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H 245 x W 174 mm

234 pages

104 figures, 19 tables (colour throughout)

Published Jun 2023

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803274812

Digital: 9781803274829

DOI 10.32028/9781803274812

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GunaiKurnai; Wildfire; Climate Change; Cultural Heritage; Landscape burning; Australia

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Fires in GunaiKurnai Country

Landscape Fires and their Impacts on Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Places and Artefacts in Southeastern Australia

Edited by Jessie Buettel, Bruno David, Russell Mullett, Joanna Fresløv, Katherine Szabó,

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Anthropogenic climate change is becoming a reality, and in Australia this means longer , more intense wildfire seasons over a wider area. The GunaiKurnai people saw much of their Country decimated during ‘Black Summer’ (2019/2020), prompting questions about both the management of Country and its heritage resources moving forward.



Chapter 1. Introduction – Bruno David, Russell Mullett, Joanna Fresløv and the GunaiKurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation ;

PART 1. Background to Fires and Cultural Burning on GunaiKurnai Country ;
Chapter 2. Wildfires: Characteristics, Drivers and Impacts on Cultural Sites – Grant Williamson and Jessie Buettel ;
Chapter 3. Accounts and Memories of Landscape Burning Practices in Gippsland – Seumas Spark ;
Chapter 4. Eugene von Guérard on GunaiKurnai Country 1860–1861: Reading the Story of Fire in his Depictions of the Landscape – Ruth Pullin ;
Chapter 5. 20th and 21st Century Wildfires and Prescribed Burning in GunaiKurnai Country – Jessie Buettel, Bruno David and Stefania Ondei ;

PART 2. The Distribution of Cultural Sites in GunaiKurnai Country, and How Fires Affect Cultural Materials ;
Chapter 6. Cultural Sites in GunaiKurnai Country – Jessie Buettel, Russell Mullett, Jessie Birkett-Rees, Bruno David, Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Joanna Fresløv, Stefania Ondei, Robert Skelly and Jerome Mialanes ;
Chapter 7. The Impacts of Fire on Stone Artefacts – Jerome Mialanes, Bruno David, Joanna Fresløv and Russell Mullett ;
Chapter 8. The Impacts of Fires on Rock Art Sites and Ochre – Jillian Huntley and Courtney Webster ;
Chapter 9. The Impact of Fires on Bone – Matthew McDowell ;
Chapter 10. The Impacts of Fire on Culturally Modified Trees – Joanna Fresløv, Russell Mullett and Bruno David ;
Chapter 11. Shells and Fire—Indicators and Effects – Katherine Szabó and Annette Oertle ;

PART 3. Understanding the Impact of Fires on GunaiKurnai Cultural Heritage Sites: Past, Present and Future ;
Chapter 12. Landscape Fires and Cultural Sites in GunaiKurnai Country – Jessie Buettel, Stefania Ondei, Bruno David, Joanna Fresløv and Russell Mullett ;
Chapter 13. Archaeological Surveys in GunaiKurnai Country – Robert Skelly, Bruno David, Joanna Fresløv and Russell Mullett ;
Chapter 14. Understanding the Distribution and Impacts of Wildfires in GunaiKurnai Country through Subregions – Jessie Buettel, Stefania Ondei, Bruno David, Joanna Fresløv and Russell Mullett ;
Chapter 15. Conclusion – Russell Mullett, Katherine Szabó, Joanna Fresløv, Bruno David, Jessie Buettel, and the GunaiKurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation ;


About the Author

Jessie Buettel (School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia) researches ecological and anthropogenic change in plant and animal communities to provide insights into complex ecosystems. Through ecological modelling and the analysis of spatio-temporal patterns, she investigates issues of conservation, biodiversity and forestry management.

Bruno David (Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Monash University, Australia) is an archaeologist and Chief Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. He undertakes partnership research on the (hi)story of cultural places with First Nations communities. He has published 17 books and around 300 articles on various dimensions of landscape archaeology.

Elder Uncle Russell Mullett is the Registered Aboriginal Party Manager for the GunaiKurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GKLaWAC). He oversees cultural research on GunaiKurnai lands and waters for GKLaWAC, including archaeological and palaeoecological investigations. He currently sits on the board of the Aboriginal Heritage Council, which provides advice to the Victorian State government on all cultural heritage matters.

Joanna Fresløv has focussed on the landscape archaeology of the coast and High Country for over thirty years. Since 2003 she has carried out a number of extensive post-wildfire investigations on the effects of fire on Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park (Victoria), Tasmania (Upper Florentine Valley World Heritage Area), Alpine National Park (Victoria) and most recently the whole of Victoria following the 2019–2920 wildfires, for State and Federal government agencies.

Katherine Szabó (Pre-Construct Archaeology, UK) is an archaeologist and shell specialist who has worked across the Asia-Pacific region for over twenty years. She has undertaken, and published widely upon, experimental and fundamental research around the use of shell as a raw material, as well as taphonomic processes acting upon shell. She is now based in the UK working primarily in commercial archaeology.

GunaiKurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GKLaWAC) is the Registered Aboriginal Party that represents the GunaiKurnai people – the Traditional Owners of GunaiKurnai Country in southeastern Victoria, Australia. Led by the GKLaWAC Board, they advocate, manage and care for the GunaiKurnai people and Country. The research presented in this volume was commissioned by, and produced in partnership with, GKLaWAC.