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A. S.




Regis.tered by Australia Post - publication no. VEO 7355

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;';' ~ Victoria Archaeological Survey PO Box 262 Albert Park 3206

Fax. No. 696 2947

Aborigines of the Western Suburbs; Presland's New Book Shipwrecks and the "White Australia Policy" The Role of Physical Anthropology: Interview with Mike Green "Just What is Historical Archaeology?" ; Interview with Krista! Buckley Bunjil Restored after Graffiti Damage Froth Flotation: New Technique for Australian Archaeology Isotopes Study: New Information on Aboriginal Food Supplies Corinella : Victoria's Forgotten Settlement Ancient Lake Bed Surveyed 2 4 6 7 9 10 11 12 13

Front Cover: Crew of Petriana going to board tug, James Paterson, 5 Nov., 1903. Photo courtesy, State Library, Victoria.
Copyright: The text of this newsletter is not subject to copyright. Editors of newspapers and newsletters are encouraged to use infor·

mation in their own publications. Photo Sources: The Australian, Stawell Times, State Library of Victoria, Living Museum of the West.

f you are interested in local history, Aboriginal CUlture, or would like to learn some rudimentary facts about archaeology, then you will enjoy Gary Presland's book, The First Residents ofMelbourne's Western Region.


Gary Presland, Photo courtesy Living Museum ofthe West.

The brief, 20-page book is very much a product of local endeavour: the author is a Footscray resident, publication was jointly financed by Footscray City Council aud the Living Museum of the West and the book was officially launched by Kim Jowett, a Koorie who lives in the western suburbs. iii


VAS NEWS August 1988

The First Residents grew out of material Presland collected for a previous publication, The Land of the Kulin, which is currently available as a Pengnin paperback. Both books tell the story of the Aboriginal people who lived on the land we now call Melbourne prior to European settlement. Presland approaches his subject as an archaeologist but his writing is never dry or overly academic. He writes simply, allowing facts to speakforthemsclves. And the facts need little embellishment: "There is some evidence to show that Aboriginal people were living in the Maribyrnong -River valley, near present day Keilor, about 40,000 years ago." The author goes on to paint a word picture of the western region as Aborigines saw it ten thousand years ago. He describes Aboriginal political and social systems, the foods they gathered, and the division of territories between the tribes. And in the process we not only learn a great deal about Melbourne's first residents bnt also abont archaeology and its importance in investigating Anstralia's past. The book is well iIlnstrated with colour photographs and a map showing "clan locations in the western region of Melbourne."





• Mount William

Goulbum River



Maribymong River

Kororoit Ck:

Yarra River


Kim Jowett said of Presland's book: "] am an Aboriginal. The difference between my history and Anstralia's is Australia can trace its history with reasonable accuracy,] can't. My ancestors were some of the many children taken from their families and tribal lands. Dnring this period no accurate record was kept as to what tribe or where these children were taken from. So my ancestral search stops there. Because of this] feel very strongly about this book and ] hope there will be others like it - to give all Anstralians an insight into Australia's Aboriginal history." There could be no better recommendation. The First Residents of Melbourne's Western Region is available at a cost of $4.00 from the Living Museum of the West,David St.,Footscray ; Angus and Robertson, Footscray Mall; Ministry for Planning andEnvironmentBookshop, 477 Collins St., Melbourne.•

Map ofthe clan locations in the Western region ofMelbourne : courtesy Gary Presland.

Do you have an opinion or information to share on Australian archaeology or related issues? Do you have suggestions for future stories? We would like to hear from you (but, please, we do not have the resources to undertake your research). Write to: The Editor, VAS NEWS, P.O. Box 262, Albert Park. Victoria 3206.


VAS NEWS August 1988



The Stranded Steamer, Petriana. Photo courtesy State Library o/Victoria.

