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Pamela Kottaras, EMM Consulting Pty Ltd

When you hear the words ‘cultural landscapes’ what comes to mind?

This is what comes to my mind most readily


Perhaps because this is what I first thought of as a landscape. When you think of landscape artists – John Constable, Fredrick McCubbin, Sidney Nolan, Condrad Martins and of course Fred Williams (landscape with a goose, sapling forest), you might think of trees and hills, with maybe a person, maybe not. Then there’s Daisy Helen Tjupantarri Ward, Dorothy Napandardi and a long, long list of Aboriginal artists who paint the landscape in the tradition that non-Aboriginal people recognise, but who also paint landscapes that are coded, with meaning that must be explained to the uninitiated. Non-Aboriginal Australians are becoming more familiar with works like those created in styles that are more akin to the traditions of the artists’ homeland.

In this first picture we have gently rolling hills, like waving lengths of fabric; a dead tree in the foreground, hills in the background and in between incised gullies and creek beds. In the middle distance a shed, and in the clump of trees is probably a house. This little group of structures was made with human hands. The trees surrounding the house were probably planted 60 years ago, as were the windbreaks. They are cultural.

The trees in the foreground and middle distance are, or were, native. Dieback. But more native trees can be seen in the distance in the gully. Even a long time ago, when this area was covered in open woodland – dominated by Eucalypts and Angophora, with a forb and grass under-storey and was ‘natural’, it was cultural.

In the foreground the stone outcrop is silcrete. Behind me, in the silcrete, there are grinding grooves. Somewhere in this photograph, there is probably an archaeological site – maybe within the clump of trees before the newer house was built and maybe closer to a creek. If you look hard enough, you can see these things.

Then there’s the invisible - the hills in the distance may have been formed by a sleeping girl, or a pair of friends hiding from a kestrel – the intangible. It isn’t the result of the millions of years of geological activity and erosion that we believe has formed this continent.


Photo 2 is the same stump but capturing the horizon to the west, although the view is north. The landform in the distance is important to the Aboriginal people of the region. It’s a natural landform and its significance is intangible. I’m not at liberty to say what it is, but that isn’t important for this piece. These landscapes are easy to distinguish for heritage consultants and many others besides. They might not see the value in them, but they can see them.


But what about this? Clearly, it’s a track. But in the 1880s to the early twentieth century it was a road that carried heavy bullock-drawn vehicles from a town to an industrial area and back again. It’s on private property but if you could walk it, it would take you from the industrial area, to a newer alignment of that same road, but that has not been used for many years. The newer road is sealed with bitumen and crowded by tall eucalypts and small ferns, but it is recognisable as a road. The kind of road that I’d want to walk down to see where it takes me. I could look at an old street directory or an old aerial photograph, but its not nearly as satisfying if you like walking and looking.

These old roads form a small network that was used not only by the people that worked their little mine lease, but by people who lived there to work their little mine lease.


Finally,is this little piece of land. A jumble of rocks, some dead blackberry patches, and what I’m assured is a quince tree. Documentary research and local knowledge tell us that this little patch of land was a camp site. In fact, more like a residence, that was a camp site for people looking to make their fortune in mining and to feed their families and eventually to put a proper roof over their heads.

There is a more house-like structure nearby, in fact a house (or part of one), which is easier to spot. But other areas just look like field clearance at a glance until you look more closely. Then you can see structure, or tracks lined with stones, or artefacts – ceramic, tin cans, glass. Or stone artefacts made of silcrete and chert.

There is information here that is valuable. For what? Research? What kind of research? I don’t know – spatial analysis of itinerant camps? Or permanent camps that people lived in with their husbands, their wives and their children? Their cow and maybe a vehicle?

This landscape is one of a small handful in the local area, all there for the same reason, and with little topsoil to hold much deposit. It might not deliver much in terms of archaeological contexts but I’m sure that if we look at it as a horizontal landscape, we might be able to learn some things.

The good news about this area is that it won’t be destroyed. But it will be closed off for another 30 years. We’ve been lucky enough to have a client who understands why there is a certain group of people who see value in these rocks on the ground. I’ve managed to convince them that all these little living spaces and the routes between them are worthy of recording with topographic survey and photographically. Some of the bits and pieces are so scattered, it’s difficult to tell what they could have been. If at the very least, the plans are made available to other researches who can compare them to other such sites and make some sense of how and why the countryside was used the way it was. How did the woman and her husband and their three, four, five children live here?

What I hope to do is convince more clients to record sites that are not going to be destroyed, that might not even reach the threshold for significance on their own, to record and lodge to make the data available to other researchers. And that way maybe they won’t become forgotten landscapes.

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Richard Morrison, ASHA ACT Representative

This very successful event was held on the morning of 4 May 2019 within the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival. It was the second such symposium partnered with the Canberra Archaeological Society (CAS) - a body established in 1963 (prior to ASHA) to provide a forum for academics, students and members of the public on all types of archaeology. It conducts archaeological projects and monthly lectures.

The Symposium, ‘Contemporary archaeology: How archaeology is practised today’ was held at the prestigious National Museum of Australia with 5 eminent speakers, including one who Skyped-in, and was jointly organised by Richard Morrison of ASHA and Dr Iain Johnston of CAS. The Symposium flyer is available here.

