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National Archaeology Week Grad Spotlight: Maddy McAllister

1. What year did you graduate from UWA?

2018 – PhD in Archaeology

2. Where do you work now, and what is your current role?

I am the Senior Curator for Maritime Archaeology at the Queensland Museum and James Cook University. Based at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville. I curate and research the maritime archaeology collection that includes over 20 shipwrecks and 8,000 artefacts. The museum also houses and vast archive of documents, research, field journals, images and videos (amongst much more) of the shipwrecks, expeditions and artefacts. I also teach and supervise students at JCU in the College of Arts, Society and Education.

3. What was your school or career path before you studied archaeology at UWA?

I grew up and went to high school in Busselton, Western Australia. I actually wanted to be a marine biologist while I was younger. I soon found out you could actually have a career studying shipwrecks – combining history and diving.

In 2008, I moved to Adelaide to complete a Bachelor of Archaeology and Master of Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University. I then worked at the WA Museum in the Maritime Archaeology Department from 2012-2014 and completed my PhD at UWA from 2015 to 2018.

4. What was your most memorable experience in your archaeological studies/career?

Fieldwork! It’s always going to be fieldwork for me – I get to travel to wild and remote places to work on shipwrecks, it’s hard work and challenging but those memories will stick with me for life. I would say out of that, my most memorable was getting to dive on the Batavia (1629) shipwreck site in the Abrolhos Islands with Jeremy Green, who excavated the site in the 1970s.

5. How has studying archaeology influenced your career?

I would say it is my career, getting the degrees and studying at first were just stepping stones but they certainly became influential stages in my career. I came away with life-long friends and professional networks that have been, and continue to be, very valuable.

6. What piece of advice would you offer someone who is interested in pursuing archaeology?

It’s a small and diverse field and jobs aren’t as easy to find as most ‘normal’ careers. So, you have to really love what you do but, if you love it, you’ll be good at it and that’s the philosophy I’ve lived by. In saying that, studying archaeology is only the beginning and can open your options up to many more diverse heritage-based jobs in Australia and the world.

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