2020 has been an unusual year for most of us! With the global pandemic, most of us at CRAR+M and The University of Western Australia transitioned to working from home over the COVID-19 lockdown, including shifting all our undergraduate teaching online. All field work was postponed and we instead focused on finishing our analyses and publications during this period. WA's lack of community transmission allowed us to emerge from total lock down, but given the restriction on working in the Pilbara and with remote communities, our focus remained on teaching and preparations for exciting new future work.
In August, Jo McDonald and Sarah de Koning travelled to Murujuga where they attended the Opening of the Ngajarli Art Viewing Boardwalk (at the rock art site formerly known as Deep Gorge). A small CRAR+M team assisted Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation in recording the area around the boardwalk in 2019 to ensure works would not impede on any engravings.
The new Ngajarli precinct will allow us to continue sharing some of our 40,000-year-old rock art with the increasing number of visitors to our land. We have an incredibly rich and ancient heritage to share at Murujuga and we encourage people to come and see the art here, hear our stories and learn about our culture. – MAC
In early October after being rescheduled due to COVID-19, members of CRAR+M and Archaeology participated in the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc (AACAI) co-organised Future Forum. This brought together First Nations people, Traditional Owners and custodians, representative bodies, industry, consultants, researchers and other interested parties to explore and discuss what the future of Aboriginal heritage management could look like in Western Australia. Peter Veth gave one of the plenary addresses to a packed audience in Fremantle, WA.
In October, we finally got into the field and took place in a training survey with Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation and members from the Yulur Heritage team. We spent five days visiting sites near Tom Price and saw some beautiful rock art!
1. Yulur Heritage archaeologists recording rock art; 2. Wintawari Guruma Rock Art Project Team photo; 3. Terry Hicks and Jo McDonald recording rock art
At the end of our trip, we visited Yinghawangka Aboriginal Corporation to discuss developing a new rock art project on their Country. This will hopefully kick off in the New Year once the communities start the new year's fieldwork schedule.
The Collecting the West (CTW) ARC Project LP160100078 has continued to add data to the Nodegoat database - producing chronological, geographical and social visualisations from the data, which we have used for various purposes, including for digital content in the ‘WA Treasures’ exhibition in Hackett Hall at the WA Museum Boola Bardip. On our website www.collectingthewest.org there are now 14 essays telling key collecting stories. We welcomed a new postgraduate, Siti Sarah Ridhuan, to the CTW project this year.
Our special edition volume ‘Collecting Natural History in Western Australia’, Studies in Western Australian History (SWAH) Volume 35, edited by CIs Paterson, Witcomb and Shellam, was published and officially launched in November 2020!
Xander Burcham (Research Assistant) working on the Node Goat Database
In November, members of CRAR+M attended the pre-opening of the Western Australian New Museum Booda Barlip. We attended with Traditional Owners from Murujuga and we got an early peek at the stunning Murujuga exhibition, which includes a number of finds from the Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming project and includes a fabulous rock art replica - which shows the changing styles of this rock art province in different shades of contrast state!
It has been a busy past few weeks as we come to the shutdown period at UWA, with many ARC application submissions from CRAR+M-ers – good luck to all!
Finally, we say a heartfelt 'Farewell!' to Dr Sam Harper as her role as the Kimberley Vision's Project Manager comes to a close. Sam started her CRAR+M journey, doing her PhD on Port Hedland rock art (she finished in 2017) and she has been a welcome fixture in the CRAR+M corridor since then. We wish Sam all the best in her future endeavours and look forward to see what adventures she goes on to next!