Murujuga’s $1.3m funds

Caitlyn WattsPilbara News
UWA Centre for Rock Art Research and Management Professor Jo McDonald with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Peter Jeffries.
Camera IconUWA Centre for Rock Art Research and Management Professor Jo McDonald with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Peter Jeffries. Credit: Supplied/UWA/Picture: UWA, Supplied/UWA

The world-famous Murujuga has received $1.3 million in research funding to help better understand the age of the rock art and stone features. Researchers from the University of WA Centre for Rock Art Research and Management received the funding for the project from the Australian Research Council to be spent over the next five years.

Working in consultation with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, Rio Tinto and Woodside, the project is set to result in new knowledge about the culturally significant heritage-listed site.

Leading the investigation is UWA Centre for Rock Art director Professor Jo McDonald, who said the project involved using scientific dating techniques including desert varnish and surface luminescence to determine the age of the rock art and stone features.

“We are trying to understand how old the art is. By understanding the climate conditions better, we are hoping to be able to do that,” she said. “We still haven’t been able to get any direct dates from the rock art, so we still don’t really know when people were producing all these different phases.

“It’s going to be a very sciencey project and it’s aimed at all of the big questions that we have not been able to answer during conventional archaeology.”

Professor McDonald, who has been researching Murujuga for the past 15 years, said securing this type of funding was often difficult due to the focused nature of the research question. However, having strong community and industry partnerships had allowed the project to be successful.

“We have managed to get the community asking the questions, saying that it is one of the research priorities, plus having two industry partners who have got a conservation agreement which is aimed at funding research,” she said.

“We have an Aboriginal community wanting some scientific support and industry and government being able to provide the funding to do it.”

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