Who is George Fife Angas?

Who exactly is George Fife Angas? This is what I am looking at for my Directed Study this semester thanks to the National Trust of South Australia. I am going to be honest for a moment: when I initially chose this topic I had no idea who the man was or what he had accomplished, I didn’t even know that Angas Street in Adelaide was named after him. In hindsight, I am slightly ashamed that I don’t know more about my own state’s history, however, this is something I plan to rectify throughout this Directed Study. So now that my embarrassing short comings are done with let me explain exactly what I want to do in this study.

There has been a tonne of stuff written on this guy, although not as much as the other famous South Australian pioneers, and I hope to be able to collate all of this into the report. The sources vary from books about the founding of Adelaide to newspaper articles (which I found to be particularly interesting reading). With all of this information,449px-George_Fife_Angas then, it can be difficult to define exactly how you should go about explaining a person’s life and achievements. So, what I want to achieve would be to articulate both the public perception of the man and also the historical perception to see how they  compare to each other. This will hopefully show a more unbiased view of the man and what he has done for South Australia.

Get Grooving!

Everyone knows about boomerangs and spears- and many members of the general public are pretty familiar with flakes and cores (even if they don’t know the technical terms for them and call them “funny looking rocks”). Archaeologists are happy about our adzes, tulas and backed blades, and extensive research has been done about these sorts of artefacts and what they can tell us about past human behaviour.

But what of axe-grinding grooves? What can these features tell us of the past? What is currently known about them and how much research has focused on them? The answer is, not a lot! Perhaps this is because they are ubiquitous in many parts of Australia- especially in sandstone areas- and their function (axe-grinding) is obvious (although other grooves exist that were used for different purposes like seed grinding or ochre grinding).

Yet perhaps there is more to learn from them.  What can be discerned from their dimensions (length, width, depth and orientation)? Can these reveal some patterns in the axe-grinding grooves’ usage and suggest related reasons?

Now, thanks to my kind Industry Partner, Lynley Wallis from Wallis Heritage Consulting, these are some of the questions that I have the chance to explore.


Students measuring axe-grinding grooves at Middle Park Station using an offset surveying technique (image courtesy of Lynley Wallis).

To do so I will review what we know about axe-grinding grooves in the sandstone belt of north-western Queensland, followed by investigation of a case study involving the Rocks Cross Axe Grinding Site, approximately 120km north of the Richmond township.

Armed with measurements of hundreds of grooves, site plans and an imminent crash course in Adobe Illustrator for electronically compiling the latter, I will keep you abreast of my progress as I attempt to unlock some of the secrets of these hitherto under-studied archaeological features.

Rippin’ Report

Hey guys, for the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing blog posts about a research report for my University degree, but before I go into too much detail I better introduce myself for those who don’t known me. Hi, my name is Nicole Monk and I’m currently undertaking a Directed Studies topic in my Graduate Diploma of Archaeology at Flinders University (this topic gives students the chance to complete research to better prepare themselves for the workforce and to work with industry partners). After looking through a list of potential areas to study, provided by the department, I decided on researching Highbury’s Torrens Linear Park, a location that I had never been to or heard about.

A few days after confirming my choice I received an email providing me with contact details of my industry partner and a template for my research, which would involve an archival study of Highbury’s Torrens Linear Park to determine the significance of the local area and the rockshelters located within the park.

After a few more days I eagerly drove the 40 minutes to meet my industry partner, Lea Crosby, at the Florey Reconciliation Task Force to find out what was expected from the research and to seek out any information that was held in the office. The information that I was given at the office was minimal, as many would know in the archaeological field, information regarding Indigenous people is often limited, and having too much information would have made the study pointless. At the conclusion of the meeting Lea and I organised to go on a tour of the Park so that I could have an understanding of the overall shape and scope of the study, which will be in my next post.

Following this meeting I was rushed out the door because it was a Friday, and let’s face it who doesn’t want to leave early on a Friday?