Edited extracts from Dr. Leonie Foster's "Seaweek" lecture at the Queenscliffe
Maritime Centre. Dr. Fosler, a social, political and maritime historian, is presently engaged in maritime research for VAS.

an historic Shipwrecks asbeen almosthisresource have ignored in Australia. Yet both torical and archaeological research relating to shipwrecks can provide valuable information for expanding our understanding of Australian social, economic and political history.
VAS has documented almost 600 wrecks around the coast of Victoria. Two of these, the Petriana and the RMS Australia, carried an Asian crew whose treatment embarrassed two different governments and caused excited public argument about Australia's restrictive immigration policy. The Immigration Restriction Act was the

first legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament afterfederation in 1901. Public opinion and political groups were unanimously agreed on the need to restrict "coloured" immigration; fear of the "Yellow Peril" was all-pervasive. Although the legislation did not mention race, a prospective migrant could be excluded if he or she failed a dictation test in any prescribed European language. ThePetriana was carrying 1,300 tons of oil when it wrecked on a reef near Port Phillip Heads on 28 November 1903. Australian immigration officers refusedto allow the 27 Chinese and Malay crew members ashore, forcing them to spend the night aboard a tug. The next day th~ Malay crew members assisted in an attempt to haul the Petriana off the reef. Again, the entire Asian crew was refused permission to land. Finally, on the third day, it became clear that the Petriana

could not be saved and the seamen were transhipped to a Japanesemail steamer en route for Hong Kong. From there they were returned to Singapore, the port at which they had shipped, without once setting foot on Australian soil. Public reaction was immediate. The Deakin government was denounced by the Argus which claimed that the Immigration Restriction Act had been used for a purpose for which it had never been devised. Deakin was forced to defend Department of Extcrnal Affairs officials who administered the Immigration Restriction Act. Readers of the Argus voiced their outrage at the "inhuman treatment" of the crew and the damage done to Australia's reputation in the eyes "of the civilised world." An election was at hand and the Petriana issue was constantly raised at public meetings. In June 1904, a new government, led by


VAS NEWS August 1988 J .C. Watson, was confronted with a similar problem when the RMS Anstralia wrecked on a reef near Point Nepean. The white crew and passengers were taken ashore and breakfasted in Queenscliff while Asian crew members had to remain on board a pilot steamer. They were eventually taken to Melbourne and forced to camp, under police guard, in tents surrounded by an 8 foot galvanised iron feuce at the rear of the Sailors' Home. That evening storms and wind drove rain into the tents and turned the yard into a quagmire. Other Asian crew members who stayed aboard the Australia to work on the cargo were accommodated, under surveillance, in a shed on Queenscliffpier. The next day they were taken to join their countrymen in Melbourne who had been moved to No 14 Shed on the Yarra. They were forced to eat, sleep and exercise within its restricted area. The Goanese sailors - perhaps because they were Christians - were accommodated within the Sailors' Home but were kept under police surveillance and not permitted to leave the building. Once again, letters of protest were published in the Argus which seized the opportunity to embarrass its political opponents. The Watson government took a do-nothing approach. Australia's federal immigration policy was off to a bad start. The daughter of a

_c,r~ _.~~


Scene afthe wrecks.

British army officer, who had liberated his slaves in the West Indies well before the 1833 Emancipation Act, wrote to the Argus registering her disgust at the outrage to British and Christian justice and called

upon those "in authority" to '';reverse the
order of things." But it was a long time before any change occurred in Australia's immigration laws.1IIII

Rosemary Ann Buchan died on 6 June 88, aged 41. She had been seriously ill for several months and had returned to New Zealand to spend some time with her family. After working as a teacher in New Zealand, Rosemary completed a Master of Arts with Honors in Anthropology at the University of Otago in 1973. She then migrated to Australia and during the 1970s worked in a number of capacities for the Aboriginal and Historic Resources Section of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Rosemary's first involvement with VAS occurred when, with Peter Coutts, she jointly ran the VAS Summer School in Archaeology at Wood Wood during the summer of 1977-78. In 1980 Rosemary was appointed to head the Aboriginal Heritage Section of the South Australian Department of Environment and Planning. In this position she established the framework for Cultural Resource Management in the State. VAS again received the benefits of Rosemary's expertise in 1986 when she was appointed as the Manager of the Archaeology Branch. In this capacity Rosemary provided outstanding dedication and clear direction to the activities under her control. Rosemary's contribution to Australian archaeology and her happy nature, even in the face of adversity, will be sadly missed by friends and colleagues alike.


VAS NEWS August 1988

AS is pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Green to the position of Physical Anthropologist. In this interview Mike speaks of the social responsibilities of physical anthropologists and of his goals at VAS.