It was advertised in numerous places and was attended by more than 60 people (we had 100 Eventbrite registrations) including the ACT’s Minister for Environment and Heritage, archaeology and heritage students, academics, and a broad cross section of the public.

We opened with a traditional Welcome to Country undertaken by Paul House, a Ngambri man, including a short didgeridoo presentation with some audience participation on clapping sticks.

The symposium introduction presented information on historical archaeology, ASHA and and CAS.

Three speakers, including Emeritus Professor Richard Wright AM (who came out from retirement in Sydney to speak), illustrated their important work in historical archaeology.

Dr Michael Pearson AO discussed the work, including his own, of Australian archaeologists across Antarctica in the context of activity by all nations.He highlighted the issue of a lack of ongoing and current involvement of archaeologists in Mawson’s Hut conservation.

Emeritus Professor Richard Wright AM spoke on his important and sensitive work under difficult circumstances in providing archaeological evidence war crimes trials related to various European conflicts. His paper provided confronting and compelling insights into terrible crimes and the pursuit of those responsible. He also reflected on his more recent key role in identifying 250 Australian soldiers buried in mass graves from WWI at Fromelles, France.

Dr Alice Gorman spoke on her current research into Apollo 11 heritage found at Tranquillity Base on the Moon. In particular, she focussed on the conceptual significance of shadows which have been used both by scientists, to investigate the Moon’s topography and geomorphology, and conspiracy theorists, to attempt to disprove that Apollo 11 ever went to the Moon.Dr Gorman gave her paper (from Adelaide, via Skype) on Space Archaeology and, in so doing, met the Heritage Festival’s theme of Space.

Dave Johnston, Indigenous heritage and archaeological consultant, presented and discussed a video illustrating the story of a positive collaboration between farmers and the Indigenous community concerning an ochre quarry in the Canberra region as shared heritage.

Dr Iain Johnston spoke on his Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies project returning Indigenous cultural heritage. He focussed on an aspect of this project related to an important rock art site at Kakadu and it’s recording through usual techniques and oral histories from the descendants of the creators still connected to the site. This illuminated the most recent repainting, in possibly, a very ancient process of traditional renewal - the site has been dated to about 25,000 years ago.

A Q&A panel concluded the Symposium.

The audience definitely seemed to appreciate the interesting and varied topics, in comments explicitly referring to the astonishing scope and diversity now covered in the broad field of archaeology, including historical archaeology.

The President of CAS, Dr Duncan Wright, congratulated (on behalf of CAS) Iain Johnston and myself ‘for an extremely successful ‘Contemporary Archaeology’ symposium. This included a remarkable array of fascinating presentations - archaeology of mass burials/ war crimes, space archaeology, archaeology of Antarctica, local ACT archaeology, also rock art and repatriation. It was attended by 60+ members of the public (including Senator (sic) Mick Gentleman) and Richard and Iain should be congratulated for how smoothly this went, not to mention their sparkling MCing!’

As an initiative of ASHA to promote historical archaeology and hopefully encourage new memberships in the regions, this was an undoubted success.

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Compiled by Blog Editor

The next ASHA Sydney reading group will be held on Thursday evening, 14 March.

However, for the first time you can attend online via Zoom Meeting. This will be particularly useful for ASHA members who live outside of Sydney but who want to join in the conversation.

The topic will be the articles in most recent volume of the ASHA journal - Australasian Historical Archaeology. Current members can download copies of all the articles in the journal via the ASHA website.

Location and Time:

GML Heritage

Level 6, 372 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills

6:00-7:30pm, Thursday 14th March 2019

Alternately - you can attend online via Zoom. The link will be sent out to remote attendees who RSVP.

Thank you to GML Heritage for providing the venue.

RSVP

Please let us know you’re coming, by emailing events@asha.org.au by 4pm on Thursday 14th March for catering purposes. Please let us know whether you are coming in person or would like a link to the online Zoom meeting.

Upcoming Event

Upcoming Event
Written by 

Joshua Davis


There is an event coming up this March. This is a joint event with our friends at AICOMOS, AACAI and Heritage Perth - please register your interest as soon as possible. Would be great to see a large ASHA turnout!

There will be three great presentations.

  • Greg Meacham is technical manager at Timber Insight and will present us Restoring Australia’s largest gold mining timber head-frame.
  • Marc Beattie is an Associate in element’s heritage team and will present us Power for the People: East Perth Power Station and its substations.
  • Dr Sean Winter is a part-time Lecturer in archaeology at UWA and the Principal Archaeologist for Winterborne Heritage Consulting and will present us Labour and Industry in WA Heritage.

 Wine and nibbles will follow.

You just need to register on the following link.

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-best-of-industrial-heritage-in-western-australia-tickets-57472941114

Please note that numbers are limited.

WHEN: Thursday March 21st, from 5:30-8pm

WHERE: Element’s Boardroom - Parmelia Hilton Level 19, 191 St Georges Tce.

Also, I would like to ask you to save the following Seminar dates on your calendars for all collaborative events with AICOMOS, AACAI and Heritage Perth:

    June 20th, Built Heritage

    September 19th, Museology

    December 3rd, Archaeology

All seminars are in principle at Element’s office located on Level 19/ 191 St Georges Tce, from 5:30pm-8pm, unless otherwise stated.

