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

    6009 Perth


  • 241 Citations
  • 10 h-Index
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Personal profile


Jo McDonald is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at UWA. She held the Rio Tinto Chair in Rock Art Studies (2012-2017). Jo has recently completed an ARC Future Fellowship (2011-2016). Her Fellowship 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
2019 UWA Innovation Champion
ARCY2014 Co-Ordinator 2019
ARCY3011 Cor-Ordinator 2019

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.

Jo currently sits on the Murujuga Stakeholder Reference Group (WA) and the Murujuga Heritage Committee (WA)

Teaching overview

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


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


  • Environmental
  • 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

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Research Output 2006 2019

7 Downloads (Pure)

So ends this day: American whalers in Yaburara country, Dampier Archipelago

Paterson, A., Ross, A., Mulvaney, K., de Koning, S., Dortch, J. & McDonald, J., 18 Feb 2019, In : Antiquity: a quarterly review of archaeology. 93, 367, p. 218-235 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access
Rock Art

Aboriginal people lived in Australia’s desert interior 50,000 years ago, earlier than first thought

McDonald, J. & Veth, P., 20 Sep 2018

Research output: Non-traditional research outputWeb publication/site

Open Access
indigenous population

Explainer: why the rock art of Murujuga deserves World Heritage status

McDonald, J., 28 Aug 2018

Research output: Non-traditional research outputWeb publication/site

Open Access
rock art
2 Citations (Scopus)

Karnatukul (Serpent’s glen): A new chronology for the oldest site in Australia’s Western Desert

McDonald, J., Reynen, W., Petchey, F., Ditchfield, K., Byrne, C., Vannieuwenhuyse, D., Leopold, M. & Veth, P., 1 Sep 2018, In : PLoS One. 13, 9, e0202511.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Open Access


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


Investigator Images 2011 - Subterranean Shelter Close-ups

Veth, P. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013


Port Hedland current conservation project

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


Projects 2012 2019


Bruce Veitch Award

Jo McDonald (Recipient), 1 Dec 2018


Rhys Jones Medal

Jo McDonald (Recipient), 5 Dec 2016




Archaeology of Rock Art

Jo McDonald & Sam Harper



Australian Archaeology

Jo McDonald &