November 1st to 30th, 2020
This is an opportunity to get involved with a community archaeology project that will take place over four weeks based in the heart of Wooditj Bilya (Margaret River), in southwestern Australia. The project is part of a long-term, heritage preservation and community-based research program. A collaborative team is working to develop a Cultural Plan for this area, focused on the Wadandi coastal cultural places and landscapes of the Cape to Cape region.
The larger program is aimed at embedding cultural leadership in natural resource management, integrating cultural knowledge systems with Western-based scientific methods, empowering youth, and protecting and restoring cultural complexes and their associated ecological zones.
Wadandi cultural systems are interwoven with the landscape and its ecosystems. There presents a need to strategically manage, protect, monitor, and research the integrated cultural and natural landscape to ensure the area can mitigate pressures and impacts associated with erosion, climate change, population pressure, development and tourism.
For this stage, in November 2020, the team will carry out a regional survey as a condition assessment of the numerous archaeological sites and cultural complexes that exist across the limestone and sand dune systems. From here the team will work with Elders and cultural facilitators to develop site forms linked to an interactive database and mapping system, to feed into a long-term monitoring platform.
As part of this stage, two targeted archaeological excavations will take place in locations identified by Wadandi Cultural leaders - one is an open site in a landform of dune systems that represent the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene transition. The second is part of a limestone cave system associated with a cultural Songline. The intent of the excavations is to gather information on cultural histories, chronologies and historical ecology.
The diversity of archaeological sites and features attest to the function of these zones during traditional times as a significant cultural landscape that was utilized by Wadandi People for a variety of cultural activities and practices. Lizard traps, gnamma holes (waterholes), burials, stone artifact scatters, quarry sites, fish traps, rock-art sites, and ceremonial places, all exist at different locations, as physical manifestations of the ways in which People engaged with their cultural ways and ecological zones in the past.
None of the archaeological features exist in isolation from one another or from the ecosystems and natural features of which they are a part. The features are all important components of a cultural landscape now, just as they were components in a cultural system in the past. However, increasing population pressure and tourism is having a negative impact on many cultural features and archaeological sites, and impacting upon the Wadandi cultural values.