Fieldwork Showcase: Archives in Bark, the Kimberley, WA

1st July 2021

The ARC-funded Archives in Bark project commenced last week. CABAH CI and CHL academic Sue O'Connor (ANU), Jane Balme (UWA), AI Ursula Frederick (UC/ANU), Mel Marshall (UNDA) and Will Andrews (photogrammetry specialist) headed out to Nyikina Mangala Country in the Kimberley, WA. They trialled techniques to record carved boab trees using 3D photogrammetry and other methods, in collaboration with Traditional Owners including Brendan Charles.

Check out real-time photos and video footage as they progress with their fieldwork, right here.


The team had an exciting start to their first field season in the Kimberley!


The team was privileged to visit this stunning, huge ancient boab tree. Mel and Sue give some indication of it’s size!


The team were super excited to relocate the tree blazed in 1879 to mark Alexander Forrest’s 69th camp.


Brendan, Will and Joseph create some shade on the boab for Ursula to photograph the carvings.


Some of the trees the team are encountering include recent modifications, such as this one being measured by Jane and Will (out of frame).


Some contemporary archaeology: boab scratchwork. This one’s for the metalheads!


Jane displaying the latest in Derby boab craft wear


Suzie Q, first day on the job


Sue photographing a set of boab tree inscriptions originally traced from the tree onto plastic by Darrell Lewis a few decades ago


Archives in Bark project CI Prof Sue O’Connor with historian and archaeologist Dr Darrell Lewis discussing boab trees


This is one of the earliest representations of a carved boab tree in Australia. It is a detail from ‘Baines River, Northern Australia’ by T. Baines ; T. Heawood. c1874-6, source: State Library of Victoria.


And finally, check out this cool video of the team trialling their photogrammetry on a termite mound outside Derby, WA.

Do you have fieldwork photos you'd like to share? Please send them to us at for our Fieldwork Showcase so we can help others live your experience!

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster