Koonalda Cave Research Proposal

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Consultation has concluded

Consultation Process

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 4 September to 12 October 2020. Below is a record of the engagement.

Image courtesy of Dr Keryn Walshe.

Tell us your views on whether a research proposal seeking to better understand the Aboriginal history of Koonalda Cave should go ahead.

What’s being decided?

Koonalda Cave contains significant Aboriginal cultural heritage features including well preserved, fragile and complex geometric markings, known as finger flutings, as well as engraved lines made by sharp tools. The cave is registered on the South Australian Heritage Register and the National Heritage List.

Consultation Process

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 4 September to 12 October 2020. Below is a record of the engagement.

Image courtesy of Dr Keryn Walshe.

Tell us your views on whether a research proposal seeking to better understand the Aboriginal history of Koonalda Cave should go ahead.

What’s being decided?

Koonalda Cave contains significant Aboriginal cultural heritage features including well preserved, fragile and complex geometric markings, known as finger flutings, as well as engraved lines made by sharp tools. The cave is registered on the South Australian Heritage Register and the National Heritage List.

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is seeking authorisation under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (Act) to conduct a research proposal that aims to better understand the Aboriginal history of Koonalda Cave.

As part of the research, DEW proposes to:

  • remove 50 charcoal samples from the area within Koonalda Cave known as the Art Chamber,
  • transport those samples out of South Australia,
  • conduct destructive radiocarbon analysis on those samples in order to ascertain their age, and,
  • undertake non-invasive laser mapping within the Art Chamber.

DEW considers the research proposal to be an opportunity to learn more about the timescale of Aboriginal presence within Koonalda Cave and, specifically, the chronology of the cave's rock art.

Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (AAR), on behalf of the Premier of South Australia, is seeking feedback from the Aboriginal community, in particular, Traditional Owners of Koonalda Cave, and other Aboriginal parties with an interest in the cave, on whether the authorisations sought should be granted.

Get involved

If you are a Traditional Owner of Koonalda Cave, or an Aboriginal party with an interest in the cave, read the research proposal and the Consultation Information Package and consider the following questions:

  • Should authorisation be granted to DEW to go ahead with their proposal? Why or why not?
  • If the authorisations are granted, what conditions, if any, should be imposed?
  • Are there any other matters that the Premier should be aware of when considering the application?

Have your say by:

Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
GPO Box 2343
ADELAIDE SA 5001

Your feedback will be treated confidentially.

Unless specified otherwise, submissions will be provided to DEW and presented to the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee (Committee) and the Premier for consideration.

How can your input influence the decision?

Your input will inform the Committee's advice to the Premier on whether the authorisation sought should be granted.

What are the next steps?

Once the consultation period closes, feedback will be forwarded to the Committee for its review and recommendations.

AAR will collate your and the Committee's feedback and provide it to the Premier in a report to assist him in making his final decision.

Contact details

If you would like to learn more about the proposal and/or wish to lodge a submission, please call AAR on (08) 8226 8900, or write to:

Mr Alex van Wessem
Principal Project Officer (Heritage)
Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
Department of the Premier and Cabinet
GPO Box 2343

ADELAIDE SA 5001
Email: DPC-AAR.CIR@sa.gov.au
Or visit the AAR website.

Closing date: 5pm Monday 12 October 2020




Background


Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 4 September to 12 October 2020. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.

Koonalda Cave is an Aboriginal heritage site entered on the Central Archive maintained by Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (AAR) – Central Archive Site 4835-502. The site is also entered on the South Australian Heritage Register and the National Heritage List.

The cave contains very significant Aboriginal cultural heritage features, including well preserved finger flutings and engraved lines, created by Aboriginal people thousands of years ago. The cave also contains archaeological deposits; artefacts; stelae (standing stones) as well as evidence of Aboriginal flint quarrying and stone tool manufacture.

The Premier of South Australia, as the Minister responsible for the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (Act), has received an application for authorisations under section 23 and section 29(1)(b) of the Act from the Department for Environment and Water (DEW).

In conjunction with a research team, DEW is seeking to remove 50 charcoal samples from the area within Koonalda Cave known as the Art Chamber and, to conduct destructive radiocarbon analysis on those samples outside South Australia to determine their age. Non-invasive laser mapping of finger flutings within the Art Chamber is also proposed

DEW considers the research to be an opportunity to learn more about the timescale of Aboriginal presence within the cave and specifically, the chronology of the finger flutings.

Section 23 of the Act makes it an offence to damage, disturb or interfere with Aboriginal sites, objects or ancestral remains without authorisation while section 29(1)(b) of the Act makes it an offence to remove Aboriginal objects from South Australia without authorisation.

If you are a Traditional Owner of Koonalda Cave, or an Aboriginal party with an interest in the cave, read the research proposal and the Consultation Information Package and get involved.

Consultation has concluded
  • Research proposal

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    Now Closed

    This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 4 September to 12 October 2020. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.

    Koonalda Cave is an ancient Aboriginal rock art and archaeological site located some 400 km west of Ceduna. As part of the research proposal, the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is seeking authorisation to:

    • remove 50 charcoal samples from within the Koonalda Cave Art Chamber
    • remove those samples from South Australia for the destructive analysis
    • carry out destructive analysis of those samples using radiocarbon dating methods
    • conduct non-invasive laser mapping of finger flutings within the Koonalda Cave Art Chamber

    The purpose of the research

    The Koonalda Cave Art Chamber, and particularly the finger flutings contained therein, have never been reliably dated. Sophisticated technology, previously unavailable to researchers, now provides an opportunity to learn more about the timescale of Aboriginal presence within the cave and specifically, the chronology of the finger flutings.

    Key aspects of the research proposal

    DEW advises that:

    • the research team will be made up of eight to ten people, including at least two Traditional Owners
    • the samples will be collected over a single visit into the cave
    • each sample will generally weigh between 20mg and 100mg (approximately between one half and 2.5 teaspoons). Some samples may be wholly consumed by the analysis, while others may only be partially consumed
    • the samples will be sent to the University of New South Wales’ Radiocarbon Dating Facility in New South Wales for the analysis
    • the outcomes of the research proposal will be made available to Traditional Owners and, are likely to be published

    DEW also seeks to map the finger flutings using a laser scanner. However, this work will not involve any physical contact with the finger flutings

    Reducing the impact on Aboriginal heritage

    DEW considers that impacts to heritage within the cave will be very unlikely. By collecting charcoal samples from the floor of the Art Chamber, DEW and its research team can avoid conducting archaeological excavations within the cave.

    To reduce the impact the research proposal may have on Aboriginal heritage within the cave, DEW proposes to:

    • access the Art Chamber via pre-existing tracks within the cave
    • adhere to AAR’s Aboriginal Heritage Discovery Protocols when accessing the cave. These protocols provide for the management and reporting of Aboriginal heritage discoveries, and ensure that the discovery of Aboriginal remains is dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Coroners Act 2003 (SA)
    • engage with the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation, which will ensure that cultural protocols are adhered to during the research activities