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Compiled by Blog Editor

On 26 September 2018, ASHA held a workshop on Artefact Identification and Analysis as part of the 2018 ASHA/AIMA Conference in Parramatta.

There was a good turnout of members, students and non-members with 25 attending each session.

Specialists talked on the artefact categories that are often, if not always, found during excavations. These categories also have the dubious reputation of being the hardest to catalogue because of their huge range of functions, fabrics, decor, manufacturing techniques etc.

This workshop also provided an ideal opportunity to showcase one of Australia’s earliest potters, Thomas Ball, so we can recognise, and therefore verify the presence of Ball’s work on sites in and around Sydney.

All presenters arrived laden with interesting artefacts that helped demonstrate the identification technique with a hands-on approach.

Jeanne Harris held two sessions and talked on the topics of ceramics and glass.

Robyn Stocks talked about two categories close to her heart, miscellaneous and building materials.

Mary Casey and Bernadette McCall prepared and presented a session on identifying Thomas Ball pottery.

Each presenter has provided ASHA with their guides on their chosen topics and these resources are now available to ASHA members.

The guides can be found at 

https://asha-2015.worldsecuresystems.com/secure_zone/workshop-resources

The workshop was extremely interesting and enjoyable and there are plans for more workshops heading your way. Watch this space.

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Written by AHA Editors

Volume 36 of Australasian Historical Archaeology was mailed to members in January. The issue is the first of the new editorial team of Annie Clarke, Penny Crook, James Flexner and Sarah Hayes and showcases a range of papers on historical archaeology in Australia–Pacific region.

The issue includes a fascinating review of the politicisation of Australian colonial smoking practices and clay pipe form known as the ‘Squatters Budgeree’ (Gojak and Courtney) and a review of recent palynological evidence of the landscape of the Tank Stream in Sydney (Macphail and Owen).

Two papers from the broader Pacific rim, on foreign goods in Hawaiian households (Flexner et al) and a mission house in Vanuatu (Zubrzycka et al) showcase developing trends in historical archaeology in the region, and demonstrate the importance of regional context for Australian and New Zealand sites where similar stories of cultural intersection echoed through the colonies.

An introduction to the archaeology of the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls (Jones) demonstrates the importance of reflecting on the material culture of recent times through an archaeological lens.

The volume also includes two studies of overlooked components of infrastructure best understood by a landscape approach: water-management infrastructure in the case of the Victorian goldfields (Davies and Lawrence) and stone-arch bridges in the case of transport networks in Canterbury, NZ (O’Connell and Koenig).

A contribution to the advancement of use-wear analysis on glass vessels from Christchurch (Platts and Smith) has potential applications for artefact studies through the Australasian region.

Finally, a research report on a mining settlement in the Blue Mountains of NSW (Parkes et al) sets out the potential for a closer study of this domestic assemblage in an industrial setting.

Along with book reviews and thesis abstracts, this diverse selection of papers demonstrates the strength of AHA as the outlet for new research in historical archaeology.

For the full contents list see http://www.asha.org.au/journals/2010s/volume-36.

Volume 37 is filling up fast so prospective authors should email editor@asha.org.au as soon as possible if they are planning to submit in 2019 (and note the revision Submission Guidelines http://www.asha.org.au/submission-information.html).

If you haven’t received your copy, contact secretary@asha.org.au.

ASHA events
Compiled by Jane Rooke and Abi Cryhall

Welcome to the New Year and the new committee!

In case you haven’t been introduced here are the new committee members:

  • President—Anita Yousif
  • Vice Presidents—Mary Casey & Penny Crook
  • Secretary—Caitlin D’Gluyas
  • Treasurer—Helen Nicholson
  • Web Manager—Nick Pitt
  • Blog Editors—Abi Cryerhall & Jane Rooke
  • Awards Coordinator—Catherine Tucker
  • Education Resources Coordinator—Alison Frappell
  • Other Societies Representative—Iain Stuart
  • Public/Community Engagement Coordinator—Jennifer Jones-Travers
  • Social Media Officer—Ngaire Richards
  • Events Coordinator—Stephanie Moore
  • General Committee Member—Bronwyn Woff

Just a bit of shameless advertising…if you have anything you would like to blog please feel free to email us at blog@asha.org.au. Perhaps there is an upcoming event you would like to advertise or a past event you would like to share. Is there an artefact worthy of the title ‘Artefact of the Month’ or an interesting project you have been working on or dreaming about? Send them to us and we will pop them on the website. We have some exciting blogs already planned but are always keen to have many more up our sleeves!

 

ASHA Strategic Planning Weekend in Canberra


Although a great deal gets achieved in our monthly ASHA committee meetings, they just don’t give us quite enough time to discuss everything we would like to, so last weekend the ASHA committee traveled to Canberra for a day of planning and strategy. The current committee were present with apologies from Mary Casey and Jennifer Jones-Travers.

