Archaeological dig is granted Section 64 Conservation Order

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 28-4-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



What started out as a class project for history and archaeology students at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus, has turned into some amazing archaeological findings and a conservation order under Section 64 of Western Australia’s Heritage Act (1990).

In April last year Arts and Sciences Lecturer Shane Burke took students from his class HY3001, Western Perspectives, a history and archaeology unit, to work for three days at Henderson, in the area where founder of the Western Australia (WA) Peel region Thomas Peel first made camp. “It was initially just to get their hands dirty. To get the students used to using a trowel and surveying equipment” said Arts and Sciences Lecturer, Shane Burke. “Some of these students had never seen or been involved in archaeology before.”

Within two days the students had hit the oldest European mainland structure in Western Australia, older than the Round House by a year. Since then they have found many other structures, all older than the Round House and also lots of other materials, such as money, pins and remains of iron tent pegs.

On the 28 March 2008 a conservation order, Section 64 of the WA Heritage Act (1990), was put on the sites at Henderson. “This is the first time it has been applied to an archaeological site in Western Australia,” said Shane Burke. This conservation order offers a site like this protection in an area that cannot be protected by ordinary means as it is in a National Park.

“The sections granting protects the sites and validates the research that The University of Notre Dame has put into the work since April last year.” The research is into how people adapted to a foreign environment, in association with the early colonial period.

“We have a group of people, not our own culture in our physical environment. We have a preserved site that has the first steps of colonisation still preserved. This isn’t just rare in Western Australia; it is rare at an international level.”

“The colonists were there for 8 months in 1830 and nobody went back there until April last year. Everything is still there, not far from the surface.” said Mr Burke.

“We will be there for a decade; we are finding so much material.”

Media contact:

Rebecca Cassidy 08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138