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Town Marie Historic Site
Queensland, Australia



Join a historical archaeology expedition at the site of Town Marie in southeast Queensland, where evidence of pioneering entrepreneurship and transportation technology are being actively excavated. In this field school, you will learn the principles of archaeology, experience hands-on excavation, field recording, artefact recovery, cataloguing and site interpretation.

 On site, you can expect to uncover fragments of 19th century life, including historic glass, animal bone, brick, ceramic, coins, and metal, including wrought iron tie rods, an architectural staple created in the early 1800s and still used to this day! This site provides an insight into the lives of forgotten people: the ones who didn’t make it into the history books.

In the mid-19th century, Town Marie was a significant industrial site related to the early socioeconomic development of the Bremer River near Ipswich. This area supported a ‘boiling down works’ which rendered the fat from animal carcasses to produce tallow, which was included in many products such as soap and candles. The site also had its own tramway to transport materials that were delivered from the Bremer River and a sawmill with associated buildings including a house for the owner-manager and workers cottages for accommodation for employees.


Most current residents in the area are unaware that land between Junction Road to the Bremer River and beyond the western end of South Queensborough Parade was a thriving self-contained small industrial village between 1848 and 1880, therefore excavations at this site will help illuminate the important local history that made this area what it is today.


The project is led by the Everick Foundation, a charity which provides an avenue for Aboriginal communities and educational facilities to engage with opportunities in Australian archaeological and cultural heritage research, outreach and learning.

What to Expect:

No archaeological experience is required!


Workdays will start at 8:00am and conclude at 4:30pm with breaks for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.


During the course of the excavation, you will be instructed in a variety of important practical training in archaeological methods, including:

  • Tools for site prediction, including register searches, historic aerials, vegetations and soils mapping, site formation processes, and predictive modelling

  • Survey techniques, including map reading, GPS and dumpy and ground penetrating radar

  • Site grid trench layout

  • Hand excavation, sieving for artefacts

  • Artefact recovery, cataloguing and photography

  • Stratigraphy and section drawing

  • Field recording and drawing

  • Historical context and overall site interpretation


A general level of fitness is necessary for archaeological excavations, such as walking short distances, walking up and down steps, kneeling, lifting buckets, and sitting on the ground. Artefact sieving and processing can be done while seated. We will do our best to accommodate all levels of fitness and mobility.


All activities will occur outdoors, subject to winter or spring weather, and shade is provided.

What's Included in the Cost:


During the program you will receive expert instruction and training from professional archaeologists. All equipment used on the excavation will be provided by Everick Foundation, including a resource booklet and participant workbook. Included each day is morning and afternoon tea and lunch.


Price does not include breakfast and dinner, flights, accommodation, or daily transportation to and from site.

What to Bring:

Morning and afternoon tea, lunch and beverages will be provided each day. Please bring a cup for beverages and any snacks of your own.


When working outside, it’s best to keep yourself protected from the elements, therefore all participants are asked to wear:

  • Long pants

  • Long shirt

  • Hat

  • Boots

  • Sunscreen is recommended


Also, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, proof of vaccination is required for all participants. 


Serena Love
Principal Research Archaeologist
Everick Foundation

  1. What makes your site significant?
    We find it fascinating that an estate that was once integral to the early industrialisation and entrepreneurship of Ipswich can be missing from current local and state heritage registers. Though it looks like a nondescript paddock on the surface, if you take a closer look there are ample archaeological opportunities to explore the hidden remains of Town Marie. We have the chance to reintroduce this site into collective memory and allow new generations to appreciate its contributions to the Ipswich of today.​

    Additionally, this location is an excellent site for a field school since it provides participants with a unique understanding of site formation processes. Much of southeast Queensland exists on a flood plain and extreme flooding events occur at least once every century. In previous years, we have been able to encounter distinct flood deposits and discuss their stratigraphic signatures and what this means when analysing the artefacts we find and interpreting the site as a whole.

  2. What has been your most rewarding find at this site? 
    Participants in 2021 particularly enjoyed finding an early 1800s penny. Australia’s currency system underwent decimalisation in the mid-20th century but before this time we used the same system as the British, being part of their empire. Though the penny is particularly worn, the participants spent hours trying to decipher the design and text. Coins are particularly special for archaeologists because they provide a useful relative date for a stratigraphic layer. If the coin was minted in 1823, one can often assume that the contents of the layer can be dated to 1823 or later. This deduction is called a terminus post quem and being able to give the participants a real-life example of this well-known principle is very rewarding! The coin sparked so much interest that Everick Foundation has invested in Reflectance Transformation Imaging, or RTI, technology, so we can hopefully learn as much as we can about the coin. RTI involves capturing several images of the artefact, using varying degrees of light and shadow, to produce a digital reproduction of the object, which can reveal small subtleties often imperceivable in stelae, illuminated manuscripts, hieroglyphics and now coins!

Age, Period or Culture:   
Historic Australia, approximately 19th century

2022 Dates
5-day experience:

July 4-8

September 19-23

September 26 to 30

5-day experience
$910 AU

Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change. 


2022 Dates

11-day experience

June 20-July 1

July 11-22

August 8-19

11-day experience
$1,820 AU

Clicking the above link will take you directly to this dig's page.

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