Oue of Mike's priorities is to supply Aborigiual communities with plainEnglish reports on Aboriginal skeletal remains. VAS is custodian of the remains of some fifty individuals. Mike says it will take him at least 2 years to clear the backlog of work. In addition, he will be called upon to investigate and report on the numerous cases where skeletal remains are uncovered as a result of erosion, development and other activities. Mike is wcll aware that his work involves him in sensitive issues. He explains: "Aborigines and academics often have very different points of view about Aboriginal remains. The whole problem revolves around the question: Who has the right to determine the ultimate disposal of skeletal remains? In cases where a skeleton is undoubtedly Aboriginal, then clearly it is the right of local Aboriginal communities to make decisions regarding disposal and the academic community should not argue otherwise. "However, in cases such as the Mungo remains, where the bones are 26,000 and 32,000 years old there is an argument that they are of significance to the world and important because they add to our knowledge of the wider story of humanity's development The argument goes, then, that non-Aborigines have a legitimate interest in their disposal. A problem with this argument is that it assumes that at some stage in evolutionary history the first inhabitants of Australia only became Aborigines after a certain period of time, and at the time of arrival they were something else. I wonder where the line could be drawn and who could draw it?" Mike believes that attitudes are changing

Mike Green.

rapidly among academics. He says that older academics rarely saw the need to consult with Aborigines. The most important thing to the older generation of academics was the scientific value of skeletal remains - ethicitl and social issues were often not considered. Mike emphasises that he too has a sense of scientific curiosity, and his work attests to that. He is currently completing research studies for a Ph.d thesis on cranial variation in Papua New Guinea. His studies, including a year in Papua New Guinea, show that New Guinea Highlanders and Aborigines, particularly those in Southeast Australia, share features which may indicate a common ancestry. By measuring and recording physical variability in skulls, Mike argues that a much clearer picture of the physical evolution of Australian Aborigines will be obtained. But Mike maintains that scientific zeal alone is not enough: "Science does not exist in a vacuum; scientific values must be accompanied by humanist concerns. I do not believe that one racial group has the right to deal with the bones of another group as it wishes. " Mike sees education and social contact as an antidote to academic isolation and ar-

gues that, while the differences of opinion between Aborigines and some academics are very real, they can be largely overcome. He says,"Physical anthropologists can make valuable contributions to contemporary Aboriginal culture. We can assist people to recover parts oftheir past that were lost because of the destructive behaviour of white people. It is the responsibility of scientists to explain to Aboriginal communities the value of studying prehistoric remains." "A lot of trouble has arisen in the past be· cause information has not been returned te Aboriginal communities. Most academic~ have never thought about the importance or need to return scientific information tc Aborigines. We must allow people aceOS' to information. And it is not good enoug! for academics to simply post off theil theses for communities to read. Informa· tion must be placed in a format that is ac· cessible to ordinary people and can be usee in schools and brochures." Nevertheless, he believes that liaison is , two-way process: "Aboriginal people must take it upon themselves to educate w and put their view-point across strongly."


VAS NEWS August 1988


Kristal Buckley.


n September of last year Kristal Buckley was appointed as VAS's first manager of the newly-formed Historical Archaeology Unit.
Krista! holds a B. A. (Hons) in social anthropology from the Australian National University and a Graduate Diploma in Australian Archaeology from the University of New England. Prior to joining VAS Krista! spent more than 4 years as Archaeological Assistant and Technical Officer at Tasmania's Port Arthur Conservation and Development Project and one year as Archaeologist for Tasmania's World Heritage Area. In many ways her role is to pioneer historical archaeology in areas where its virtues have not previously been recognized. Although VAS had undertaken a number of historical archaeology projects in the past, it was not structured to deal regularly with historical archaeology issues or to sustain an ongoing historical archaeology programme. Shortly after her appointment Kristal said she was "looking forward to helping historical archaeology become a positive and well-established dis-

cipline in Victoria." In this interview Kristal discusses theprogress of that ambition.

Can you define the term historical archaeology? KRISTAL: I don't feel very comfortable with the word "historical." Aboriginal people often object to it because it implics they don't have a history and we do. It's not just a matter 9f semantics, it has implications about how we think about culture. I prefer to use the term "post-contact history". I guess what we are talking about is applying archaeological techniques to study the physical remains of past human activity; the only difference is that we are looking at sites that date from the time ofEuropean settlement to the present. It is a relevant line to draw. Post-contact sites are different from pre-contact Aboriginal sites. They represent different forms of human activity and settlement. Why is archaeology necessary on historical sites? Isn'tall theinformation in historical records?

