Centre for Rock Art Research + Management


Contact Rock Art in the Pilbara


Alistair Paterson is investigating the character of contact rock art in the Pilbara. This builds on work conducted as part of the Picturing Change Project. That ARC-funded Discovery project focused on investigating the nature of Australia's 'contact' rock art from four major rock art regions across the continent (Kakadu National Park/Western Arnhem land, Pilbara, Central Australia, Blue Mountains). Alistair Paterson directed research in the West Pilbara with fieldwork in Ngarluma, Kariyarra and Palyku country. This work began to reveal the different ways that rock art was used by people of the Pilbara during the early phases of culture contact and the aspects of the frontier that were the focus of depiction.

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Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming

Chief Investigators:

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Post Graduate Candidates:


This Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project is co-funded by Rio Tinto with community partner Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. The Project aims to record the cultural values that Ngarda Ngarli (Traditional Owners) have for Murujuga (the Dampier Archipelago), and to understand the deep history of human occupation here. These aims focus on both ends of the time spectrum of Murujuga’s human use: from its initial occupation (likely more than 40,000 years ago), through the last Ice Age and subsequent sea level rise forming the archipelago, through to the current day with Indigenous co-management of the rock art estate.

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Murujuga Rock Art Archaeological Fieldschool


During the mid-semester break, 2nd and 3rd year archaeology and anthropology students will work on Rio Tinto’s rock art recording and excavation project at Happy Valley as part of the company’s Conservation Agreement in relation to the National Heritage Listed Dampier Archipelago including Burup Peninsula (Murujuga). This will be the third field school, working with Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto’s Heritage team. Students will receive practical training in rock art identification and recording techniques as well as developing an understanding of how the heritage industry works in Australia.

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Yaburara Heritage Trail Survey ProjectYaburara Heritage Trail Survey Project


This collaborative project involves working with the National Trust and the Shire of Roebourne to redevelop an interpretation and management plan for the Yaburara Heritage Trail in Karratha (Pilbara). In documenting the cultural and natural heritage value of the Trail, a preliminary archaeological survey identified a range of cultural sites (e.g. rock art and middens), which are now scheduled for a more detailed recording project.


Port Hedland Rock Art Conservation ProjectPHRACP


CRAR+M has been commissioned by BHP Billiton Iron Ore to develop a strategic heritage conservation plan for the significant rock art engraving sites in the Port Hedland area. This is the first management plan of its type in the Pilbara Region. Major sites are found at Two Mile Ridge, Boodarie Landing and Burgess Point: these include engravings, midden deposits and artefact scatters. Better documentation and management of these sites will help advance our knowledge on settlement patterns, appropriation of natural resources and symbolic landscapes. Working together with the Kariyarra Traditional Owners, BHPBIO, Port Hedland Port Authority and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, this project seeks to bring awareness on the richness and significance of the engravings for the Aboriginal communities in the area, to create strategies for sustainable Indigenous economies in the region and to ensure the long-term protection of these significant sites. 

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Last updated:
Monday, 27 February, 2017 7:21 AM