Flinders University 2007 Field School
in Underwater Archaeology
10 February 2007
By David Kalinowski
Memories of the previous evenings festivities, BBQ, beer and interesting conversation kindly provided by Armsfield Slipway, drift gently into and out of my consciousness. The evening had degraded to saltwater in beer and loud boisterous language but nonetheless was one of the more memorable moments thus far at the caravan park. I am rousted and returned to lucidity by Claire's anxious driving and I find myself hurriedly being shuttled to Hindmarsh Island for the day’s activities. "Where's Skippy?" David Van Zant asks. Though not yet annoying, David's questionnaire about the lack of the well known marsupial had become essential to Green teams' morning routine.
The showboat Ada and Clara.
Quiet, sleepy towns fade away to rolling countryside and we soon find ourselves on dusty less traveled roads of the island. The site, overlooking the Younghusband peninsular and the Murray mouth initially looks plain but all in all pleasant and relaxing to the senses. The Green team, like others before us, had been promised a boat, and sloppy muddy tracks showed the way almost as well as probing search lights at a movie premier. A quick walk about the site ushered in the realization the day would be spent mostly on the tidal flats and mud and water would quickly usurp any initial dryness and comfort. While setting up office, it is quickly realized by all that the previous evening had likely affected our packing skills and the best laid plans quickly unraveled leaving all scratching their heads. We found the total station incomplete, compasses lost, and graph paper plotting to take the day off. Limited scheduling set forth by the lords of the hoard (students) encourage us to act and a plan of action is formulated. Activities are calculated between team members. Site photos a quick mud map and points from the wreck become the plan of action.
In closer inspection we find the remains of the showboat Ada and Clara curious both in appearance and construction. Iron frames weathered from winds, rain, tides and time thrust themselves from the mud and look as though they could grab any one of us pulling them down into a cold calm and silent blackness. I think it curious how some things so clearly changed from their inception can in a way appear momentarily timeless. A baseline is set along her keelson and Ada and Clara isslowly and steadily carved into sections and measurements throughout the course of the day. Strange creatures wriggle and writhe in tide pools occasionally causing me to break concentration and wonder if I'll remember to wash my hands before scratching my nose. The weather grows colder and the time shorter and soon we find the day's work at an end. Wearily we climb into the truck and I doze and drift into a hazy calm thinking of the hours past. It was a good day.
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