KRISTAL: That isn't true. Historical documents can't tell us everything about the past. Take the example ofPort Arthur: the Tasmanian State Archives are full of memos from prison authorities, but they don't tell us enough about the lives of the convicts. Similarly with the "Little Lon" site, the available historical records consist of police reports and highly emotive reports from visitors who have a certain moral bias. These are the kinds of sites where archaeology can have a very productive input. Both historians and archaeologists want to know how things worked in the past. In some cases historical documents do that well. In other areas we may study the history of art, literature or politics. The study ofmaterial culture, which is the concern of archaeologists, is another input into a total picture. How do you see the future ofhistorical or post-contact archaeology in Victoria? KRISTAL: Post-contact or historical archaeology has yet to achieve its potential



VAS NEWS August 1988 in Victoria. We need to develop a statewide set of research questions so that archaeological work done in Victoria can contribute in a cumulative way to important historical and archaeological problems. Development ofa research framework will hopefully enable us to direct our own research activities more effectively. In public archaeology, our research capacity is limited and generally applied to pressing management concerns - there is always a tension between managing archaeological values and actually doing archaeology. For example, I spend a lot of my time giving advice on planning and development issues and have less time for conducting research. That is a common situa-

tions believe we should be archaeological
researchers, initiating and carrying out

And where we put our energies depends, of course, on the resources available to us. We have to decide where archaeology can make the best contribution and to find the
sites where our resources can return the

projects that are of interest and importance to archaeologists. Our colleagues in heritage administration feel that our role is to assist in the inventory and management of sites via the planning process. There is also a perception that we should provide a "digging service" upon request, for other government authorities. In my view, these roles need not be mutually exclusive and the Unit must participate in all these aspects of heritage conservation. We also need to let the public know what we are doing and why we think it is important.

most information, where archaeology can contribute to a leap in understanding.

Where do you think that will be?
KRISTAL: That is not yet resolved. One area of great interest is post-contact Aboriginal sites such as missions, native police stations, cemeteries, and so on. There is a lot of interest by Aboriginal communities in those sites. They want to know a lot more about such sites. Other areas of interest include early nonAboriginal settlement sites and industrial sites.1II

How does your unit fit in with heritage
conservation in Victoria?

tion for archaeologists employed by governments. This tension is also reflected in the way different groups perceive our Unit. Archaeologists in academic institu-

KRISTAL: My first task has been to find out what is happening in this area. It is no use duplicating the efforts of other people.








R S r " '" Jl N O ' ' ' ' ' ' , N G



NEW VAS POSTERS ON ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES Shell middens Stone Arrangements--Rock Art Each measures 58 cm/42 em, and is in full colour. Price: $ 2.00 per poster.


VAS NEWS August 1988


Photo courtesy Stawell Times.

unjil's B Black Cave, located in tile Ranges, south of Stawell, was recently damaged by graffiti.

The site, famous for its unique display of Aboriginal art, is recorded as a site of cultural significance on the Register of the National Estate. The presence of graffiti caused concern to the local Aboriginal community and VAS, which has the legal responsibility to protect such sites. The event was widely reported in the local media The Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative, based in Horsham, asked VAS to investigate the damage and recommend procedures for restoring the art to its original condition. It was decided to close the site to the public until the graffiti was removed. After consultations with Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative, VAS commissioned a firm of conservators, Kosinova Thorn, to undertake the

removal of the graffiti. Mr Andrew Thorn, a principal of the company, attended a workshop on rock art conservation in San Francisco where techniques for the removal of the graffiti were reviewed by international authorities, ensuring that the best possible methods were adopted. The method chosen involved using a solvent made from water and acetone.

(Acetone is commonly found in nail polish remover). The water weakens the bond between the graffiti and the underlying surface, allowing graffiti fragments to be removed without damage to the art work. The acetone allows this process to be precisely controlled and accelerates the drying of the rock surface. The solvent was carefully applied with cotton-wool swabs, and rolled across the surface of the graffiti centimetre by centimetre. After a week of painstaking work the graffiti was successfully removed and the site reopened to the public.

