Rock-Art Conservation and Termite Management in Torres Strait, NE Australia

Liam Brady, Andrew Thorn, Ian McNiven, Theo Evanas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In the late 1960s, a small termite nest was documented at the base of the Kabadul Kula rock art site, on the island of Dauan, northern Torres Strait, Australia. Sometime between 2000 and 2004 the nest grew dramatically - advancing approximately a third of the way up the north face of the boulder and wholly or partially covering several highly significant and unique rock paintings. In response to concerns of the Dauan community, a joint project involving archaeologists, a professional fine art conservator specialising in the preservation of rock paintings, and a CSIRO termite specialist was undertaken to remove the nest and reexpose the fragile rock paintings. Building on the work of earlier researchers, we describe a detailed removal methodology as well as eradication methods to deal with this well-known problem. Among the key outcomes from this project was the successful recovery of previously documented motifs as well as other, unknown motifs, covered by the nest prior to recording in 2000.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalRock Art Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation
  • Methodology
  • Rock painting
  • Termite
  • Torres Strait


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