What’s Out West (And Now A Little Bit South) #2

study area

New project study area (source: Google Maps)

Since my last post the wheels have started turning and my directed study has started to gather some momentum. My aim for this project is now not only to create a publicly accessible database on coastal Indigenous sites in South Australia, and produce a subsequent map, but to then use the data collected as a predictive model to analyse where sites can be found and why they might appear there. Another aim is to establish where there are gaps in this sort of knowledge in South Australia, and determine where more extensive work could be carried out in the future.

After a few more meetings with Mick Morrison to discuss necessary information on sites for the database, and countless hours spent in the State Library fossicking through survey reports and sometimes quite old pamphlets, my database appears to be complete. In total, I came across 327 documented sites from Kangaroo Island (now included in the study area), the Adelaide Plains, Yorke and Eyre Peninsula’s, the West Coast and the Nullarbor Plain. The fields of data chosen to include in the database were based on Ulm and Reid’s (2000) ‘Index of Dates from Archaeological Sites in Queensland’, which basically did what I am currently doing, but for the whole of Queensland. This survey is where the idea behind my current research project has come from.


Excerpt from database

Another key component of this project is the map, which is created from the data collected. The idea here is to create a basic map in ArcGIS with the site locations included and overly this on a basic map of South Australia with several environmental, hydrological and geological layers to help in my eventual analysis of why sites are where. One of the problems I have run into with the map at the moment is the fact that only very few of the 327 sites, have provided locational data that can be transferred accurately to a GIS. Some of the grid references that were provided on certain sites do not fit accurately with a GIS as can be seen in the map I have begun creating below:


The yellow points represent sites that should be on the Nullarbor Plain

There have been some success stories, particularly with the Yorke Peninsula sites and locational data. One survey report on the area contained a map of the region with previous archaeological surveys drawn in. After mapping the sites mentioned in the survey, the resulting map correlated very well with areas that had been surveyed previously, proving that the co-ordinates collected at the time were very accurate.


Previous survey studies (source: Wood & Westell 1998)


Mapped sites

By my next post I intend to have my database published to a professional standard and can start critically analysing the data present. I am also aiming to have my map completed with all 327 sites included, which will assist in the analysis of the archaeology of Indigenous coastal sites in South Australia.

Metal you a story


As a part of my directed study, for the past few weeks I have been visiting the museum storage down at Hindmarsh. There, I have been looking at individual pieces of metal that have been collected from the site of the Lady Alice Mine by Keryn Walshe and a few helpers.  The site was sectioned into 4 areas labeled A, B, C and D. From each of these sections they collected large amounts of ceramic, glass and metal.

It was decided that if we wanted to make a connection with the mining side of the Lady Alice Mine then we had to look at the metal more closely and determine which pieces are linked to people’s home life and more importantly which pieces are linked to the mine.

 Over the last few weeks I have looked at each section carefully and have tried to determine what these pieces of metal I had at my disposal were. Where there are easily identifiable pieces, there are always mind-boggling pieces right beside them.  Below is one certain piece that has stopped me, Cameron Hartnell and John Hodges in our tracks. It is a large piece of intertwined metal that looks like a modern day bed spring. 


There are a few pieces of wired metal that have been wound together to increase strength and stability.  As I am not very familiar with metal and/or mining tools I am unsure whether this is some sort of industrial artefact. I guess that means a lot more research. 

There is a significant amount of  metal artefacts that I  have been able to connect back to the mining industry. With more research into the site and  a close look at each distinctive artefact I hope to make a few more connections to the lives of those who once worked and lived at the Lady Alice Mine. 