While the graffiti was bemg removed, a conservation assessment of the cave was made. An electrical meter was used to measure the surface moisture of the area around the paiutings. This showed that Bunjil is painted in the driest part of the overhang, and not likely to be affected by rising damp. Further measurements - this time of the temperature of the rock forming Bunji!'s Cave - indicated that damage by surface moisture, formed when humid air comes into contact with cold rock, is also not likely to occur. Bunjil 's sheltered location means also that the art is not exposed to the destructive affects of direct sunlight.The news for Bunjil was good. It seems the long-term preservation of the site is assured except, of course, in the case of destructive human bchaviouLIIII


VAS NEWS August 1988

" The froth-flotation technique has the potential to increase the knowledge-recovery rate from archaeological excavations by a factor of ten - an enormous leap. II With this startling statement VAS archaeologist, Don Ranson, describes the impact ofa technology to recover microscopic evidence from excavated soils.
"Normally, archaeologists discover material at the point of a trowel or through sieving the soil,and thus microscopic evidence is usually lost," Don Ranson explained. But Australian archaeologists have a major problem. In Europe, where this technique is commonly used, large comparative reference collections have been built up over many years. In Australia no such reference collection exists. So while material can be collected, Australian ar-

Photo courtesy The Australian.

Photo courtesy The Australian.

chaeologists at present have no way of identifying it. VAS is hoping other scientists can help. Froth-flotation, was first used by archaeologists in Palestine and Bulgaria to recover plant remains from the sites of farming communities occupied 5,000 years ago. Seeds of hybrids of wheat, barley and legumes were rediscovered, thus providing important information on humankind's early diet and farming practices. The technique is based on ore recovery methods used by the mining industry and was first adapted for archaeology by Tony Legge of the University of London. Its methods are deceptively simple. Special detergent is added to a container of water, and air is continuously pumped through the solution until a thick layer of froth forms on the surface. Excavated soil is then poured into the solu-

tion. Rich, dark, organic material from "sealed deposits" (undisturbed layers of soil) and cesspits are particularly rich in material. As the soil passes through the solution, microscopic organic particles adhere to the bubbles and float to the surface. The froth is then collected, packed in paper towels to dry, sorted and identified under a microscope. A wide variety ofmicroscopic remains, including fibres, hair, seeds, insect eggs, snailshells, small bones, teeth, fish scales and parasite cysts, provide new and abundant sources of iufortnation about local trade, economy, technology, occupations, prevalent diseases and micro-environments.

"If anyone has any experience at identifying microscopic organic remains, and

would care to assist VAS in building up a reference collection, we'd like to hear from them," said Don Ranson. III




NEWS August 1988

ioneering by P Godfrey ofworkTrobe Michael La University is helping to discover how Aboriginal hunter-gatherers of South-east Australia took advantage of seasonal changes in food supply.
In modem urban societies such as Melbourne it is easy to forget that food is seasonal. Our large, wholesale markets are supplied by extensive freight networks. Refrigerated transport brings firstof-the-season produce from northern Australia where warmer weather allows planting and growth much earlier than in the south. Aborigines, on the other hand, exploited seasonal change not by transporting food but by moving from place to place, according to seasonal food supplies. Insights into patterns of movement can be gained from a study of archaeological records. A study


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, ...









Summary a/the variation at oxygen isotope with sea temperature in recent times.

of camp sites, for example, will often reveal the remains of meals consisting of seasonal foods. These could include the bones of migratory birds or the remains of emu eggs. But at Discovery Bay, near Portland, Michael Godfrey is taking another approach. The process involves analysing samples, taken from ancient shell middens, of the common shellfish, pipi. Smallfragments ofpipi are ground up and analysed for the presence of two differentisotopes ofoxygen found in the lime of the shell. Isotopes are different forms of the same element - in this case oxygen. There are two oxygen isotopes - known as 160 and 180. The amount ofeach form found in sea

water varies according to the temperature of the sea. As the pipi grows, changes in isotopes are incorporated into the lime of its shell. Just as a tree's growth can be followed by examining its rings, so a pipi accumulates annual layers of lime. By analysing the amount of isotope in each layer, the time of year when the shell was harvested and eaten can be discovered. The work of Michael Godfrey offers a window on the past. Middens used by Aborigines many thousands of years ago may reveal new and exciting infonnation about the way in which the first Australians moved in order to exploit seasonal foods. III!

