Old Owen Springs, Heritage Branch, NT Government Excavations at Old Owen Springs, July 2013. Read more here.



The Australian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA) was founded in 1970 to promote the study of historical archaeology in Australia. In 1991 the Society was expanded to include New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region generally, and its name was changed to the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology.


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Compiled by Daniel J. Leahy

Daniel was another of the bursary recipients and his thoughts on the conference are below.  


As Armidale has been suffering from a drought for a number of months, it was great to see both green grass and blue water – the time away also gave me a few days of relaxation. I was interested by a number of papers presented at the conference. Gordon Grimwade’s paper on the WWII heritage of Horn Island in Queensland, a site which I’m including in my own PhD research, was extremely interesting and gave me some insight to an area I’m yet to visit. As the President of the University of New England (UNE) Archaeology Society, it was also great to see papers presented by current and former UNE students such as Caitlyn D’Gluyas, Karen Filewood, and Crystal Phillips. Though the standout paper for me was Matthew Kelly’s presentation on Papua New Guinean carriers during WWII, especially regarding the Orokaiva people, whose land I have visited numerous times over the past 20 years (my grandmother’s brother-in-law was killed in Oro Province during the fighting of early 1943).

However, the most rewarding aspect of attending the 2019 ASHA Conference had to be the social connections that were made. For me this included both catching up with old friends and colleagues and also making new connections or receiving new tips about additional sites for my PhD project. To me, this is what such conferences are about – the collaboration and sharing of ideas and information. It was also interesting to see what aspects and ideas people wanted to discuss about both my own presentation and a poster I had compiled for the conference.

I will admit that when the venue of the 2019 ASHA Conference was announced I was disappointed. While I understand that Port Macquarie is indeed an historic area and relatively central in New South Wales, as a non-driver it meant a 12+ hour rail journey – each way – even from the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale. Furthermore, with another annual archaeology conference commencing literally days after the end of the ASHA Conference it meant that I would be unable to attend both. Ultimately, as my current PhD project aligns with historical archaeology, I opted to attend the ASHA Conference. Additionally, as a colleague was also attending, I was able to hitch a ride, ultimately saving me from the long rail journeys. Others had expressed similar feelings about the conference in the lead up to the event, so I was a tad dubious about how it would turn out, but ultimately I am glad that I was able to attend. During the conference it was announced that the 2020 ASHA Conference will be held in Melbourne. I am thoroughly looking forward to next year’s conference, as it is close to my ‘home turf’ and I am planning to conduct fieldwork in Victoria in the near future. So I hope to have lots to share at the upcoming conference.

Compiled by Jenna Walsh (1), and Angela Gurr (2)

(1) Honours student, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University. Chairperson, NASC 2019

(2) PhD candidate, Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit, The University of Adelaide. National Committee member, NASC 2019.

The 2019 National Archaeology Student Conference has drawn to a close after four successful and engaging days. NASC was hosted this year by Flinders University students at Flinders’ Adelaide CBD campus from October 1-4. The Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA) generously sponsored this event, along with other industry associations including AAA and AACAI. NASC is an annual event organised by students, for students, and relies heavily upon industry engagement and financial support.

Interstate delegates from the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, Macquarie University, The University of Sydney, Australian National University and the University of Western Australia joined local students from Flinders University and The University of Adelaide to network and share research. The 2019 Committee, chaired by Flinders University honours student Jenna Walsh, created a welcoming, professional and inclusive environment, in keeping with the 2019 theme, ‘The Future of Our Past: innovation, inclusion and interdisciplinary research’. The conference aimed to address current trends in our field and celebrate people of different abilities, ethnicities, gender and socioeconomic status coming together to do archaeology and innovate new techniques. A wide variety of student research and fieldwork experiences were shared via podium, art and poster presentations, with specialties including Indigenous, historical and maritime archaeology, osteoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeological science and Ancient Studies featured.

Special guest Richard Osgood (UK) delivered the opening keynote speech ‘The catharsis of trauma – archaeology as wellbeing’. Richard is the Senior Archaeologist with the British Ministry of Defence and co-founder of Operation Nightingale, an initiative which employs archaeological fieldwork to assist the recovery of service personnel and wounded veterans. He shared his knowledge and experience in an inspiring and engaging hour that went all too fast. Dr Mitchell Allen, of UC Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institution, presented his 40 years’ experience as an academic publisher, and his valuable insights on the digital revolution and its impact on archaeological publishing. In addition to his archaeological career, Mitchell runs Scholarly Roadside service, a publishing consulting company. Dr Georgia Roberts from ANCATL introduced the new National Skills Passport initiative to a South Australian audience for the first time, and research by staff at Flinders University was featured during a delightful Wednesday evening session at which members of the archaeological public enjoyed local wines and specially prepared cheese platters. A leisurely sunset dinner cruise on board the MV Dolphin Explorer at Port Adelaide concluded the conference on Friday evening

The major award for NASC 2019, The Flinders University Archaeological Society Award, was presented to Isaac Roberts of Macquarie University for his research into misuse and repatriation of Indigenous artefacts in institutional art collections. In addition to their general sponsorship, ASHA generously contributed a prize of $80 for excellence in presenting internationally themed work, which was given to Iona Claringbold of ANU for her impressive research into zooarchaeology in Polynesia. Iona’s research focussed on the significance of pig-human interactions on Aniwa. Keynotes Richard Osgood and Mitchell Allen judged the awards and were impressed by the high standard of student work in Australia: “I should come to student conferences more often! This is just wonderful!” Mitchell said.

Information and a gallery of images from NASC 2019 may be found via The 2019 committee is in the process of selecting a university to hold the next conference.

Sponsorship interests: NASC 2019 was generously supported by Australian Archaeological Association, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc., The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University, Dr Claire Smith, Dr Daryl Wesley, Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology, Comber Consultants, Integrated Heritage Services, CAA Australasia, Australasian Women in Ancient World Studies, Scarp Archaeology, Neale Draper and Associates, the South Australian Maritime Museum, Australian Heritage Services, and Flinders University Archaeological Society.



Compiled by Gordon Grimwade

Gordon was another of the bursary recipients for the conference last month. You can read his thoughts on the conference below.


Any conference that can produce fascinating papers on brothels, stone walls, buffalo shooters, Vanuatu and perpetrators of domestic violence has met its goals. The 2019 ASHA conference at Port Macquarie again provided opportunities for historical archaeologists to exchange ideas and knowledge while interweaving it with invaluable networking over culturally appropriate beverages.

As usual the field trips stimulated ongoing discussion. Many of us would love to welcome seeing Innes House made more accessible and interpreted to the level of its significance. Several tour participants who later saw the model of Innes House in the Port Macquarie Museum remarked on the complexity of this icon of opulence, ego, technology and money.

The three minute presentations proved popular even though, according to well informed sources, a couple at least were artfully cobbled together only the day before. Once again the diversity of topics was little short of amazing. Only at an ASHA conference could Qantas, an artist’s studio, a bung jar and a wire fence tensioner demonstrate any commonality.

A quarter of the presenters of the traditional papers were students. I’m not sure if the committee did it intentionally but virtually every session followed the 1:3 ratio. ASHA conferences are a great opportunity for students to highlight their projects and to get feedback on their work.

Several excellent papers were of archaeological interest while others were almost pure history in their content. In some ways that is hardly surprising as we are historical archaeologists but it makes me wonder if we should be looking at a combined conference with the Professional Historians Association at some stage as they have overlapping interests.

Finally, my congratulations and thanks to the organizing committee and the local volunteers, including Mitch and the ladies who manned the registration and book sales desk.