The agenda covered:

  • ASHA’s Mission and Vision
  • Committees roles and delegations
  • Membership and outreach
  • ASHA publications, website and social media
  • Collaboration with industry
  • Organisations and visibility
  • ASHA calendar of events 2019-2021 (this included the Conference for the next 5 years)
  • State of the current constitution
  • Pathways Database of Archaeology
  • Archaeology Passport

The sessions were very productive with the agenda discussed and debated, actions decided, and timeframes set. Stay tuned for more details and information on our action list progress in the next few months.
Thank you to GML for providing the Canberra office space for the weekend. Also a huge thank you to Caiti D’Gluyas for her fantastic morning/afternoon teas and lunches.

2019 ASHA Committee at their strategic planning weekend
Photo supplied by Anita Yousif

 


Michael Pearson

In Memoriam — Barry McGowan

18 June 1945-1 September 2018

Friend and colleague Barry John McGowan was born on 18 June 1945. Barry’s first degree, and his first career, were in economics. After gaining a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Adelaide in 1967, Barry spent two years as ‘Assistant to the Economist’, South Pacific Commission, Noumea, under the Australian Volunteers Abroad Scheme. From 1970 to 1996 he worked in the Commonwealth Departments of Health, Territories, Trade and Industry, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and finally as a Director in the Department of Industrial Relations.

Barry’s inner archaeologist and historian, however, fought to break free of the bureaucracy, and after completing a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University in 1995, he left the public service and set himself up as a historian and heritage consultant. He had done a little moonlighting on leave before then, in 1993 and 1995 undertaking two major studies under the New South Wales component of the National Estates Grants Program (NEGP). As a consequence of that work he published two books, Lost Mines, and Bungonia to Braidwood, the former of which was revised and republished as Lost Mines Revisited. Barry’s desire to change direction was in part a result of extensive family holidays in the outback, which had led to his writing articles for Australia Post and 4X4 Magazine.

Barry was a quiet and unassuming man, balancing a vibrant mix of disorderliness, unconventional approaches to challenges, energy and determination, faith and passion, with a healthy good humour. He had a deep interest in how people individually and as communities negotiated life in mining areas, and went about the physical activities of mining. As a subset of this interest, he developed a great empathy for Chinese communities, and wished to see their histories and life experiences better understood and promoted as a valuable part of Australia’s history. His generosity of spirit towards local communities, his local informants and assistants, and to his wider network of professional colleagues was a hallmark of Barry’s second career, as was his infectious enthusiasm for this work. In 2001, in conjunction with Lindsay Smith and Michael and Bronwen Van Leeuwen, Barry designed an exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, ‘Southern Gold’, on the continuous contribution of the Chinese in the Canberra region. Barry wanted the information he had gathered and its analysis to get to the communities he was working with, and, experiencing the publishing difficulties many have experienced at some time, he initially self-published a series of regional mining studies (see the attached Publications list). Most of his later books (he wrote 17 if I count correctly) were published by commercial or government publishers. I had the pleasure of working with him on two of these.

Barry became a Research Associate at the College of Asia and Pacific at the ANU, and in 2011 was awarded a PhD from ANU for his thesis ‘Dust and Dreams: a regional history of mining and community in south-east New South Wales 1850-1914’, which consolidated his exhaustive work on mining and community over the previous years.

I know Barry was immensely happy that he was able to work on a series of studies of the history of Chinese communities in southern NSW over the past few years, under the title ‘Tracking the Dragon’, commissioned by the Museum of the Riverina in Wagga, the reports of which are now available on-line (see below). Barry was awarded a well-deserved Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to community history in June 2018. The Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, conferred the medal on Barry at his hospital bedside. Barry was touched – ‘I’ll send him a book!’.

Barry was active till the end – he always had plans. The last time we had a long talk was earlier this year when he was planning a trip to Nagasaki for an International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas meeting. Barry had been negotiating prostate cancer for twenty years with characteristic determination and unconventional methods, but it came back with unexpected virulence over the last few months, and on 1st of September 2018, Barry lost the battle and passed away peacefully with his loved ones by his side. He is survived by his partner Chong and sons Andrew and Douglas and step children Sean and Genie, brother Chris, and his much-loved grandchildren. Thanks to Andrew for providing family information.

Ave atque vale Barry

Michael Pearson
Canberra 7/9/18

Publications by Barry McGowan (probably not complete)

McGowan, B. 2016. Tracking the Dragon: the history of the Chinese in the Narrandera district of New South Wales. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga (download)

McGowan, B. 2016. Tracking the Dragon: the history of the Chinese in the Hay, Deniliquin and Hillston districts of New South Wales. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga (download)

McGowan, B. 2016. Tracking the Dragon: the history of the Chinese in the Tumut and Adelong districts of New South Wales. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga (download)

McGowan, B. 2016. Tracking the Dragon: the history of the Chinese in the Temora district of New South Wales. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga (download)

McGowan, B. 2016. Tracking the Dragon: the history of the Chinese in the Wagga Wagga district of New South Wales. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga (download)

McGowan, B. 2015. Tracking the dragon: thematic history of the Chinese people in the Rutherglen/Wahgunyah region of the Indigo Shire, Victoria: a report to the Rutherglen Historical Society and the Wahgunyah History Group. The author, Canberra.

McGowan, B. 2013. ‘Transnational Lives: Colonial Immigration restrictions and the White Australia Policy in the Riverina District of New South Wales, 1860-1960’, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, vol. 6, 2013, pp.45-63

McGowan, B. 2010. Tracking the dragon: a history of the Chinese in the Riverina. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga.

