During fieldwork in the Gulf Country, we visited the local primary school to give the 27 students (prep to year 6) a taste of anthropology and archaeology. One of the main goals of our field work was to collect freshwater and estuarine fish for the Archaeology Fauna Laboratory's modern skeleton reference collection. However, equally important to the task was to document the names of these fish in the local Aboriginal languages and to record Indigenous knowledge associated with them as well as information about capture and preparation techniques.
We were keen to present an hour-long outreach program to the Burketown State School students and this was kindly facilitated with the help of the principal, Chris Ford and his staff. We found the students to be an extremely enthusiastic group of young scholars and our displays of frozen fish and animal bones were met with fascination and delighted horror. Students were asked to identify the various fish and whether they knew if the fish came from freshwater or saltwater habitats. Following this we talked about how we can use modern animal skeletons to identify fragments of archaeological bone, which can then tell us what people were eating and doing in the past, along with local landscape change. Students then went on to examine bones that we had recovered earlier in the morning. These included wallaby, python and bird bones from the base of a tree containing a wedge-tailed eagle nest and cattle bones that had been gnawed by wild dogs/dingos. All in all lots of interest and enthusiasm for several new projects in Burketown!