Family Donacidae: commonly pipi.

known as


VAS NEWS August 1988

ong time readers of L history ofthebe familiar VAS with NEWS will the 1826 settlement at Corinella in Westernport. The settlement lasted for only 15 months but in that time land was cleared and cultivated, lime was produced, more than 30,000 bricks were made and in excess of 50 structures were built.
Corinella was established following British fears that an expedition, led by Captain Dumont d'Urville, intended to establish a French outpost in Westernport. In fact, British fears were unfounded and Captain d'Urville had already visited and left Westernport by the time the British settlement expedition arrived from Sydney. Early in 1828 Governor Darling ordered the abandonment ofCorinella. His reasons appear to be closely related to the reasons for initiating the settlement in the first place. Having demonstrated British interest in the area, the settlement had served its purpose and was no longer required. It would seem that Darling never intended Corinella to survive. As Peter Coutts (1983: 157) states, "The settlement was founded in political expediency and sabotaged by bureaucratic expediency. It is a forgotten episode in our history." European settlement of the area occurred slowly during the 1840s and the following two decades. There are occasional reports of residents salvaging bricks from the 1826 settlement to construct new buildings. By the 1920s no visible traces of Corinella settlement remained. Today, the area is relatively underdeveloped and is used for agricultural purposes. In the early 1980s, under the direction of Dr Peter Coutts, VAS ran several field

Kristal Buckley and lain Stuart using Resistivity gear at Corinclla.

work seasons at Corinella. The goal was to locate and examine any archaeological remains of Corinella. Unfortunately, the settlement was not located, although Dr Coutts's detailed historical research established the broad area within which the settlement would have been located. In February this year, the Minister for Planning and Environment (MPE) approved an amendment to the planning scheme for the Shire of Bass, enabling some types of development to go ahead in the area. But the MPE is also attempting to ensure that developments do not inadvertently destroy any archaeological remains. As a result, VAS will investigate development sites prior to the issue of planning

permits. The first site investigation was carried out during April and May on a property on Brick Kiln Road on which a house is to be built. After assessing historical records it was considered that the only feature which might occur at the house site was the track which led east from the original settlement to gardens at Guys Creek. This track is shown by a dotted line on the 1827 map by Hovell. Ifthe track could be found it would provide confirmation of the location of the main settlement. At the same time, VAS decided to use the investigation to practise skills in using resistivity equipment. The resistivity meter is very simple to use - it


VAS NEWS August 1988

measures the amount of electrical resistance between two probes .5 meters apart which are pnshed into the soil. Readings are taken at regular intervals over the survey area. Thus, a list of numerical readings is produced. This data is fed into a computer, using a programme called Res Plot. The result was a Res Plot dot density "picture" of the area. Although plough-lines and a number of ambiguous shapes were present, Res Plot showed that discovery of the 1826 track was unlikely. VAS decided to excavate parts of the house site in order to confirm the computer findings and to investigate the cause of puzzling features on the Res Plot readout. A backhoe was used to scrape layers of soil away in three areas. No archaeological features were discovered and differences in soil compactness and texture appeared to account for the puzzling variations in electrical resistance. A major advantage in using the resistivity method was that it enabled VAS to survey the house site without a costly and lengthy archaeological excavation. III


Gary Nelson, VAS Site Officer.

At the University of New England, Armidale, NSW. IS to 18 December, 1988 Papers will include: Australian Archaeology after intensification; Stone artefacts; Archaeology ofthe historical period; The Sociology and Politics of Archaeology; Archaeology from Cultural Resource Management; Archaeology of the Nullabor; Recent Research and Outback Archaeology. Further Information: Dept. of Archaeology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW- 2351.