McGowan, B. 2010. Dust and Dreams. Mining Communities in Southern New South Wales, UNSW Press, Sydney.

McGowan, B. 2008. 'From Fraternities to Families: The Evolution of Chinese Life in the Braidwood District of New South Wales (NSW), 1850s-1900s', Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, vol. 2, pp. 4-33.

McGowan, B. 2007. 'Hegemony, localism and ethnicity: The 'Welsh' mining communities of Currawang and Frogmore in southern New South Wales', Journal of Australasian Mining History, vol. 5, no. September 2007, pp. 39-66.

McGowan, B. 2007. 'The making of a legend: Quong Tart on the Braidwood Goldfields', Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 9, pp. 69-98.

McGowan, B. 2006. Fool's gold: myths and legends of Australian gold seeking, Lothian Books, Sydney.

McGowan, B 2006. 'Ringbarkers and Market Gardeners. A Comparison of the Rural Chinese of New South Wales and California', Chinese America, History and Perspectives, vol. 2006, pp. 31-47.

McGowan, B 2005. 'The economics and organisation of Chinese mining in Colonial Australia', Australian Economic History Review, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 119-138.

McGowan, B 2005. 'Chinese market gardens in southern and western New South Wales', Australian Humanities Review, vol. 36, pp. 1-10.

McGowan, B 2004. 'Reconsidering Race: The Chinese Experience on the Goldfields of Southern New South Wales', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 124, pp. 312-322.

McGowan, B 2004. 'The Chinese on the Braidwood Goldfields: historical and archaeological opportunities', Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 6, pp. 35-58.

McGowan, B 2004. 'Class Hegemony and Localism: the Southern Mining Region of New South Wales: 1850-1900', Labour History, vol. 86, pp. 93-115.

McGowan, B 2002. Australian Ghost towns. Hachette Australia. Sydney.

McGowan, B 2001. 'Mullock Heaps and Tailing Mounds: Environmental effects of alluvial goldmining', in McCalman, I., Cook, A. and Reeves, A. (ed.) Gold: Forgotten Histories and Lost Objects of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 85-100.

McGowan, B. 2000. The golden south: a history of the Araluen, Bell's Creek and Major's Creek gold fields. The Author, Canberra.

McGowan, B. 1996. Lost mines revisited: historic mining communities of the Monaro, Southern Tablelands, and South West Slopes Districts of New South Wales. The author, Canberra.

McGowan, B. 1996. Bungonia to Braidwood: an historical and archaeological account of the Shoalhaven and Mongarlowe goldfields. The author, Canberra.

McGowan, B. 1995. Historic mining sites survey of the Shoalhaven and south west slopes districts of New South Wales. New South Wales Dept. of Urban Affairs and Planning : Australian Heritage Commission, Sydney.

McGowan, B. 1993. Historic mining sites in the Monaro Southern Tablelands Districts of New South Wales. New South Wales Dept. of Planning and the Australian Heritage Commission, Sydney

McGowan, Barry and Li, Tana 2013, ‘Charlie Wong Hing and the Son He Never Met’, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies. Sources, Language and Approaches in Chinese–Australian History, vol. 6, pp.166-171.

McGowan, Barry and Li, Tana 2013. ‘An Example of Usury Within the Chinese Community: An Account from Wagga Wagga, 1923–1927’, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies. Sources, Language and Approaches in Chinese-Australian History, vol. 6, 2013, pp.172-177.

McGowan, Barry and Lindsay Smith 2008. Tracking the Dragon through Southern NSW and the Riverina, report to the NSW Heritage Office.

Pearson, M. & B. McGowan. 2009. Mining sites in NSW: History and heritage—with guidelines for assessing heritage values and for taking actions on heritage mining places, Industry and Investment NSW, Sydney.

Pearson, M. & B. McGowan. 2000. Mining heritage places assessment manual, Australian Council of National Trusts and Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra. (download)


Jennifer Jones-Travers, GML Heritage

INTRODUCTION

Defence Housing Australia's (DHA) new Akuna Vista residential development is currently under construction at the site of the former Schofields Aerodrome in Schofields, NSW. GML Heritage, led by excavation directors Dr Jennifer Jones-Travers and Abi Cryerhall, completed historical archaeological excavations to mitigate the impacts of development on three sites associated with the c1820 homestead of the Pye family.

The Schofields Aerodrome was established as an airfield by the Royal Australian Air Force in World War II and remained in use until it was decommissioned in 1994. Prior to establishment of the Aerodrome, the site comprised part of a large homestead established by Joseph Pye, son of emancipated convict John Pye, in 1816. The Pye family occupied the site until 1938.

These investigations focused on three sites depicted in a plan showing the property in 1842 (Figure 1):

  • Cottage Site—a rural nineteenth-century cottage with evidence of brickmaking;
  • Orchard Site—a purposefully planted orchard landscape with potential contact period archaeology providing evidence of early interactions between the Pye family and local Aboriginal groups; and
  • Homestead Site—the site of the 'Waawaar Awaa' homestead established by the Pye family by 1825, with remaining evidence of outbuildings and landscape modifications.

