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Drawing in the Land


This research is an analysis of the rock markings on the Woronora Plateau, west of Wollongong. The land is within the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council (ILALC) area. The ancestors of the local Aboriginal community inscribed their being in this land. I acknowledge my debt and gratitude to the ILALC and, in particular, to the late Mr Jim Davis, for allowing me to undertake this research.

The Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) granted me access to the study area (the Metropolitan Special Area). My thanks to Kelvin Lambkin and Tony Kondek for this, and the field staff of the SCA who assisted in my fieldwork safety plans and other matters.

I conducted the 20 weeks of fieldwork with the assistance of a large number of people and gratefully acknowledge their help. Students from The Australian National University (ANU): Tasha Brown, Jillian Huntley (née Ford), Simon Lewis, Sophie Chessell, Russ Bradbury and Adrian Henham; students from the University of Sydney, who were supervised by Sarah Colley (thanks to Sarah also): Meg Cromie, Mathew Ling, Daniel Corke, Evan Raper, David Kooris, Mikael Pedlow and Nic Harrop; the University of New England: Lorien Watson-Keast; the University of St Petersburg: Mariana Koslova; school students doing work experience: Shay Zimmerlie and Sarah Manning; and, last but not least, family and friends: Oscar Rayner, Andy Pearce, Jenny Pink and Noel Ferguson.

Numerous people have helped with various aspects of my work for which I am grateful. June Ross was supportive and our discussions valuable. Melanie Thomson (Biosis Research) generously provided me with site data obtained during her fieldwork for the Dendrobium Coal Project. Meg Travers showed me how to use an ArcGIS function and Phil Boot assisted with support and provision of his PhD thesis. Norma Richardson assisted with support and editing. I am grateful to Jillian Huntley, not only for field assistance, but also clarification of certain matters, and patience. I extend my gratitude to Rebecca Parkes, for support, good advice and drawing my beautiful Figures 1.1 and 2.1. And, finally, to my friend Deirdre Russack for editing.

This project commenced some time ago as doctoral research at ANU, at which time my supervision was provided by Mary-Jane Mountain, Andree Rosenfeld and Howard Morphy. My more recent supervision was provided by Sally K. May, Jo McDonald and Peter Hiscock. I am tremendously grateful for what each have contributed to my project. Frankly, without Mary-Jane it would not have reached a conclusion; her assistance, encouragement and support has been tireless. I extend my gratitude to Mary-Jane and Barry Shaw, for their hospitality when I stayed with them on many occasions while working in Canberra. The influence of Andree’s scholarship will be apparent in this work. I am so sorry she did not see an end product. Howard’s enthusiasm for the rock art in my study area has been inspirational and validating. Ian Farrington has also been very supportive and his guidance towards landscape has been influential. I extend my deep gratitude to Sally, Jo and Peter, for assistance, editing and support during the last leg.

This project is based on the original field recordings made by the Illawarra Prehistory Group (IPG) on the Woronora Plateau. My work could not have been achieved without the extensive and comprehensive database they have compiled over the past 40 years. My analysis includes two separate databases, one being based on sites that I have not visited, and is, accordingly, compiled from the IPG site records. The other is based on my own fieldwork at 110 sites and, hence, is compiled from my own recordings. I am indebted to Caryll Sefton, in particular, for her support, information and allowing me access to her site files. Additionally, I thank Des Towne, John Wyatt, Ken Kort and Bruce Scurr for introducing me to the Woronora Plateau and teaching me how to see its rock art and, in particular, that which is the most ubiquitous, ephemeral and faded—charcoal drawings. I acknowledge the valuable contribution of the IPG to Australian rock art recording.

Thank you to my husband Andy, and my son Oscar—for everything. Whoever would have thought that the word indeterminate could be uttered so many times and, in doing so, could be so hilarious!

Finally, thanks so much to the Terra Australis editorial team: Sue O’Connor, Sally Brockwell, Ursula Frederick and Katie Hayne.

Due to limited space, the appendices from the original thesis document have not been reproduced here. These are available in digitised form, along with the original thesis, in the ANU Open Repository (

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