The historical archaeology of the Old Farm on Strawberry Hill: a rural estate 1827-1889, Albany, Western Australia

Amy Gardos

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This thesis presents the results of historical archaeological research at the Old Farm on Strawberry Hill in Albany, Western Australia. The site is an important colonial farm in Western Australia’s history; the location for the first farm in Western Australia (1827) and linked to many important individuals in the state’s colonial past. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust of Australia (W.A.) and is registered on both the West Australian, Heritage Council Register of Historical Places and the Australian Heritage Commission’s National Estate. Past historical and cultural biases had created an incomplete interpretation of this site that did not represent all social groups, including indentured servants, convict and Aboriginal labourers and women. The research has provided a holistic site interpretation that identified all social groups living and working on this site in the 1800s by analysing historical documents and archaeological excavated materials. The historical documentary record included both personal and official correspondence, diaries and drawings, as well as two valuable farm log books that documented the day to day events on the farm in the early to mid 1800s. The archaeological excavation was restricted to small area excavations in habitation areas still present on the site or in areas identified from 19th century surveyor maps. Both of these data sources were analysed to identify social and economic relationships, such as gender, status, class and ethnicity so that a comparison could be made between historical and archaeological data and a complementary interpretation created. The research was divided into three main periods of site occupation, firstly by convict gardeners during the government farm period from 1827 to 1832. The Spencer family period from 1833 to 1889, which is further defined by two phases, the six years from their arrival until Richard Spencer’s death in 1839 and the dispersal of the family and the property decline until it was sold in 1889. The third period of occupation by the Bird family was not discussed due to the discontinuation of a farming subsistence that distinguished it from a rural rather than an urban property. This study provides the current heritage managers with an updated interpretation of the site’s past and changing social and economic relationships on site and with the early town of Albany. It is hoped that this interpretation will be used to improve the site’s current representation and becomes the basis for a heritage conservation plan which not only recognises the importance of existing site structures, but also sub surface remains. This thesis also identifies a number of avenues for future research that will further enhance the site’s interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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