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Research Biography

I have been both an academic associated with Flinders University and a consultant archaeologist for 30 years. My experience as a consultant specialist in landscape archaeology came together in two significant research projects undertaken in collaboration with stakeholder groups and colleagues at Flinders University. 

The Kimberley Frontier Archaeology Project.  For details visit our website: http://www.flinders.edu.au/ehl/archaeology/research-profile/current-themes-and-projects/environment-and-society/kimberley-frontier-archaeology-project.cfm  

This project commenced in 2004 in collaboration with the Kimberley Land Council and was primarily focussed on the east and south-east regions of the Kimberley Region, Western Australia, the region I researched for my PhD thesis (2001). The impact of the white settler invasion of Aboriginal lands in this region has been increasingly acknowledged during the past two decades; in its 2017 report following the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, Uluru, the Referendum Council emphasized 'Truth Telling' and respect as significant to the reconciliation process. At the 2018 Garma Festival organiser and Yothu Yindi Foundation CEO Denise Bowden said:The telling of truth is essential in paving a way forward that can bring the nation together and open up the possibility of a truly substantial settlement. More recently, in 2019, Rachel Perkins devoted her three significant Boyer Lectures to the urgent need for all Australians to acknowledge the dispossession of Aboriginal people across Australia and the acts of frontier violence committeed during the processes of colonisation.

The Kimberley Frontier Archaeology Project continues in the spirit of ˜Truth Telling'.  As an older Australian, I look forward to a future where the next generation of white and black people will know their shared a history and, most importantly, will respect each other. I hope this research will contribute to this future. 

Long-term residents of Adelaide appreciate the natural back-drop to the city and the legislation to protect the Mount Lofty Ranges from urban development. I initiated the ARC funded Adelaide Hills Face Zone Cultural Heritage Project in 2001. For details visit our website: http://www.flinders.edu.au/ehl/archaeology/research-profile/current-themes-and-projects/environment-and-society/adelaide-hills-face-zone-project.cfm

Although ARC funding and my ARC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Flinders University ended in 2005, I continue to research elements of the hills landscape both as a volunteer and with smaller grants, often in collaboration with community organisations. Colleagues and I are proud that this research project is now contributing to planning the new Glenthorne National Park, announced by the Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, in 2018.

I was also involved in excavations in Greece and Israel during the 1990s, I dabbled with ethnobotany and taught flotation methods, landscape archaeology, cultural heritage management and aspects of historical archaeology during my time at Flinders University as a Post Doctoral Fellow.  


Research Interests


The Kimberley Frontier Archaeology Project. See details on our website:


My report into the Sturt Creek massacre was completed in 2016 and the findings published in Forensic Science International 279:258-267, 2017. This research is continuing with the assistance of small grants. In November 2017 I was asked by AIATSIS to write a book based on the Sturt Creek massacre and the social and economic contexts on stations during the early decades of the twentieth century. This book is progressing well and incorpates both research for my PhD and at Sturt Creek. During 2018 I received funding (Flinders University CHASS Research Support 01.292.42322) to visit the Battye Library and WA State Archives and the Kimberley Land Council. I also visited the Balgo and Mulan Aboriginal Communities with Rachel Perkins, Blackfella Films. Rachel is preparing a series First Wars, a documentary to follow her previous series First People and First Contact. A second visit was planned for June 2020, but this was delayed due to the COVID-19 virus. Rachel Perkins plans to film the descendants of the Sturt Creek massacre and our archaeological research for the First Wars series. I also intend to collaborate with staff at the Halls Creek Language Research Centre and meet with my new co-author of the proposed book. This visit will take place after the current pandemic (written March 2020).

Adelaide Hills Face Zone Cultural Heritage Project. See our website:http://www.flinders.edu.au/ehl/archaeology/research-profile/current-themes-and-projects/environment-and-society/adelaide-hills-face-zone-project.cfm

Continuing projects in the Hills Face Zone include Glenthorne Farm and its place in the historic landscape of the new Glenthorne National Park at O'Halloran Hill; the historic Mitcham Water Works and its conservation; the Magpie Creek ruin and the historic pea-farm on Tapley's Hill.

The book GLENTHORNE: a Defining History and Indefinite Politics, by P.A. Smith, K. Walshe, and A. Burns was launched by David Speirs, Minister for Environment and Water in May 2018.

Also, in 2018 I was invited to join the Glenthorne Partnership. This is a ministerial appointment and the Glenthorne Partnership is a stakeholder group working with the Department and Environment staff and consultants to plan the new Glenthorne National Park. Current research projects (2020) with Flinders University colleagues are:

Geophysical location of subsurface archaeological features at Glenthorne National Park, Adelaide, South Australia. Funded by the South Australian Department of Environment and Water. 

Glenthorne National Park Historic Sites GIS Database. Funded by the South Australian Department of Environment and Water.

As the heritage specialist on the Glenthorne Partnership I am actively involved in the conservation planning of existing heritage-listed sites within the new park and planning for the proposed South Australian Warhorse Memorial, commemorating the role of the men and horses who went to the First World War from the Australian Army's No.9 Remount Depot, Glenthorne. An ARC Linkage Grant proposal is currently in progress with CHASS colleagues, 



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