Historical archaeological remains recovered at the former Schofields Aerodrome provide rich evidence associated with rural industry, early colonial lifeways, interaction between Aboriginal groups and European settlers, early modifications to the natural landscape and military use of the site.

This blog post consists of a summary report of the remains that GML recorded on the site. A downloadable pdf summary report is also available on GML Heritage's website.

CONTENTS

Figure 1, Detail from ‘Plan of Part of the Windsor District’, drawn by Surveyor J Musgrave in 1842. (Source: SLNSW)

TIMELINE

Date Event
Time Immemorial Archaeological evidence for Aboriginal occupation on the flat terraces of Eastern Creek's banks started to accumulate 6,600 to 5,600 years ago, when locally available silcrete gravels were brought to and worked on raised flat landforms adjacent to the creek.
1802 Large areas of land, including the study area, are set aside by Governor King for use as common grazing land.
1816 Joseph Pye, son of emancipated convict John Pye, is granted 85 acres of land including the study area. His father (John Pye) is granted 85 acres of land immediately adjacent to the south. Joseph and John Pye continue purchasing adjacent properties and enhancing the Pye Farm landholdings. Joseph Pye marries Elizabeth Ward; they eventually have six children.
1825 The site is established and has been cleared by convict labourers. Pye Farm is advertised for lease for not more than seven years. The following description of the site is provided in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser:
It consists of 870 acres, 60 of which are stumped, and 670 enclosed in Paddocks, and in luxurious cultivation. It is well watered, being at the Banks of an extensive Creek. There is a good garden, dwelling-house, farm, out-houses, and newly-planted garden and orchard, of 5 acres.[1]
The homestead is named 'Waawaar Awaa', meaning 'fresh water' in Dharug, likely in reference to its proximity to Eastern Creek. The house is described as being 'tri-level', ''for at the back the ground fell away and a two-storey section backed onto the main front section'.[2]
1842 Plan of Windsor created by Surveyor J Musgrave, including Pye Farm, with an orchard, cottage, roads and 'Burial Ground of the Blacks' to the northwest (Figure 1).
1845 China and common oranges from Pye Farm orchards win awards at the Floral and Horticultural Show.[3]
1852–1853 Elizabeth Pye and Joseph Pye die in 1852 and 1853, respectively.[4] Ownership of the farm transfers to David Pye.
1858 David Pye marries Janet Dick, and the couple proceed to have eight children. David became known as one of the best orchardists and authorities on stock in the colony of NSW.[5]
1 Dec 1864 Railway between Richmond and Blacktown completed, extends along the east side of the study area.[6]
1893 David Pye subdivides the farm and distributes it to his three sons, with Sydney George Pye granted the homestead, James John Pye the land to the north and Charles Ward Pye the land to the east. [7]
1938 James Pye dies and his ageing brother, Sydney George Pye, sells both farms to brothers Joseph and Harold Langlade who establish 'Langlade's Dairy' at the former Pye Farm. [8]
1939 World War II breaks out and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) begins searching for suitable sites to build satellite airfields to RAAF Station Richmond.[9]
1942 Langlade's style='mso-bidi-font-family: Dairy property commandeered by the government. Waawaar-Awaa homestead demolished in June 1942. RAAF Station Schofields formally occupied by September 1942. [10]
1944 Aerodrome loaned to the Royal Navy's Air Arm of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) and commissioned as HMAS NABTHORPE, recommissioned as HMAS NABSTOCK after World War II declared over. [11]
9 June 1946 Aerodrome returned to RAAF Station Schofields.
1949 Royal Navy buildings at aerodrome used to house approximately 300 male migrants escaping Europe until 1951.[12]
c1950 A disused portion of the airstrip is used as part of a 2.3-mile racing circuit used in the 1950s, closed in 1958.[13]
1951 Schofields Aerodrome came under control of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), recommissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS II, RANARY, Schofields.[14]
1953 Site recommissioned as HMAS NIRIMBA.[15]
1955 HMAS NIRIMBA downgraded from a 'Repair Yard' to a 'Care and Maintenance' facility.[16] In 1956 it also became a naval apprentice training ground.
1993 HMAS NIRIMBA officially decommissioned.
1994 Schofields Aerodrome closed.

COTTAGE SITE

The 'Cottage' site, shown on the 1842 Plan of Windsor, contained evidence of early brick manufacture, a cottage, outbuildings and landscape features. The industrial landscape of brickmaking and habitation was legible and provides insight into how the larger 'Waawaar Awaa' estate site was established.

Brick Making

Evidence of a large clamp, a single-use brick kiln with linear flue channels, was found at the southeast corner of the Cottage site (Figure 2). Clay quarrying was undertaken at the northwest and west parts of the site, with deep extraction completed to remove the naturally occurring orange-red clay with veins of ironstone nodules throughout. The site is low-lying and adjacent to a waterway—ground water begins rising at 1m to 2m below current ground surface. This has rendered the clay in this area softer, damper and more malleable than clay encountered at other parts of the former Schofields Aerodrome. Clay extraction focused on this soft, malleable clay, with outcrops of denser basal clay left in situ with evidence of pick and shovel marks from extraction (Figure 3).