Blog Post 4 – Last Post – Waltowa Wetland Geophysical Study

This study though not 100% successful in my opinion, has changed my thoughts in regard to hearth detection methodology. The aim of the study was to detect hearths using two different types of geophysical instrument, one being GPR and the other gradiometer. I theorised that by surveying areas known to contain hearths with two types of instrument would double the chances of success. I also theorised that using the gradiometer first to collect data over the 7 grids would be the most time efficient and successful way to detect potential hearths. After viewing the magnetic data and taking note of where potential hearths appeared in the data, the 7 grids were then surveyed using GPR to confirm the anomalies found in the magnetic data set. Unfortunately, though, there were no hearths detected in the first 7 grids surveyed with the gradiometer, this may have been because there are no hearths in any of the grids (unlikely), the line spacings in the grids were too large, or because none of the survey lines were on the alignment of any subsurface hearths.
When the 7 GPR grids were analysed the three grids at blowout A did appear to contain hearth-like anomalies, some shallow (0.4m) (figure 1) and some deeper (1m) (figure 2). These anomalies were marked on site with wooden pegs after being detected with GPR and readings were taken directly over them using the gradiometer. Readings of -7 to +7 nT were experienced over the anomalies, which corresponds to hearths detected in other studies I researched for the literature review section of this directed study. Therefore, if I was to do this study again in this type of environment I would use GPR first to look for hearth-like anomalies, mark them and then conduct magnetic surveys afterwards, confirming or discounting the anomalies detected in the GPR survey. This study has proven that the use of two geophysical instruments can complement each other, increasing the chances of success. Much more testing is required in different environments in order to develop a strong methodology for the detection of submerged hearths, however. This study has inspired me to develop some test areas (potentially in conjunction with my industry partner) with subsurface artificial archaeological anomalies (i.e. hearths, footings, graves etc) for myself and other students for practice, testing, and calibration of geophysical instruments.
I would like to say a big thank you to: Kelly Wiltshire, Heather Burke, and the NRA for all the information and help they have provided me with, throughout the duration of this study.

Figure 1 (left): is a GPR profile from grid 5, blowout A, a hearth-like anomaly can be seen at approximately 0.4m deep at the 2.4m mark in the profile. Depth is expressed in metres on the left-hand side of the scan and distance is expressed in metres on the top of the scan.

Figure 1 (left): is a GPR profile from grid 5, blowout A, a hearth-like anomaly can be seen at approximately 0.4m deep at the 2.4m mark in the profile. Depth is expressed in metres on the left-hand side of the scan and distance is expressed in metres on the top of the scan.

 Figure 2 (right): is also a GPR profile from grid 6, blowout A, a hearth-like anomaly can be seen at 1m depth and 6 metres into the scan. Radar worked well in this environment, with the signal propagating to over two metres.

Figure 2 (right): is also a GPR profile from grid 6, blowout A, a hearth-like anomaly can be seen at 1m depth and 6 metres into the scan. Radar worked well in this environment, with the signal propagating to over two metres.

A glimpse inside the Angas family home: Collingrove Homestead

For my Directed Studies project I am working with the National Trust of South Australia to complete an interpretive study of Collingrove Homestead, located approximately 7km from Angaston. I recently traveled to Collingrove Homestead with Sue Scheiffers, the Vice President of the National Trust of South Australia Council. My aim for this trip was to familiarise myself with the property and the artefacts, and to identify the themes displayed in the collection.

Collingrove Homestead was built by pastoralist John Howard Angas, who arrived in South Australia in 1843. Beginning in 1856, what started as a modest cottage flourished into an elaborate homestead over a 60-70 year period. The property is gorgeous, covering an area of approximately 5.26 hectares (Collinson 1985). The homestead is a blend of traditional Victorian architecture and modern Edwardian architecture and styling. The homestead and its collection are a reflection of five generations of Angas family members that resided at Collingrove.

Potential themes identified from the collection include:

Family: Family photos are placed throughout the house, depicting five generations of the Angas family. There are also two extremely detailed family tree charts, the family crest and the family bible on display. There’s an overwhelming sense of family pride and respect throughout the homestead.

Pastoralism: Raising livestock was an important aspect of the Angas dynasty. Photos and paintings of the livestock bred and sold are found throughout the house, as well as many documents detailing the breeds, wool etc.

Travel: Exotic artefacts are found in the main hallway and include: stuffed tiger and deer heads, antelope skulls, a leopard pelt, African weapons and bullet shells just to name a few. These exotic keepsakes illustrate a sense of adventure and a passion for travel.

The property really was a delight to visit. I instantly fell in love with the collection. Next time you’re in the Barossa Valley be sure to visit Collingrove Homestead, you will be amazed!

John Howard Angas

John Howard Angas

Family photo
Family photo

  1. Tiger ornament
Tiger ornament