Bronwyn Woff

The ASHA Blog Editor and the ASHA Committee would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the ASHA Blog.

The blog replaces the long-running ASHA Newsletter as a way for members to receive information regarding Australasian Historical Archaeology. It aims to encourage the sharing of information between ASHA members, members of the wider archaeological community, and the general public. The blog contains information regarding archaeological research, excavations and upcoming events, and will be the platform for posting our Artefact of the Month articles.

Each post will be tagged with topics as appropriate, and visitors to the blog can search using these tags under the Recent Postssection on the left hand side of the page. As yet, this option is not available for mobile devices. These tags include the region which the post refers to, as well as various broad topics, for example "Glass" or "Research".

Visitors can also subscribe to receive updates about the ASHA Blog at the bottom of the blog page.

We hope that you enjoy reading up-to-date information via our blog. If you wish to make a submission, please email your regional representative (the details of which are found here)  or by emailing the Editor at: [email protected]

Happy reading!

Bronwyn Woff
ASHA Blog Editor
[email protected]
View of ‘Temperance Lodge’ (HCWA3729) from Company Road (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015).
Gray’s Store (HCWA1153) following restoration by National Trust and Palassis Architects in 1977 (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015)
Melissa Hetherington

Through the Eyes of Henry Gray: Investigating the influence of the Temperance Movement and Wesleyan Methodism on the Greenough Flats, Western Australia, 1839 – 1900

A new research project has just begun on the historic settlement on the Greenough Flats, which are situated approximately 400km north of Perth, and 25km south of Geraldton, Western Australia.

In Western Australia, a recommendation for the establishment of a temperance society in King George Sound (Albany) was put forward as early as 1833, on the basis that ‘temperance societies have been found to be highly beneficial by discouraging the use of ardent spirits’ (The Perth Gazette, 19th October 1833, p.167-8). Temperance advocates were aiming to combat numerous issues in the colony, such as increases in crime rates and illness, which were linked to drunkenness. Temperance advocates with religious motivations also tended to focus on making the connection between immorality and drunkenness. In this way, motivations behind the temperance movement were multi-layered.
This research aims to explore the nature of the temperance movement in Western Australia by examining social issues related to drunkenness and the motivations that lay behind the establishment of temperance and teetotaller societies in Western Australia. This research will also explore the ways in which the temperance movement influenced secular and religious organisations and commercial enterprise in the Western Australian colony by examining what motivated individuals to establish a lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars (I.O.G.T.) in Perth and the Midwest (Geraldton & Greenough), what motivated settlers to join the movement, and whether members of the I.O.G.T. achieved the outcomes they set out to achieve. Particular focus will be given to Charles Watson Gray, who established the I.O.G.T. in Western Australia, and Charles’ father, Henry Gray, who established a network of general stores (H. Gray & Co.) in Greenough & Geraldton, and whose personal and commercial interests were influenced by his support for and involvement with the I.O.G.T.

Beginning in November 2015, archaeological investigations will be conducted at Henry Gray’s general store and the Temperance Lodge, which are two National Trust properties located along Company Road, on the Greenough Flats. This research has been initiated through collaboration with the National Trust (NTWA), which manages 19 historic places on the Greenough Flats. The NTWA wish to gain a greater understanding of the heritage places in Western Australia that have come into their custodianship.

Gray’s Store (HCWA1153) following restoration by National Trust and Palassis Architects in 1977 (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015) Gray’s Store (HCWA1153) following restoration by National Trust and Palassis Architects in 1977 (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015).

View of ‘Temperance Lodge’ (HCWA3729) from Company Road (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015). View of ‘Temperance Lodge’ (HCWA3729) from Company Road (Photo: Hetherington, February 2015).

Facebook has also been used to connect and communicate with local residents, which has made it possible to connect with the wider community, including descendants of the settlers on the Greenough Flats. Descendants of Henry Gray and William Moore have already contributed photographs and documents from private collections, which have been of vital importance to understanding the history of Gray’s Store. Many of those who already take an interest in the history of the Greenough Flats settlement are familiar with the Pioneer Museum and Gardens in Greenough. Therefore, the project has been advertised through the museum’s Facebook page, to raise awareness about the upcoming fieldwork in Greenough, to spark further community interest and participation in this research.

Advertising the project on the Greenough Museum and Gardens Facebook page.
Advertising the project on the Greenough Museum and Gardens Facebook page.

If you are interested in volunteering for the excavations in 2016, or wish to gain experience in historical archaeology, send an email to Melissa at: [email protected]

This blog first appeared in the ASHA Newsletter 2015, vol 45, no 3, pp 10-12.

