Fieldwork on the Weipa Shell Mounds

Geoff Bailey and Matt Meredith-Williams took part in excavations on the Weipa shell mounds on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland between 21 August and 12 September.

They were there at the invitation of Simon Holdaway (University of Auckland), Patricia Fanning (Macquarie University), and Justin Shiner (Rio Tinto Alcan Pty), who are running a new project on the coastal archaeology and geomorphology of the area in collaboration with the traditional owners and Rio Tinto Alcan, entitled Enhancing Cultural Heritage for Mining Operations: a Multi-Disciplinary Approach.

The Weipa shell mounds show interesting similarities to the Farasan shell mounds in their form, geomorphological associations and methods of investigation. Geoff conducted early work on the shell mounds of the area during his PhD research in 1972 and again in 1993. Participation in the new fieldwork provided an opportunity to compare field methods and objectives and to discuss plans for future collaboration focussed around a comparative study of shell-mound formation and human responses to Holocene changes in climate and sea level.

Picture, L to R, Justin Shiner, Geoff Bailey, Matt Meredith-Williams