ARC Linkage Project Grant Success

The Dampier Archipelago is on Australia's National Heritage List because of its significant rock art and stone features. Known as Murujuga to its traditional custodians, this land- and seascape has over 1 million art works. While the scientific and cultural significance of this area is acknowledged, we still know little about the age of this landscape, the regional palaeoclimatology, and the timing and intensity of rock art production since Aboriginal people moved into this region 50,000 years ago.

Investigators meet via Zoom for Grant Success Announcement


This five-year ARC Linkage Project (LP190100724) with community partner Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, and industry partners Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum, will apply innovative scientific methods to answer the big questions about the region’s engravings and stone features. Led by Lead Chief Investigator Jo McDonald, the team consists of seven (7) investigators from The University of Western Australia including Malcolm McCulloch, Pauline Grierson, Ian Goodwin, Mick O'Leary, Matthias Leopold, and Greg Skrzypek.


This collaboration includes The University of Melbourne (Professor Janet Hergt) and Partner Investigators are Peter Jeffries from Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and Drs Ken Mulvaney and Shawan Dogramaci from Rio Tinto and Dr Luke Smith from Woodside.

Lead Chief Investigator Jo McDonald with Partner Investigator Peter Jeffries (CEO of Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation)


Dating Murujuga’s Rock Art: new scientific approaches aims to apply innovative science to date desert varnish and surface luminescence to constrain the age of Murujuga rock art production and stone feature construction. Building on the success of the recently completed Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming ARC Linkage Project (LP140100393) this project aims to understand the role climate and water availability had on the environment and cultural practices across Murujuga. It will also explore how the evolving seascape of the Dampier Archipelago impacted on island habitation and resource utilisation, by modelling opportunities for inter-island voyaging. All components of the science are aimed at a better understanding of the Archipelago’s engravings and stone features through time.

Matthias Leopold (UWA) drilling calcium carbonate drape

This $1.337 million ARC funding along with significant partner cash and in-kind contributions will provide the opportunity to fund three post-doctoral positions to undertake innovative science on a range of new techniques, working on a series of Big Questions that are important to the Aboriginal Traditional Owners as well as to the scientific community.


Ngayintharri Gumawwarni Ngurrangga (we all come together for country)

Contact Person: Professor Jo McDonald jo.mcdonald@uwa.edu.au

Mailing Address:

Centre for Rock Art, Research + Management,

School of Social Sciences,

M257, 32 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009

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