AS Regional Site Officer, Gary Nelson, has recently returned from an unusual field trip. Gary led a party of 22 students and a lecturer from Melbourne's Swinburne Institute of Technology to the ancient Kanyapella lake bed, near Barmah Forest in northern Victoria.
For many years VAS and Swinburne lecturer, John Morieson, have cooperated in joint educational field trips for Swinburne's engineering students. But on this occasion there was a significant difference. VAS's Director, Mike McIntyre, explains: "While we have conducted similar exercises with Swinburne in the past,this is the flrst time an Aboriginal person has been in charge. Thanks to grants

from the Commonwealth Government, VAS was recently able to sponsor a group of Aborigines through an intensive twoyear training program. One of the graduates, Mr Gary Nelson, has since been appointed as our Regional Site Officer for the Shepparton-Echuca area. Gary was in charge of the Swinburne-VAS survey. His presence and leadership greatly increased the quality of the program." Mike's words are borne out by comments made by the students. One student wrote that: "the best aspect of the trip was that the guide from VAS, Gary Nelson, was an Aboriginal. He was very willing to pass on his knowledge of Aboriginal culture. Many nights were spent sitting around the fire having few drinks and talking. I found it most interesting that tribal structures still


VAS NEWS August 1988
exist to the present day. Another wrote: "Perhaps the sites we found were not the most spectacular or important yet found, but they were something new to me, and gave me an understanding that there are sites of importance to Aboriginal people, and these sites should be protected. As 1sit here writing 1can see just how easily and rapidly sites could be destroyed. There are water skiers and boats constantly travelling up and down the river, their wash eroding the banks that could contain precious information. Students repeatedly praised the value of Gary Nelson's leadership and presence. Rod McDonald summed up the students' feelings when he wrote: "The leader of the archaeological survey, Gary Nelson, was probably the best person we could ever have wished to lead us. His insights into the factors affecting archaeological sites took ona completely different aspect in the light ofhim being Aboriginal. He was fully aware of his culture and was able to explain it very clearly. He also made us aware of other factors affecting Aborigines throughout our communities and better ways to react to them." Swinburne lecturer,John Morieson, explained the reasons for student involvement in archaeology. He said, "The expedition to Kanyapella was of particular benefit to students. They got the opportunity to broaden their educational horizons and gain some practice dealing with issues that may arise in their working lives. As engineers building a road or putting in a power line they are likely to come across Aboriginal sites. The investigations at Kanyapella taught them what to do when this happens. More importantly, they gained an understanding of the fragility and value ofarchaeological sites." Gary Nelson is now in the process of collating andrecording the wealth ofinformation gained on the survey. He said, "We recorded about 20 mounds, 30 scarred trees and seven middens. (See box) The number and size of the mounds and their location indicate the area may have been
It tl

highly populated and there was plentiful resources." "One of the shell middens we recorded was more than 100 metres long and a sample has been taken to get a dating. And some of the scars on trees were very long, suggesting they were for large war canoes, used to ferry warriors or to transport sheep for squatters". On the last evening at camp, as we sat around a fire eating damper and Vegemite and hoping that the few spots of rain wouldn't become a downpour, Gary gave his impressions of the week. He said, "It has really opened the minds of the students. They were fascinated by the information and seemed to enjoy themselves. And 1 enjoyed it. Altogether it has been a great success".R

A seminar on lhe early maritime history of Australia (between 1622 and 1797) will be presented by Museum of Victoria and the CAE. The seminar lectures will explore the theme of shipwrecks throughout our history and will closely examine the work of mariti me archaeo logi sts with reference to shipwrecks around the Victorian coastline.

Date: Saturday, August 6, 1988 from 9 a.m. Venue: Museum of Victoria,

9.00 - 9.15 Registration, Museum Foyer 9.15 -10.15: Viewing of Exhibition before opening to public 10.15 -10.45: Morning tea 10.45·11.50: "Shipwrecks around Australia" Speaker: Jack Loney 11.50 -12.55: "What is Maritime Archaeology?" Speaker: Terry Arnott 1.00 - 2.00 Lunch 2.00 - 3.10: Re-Discovering Shipwrecks Speaker: Peter Harvey 3.10·3.15: Final Questions and Close
ENQUIRIES: Diana Bianciardi and Judy Siracusa (tel. 652 0647) General StUdies Section CAE, 256 Flinders Street, Melbourne 3000. FEES: $33 (includes lunch, morning tea, exhibition entrance and notes).

Concession Fee $30.


v AS NEWS August 1988


Caughey, will open a display at the Hamilton Aboriginal Keeping Place in memory of MUlga Fred. t 2 A the pm on Thursday, July 28 Governor, Dr Davis Mc-

ach year VAS is required to manage numerous Aboriginal burial sites. Some may have been recently discovered, others are well-known but have been disturbed through soil erosion or human activity. Here is a typical case study.


