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

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Jo McDonald is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at UWA. She has held the Rio Tinto Chair in Rock Art Studies (2012-2023) funded by RioTinto’s Conservation Agreement with the Commonwealth for the Dampier Archipelago National Heritage Listed Place. Jo completed an ARC Future Fellowship (2011-2016), comparing 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. She has completed two ARC projects in the Dampier Archipelago - Murujuga Dynamics of the Dreaming and Deep History of Sea Country.

She is leading two current ARC linkage projects.  The first is Dating Murujuga’s Dreaming: a multidisciplinary project aimed at direct dating the engravings and stone features, refining models of climate change and chronology through a series of different techniques.  The other Project is Desert to the Sea: Managing Rock Art, Country and Culture - a multidisciplinary two-way knowledge project working with three Aboriginal communities with huge heritage estates and three industry partners, working on intergenerational information transfer and Western: Indigenous knowledge exchanges. 

In October 2023 Jo and Amy Stevens (Heritage Manager MAC) co-hosted the Murujuga Cultural Landscapes Symposium at the ICOMOS General Assembly held in Sydney. This international event, hosted for the first time in the southern hemisphere, showcased the work being done on the World Heritage nomination at Murujuga and brought together indigenous custodians from Murujuga, Australian World heritage properties and international cultural landscape properties to discuss the pros and cons of world heritage listing. CRAR+M UWA and MAC were  strategic partners to ICOMOS Australia, and financial support was received from industry stakeholders to facilitate the travel and accommodation expenses of the traditional owners.

Prior to being Director of CRAR+M, Jo was Managing Director of a leading cultural heritage practice based in Sydney. She has almost 40 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
Deputy Head of School (2019-June 2022)

2017 UWA Innovation Champion

ARCY2004 Co-Ordinator 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
ARCY2005 Co-ordinator 2012-2023
ARCY3011 Co-Ordinator 2019, 2020, 2021
ARCY3003 Co-ordinator 2024-

Australian Archaeology- Editorial Board (2019- )

Future research

Rock Art of the Pilbara
Kimberley and Western Desert art connections
Pilbara and Western 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)
Chief Investigator - Deep History of Sea Country (2015-2018)
Lead Chief Investigator - Dating Murujuga's Dreaming ARC Linkage Project (2020-2025)

Lead Chief Investigator - Desert to the Sea ARC Linkage Project (2022-2027)

Chief Investigator, WA Node Leader, ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures 2024-2031


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 (State and Commonwealth) on heritage matters.

Jo currently sits on the Murujuga Stakeholder Reference Group (WA) which oversees the Murujuga Rock Art Monitoring Project.  Jo also sits on the Murujuga Heritage Committee (WA), charged with preparing the WHL nomination dossier for the Murujuga cultural landscape, lodged in February 2023 in Paris and accepted by the World Heritage committee in September 2023.

Teaching overview

ARCY 2004 - Archaeology of Rock Art Undergraduate course 2012, 2019, 2020, 2021
ARCY 2005 - Rock Art Field school (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023)
ARCY 3011 - Australian Archaeology 2019, 2020, 2021


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

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Industry keywords

  • Environmental

Research expertise keywords

  • 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


Dive into the research topics where Jo McDonald is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or