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Tristan Bergin

In mid-2014, Waru Consulting volunteered to undertake a heritage assessment of Gnowangerup’s old police station. Gnowangerup is a quiet rural town situated approximately 300km southeast of Perth and 50km north of the Stirling Ranges.

The century old police station is a problem for the local Shire. Recently, vandals broke some of the asbestos fibre walls creating a public health concern and, without a listing on the WA State Heritage Register, public funding for conservation works is hard to obtain. Understandably, demolition of the old police station looms as a potential solution for the Shire, with only the few members of Gnowangerup’s historical society to oppose the idea.

The heritage value of a place can be determined in many ways. It seems, however, that technical attributes often outweigh other qualities such as individual stories, both historical and contemporary. It is other people’s stories that help us make sense of our community and our lives, and surely that is one of the main roles of heritage. Our proposal was to involve the community by undertaking test excavations that would be open to the public as well as ran an engagement campaign on Facebook.

The Facebook page was set up several weeks prior to the excavation and generated a significant amount of interest from the Gnowangerup community as well as national and international interest. We were able to use the collective knowledge of the people who had engaged us on social media as a research tool. For example, it was a hotel manager from Perth who helped us decipher one of the oldest examples of graffiti on the jarrah lined gaol cells. Others provided opinions on the provenance of a railway sleeper found at the bottom of one of the test pits. We also found that someone has used the page as a forum to vent frustration at the previous demolition of another heritage building in Gnowangerup. The population of the Facebook page also allowed us to promote Gnowangerup’s newly opened and brilliant Noongar museum. As a result we saw an increased number of visits to the page, including many from the Indigenous community.

The response to the public invitation to participate in the excavations was overwhelming. Over the course of three days, more than 150 primary and secondary students from three local schools visited the site in addition to numerous visits from members of the wider community. The students were given a brief introduction to the history of the police station while checking out the gaol cells and exercise yard. From primary historical documents they learnt about how in 1911 Inspector Lappin visited Gnowangerup and reported to the Commissioner on the need for an immediate and permanent police presence at Gnowangerup because of the construction workers building the rail line between Tambellup and Ongerup. Lappin reported that there are, “Complaints of fighting, bad language and two-up schools” and that “the residents are unanimous in requesting police protection”.

The students also heard about Constable Jeremiah John Jones who was stationed at Gnowangerup between 1915 and 1924. He was the son of Ann Jones, and Jeremiah was seven years old in 1880 when the Kelly Gang laid siege to his mother’s establishment, the Glenrowan Inn.

After the historical introduction the students participated in numerous activities including excavating a disused garden bed seeded with ‘artefacts’ and undertaking a transect survey. After some training the luckier students also joined the Waru archaeologists in excavating the three 1m x 1m test puts situated in close proximity to the existing buildings and areas likely to yield subsurface archaeological material. The kids were all remarkably enthusiastic and did everything from checking the spit levels on the dumpy to digging, running buckets and helping sieve the material.

Over the course of three days, hundreds of pieces of cultural material were retrieved from the 3 test pits. In many ways, however, what was actually found is less important in assessing the significance of the old police station than the incredible interaction the public had with the project. We heard from one of the teachers who said that the majority of the kids who had participated in the excavations went home to their parents and proudly proclaimed their desire to become archaeologists. In an attempt to bolster that enthusiasm we ran a creative writing competition and received many great entries from a number of students who were clearly inspired, not only by the archaeology, but also by the numerous historical sources we had collated including sources that had been provided by the local community.

The reaction that the students had when touring the site also reminded us that part of the heritage significance of the police station comes from its decrepitude. The flaking paint and rusting tin of the exercise yard, the cobwebs, rotting timbers and the gloomy jarrah lined cells covered in prisoners’ graffiti all contribute to an eerie and grungy atmosphere. It is an alien environment that gets the imagination firing and builds a certain level of empathy with those unknown people who were locked up there. This empathy was reflected in many of the short stories, with most students taking on the first person perspective of a prisoner.

Our project at Gnowangerup’s old police station shows that a high level of community engagement is not only helpful in resourcing information, but also allows people of all ages to learn and engage with their own local heritage. It also shows that in assessing the heritage significance of a place we should consider what impact it has on people on an emotional and creative level. Furthermore, we should also think carefully about what we lose when restoration works are undertaken on old buildings in the process of deterioration.

Special thanks go to all the staff at Waru Consulting, as well as staff from the Shire of Gnowangerup who were vital in organising the school groups and allowing the project to proceed in the first place.

For further information see the Digging Up Gnowangeraup’s History Facebook Page or email Tristan Bergin on [email protected]

Students listening attentively to a historical introduction to the site.

Example of the graffiti on site

Students getting involved in the excavation process

This blog first appeared in the ASHA Newsletter 2015, vol 45, no 1, pp 7-10.

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