Pacific Highway Upgrade – Archaeology
The Pacific Highway Upgrade represents one of the largest road infrastructure projects in NSW in recent years. The improvements aimed to support regional development and deliver better road safety, reduced travel time and greater transport efficiency for local communities.
As part of Niche Environment and Heritage’s role as lead environmental consultant for RMS on the Pacific Highway upgrade, we completed an archaeological investigation of a c1840s hut site at Kundabung, NSW.
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.
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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 insitu deposits, and archaeological monitoring of a 10 metre area extending from the test excavation area.
Several sections of the study area were identified as containing ecological constraints such as habitat features and native vegetation. Multiple areas of Golden Sun Moth habitat of varying quality were also identified throughout the study area. This species is endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act and critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
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.
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