Jo McDonald

Professor, BA Syd., PhD ANU

  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Crawley


Accepting PhD Students

  • 133 Citations
  • 7 h-Index

Personal profile


Jo McDonald is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at UWA. She holds the Rio Tinto Chair in Rock Art Studies. Jo has recently completed an ARC Future Fellowship. Her four year research project studied rock art, social and environmental change in two of the great deserts of the world: the Western Desert in Australia and the Great Basin in the USA.
Prior to taking up her role as Director of CRAR+M, Jo was Director of Jo McDonald CHM Pty Ltd, a leading cultural heritage practice based in Sydney. She has more than 35 years’ experience in managing Indigenous archaeology and has been researching rock art throughout this time.

Roles and responsibilities

Director, Centre for Rock Art Research + Management
Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies
ARC Future Fellow

Future research

Rock Art of the Pilbara
Kimberley and desert art connections
Pilbara and desert art connections
Great Basin rock art
Rock art of the early Americans and Australians

Funding overview

AIATSIS Grant for dating arid zone rock art 2005 Canning Stock Route ARC Linkage Project (Rock Art and Jukurrpa) 2007-2011
Jo was Principal Investigator and JMcD CHM was a Partner organisation.
ARC Future Fellowship: Arid zone rock art of the Western Desert and Great Basin 2011-2016
Lead Chief Investigator - Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming ARC Linkage Project (2015-2018)

Previous positions

Director, Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Australian National University
Director, Brayshaw McDonald Pty Ltd

Industrial relevance

As a long term cultural heritage practitioner, Jo has good links with Industry and government, and is well versed in the practicalities of heritage management in Australia. This long term experience has seen her involved as an expert witness in Native Title and Land and Environment Court actions, as well as providing advice to government (Stage and Commonwealth) on heritage matters.

Teaching overview

ARCY 2004 - Rock Art in Archaeology Undergraduate course 2012
ARCY 2005 - Rock Art Field school (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)


Rock art and information exchange;
Gender and rock art;
Arid zone rock art;
The contemporaneity of rock art with other occupation evidence;
Direct-dating rock art;
Rock art and dreaming tracks (Jukurrpa);
Applied rock art research (Native Title arena, National Heritage and World Heritage)


written and colloquial French


  • Rock art method and theory
  • Archaeological method and theory
  • Pleistocene archaeology
  • Chronometric dating of pigment art
  • Archaeology of gender
  • The archaeology of Indigenous Australia
  • Hunter-gatherer archaeology
  • Open site archaeology
  • Regional archaeological studies
  • Application of geographical information systems in archaeology
  • Rock art database development
  • Visualization of rock art

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 12 Similar Profiles
art Social Sciences
rock art Earth & Environmental Sciences
cultural heritage Social Sciences
desert Social Sciences
recording Social Sciences
graphic arts Social Sciences
co-management Social Sciences
hunter-gatherer Earth & Environmental Sciences

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Projects 2012 2016

Research Output 2006 2017

5 Citations

Archaeological discontinuities in the southern hemisphere: A working agenda

Barberena, R., McDonald, J., Mitchell, P. & Veth, P. Jun 2017 In : Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 46, p. 1-11 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

social agencies
population development

Australia’s Rock Art Heritage: A Thematic Approach to Assessing Scientific Value

McDonald, J. 30 Jun 2017 The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art. David, B. & McNiven, I. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 31 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

cultural heritage
4 Citations

Murujuga, Northwestern Australia: When Arid Hunter-Gatherers Became Coastal Foragers

McDonald, J. & Berry, M. 2 Jan 2017 In : Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. 12, 1, p. 24-43 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

predictive model
rock art

Pilbara rock art: Laser scanning, photogrammetry and 3D photographic reconstruction as heritage management tools

Davis, A., Belton, D., Helmholz, P., Bourke, P. & McDonald, J. 4 Jul 2017 In : Heritage Science. 5, 1, 25

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
cultural heritage

Where art meets industry: protecting the spectacular rock art of the Burrup Peninsula

McDonald, J. 16 Feb 2017 The Conversation

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

Open Access


Cape Lambert Site CL3-12-02

McDonald, J. (Creator), Carson, A. (Creator), Winton, V. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 12 Oct 2012


Bunuba Lifeways project

Balme, J. (Creator), Winton, V. (Creator), Carson, A. (Creator), McDonald, J. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 22 Oct 2012


Happy Valley field school 2012

McDonald, J. (Creator), Winton, V. (Creator), Carson, A. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 12 Oct 2012


Karnatukul, Katjarra (Serpents Glen)

McDonald, J. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 23 Mar 2018



Port Hedland Legacy

McDonald, J. (Creator), Paterson, A. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013