Intrepid tales

Intrepid Tales: Uncovering Our Convict Past!

Pamela Ricardi, Principal Cultural Heritage Advisor/Archaeologist in our Canberra office, recently crossed Bass Strait during her holidays to volunteer on a fascinating dig at a site in Triabunna on the east cost of Tasmania.

Here's her intrepid tale:

Where did you go?

I went to an old military site at Triabunna on the east coast of Tasmania. The barracks were occupied between 1844 and 1851 by the 51st Regiment of Foot. These solders were responsible for convicts held at the Maria Island penal colony (pronounced Mariah).

We also did a day trip to Maria Island and Flinders Island to explore the fossil cliffs, painted cliffs and convict settlement. The islands were beautiful!

What inspired your trip?

They needed someone with historical archaeology expertise so I jumped at the chance to join in. Plus, it was a great to get some teaching experience.

Who went?

The dig was run by Dr Duncan Wright and Dr Ash Lenton along with 19 students from the ANU.

What did you discover?

This was the first stage of a three year field school. We dug into the top soil and found broken glass, broken ceramics and children's toys - some from the 20th century and some from the Victorian era. Who knows what exciting finds are yet to be discovered?! I'll keep you posted.

Best bits

It was a really interesting site to work on. I also loved teaching the students about artefact analysis, and how to clean, sort and catalogue.

What's next on the bucket list?

Well I've just finished my PhD and that was at the top of my bucket list for a few years! It was so consuming that it was hard to think of anything else. But my trip to Thailand is next on the list. That trip is not work-related, just a chance to relax.



Triabunna Barracks dig in the news:

ANU: Archaeology Students Unearth Tasmania's Military and Convict History 
The Mercury: Archaeology Students to Dig up East Coast Site to Reveal Secrets of the Past
ABC: Fresh Archaeological Dig Gives Rare Chance to Uncover History

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