Burrill Lake Rockshelter: An early use of a research design in Australian prehistory

Hilary du Cros


Burrill Lake rockshelter, located near Ulladulla on the south coast of New South Wales, was first excavated by the Anthropological Society of New South Wales in 1931. This investigation has been disregarded in archaeological histories in favour of the more systematically excavated sites of Devon Downs (1929) and Lapstone Creek (1936) (Mulvaney 1958, 1961, 1975, 1980; Murray and White 1981; White and O'Connell 1982:22-8). Burrill Lake is better known by its later excavations in 1967 and 1968, which were carried out in the undisturbed areas of the site by Lampert (1971).

 However, the first excavation of Burrill Lake is important in the history of Australian archaeology, as it gives an insight into the intellectual preoccupations of the non-professional enthusiasts or fieldworkers in the Anthropological Society of New South Wales in the 1930s. Their main interest was with Tasmanian Aboriginal migration routes along the New South Wales coast, based on the theories of the Tasmanian stone artefact collector J.S. Falkinder. His theories were instrumental in the decision to excavate Burrill Lake and they also helped to shape the research design for the project.

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