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RAA News June 2022

By 23 June 2022August 23rd, 2022No Comments

Welcome to Rock Art Australia’s June 2022 E-News

It’s been a busy quarter for RAA making up for lost ‘Covid’ time.  Five events in the last two months – and now it’s already the end of the financial year.  Only 2 days left to donate to rock art-related research.

Researchers, academics, the RAA board and the public gathered at Charles Darwin University last week for a fascinating lecture by Prof Andy Gleadow on the Rock Art Dating Project. Almost 300 people including rock art enthusiasts, supporters and friends joined RAA for the lecture which finally got off the ground after four ‘Covid cancellations’. 

The two Rock Art Australia Chairs – Prof Joakim Goldhahn (Kimberley Chair at UWA) and Prof Rachel Popelka-Filcoff (RAA-Minderoo Chair of Archaeological Science at Melbourne Uni) and Chris Clarkson, Prof of Archaeology at University of Queensland joined RAA directors in Darwin for the lecture and RAA’s annual strategy day. Some in the group were fortunate to visit Awunbarna (Mt Borradaile).

Only 2 weeks earlier we were in Perth co-hosting a large RAA stakeholder and supporters’ event at Cooee with the generous support of Minderoo Foundation.

An exciting new project Capturing an enduring digital record of Kimberley Rock Art was announced on the night. Researchers will digitally record rock art using 3D holographic images and ‘augmented reality’.  This new medium has hardly been used in the archaeological and cultural heritage spheres, and never in the Kimberley. We see its potential for Indigenous storytelling, conservation, and education, as well as appealing to global audiences.  Make a difference and support this pilot  Donate now.

Our 2022 Public Lecture Series kicked off a month earlier in Adelaide during Archaeology Week with Prof Rachel Popelka-Filcoff’s talk at the South Australian Museum, followed by a talk given by Prof Bruno David and GunaiKurnai Elder Russell Mullett at Monash’s CBD venue in Melbourne.

Save the Date for upcoming Public Lectures: Sydney Lecture at AGNSW: Saturday 27 August. Perth Lecture at UWA: Tuesday 15 November

The Dating team will continue their research in the Drysdale River National Park with partners Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation in July. Prof Joakim Goldhahn has returned from a field trip he claimed was the toughest rock art country he’d ever experienced –  Tracking East Kimberley Gwion Gwion, Wanjina, and other recent rock art in the Cockburn Ranges.

Growing international interest in Australia’s rock art was demonstrated recently with the visit of US journalist Michael Snyder. Writing a story for National Geographic, he was hosted by members of the Rock Art Dating team and visited sites on Balanggarra country organised by Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation.

Scroll down to enjoy our winter edition of E-News. Thanks to all our wonderful supporters who have already given generously to our end of financial year campaign.

Best wishes,

Cas Bennetto I CEO


Prof Andy Gleadow's lecture was presented in partnership with Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory with refreshments sponsored by INPEX.
Inside the Mal Nairn Auditorium at CDU. Thanks to Vice-Chancellor Prof Scott Bowman, David McBain and everyone at CDU for their support.
Chris Clarkson with RAA Chairs Joakim Goldhahn and Rachel Popelka-Filcoff.
Joakim Goldhahn, David Welch and Andy Gleadow.

Awunbarna (Mount Borradaile), West Arnhem Land, NT

Some of the RAA team were fortunate to visit rock art at Awunbarna (Mount Borradaile), West Arnhem Land. The sites are part of the Art at a crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia project. RAA is supporting Joakim Goldhahn’s participation in this community-lead, multi-disciplinary project investigating Aboriginal responses to ‘contact’ with new people arriving on their land. Thank you to Traditional Owner Charlie Mungulda and the Amurdak people for our visit. We also thank Dianne and Lee Davidson, and our excellent guide Richard of Davidsons Arnhemland Safaris.
Visit to rock art sites at Awunbarna (Mt Borradaile)
RAA Chairman Laurie Brereton, Tricia Kavanagh, our guide Richard, Wal King, Liz McDevitt, Rachel Popelka-Filcoff.


Rock Art Australia co-hosted a stakeholder and supporters' event at Cooee Perth with the generous support of Minderoo Foundation. Prof Jo McDonald, Director of CRAR+M at UWA spoke on the importance of rock art research. Our thanks to RAA Patrons Andrew and Nicola Forrest, Andrew Hagger at Minderoo Foundation, and our sponsor Voyager Estate.
Visit to rock art sites at Awunbarna (Mt Borradaile)
Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger and RAA Director Brenda Shanahan at Cooee, Perth.

WORKING OUT THE (HI)STORY OF SITES AND LANDSCAPES: Indigenous knowledge, archaeology, geomorphology& 3D modelling working together

Prof. Bruno David and GunaiKurnai Elder Russell Mullett revealed details of two special caves in East Gippsland, Victoria. Without the local GunaiKurnai knowledge the meanings of those caves remain unknown.

Combining the archaeology, geomorphology and 3D modelling with the Aboriginal knowledge brings more profound details of the sites’ (hi)story than would otherwise be available, as well as exciting new community-driven research possibilities for the future.

LAYERS OF TECHNOLOGY: Novel Archaeological Science Approaches to Mineral Pigment

Prof Rachel Popelka-Filcoff delivered her lecture in partnership with the South Australian Museum in Adelaide on May 18 at the Armory building at SAM. Rachel drew on recent research involving novel approaches to mineral pigments and how they offer an extraordinary view into past cultures. She discussed the research through the lens of layers of technology, and components of paints: pigment, binders and substrate. Understanding the layers influences the interactions of the different materials and their chemistries, as well as how archaeological science approaches can be used to analyse cultural heritage at high resolution. Some applications she discussed included the analysis of rock art (petroglyph) coatings from southeast South Australia.

National Geographic writer Michael Snyder met with the Dating team.

National Geographic writer Michael Snyder met with the Dating team's Dr Helen Green and Dr Damien Finch at The University of Melbourne to see how they capture images of wasp nests and mineral accretion samples and visited ANSTO in Sydney. Michael then travelled to the Kimberley where he met Cecilia Myers and Ian Waina (above). Balanggarra generously facilitated Michael’s visit in the Kimberley and funded the helicopter flight. We will let you know when the Nat Geo article is published!

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