Saturday, July 30, 2011

Excavation in Arnhem Land

I returned to Arnhem Land, Northern Territories for a two week research trip in July. Joining a research team of about 14 students and 12 professors, groups of us set out on daily 8-hour expeditions to search for undiscovered rock art sites. We found 30+ sites, and I took part in documenting, photographing, and drawing the art for conservation and research purposes.

This area is closed to non-Aboriginal people without a permit, yet we were given special permission by the community elders (specifically Jacob whom you will see in the video below) to camp there, record rock art, and excavate near a cave shelter site. 

The local news did a story on our research team (I am shown at the excavation pit at minute 4:42!):

A shelter site we worked at that had many rock art paintings and burials

We used a PRXF machine to non-invasively analyse the rock art pigment

Team member Jakob at the total station device used to survey and map the excavation sites

Jakob holding the reflector that is used in conjunction with the total station

Jack is a researcher from the United States who is now working at ANU on a GPS mapping survey project

Our team in front of a rock art site we found and documented

Photographing a large rock art complex we found high in the escarpment

On the last day of the trip, our lead researcher asked me to lead an expedition team to search for rock art images that he needed for his book -- specifically, art that depicted post-contact objects (guns, buffaloes, ships, etc.) Together with Hilton and Adelais (shown in photo), we found and documented about ten unrecorded sites.

On the search for rock art sites

Brad in the excavation pit under a rock shelter site

Where we camped for two weeks 

On the way back to Darwin from Arnhem Land we stopped at a croc park.  Timmy (holding the fish) is one of the professor's sons.

Celebrating the end of a successful research trip with a sunset dinner in Darwin

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rock Art Field School in Arnhem Land

For nearly four weeks in June and July, I travelled to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territories on two separate trips with my school, Australian National University. Arnhem Land is about a 4 hour drive east of Darwin, with one very large river crossing (with many crocs spotted!). We stayed in an Aboriginal community called Gunbalanya. The rock shelters beyond the town (Injalak Hill) have many significant rock art sites. 

This first trip up in June was for a rock art field school, where we learned to document, photograph and draw rock art sites for conservation purposes. The following research trip in July put many of these skills into practice.

My friend Gemma took this photo from Injalak Hill. The town of Gunbalanya is to the bottom left and I am pictured in the far right of the photo.

I took this photo from the town we stayed in, Gunbalana (formerly known as Oenpelli). Behind the billabong, you can see Injalak Hill where we did much of our rock art recording

Students and professors in the field school

Playing soccer with kids in town

Photo of me in front of a site we documented.

Lunch at the site

Collecting pandanus leaves to strip and dry to weave into baskets

Root used to make the red dye 

Collecting bark to use as canvas for the paintings

A day's work: pandanus leaves and dyes to use for the baskets

Clara teaching me to weave a basket

About halfway completed

My finished basket which took about 3 hours to complete

An example of some of the rock art recorded

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Bill Andrews, former president of my host Rotary club, invited me to attend ANZAC Day (April 25th) with him. ANZAC day is one of the most culturally significant events for Australian citizens, commemorating the fallen soldiers at the battle of Gallipoli in World War I. I was very honored to have been invited to this solemn ceremony, with the dawn candlelight ceremony followed by a parade and tour of the War Memorial museum. The first photo below shows Bill and I at the War Memorial Museum, Canberra, after the ANZAC Day parade. The wall we are standing in front of lists the names of the thousands of Australians that died in WWI and WWII.

Monday, April 4, 2011

National Dragon Boating Competition

On April 2nd and 3rd, I competed in the national Dragon Boating competition that was held on nearby Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra (Wayne, Rotary scholar Trinidad, also competed). This epic event was attended by thousands of spectators and teams from all over Australia. I competed in the women’s 10s (meaning 10 people per boat), the mixed 10s, and the mixed 20s (10 men and 10 women per boat). We were exalted to come out as champions with three gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze.

 Wayne and I in our uniforms.

You can see professional photos of the Dragon Boating event here:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ambassadorial Scholar Orientation, Sydney

From Canberra, I travelled to Sydney for the district conference for all of the in- and out-bound Rotary scholars scholars that are currently in Australia. The other in-bound scholars were mainly from the USA, Germany and China.

Scholars with the sponsors who organized the orientation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rotary Presentation

For my first presentation, I joined fellow Ambassadorial Scholar Paul Lushenko for a Rotary breakfast meeting in Canberra. They meet at the Hotel Kurrajong at 7:15 AM, which is located about 15 minutes from my school.

This is a photo of me presenting our Bethel-St.Clair Club banner to the Canberra Sunrise Club president Ainslie Sowden.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trip to Cooleman Caves

Wayne (Rotary scholar, Trinidad) and I joined ANU's University Caving Club. With Caving Club, we went camping for a weekend in the Snowy Mountains (3.5 hours from Canberra), where we explored four caves and did a gorge walk. One of the caves had consisted of an underground slot canyon waterfall (which involved swimming in pitch darkness) and 1 foot by 1 foot crawl spaces.