What’s in a Name? Beyond The Mary Watson Stories to a Historical Archaeology of Lizard Island

Abstract

Preliminary historical archaeological research on Lizard Island in far north Queensland is enabling the Queensland Government to develop more effective management strategies for on-site interpretation of the historical precinct of Watsons Bay. Although popularly associated with the north Queensland colonial heroine Mary Watson, the Bay can now be understood as a large multilayered cultural landscape with meaning to a wide variety of groups. The common aspects of the three known beche-de-mer operations that occupied the Bay between 1860 and 1881 and the nature of the emerging archaeological record afford many opportunities for scaled archaeological research. It further highlights aspects of historical archaeological theory and the relationship between the discipline and the historical record.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is the product of many years of research by a number of people. The authors would like to thank the management and staff of both EHP and NPRSR (formerly the Department of Environment and Resource Management or DERM) who supported and/or contributed to work in relation Watsons Bay; especially, Dr Nicky Horsfall, Geoff Meadows, Clive Cook and NPRSR marine park rangers (Cairns District). Amanda Page edited the schematic of the ruin and Cameron Harvey created the location map. Peter Russell (heritage stone mason) and his wife Jenny undertook the conservation works in 1999 and provided many useful ideas and observations. The support and participation of elders and representatives of the Dingaal Aboriginal Corporation is gratefully acknowledged, especially that of Alan Charlie who assisted with the preliminary archaeological investigations. Other Dingaal-warra who contributed in various ways were the late Henry Baru, Gordon Charlie, John Charlie and Phillip Baru. Research was undertaken at the John Oxley and Queensland State Libraries, who also provided permission to reproduce copies of historical images. Additional research was conducted at the Queensland State Archives and Cairns Historical Society.

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Correspondence to Paddy Waterson.

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Waterson, P., Waghorn, A., Swartz, J. et al. What’s in a Name? Beyond The Mary Watson Stories to a Historical Archaeology of Lizard Island. Int J Histor Archaeol 17, 590–612 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-013-0235-0

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Keywords

  • Mary Watson
  • beche-de-mer
  • Lizard Island
  • Watsons Bay
  • Queensland
  • Australia