Tag Archives: Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division

Developing A Guide for Recording and Conserving Aboriginal Heritage Sites in South Australia.

Hello everyone!

I am currently undertaking a practicum with the Aboriginal Heritage Branch of the Aboriginal Affairs Reconciliation Division (AARD) of South Australia. For those who do not know, the Heritage Branch is designed to improve administration and to ensure compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act (1988).

Within this blog, I am going to share with you some more of my experiences while working with AARD.  This practicum is the first time I have been actively involved with a government department who are in charge of the management of Indigenous cultural heritage sites in South Australia. Initially, I was not sure of what to expect from the practicum but I was assured the experiences obtained would be worthwhile.

One of my projects is to re-write a guide for recording and conserving Aboriginal heritage sites in South Australia., The guide is for the use of Aboriginal people and others interested in conducting archaeological site recording. The objective of this guide is to provide the necessary information about archaeological site identification, site recording and site management.

The guide I have compiled is an 81 page report consisting of a number of in-depth and captivating chapters complimented by images. The importance of why heritage sites should be recorded is the first section of this guide. The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, basic site recording, stone tools and how to use site cards are later addressed. The last part of the guide includes information on the conservation of sites, interpreting landscapes and how to access information held in the Central Archive by the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division – DPC (AARD) as required by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (the Act). A glossary, further readings and blank ‘A’ and ‘B’ site cards are also present at the end of the report. Copies of the report: A Guide for Recording and Conserving Aboriginal Heritage Sites in South Australia will soon be available through the Aboriginal Heritage Branch.

If anyone is also interested in reading or creating a guide for recording Indigenous sites in Australia, check out the following links:

QUEENSLAND Department of Environment and Resource Management



WESTERN AUSTRALIA Department of Indigenous Affairs


VICTORIA Department of Planning and Community Development


NEW SOUTH WALES Department of Environment and Heritage




Also, remember to read Burke and Smith (2004) The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook. This publication is a detailed guide for surveying and recording Aboriginal cultural heritage places and other archaeological sites

By Daniel Petraccaro (Master of Archaeology student).

Yappala Field School

Hello everyone!

I have been undertaking a practicum with AARD over the past few weeks. This blog will outine the recent field school run by myself and staff at Hawker SA.

The Heritage Conservation Team from the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division Aboriginal Heritage Branch has developed site recording and conservation workshops to provide Aboriginal people with the skills to undertake basic site recording and site conservation projects for themselves. The skills and understanding gained in these workshops enables the participants to be better informed about the operations of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 and the need for good site recording. On site training enables them to record, plan and to conserve sites of significance and to negotiate with greater confidence with other stakeholders.

The workshop at Hawker was run over four days and included indoor and outdoor sessions. The indoor sessions included presentations on the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, stone tool identification, rock art recording, how to find a Grid reference, how to use a GPS and how to identify and record a range of different archaeological sites (scarred trees, knapping sites, burials and rock art) (FIGURE 1).

FIGURE ONE: Induction class at Hawker.  Daniel Petraccaro assisting participants Ernestine Coulthard, Christina Coulthard and Karl McKenzie with map reading.

During the outdoor sessions, participants worked in groups and practiced site recording of an archaeological site at Hookina Spring (FIGURE 2 and 3). All participants were encouraged to use the GPS, to draw site mud maps and also filled out an archaeological site card, which included the site contents and site condition. We all then discussed the processes for recording cultural sites and for drafting site conservation management plans.

FIGURE TWO: Daniel Petraccaro with Ernestine Coulthard, Christina Coulthard, Karl McKenzie and Gila McKenzie at Hookina Spring.

FIGURE THREE: Daniel Petraccaro with Veronon Coulthard at Hookina Spring.

In summary, the field at Hawker achieved the aims presented. All the participants learnt how to undertake basic site recording. The perfect weather also made the field school a more enjoyable experience for everyone!

Thanks for reading and stay in tune for my next blog!

By Daniel Petraccaro (Masters in Archaeology student).

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)

Anthropological Society of South Australia launches “Grave Concerns”

A crowd of enthusiasts gathered at the Royal Society Room at the South Australian Museum on Wednesday 15th December to enjoy a glass of champagne and hear Dr Kathryn Powell talk about her new book, Grave Concerns:  Locating and Unearthing Human Bodies (2010, Australian Academic Press).

