The Black Hill / Woods Gully Excavation Landscape Model


Designed, Sculptured and constructed by

Dr Michael MacLellan Tracey BA Hons (ANU), PhD (ANU).


Canberra, ACT  For South East Archaeology, Canberra ACT. Commissioned by The Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales


The completed model is on permanent display at The Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land

Council Cultural Centre, Maitland, NSW.


In 1996, members of the Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council and Archaeologists from South East Archaeology salvaged two important Aboriginal sites at Black Hill. Both sites were located along a new section of the F3 freeway being built from Minmi to Beresford in New South Wales by the Roads and Traffic Authority. The Black Hill 2 site borders Hexham Wetlands. These wetlands were an important source of food for the local Pambalong people. The Woods Gully site is situated next to a creek of the same name, that flows into the Hexham Wetlands. Land Council members and South East Archaeology worked together with the Roads and Traffic Authority to record and salvage thousands of artefacts.


Excavations at Woods Gully and Black Hill 2 first involved digging small test units. Where interesting features were found, broader areas were excavated. Following the excavations, a grader scrapped the surface and other surface artefacts were collected.


Figure 1: Excavating fireplace at Woods Gully


Figure 2: Surface scrape with grader at FS/2 Woods Gully


Over 45 tonnes of soil was sieved and 23,000 artefacts were recovered. Every artefact was recorded and analysed by the archaeologists before being retained for safe keeping and display by the Land Council.


Figure 3: Wet sieving excavated artefacts


Figure 4: Recording the stone artefacts


The majority of the artefacts related to the making of spear barbs for use in hunting. Other artefacts were associated with the processing of plant food such as bracken fern obtained from the nearby wetlands. A fireplace, lined with stone, was located during the excavations and is believed to be about 2,1000 year old.


Figure 5: The site at Woods Gully.


Figure 6: The site at Woods Gully.


South East Archaeology, and the Road Transport Authority of New South Wales commissioned Heritage Archaeology to design and construct a model representative of the wetland landscape.  The model is on permanent display in the Mindaribba  Cultural Centre. The model was designed to represent as closely as possible, the 2100-years-old landscape and the activities associated with the artefacts recovered. The centrepiece of the model is the wetland landscape and the native fauna present.


The model was contoured to represent the landscape as surveyed near Woods Gully. Other features representative of the artefacts recovered were included on the model such as the fireplace and the campsite. Activities associated with the interpretation of the artefacts recovered during the excavation were also displayed on the model. These included the hunting of local wildlife, the gathering of water plants and ferns on the banks of the waterholes and the manufacture of stone tools.


The model was constructed, sculptured, painted and assembled by Heritage Archaeology, Canberra.


The construction of the model


Figure 7: The design for the display stand and the model are prepared and approved


Figure 8: The typography of the Woods Gully landscape transferred to the wooden model base


 Figure 9: The contours are joined and covered with specially prepared modelling media


Figure 10: The bed of the gully is modelled and the submerged detail added


Figure 11: The landscape is modelled and the figures tested for scale. The water is set in place


Figure 12: The trees are assembled and the creek bank is modelled

(The F-16 Falcon does not go on on this model).


Figure 13: The water and a small island was then constructed. The trees are in place and colour is added


 Figure 14: The sculptured figures are painted and added to the model



Figure 15: Details of the landscape are completed and the stone tool knapper is set  in position


Figure 16: The hunting party have been painted and detailed and added to the landscape


Figure 17: The creek bank is 'planted' with grass and more detail is added to the hunting party


Figure 18: The stone lined fireplace is added and the electrics are set up. The three figures are added


 Figure 19: The women, children, dog and  the water plants are added to the completed creek bank


Figure 20: The site at Woods Gully


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