbons in her hair.

It turns out that she’s called Little Marion. The first statue I met, on the corner of Finniss and Marion, is called Little Marion Peering. She’s gazing into the Western Family Well, which was about 26 metres deep and could be quite treacherous.

Little Marion Peering

Little Marion Peering

Little Marion Skipping is located nearby in the grounds of Annie Doolan’s Cottage, which was built as a convent in 1876 for Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph. She’s in what was most likely the playground.

Little Marion Skipping

Little Marion Skipping

At the entrance to the Marion Historic Village, Little Marion Welcoming swings on a farm gate.

Little Marion Welcoming

Little Marion Welcoming

And on the Finniss Street Bridge, Little Marion Pondering looks out over the Sturt Creek, and ponders on children playing in the river, swimming, catching tadpoles and daydreaming.

Little Marion Pondering

Little Marion Pondering

In the George Street Reserve, Little Marion Waiting sits on bricks from the original brickworks, and waits for her turn at hopscotch.

Little Marion Waiting

Little Marion Waiting

The Little Marion sculptures were created by Gerry McMahon, based on a 2008 book called ‘Yesterday’s Child’ by Margaret Western. They are great examples of public art that has been well planned and beautifully executed. Even without additional information, they can stand alone as a local statement of childhood.

The interpretive information near the sculptures is related, but not necessarily exactly about the sculptures. For example, near Little Marion Peering, a quote on an interpretive plaque refers to the cobwebs on the well – ‘When little children are missing in The Marion, everyone runs to the wells first. If there are cobwebs across the top of the big hole that is a good sign, because if anyone had fallen down, the cobwebs would be broken’.

The Little Marion sculptures showcase a part of Marion’s community heritage. And the fresh ribbons? A local woman replaces them regularly – it’s a good deed, but she’s also part of the community’s living cultural heritage.

Susan Arthure