Continue reading

Directed Study: Best Practice in Documenting and Managing Song-lines

My directed study is researching and determining the ideal practice when documenting and managing Indigenous Song-lines. This pilot project is being undertaken with guidance from the Aboriginal Heritage Branch, of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division, of the Department of Premier’s Cabinet, in conjunction with the Viliwarinha Yura Aboriginal Corporation, with a focus on Kuyani Song-lines, mainly located on Yappala Station, just outside Hawker, South Australia. The purpose of this work is to research the context of, and methodologies used in the management of, song-lines and their associated material components, in Australian cultural heritage management, and to create effective formats that can be used on various budgets and time scales.

This work actually began half way through last year (2009), and since this time the project has consisted of several meetings, planning the logistics of field trips to Hawker, and four actual field trips. During these trips, the team focused on documenting only one particular Kuyani song-line, because, in fact, many “run through” Yappala Station. The documenting consisted of electronically recording the song-line in both Kuyani and English, and then plotting different components of the story on maps, using GPS points recorded from various sites within the song-line. Artefact scatters and other Indigenous heritage sites, within the song-line, have also been recorded. It was amazing how dense these related artefact scatters were. According to the Aboriginal Heritage Branch, one of the stone tool scatters, that was recorded, was the most dense scatter recorded in South Australia! Some very dense stone hearth sites have also been recorded.

Heritage training for Aboriginal people

Hello All,
So it’s been a while since I have touched base on my Directed Studies project. As I mentioned before, I am undertaking a critical analysis of the heritage training opportunities available for Aboriginal people and evaluating development options for the South Australian model.
I had a slow start to the project. I had some major hurdles in regards to obtaining the information needed from other government departments across Australia. Due to some lucky breaks I am back on track. I will outline what I have done so far and then write an informal small brief of what I plan to do next.
So far…
• I have read all of the resources used in the teaching of the South Australian model. These were obtained from the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division of the South Australian Government. Furthermore, I have identified some areas of weakness within those resources and have started to formulate ways to remove such weaknesses.
• The State government of Victoria offers a program for training of Aboriginal people in the area of archaeology, heritage, cultural heritage management and protection. From the small amount of information that I have access to I have identified that it is a very different model and program then the South Australian model. This program would be fantastic to use in my study. However, I have emailed the coordinators and public contact for the Victorian training program requesting further information. I have to date received only emails referring me to someone else.
• After contacting staff from other state bodies, I have perceived that there is an extreme lack of such training opportunities for Aboriginal people. Therefore, I have stepped away from government related programs and sought training programs offered by other parties.
• I have contacted Sharon Sullivan in regards to heritage training as I remembered she was a coordinator for a few such programs.
• Sharon Sullivan referred me to Nicholas Hall, who is currently undertaking a study similar to mine but on a larger scale. Nicholas Hall and his colleagues have been great and very helpful. Sending me information about how they are getting information on such programs.
What’s next…
• Next week I am meeting up with my supervisors from AARD. I will be giving them an overview of what I have come up with so far and making sure it is covering the outcome they want.
• I plan to spend the weekend writing a critical analysis of the South Australian model and on the training programs that Sharon Sullivan has been involved in.
• I am also hoping to write a history of heritage training for Aboriginal people offered in Australia.

Overall, I am feeling overwhelmed. I feel the project gets bigger every day. However, I think it is interesting and hopefully it will pull together very soon.
Good luck to those other students that are undertaking a Directed Studies project.

Directed Studies- Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division

Hi all,

This is my first ever blog post! This semester I am undertaking a Directed Study Project with Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (AARD) of the South Australian Government.

AARD currently run a non-tertiary heritage training program for Aboriginal communities. My project will be a critical assessment of the AARD training program along with training programs from other states. The primary aim of this project is to produce some options for possible directions or development possibilities of the training program.

So far, I have undertaken some preliminary reading of the AARD program and identified a program in Victoria. This weekend I plan to get somebody with no Archaeology or Cultural Heritage Management (CHM) background to go through the resources which are used on the program. This is to identify any colloquialism and possible areas that may be hard to understand. My theory is that individuals attending the training programs may come from different literacy levels. Furthermore, the students most likely will not have a great understanding of any archaeological/CHM terms or colloquialism. Therefore, I feel it necessary that the resources used are appropriate for a wider audience.

I must say that I have been feeling overwhelmed by the size and I guess the professionalism of this project. However, since meeting with Emily Jateff yesterday I feel more calm and in control.

Good luck to those others doing a Directed Studies project.