Pacific Highway Upgrade Archaeological Investigation

Project outline

The Pacific Highway upgrade is one of the largest road infrastructure projects in NSW.  The improvements support regional development and deliver better road safety, reduced travel time and greater transport efficiency for local communities. The upgrade project is expected to be completed in 2017.

As part of Niche Environment and Heritage’s role as lead environmental consultant for RMS on the Pacific Highway upgrade, we recently completed an archaeological investigation of a c1840s hut site at Kundabung, NSW.

Our role

The archaeological site, originally thought to be a former coach station, was identified to RMS by a local resident prior to the commencement of construction of the Kundabung to Kempsey section of the upgrades.

Niche’s archaeology team conducted a test excavation at the site and archaeological relics were identified – these included the remains of a timber slab hut with brick floor, a 15m long open drain, three possible rubbish pits and evidence of at least two former fence lines – triggering the need to conduct further salvage and monitoring.

“The purpose of the investigations was to recover as much information as possible about former occupation and use of the timber slab hut,” explains Fiona Leslie, Principal heritage consultant and Excavation Director.

The archaeological investigation involved two strategies:

    • Archaeological salvage of a number of in?situ deposits.
    • Archaeological monitoring of a 10 metre area extending from the test excavation area.

High quality multidisciplinary environmental services for road projects


Our investigations determined that the hut was built between 1835 and 1843 by Convicts assigned to William McGarvie, a local Scotsman who moved to Australia in 1828. In addition to the main hut, a possible associated farm building and a former stockyard were also identified.

The results of the investigations confirmed that archaeological remains at the site were significant at a local level for their historical heritage value, research value and rarity.

The artefacts and full heritage report – which provide an interesting insight into the use of the hut and the lives of its former occupants – can be viewed at Macleay Valley Historical Society in Kempsey.

Expert environmental services for road projects

Niche’s team has significant experience and expertise in the delivery of high quality multidisciplinary environmental services to road projects, coupled with detailed knowledge of the relevant federal and NSW legislation. To find out how we can support your project, contact us.

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Archaeological excavation

Archaeological excavation

Archaeological excavation