This field school is designed to make it possible for participants to learn directly from Aboriginal people in a remote community. It is designed to provide cross-cultural training and cultural awareness to students in archaeology, anthropology, nursing, health sciences, medicine and public health. Students receive one-to-one teaching from community teachers under the overall guidance of Flinders University staff.

This topic will develop students’ abilities to participate in community research work in both an Indigenous and non-Indigenous context. Students will be required to employ skills to an advanced level by working with a community member to produce a product that is of value to the community. These community products may include site maps, artefact recording, oral histories, and directed studies relating to health and wellbeing. The form is often a plain English report or poster.

Flinders University Topic Code: ARCH 8810

Download the topic guide


The Aboriginal Community Field School is held in Barunga Community, in the Northern Territory.

Barunga is located approximately 80km south-east of the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory. It hosts an annual Sports and Culture Festival and is home to people from a range of different language groups. The Barunga-Wugularr area belongs to the Bugula clan lands of the Jawoyn Aboriginal people.

The Barunga region is rich in rock art and famous nationally for the Barunga Statement: a national Aboriginal political request written on bark and presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1988. The Barunga Statement called for Aboriginal self-management, a national system of land rights, compensation for loss of lands, respect for Aboriginal identity, an end to discrimination, and the granting of full civil, economic, social and cultural rights.


All accommodation at Barunga is camping only. This means that you will need to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, towel etc. You will be sharing communal showers and toilets, which you will all be involved in helping to clean and maintain during your stay. The cost of camping is included in your field fee.

The cost of food is also included in your camp fee so you will not be required to purchase food; however, you must pay for your own personal purchases and non-essentials such as snacks. You will all be expected to cook for the camp on at least one night during the field school, and you must also prepare your own lunches every day. Cooking facilities include a BBQ, a small portable gas stove, camp ovens, electric rice cookers, an electric frying pan, pots, pans, knives and various cooking utensils.

There is a fridge which will store all field school food needing refrigeration. This is often very full, and communal foods will always be given priority over personal purchases. If you have medication that requires refrigeration, please contact the staff so they can arrange a space for you.

We will have access to electricity; however, personal use will be limited to charging laptops, phones and other necessary devices. A small open-air office space will be made available for preparing and producing your assignments. This will include printers, binders, scissors, tape, etc.

What to bring

Due to space restrictions in 4WDs, baggage will be limited to one main bag, one computer bag, and one small backpack per person.

This is a list of items you should bring with you.

  • Work health and safety equipment:
    • Clothing (see below)
    • Boots (see below)
    • Hat (wide brim)
    • Sunglasses
    • 1-2 Litre water bottle
    • Sunscreen (recommended minimum SPF30+)
    • Mosquito repellent (strong)
  • Camping equipment:
    • Bedding (pillow, sheets or a sleeping bag and a light blanket)
    • Swag or tent
    • Torch/flashlight (optional)
  • Fieldwork equipment:
    • Field notebook (A5 size, hardcover with solid spine, not spiral binding; required for assessment)
    • Laptop (or equivalent with a compatible Word processor for assignments)
    • Stationary (pens, pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, ruler)
    • Small backpack (for carrying to sites)
    • Mobile phone (optional; Telstra service only in Barunga)
    • Camera (optional)
    • Powerbank/portable battery (optional)
    • All necessary device chargers
  • Personal hygiene and medical items:
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Female hygiene products (tampons etc.)
    • Deodorant
    • Shampoo and conditioner
    • Soap
    • Razor
    • Personal medication (e.g. EpiPen, antihistamines, Ventolin, paracetamol etc.)
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Photographs of family and friends to share with our hosts
    • Spending money (to purchase any souvenirs)

The following is a guide to the type of clothing you will need (remembering that temperatures will be around 33C during the day, but can be cold at night). We normally have access to one washing machine at the camp site; however, we will have to check its condition for this year. While we will strive to check as soon as possible, aim to pack a reasonable amount of clothing in the event that it will not be available.

For work health and safety reasons, you should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes when we are out in the field. Please also be mindful of community standards and dress appropriately and modestly while in the field or at camp.

  • Long sleeve shirts (sun and mosquito protection)
  • Comfortable pants/jeans (skinny or tight fitting is not recommended)
  • Sturdy walking/hiking boots (must cover ankles)
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts and/or skirts (covers the knees)
  • Jumpers/sweaters (nights can get chilly)
  • Socks and underwear
  • Slip-on shoes/thongs/sandals (for the evenings)
  • One towel/sarong
  • Bathers (men and women should bring a summer dress/shorts and t-shirt to wear over bathers for swimming)