Jo McDonald

Jo McDonald is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at the University of Western Australia.  She holds the endowed Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies. Jo is also an ARC Future Fellow.  For this project she is studying the use of rock art in two of the great deserts of the world: the Western Desert in Australia and the Great Basin in the USA.  Jo also has over 30 years’ experience in cultural heritage management; she was previous the Director of Jo McDonald CHM.  Jo now works on rock art in the Western Desert and Pilbara, in particular on the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga). Working with Aboriginal communities on rock art interpretation and management she is helping to develop new sustainable economies which showcase people’s fabulous rock art, and increase the general public’s awareness about this unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage treasure.  She appeared on the ABC’s First Footprints series discussing the amazing archaeology and rock art of the Sydney region, the focus of her original PhD dissertation (published as Dreamtime Superhighway ANU EPress Terra Australis 27) and researched during her consultancy work in the Sydney region, where she has excavated Sydney oldest site (a 30,000 year old sand body in Parramatta) and the first Australian evidence for ritual punishment by death-spear, with the Narrabeen Man.

Dreamtime Superhighway »

Sydney Basin Rock Art and Prehistoric Information Exchange

Authored by: Jo McDonald
Publication date: August 2008
Dreamtime Superhighway presents a thorough and original contextualization of the rock art and archaeology of the Sydney Basin. By combining excavation results with rock art analysis it demonstrates that a true archaeology of rock art can provide insights into rock art image-making in people’s social and cultural lives. Based on a PhD dissertation, this monograph is a significantly revised and updated study which draws forcefully on rich and new data from extensive recent research—much of it by McDonald herself. McDonald has developed a model that suggests that visual culture—such as rock artmaking and its images and forms—could be understood as a system of communication, as a way of signaling group identifying behaviour. For the archaeologist of art, the anthropologist of art and those of us who try to think about past worlds… this monograph is a must read. Margaret W. Conkey University of California, Berkeley