The 2019 ASHA conference bursary recipients have provided us with a short report on their experience of the conference. We start with words from Greg Hil.
This year’s ASHA conference at Port Macquarie was, as many others will undoubtedly agree, a well-executed affair along a beautiful section of Australian coast.
The venue, the Glasshouse, was built atop the archaeological remains of a nineteenth-century penal settlement and thus embodied-well this year’s theme of ‘Colonial Futures’. That is, the ways in which Australasia’s colonial past continues to manifest itself both in the archaeological record and our lives today.
Starting things off was an acknowledgement of the region’s deep human past through a much-enjoyed Welcome to Country by Uncle Bill of the Birpai LALC. Over the two days of talks, uninitiated attendees were given a detailed account of Port Macquarie’s rich colonial history by local archaeologists and speakers. A personal highlight was Crystal Phillips’ overview of the port’s historical cemetery (1824-1886), which was well worth a visit.
Further afield, presenters covered topics that ranged from dry stone walls in South Australia (John Pickard), to the slums of Melbourne and Buenos Aires (Pamela Ricardi), and juvenile convicts of Point Puer, Tasmania (Caitlin D’Gluyas).
Drinks, as well as good food and conversation, were enjoyed by many at local pubs and restaurants in the afterhours of each day’s sessions. Georgia Roberts’ thought-provoking introduction of the Australian archaeological skills passport was no-doubt included in more than a few of those discussions.
The conference dinner at Zebu Waterfront Restaurant had good attendance and was an enjoyable ending to my first ASHA conference experience.
The three best paper/poster prizes were well-deserved, and were each personal favourites, including Nadia Bajzelj’s fascinating paper on Melbourne’s brothels (best paper), Charlotte Feakin’s masterful overview of the buffalo shooting industry of Northern Territory (best student paper; I had no idea that once existed in Australia!), and an informative poster on colonial shipwrecks off the coast of Sydney by Connor McBrian, Milly Bendell, and Benjamin Wharton (best poster).
I am already looking forward to next year’s conference in Melbourne, which, marking the 50th anniversary of ASHA, should be a ripper!