Mulga's real name was Fred Wilson. He was a well-loved Aboriginal man who followed the show circuit to give whipcracking demonstrations. He was a favourite at rodeos and other impromptu venues. A Macarthur man, Mr George Dyson has one of Mulga Fred's whips. George, himself a whipmaker, will demonstrate this art with local Aboriginal identity, Claude Lovett during Wool Week. Mulga Fred, however, was perhaps best known as the person in the Pelaco advertisement which said, "Mine tinkit they fit". It is hoped that the original portrait used for this advertisement will be available for display.

body during the burial ceremony and since disturbed by vehicles were replaced. Other nearby stones were used to construct a small protective cairn. It was hoped this would prevent further disturbance. In March this year the Gunditjmara Co-op informed V AS that further erosion had taken place. V AS archaeologist, David Clark, and Regional Site Officer, Charmaine Clarke, met with Phil Norman from Portland Region of the Department of Conservation Forests and Lands to dis-

In July, 1987 archaeologists surveying a proposed development site near Port Fairy discovered an Aboriginal skeleton. After informing the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative in Warrnambool, the archaeologists notified V AS and an on-site meeting was arranged to determine what action should be taken. Mr John Clapp, the dairy farmer who owns the land, was enthusiastic in his concern. for the site and played an active part in planning for its

cuss more permanent solutions to the
problems. Two measures were decided upon: the erection of a feuce to divert vehicles and the laying down ofbrush matting to halt erosiou and encourage the reestablishment of vegetation. The work was completed by C.F.& L. staff and early indicatious are that it is successful; the burial will be protected and part of an associated shell midden will be preserved. Finally, Mr Clapp generously allowed members of the Gunditjmara access to the site in order that they may continue to monitor the effectiveness of the conservation program.•

CONTACT: Aboriginal Keeping Place, Hamilton, (055) 723-368.11II An exploratory excavation revealed that despite disturbance by vehicles and

erosion, the human remains were substantially intact. A decision was taken to leave the skeleton in situ and try to prevent further damage. Flat stones which had been placed on the

Papers will include: Salvage ethics and ethical research
Cultural resource management New developments in Australian Maritime Archaeology Maritime Archaeology Database Link ups. Further details: Mark Staniforth, Australian National Maritime Museum, G. P.O. Box 5131 Sydney - 200 1.

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VAS NEWS August 1988


Minister for Planning and Environment

10 June 1988

The Minister for Planning and Environment, Tom Roper, announced today that he would act to protect an ancient Aborigiual campsite that was on land being cleared for rcsideutial subdivision. The 20 hectare site is situated on the edge of the basalt plains west of Kororoit Creek, Deer Park.

Mr Roper said he hoped to n.egotiate a settlement between the Aboriginal community and the developer. This may involve purchase of the land and, if necessary, declaring it a protected site under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
"The campsite is particularly significant to the local Aboriginal people because of the contribution it makes to the understanding of Aboriginal traditions, lifestyle and culture. "The wealth of Aboriginal objects and archacological materiOI on the site has the potential to provide information on the past use that Aboriginal people made of the area. "Thc materials present indicate that it could be an imPOrtarlt traditional campsite associated with several maintenance and food processing activities, exploiting the resources of the creek and surrounding places," he said.

Mr Roper said his Ministry had responded quickly since the extent of the site had become known and had flown consultants in from Canberra to carry out preliminary boundary identification.
He said he would work closely with the developer and the Aboriginal community to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. "I appreciate the difficult situation the developer finds himself in. He has, however, been co-operative and voluntarily ceased work on the site while investigations to determine its extent are carried out. Mr Roper said that an Aboriginal adviser from the Wurundjeri tribe was already involved in discussions on the site's future. A small part of the site was recorded in 1982 on the Victorian Register of Aboriginal Relics during a survey of the Melbourne metropolitan region. The developer's recent site clearance works, however, revealed that the Aboriginal campsite was much larger than the one recorded. The site is comprised of many hundreds of stone artefacts exposed on the surface of the land. Other stone artefacts are visible in archaeological deposits below the present level surface where excavation of basalt boulders by earth moving contractors has revealed in situ material. The area that has been exposed covers at least 10 hectares.


Jean Gordon Government Printer Melbourne