Project Summary

Austral was engaged as the lead heritage consultant on the SDLAM program, part of the Murray Darling Basin Plan to upgrade water infrastructure along the Murray River. The wider project aimed to balance the extremely high cultural and natural values of the Menindee Lakes, Lower Darling River and Great Darling Anabranch with the need to implement water saving measures which would benefit the wider community. Our involvement was to assist DPIE in co-ordinating consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders and to prepare heritage assessments which would guide future works.

Austral completed both historical and Aboriginal heritage assessments over an area covering over 1,00,000 hectares working with Traditional Owner groups to develop management strategies for heritage sites and objects. We processed data from several thousands of sites with heritage values located within the study area along with LIDAR and other data sources to prepare a highly detailed predictive model which was then able to be refined using on-the-ground evidence from targeted pedestrian surveys, resulting in an in-depth occupational model for a lake system which is comparable to the Lake Mungo system in its archaeological complexity.

The locations where the densest cultural material deposits were recorded are either at choke points in the Menindee Lakes system or in source bordering dunes and lunettes. Sites recorded included artefact concentrations, hearths, ceremonial sites, skeletal remains, modified trees, middens and fish traps. Several areas of high and moderate archaeological potential were also identified. The project successfully assessed the proposed measures and identified recommendations for further assessment and management of the archaeological and cultural resource which serve to guide the future trajectory of the project.


– Background research
– GIS integration into predictive models
– Extensive survey
– Consultation with TOs

"The Menindee Lakes project was a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only work with Barkindji Traditional Owners on Country and learn about culture but also within an amazing environment filled with archaeology. The openness with how the Traditional Owners shared and entrusted their knowledge with the team and the sheer number of sites is an experience that will never be forgotten"

Nicole MonkSenior Archaeologist, Austral