Currently, however, the Undara research is on hold, as Ewamian Limited develops the Ewamian-owned Talaroo Hot Springs, a cattle station and an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) about 120 kilometres east of Undara. “It's really a grassroots cultural tourism development,” Alice says.
Brian Bing, who is a director on the board of Talaroo Hot Springs, and Alice are both investigating the cultural values of this place. “So far, we've only done test pitting (minor excavations) where the tourism infrastructure was going,” Alice says, adding that there is still much to do.
“The hot springs are special because they are the only hot mound springs in Australia that are not part of the Great Artesian Basin,” Alice says, adding that mound springs contain water that has been underground for 20,000 years. “You've got endemic animals that only live in these hot springs. But it's also a story place, a special place for Ewamian women.”
Research based on the needs of the community
As in Undara, the research around Talaroo has only just started. “We are really excited to explore the archaeology of the hot springs as well as well as the lava tubes, but we are conscious of the need to do it properly,” Alice says.
“The direction that our research will take depends on the community's responses to what we will find, and the questions that communities want to ask. But it’s also dependent on funding, of course, which is always scarce.”
“More research should be done around the Talaroo Hot Springs area. You have a big river down there and there’s got to be some sort of connection there,” Brian says. “And there is also an old trail there that Cobb & Co, the coach company, used for their Port Douglas to Georgetown route. We should do some research on that.”
No matter where the research in Undara and Talaroo will be going in the future, it will again be a collaboration between Ewamian Traditional Owners and Western-educated archaeologists.
Alice and Brian would like to thank the following research contributors:
Ewamian Ltd.: Sharon Prior, Jimmy Richards, David Hudson, Lyn Prior, Katie O'Rourke, and Ewamian Ltd. Board members. Ewamian Rangers: Tristin Lacey, Megan Mosquito, Jordan Kapteyn, Wallace Jensen, Michell Kapteyn, Steve Wargent, Konichi Shioji and Dale Murray.
Archaeologists: Nick Roberts (Adjunct Research Fellow, Cairns Institute), Asa Ferrier (Honorary Research Fellow, Australian National University), Nikki Winn, Owen Ray (PhD candidate JCU), Richard Cosgrove (Professor, La Trobe University). QPWS: Nick Smith, Anthony Staniland, Ranger Roy, Jim Davis and Dave Gutry. Others: Lauren and Don Pinwill, Duncan Ray.