A pug pit for mixing and tempering clay was found at the northeast corner of the site alongside a stratified deposit of charcoal and ash, possibly from repeatedly cleaning out the clamp site between firings. Two rectilinear timber outbuildings, identified as likely being associated with brick manufacture, were located at the site. Stratigraphic context identified that they pre-date later additions to the domestic components of the site, though no structural evidence beyond postholes remained to identify their function.

All structures through all phases at both the Cottage site and at Waawaar Awaa used visually identical sandstock bricks. These bricks have ironstone inclusions and no frogs. The bricks are irregularly fired, with some friable and under-fired, while others were black and nearly vitrified from over-firing. Further analysis of brick samples collected from structures across Pye Farm will be undertaken to clarify the extent to which bricks manufactured at the Cottage site were used.

Brick manufacture was likely established at the site to enable construction of Waawaar Awaa house and associated outbuildings. Demolition rubble with large quantities of brick matching those from the Cottage were found in a drainage channel near the historical mapped entrance to Waawaar Awaa and may represent the remains of the house. The Cottage site could have been established in the early 1820s, and material culture recovered from the site supports this phasing.

Further work will be completed to compare the brick making components from the Cottage site with other early nineteenth-century rural brick manufacturing sites in the region. Reconstructing the final volume of quarried clay and an estimate of the resulting number of bricks that could be produced will assist in identifying the scale of brick production at the site.

Figure 2, Fire-reddened and charcoal stained bands in the earth provide evidence of the brick clamp. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 2, Fire-reddened and charcoal stained bands in the earth provide evidence of the brick clamp. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 3, Brick clay quarry pit in section, showing gradual stages of in-fill and temporary use as a dam. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 3, Brick clay quarry pit in section, showing gradual stages of in-fill and temporary use as a dam. (Source: GML 2018)

Cottage

Excavations at the Cottage site uncovered evidence of a one-room timber cottage with brick hearth (Figure 4). The cottage had four large, round corner posts and timber walls with vertical planks held in place by brick fragments, while the interior had timber plank and brick paved floors.

Multiple phases of construction and repair were identified. The cottage appears to have existed on site prior to and during brick manufacture at the site though extensions were made afterwards. A semi-circular verandah of poorly fired waster bricks was constructed at the front of the cottage. A sandstock brick spoon drain was constructed to the southeast of the cottage and connected to an earthen-walled drainage channel draining into the clay extraction pits, while at least one tree was planted at the front (north) side of the cottage. There is evidence of work to correct for the boggy terrain and re-stabilise the walls of the cottage and one corner post was re-excavated and corrected, while crushed brick was laid at two sides of the cottage, possibly to build up the terrain and improve drainage.

The absence of material culture post-dating 1850 suggests it was abandoned by the mid-nineteenth century and supports the notion that it was situated on a marginal, low-lying part of the site selected for its proximity to suitable brickmaking clays kept soft and malleable by an adjacent waterway.

The Pye family had convict labourers to clear the land and work in the fields at their estate. It is possible that the Cottage was occupied by a convict overseer, the brickmaker, a hired labourer or a tenant farmer. Analysis of structural remains and material culture recovered will make comparisons with c1820 convict huts and other employee residences at rural estates.

Figure 4, Timber cottage with brick paved and timber planked floor. Semi-circular curved brick verandah at the front of the cottage, sandstock brick spoon drain at the southeast corner of the cottage. (Source: Guy Hazell 2018)

WAAWAAR AWAA HOMESTEAD

The Pye family homestead, 'Waawaar Awaa', was constructed c1820 on a rise overlooking Eastern Creek. Historical archaeological excavations encountered evidence of outbuildings and landscape elements associated with occupation and use of the homestead. Further analysis of features excavated will provide new insight into life on the property.

Stable/Workshop

A stone paved structure with timber walls, preliminarily identified as a stable or workshop, was excavated towards the centre of the site. Large dressed sandstone flagstones (approximately 500mm to 950mm in size) pave the north half of the structure, while a cobble paved surface covers the southern portion of the structure which measures 3.9m wide and at least 8.8m long (the southern end was truncated by later disturbance).

Timber planks, likely wall foundations, extend along the north and west walls of the structure and timber posts formed the corners of the structure. Brick post bases on the east side of the building indicate that the building may have been partially or completely open-fronted (Figure 5). Timber planks extending through the cobble paving on the south side of the building created an internal division, possibly for stalls.

Machinery and electrical parts found within the cracks of the flagged floor indicate it remained in use into the twentieth century.

Figure 5, Sandstone flagged paving, with a posthole at the corner of the structure and timber wall base along the north wall. (Source: GML 2018)

Brick Hearth

A hearth base of sandstock bricks, 1950mm by 970mm in size, was located at the northwest corner of the landform on which Waawaar Awaa was situated. A deposit of ash and charcoal was found within and extending out the front of the hearth. Two remnant square timber posts are on the interior edge of the hearth base and a possible wall cut or drainage channel is associated with the face of the feature (Figure 6). The areas surrounding the hearth were highly disturbed and the original function of the structure and associated hearth has not yet been identified.

Further investigation will consider the hearth in association with neighbouring structures and activity areas across the homestead site to try and determine feasible historical uses.

