Dig­ging up dirt on Dalkeith site

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News -

THE trow­els of UWA ar­chae­ol­ogy stu­dents are ex­pos­ing re­cent history at his­toric Gal­lop House on the Swan River fore­shore.

“Dalkeith may be an ex­pen­sive place to live now, but here, along the river, bananas were grown, grapes else­where, when it was mar­ket gar­dens, and a very pro­duc­tive place,” UWA ar­chae­ol­o­gist Sven Ouz­man said.

Un­til last Sun­day, Dr Ouz­man and 20 stu­dents con­ducted a two-week ed­u­ca­tional dig near the 1870s-built house.

They wanted to find its hid­den history be­fore the Na­tional Trust of Aus­tralia spends about $1 mil­lion on the prop­erty from next month.

Their finds in­cluded the stone foot­ings of a small cot­tage near for­mer wooden pack­ing huts, glass shards carved from bot­tles, a pos­si­ble wine cel­lar and an an­cient Swan River beach.

Dr Ouz­man said the dig to cat­a­logue the site’s ar­chae­o­log­i­cal fea­tures be­fore the Trust’s land­scap­ing and con­ser­va­tion work, could test writ­ten records, and po­ten­tially chal­lenge the view that Abo­rig­i­nals and colo­nial set­tlers led hos­tile and sep­a­rate lives along the river.

The dig was also some of the stu­dents’ first ex­pe­ri­ences of work­ing at a colo­nial-era site.

“My first dig was in the Bur­rup Penin­sula for the Rock Art and Field School, so this has a dif­fer­ent ap­peal be­cause it’s his­tor­i­cal ar­chae­ol­ogy and we are find­ing more tan­gi­ble ob­jects, like bot­tles,” ar­chae­ol­ogy stu­dent Kath­leen Armstrong said.

Sven Ouz­man and stu­dent Kath­leen Armstrong are dig­ging up the past at Gal­lop House. Pic­ture: Jon Bas­sett.

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