Figure 6, Sandstock brick heath base, view to northwest. (Source: GML 2018)

Brick Privy

A rectangular structure 1840mm by 1720mm in size and constructed of soft, friable sandstock bricks was located at the south end of the site and has been preliminarily identified as a privy. The walls of the structure were two courses wide, the remaining footings were only two courses deep and cut directly into natural clay substrate (Figure 7). No cess deposit or pit was found in association with the structure, suggesting that it may have been a pail closet with an above-ground waste receptacle emptied as required, as opposed to a cesspit.

Figure 7, Sandstock brick privy. (Source: GML 2018)

Stone Paved Structure

A rectilinear structure 6m by 4.6m in size with a semi-circular entrance or hearth stone on its east side was encountered at the northwest corner of the homestead site. The floor of the structure is elaborately paved with small dressed blocks and sub-angular cobbles of sandstone notably harder and greyer than the Sydney or Hawkesbury varieties. The large semi-circular entrance or hearth stone on the east wall is surrounded by fine cobble paving, and a diamond is incorporated to the adjacent paving at the interior of the structure (Figure 8). A potential drain or wall base of smaller cobbles extends north–south near the eastern wall. Extensive brick rubble was recovered to the north and overlying the paving in some areas. It is likely that at least part of the structure was constructed of brick.

Figure 8, Stone paved structure with semi-circular entrance or hearth. (Source: Guy Hazell 2018)

Gardens, Drains, Paths

A range of landscape elements provide evidence of historical attempts to work with and on the landscape at Waawaar Awaa homestead. Evidence of water management includes a large concrete-rendered sandstock brick beehive cistern with a range of drains and later water pipes and sumps forming a network extending from it. A long, curving sandstock brick path extends north of the cistern (Figure 9), while a small section of a second brick path extends east–west of it.

Rich, dark organic soil with small artefacts throughout was encountered at the northeast end of the site and edged in some areas by a single course (width and depth) of sandstock bricks. Two separate garden plots were identified and surveyed, diagnostic artefacts were collected and soil samples were taken to assist with paleoethnobotanical analysis to identify some of the plants cultivated on site.

Figure 9, Curvilinear sandstock brick paving leading towards the cistern and drains. (Source: GML 2018)

Royal Australian Air Force Camp

A deposit of artefacts from the early 1940s—including date-stamped institutional ironstone china, heavy gauge shell casings, belt buckles, glass salt and pepper shakers, ointment pots, hair tonic bottles and a lead bullet—was recovered at the northwest corner of the land formation on which Waawaar Awaa was situated (Figure 10).

These have been interpreted as likely resulting from use of the site by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. Tent camps were erected within the site to accommodate soldiers and the artefacts recovered are consistent with a semi-institutional residential setting.

Figure 10, Artefacts associated with twentieth-century military use of the site, including belt buckles, a bullet, salt shaker and plumb bob. (Source: GML 2018)

ORCHARD AREA

An area depicted as an Orchard in an 1842 map has provided potential evidence of early interactions between Aboriginal groups and the Pye family as part of a broader contact period cultural landscape. The Orchard site also provided evidence of early orchard practice and possibly failure of some species.

Contact Archaeology

Contact archaeology provides rare evidence of early interactions between Aboriginal groups and European settlers, as well as experimentation with and adaptation of new materials by Aboriginal groups. High concentrations of Aboriginal lithic materials, as well as small pieces of white refined earthenware and glass with evidence of knapping, were found during historical and Aboriginal archaeological excavations at the Orchard site (Figure 11). Preliminary historical research has identified accounts of ongoing peaceful interactions between the Pye family and Aboriginal peoples in the area.

The Orchard site is located within a significant historical Aboriginal landscape, located in proximity to the Blacktown Native Institution, the Iron Bark Ridge silcrete quarry, the Nurragingy and Colebee land grant, and a site marked 'Burial Ground of the Blacks' to the northwest. It is possible that the Orchard represents a site of ongoing habitation and activity by Aboriginal peoples in the area.

Further analysis will be completed by Aboriginal artefact specialists to confirm whether glass and ceramic artefacts have been worked or knapped and represent contact-period Aboriginal archaeological deposits. Ceramic patterns represented in the collection will be analysed to see if they match materials collected from the Cottage or Waawaar Awaa.

Figure 11, Examples of ceramic fragments recovered from the Orchard site. (Source: GML 2018)

Orchard

Square cuts for planting trees with burnt tree boles, spaced approximately 5m apart, were located within the area of the site identified as an orchard in the 1842 Plan of Windsor. Root systems and tree boles were not extensive; this and the lack of formally established drainage described in historical accounts suggests that this part of the site was not used as an orchard for long. The award-winning mid-nineteenth century orchards may have been situated north of Waawaar Awaa.

Samples of wood collected from the tree boles are being analysed to identify the tree species planted in this orchard and see if the Pye family had tried planting something different that was less successful than their famous oranges (Figure 12).

Figure 12, Burnt tree bole from the Orchard site. (Source: GML 2017)

ENDNOTES

[1] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 7 November 1825, p 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2184642

[2] Robb, R 1993, The Flight of the Pelican, Tugiri Books, Picnic Point, NSW, p 7.

[3] The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September 1845, p 3.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12882393

[4] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 14.

[5] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 15.

[6] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 14.

[7] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 15.

[8] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 16.

[9] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[10] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[11] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[12] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[13] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[14] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[15] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[16] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.