PastMasters Home Page
Welcome to the PastMasters website - in 2022 it will be a decade since Ian McIntosh & Mike Owen attended the Macassan History Symposium at ANU in Canberra and decided that as nobody had troubled to investigate the find site of Australia's oldest foreign artefacts then we would just have to do it ourselves.
With a couple of Ian's archaeological friends from his Territory Days, Tim Stone & Michael Hermes and much help from Minelab Metal Detectors & Australian Geographic - amongst many others - within 18 months we boarded the Hama Pearl in Gove at last light and awoke in the Wessels Islands to begin the quest for the Kilwa Coins.
Since then we have pursued Australian Contact History through workshops, publications, expeditions and collaborations which - along with much else besides - are detailed in the following web pages.
Ancient Coins in Arnhemland Expedition 2013
Day 1. Hosts Dhimurru Rangers - visit & advise on management of Wurrwurrwuy Stone Pictures - demo metal detectors.
Day 2. Workshop at Dhimurru Ranger Station - Field demonstration for Rangers & Norforce at Melville Bay.
Day 3. Arrive Djinjan at Jensen Bay in Wessel Islands
Day 4. Move up to Jensen's Camp - rock art and metal detector survey - seaward landing - Rocks Awash Reef
Day 5. Survey Jensen Bay creeks and foreshore.
Day 6. Cape Wessel - Cau Can 2 - Jensen Island - Trafalgar Bay & Double Island Bay.
Day 7. OSL beach dating - Japanee Creek.
Day 8. At Gove - Denouement & Debrief with Dhimurru Rangers & TO at Gove.
Significant finds - ship's knee that led to HMAS Patricia Cam - evidence of export of iron ore - long nails brought by Macassans - OSL beach dating - copper screw made into Oyster knife - WW2 redoubt & .55 Boys Rifle cartridge and rock art imager that later examination using D'Stretch software would reveal perhaps the earliest vessels to visit Australia being the whale hunters of Yolngu oral history.
Elcho Island Past Muster
Elcho Island Past Muster 2014 - How much history can we muster on Elcho Island in 7 days?
Day 1. Metal Detector survey Mission Beach spring - fish cold store - kids metal detecting by church.
Day 2. Adjustment Monument - boat building & fish processing site - kids metal detecting on beach - chain from Naphtha Mine engine - Shepherdson sawmill blade - beam engine wheel & site of Naphtha Mine.
Day 3. Gawa Outstation - school presentation to staff - MD demo at school and beach survey - WW2 fuel tank in sand dune - 22 Days site.
Day 4. Barge Landing - Black Rocks with Marthakal Rangers - Shepherdson College presentation & MD demo in sandpit.
Day 5. Mission Beach Chinese Cash Coin, 1st found on the islands - Fossil Beach - Macassan Site.
Day 6. Last remaining early 'Native' mission house documented - Pleistocene Dune discovered.
Day 7. Shoal Bay - Boustead Jar discussions with finder Billy Boustead
Shoal Bay & Dundee Beach Expedition
Shoal Bay & Dundee Beach Expedition 2015
Day 1. Nightcliff stone fish traps in Port Darwin.
Day 2. Rapid Creek cyclone landfill & 19th century mission weir.
Day 3. Ancient Shorelines and Shell Mounds in Shoal Bay.
Day 4. Find site of the Boustead Jar with Billy Boustead - 3 piece 19th century wine bottles.
Day 5. Dundee Beach find site of the 2nd Swivel Gun - subsequently lost.
Tiwi Islands Expedition
Tiwi Islands Expedition 2016
Day 1. Public Presentation at Museum & Art Gallery of NT
Day 2. Bathurst Island - mission precinct
Day 3. Carslow Beach with Milikapiti Rangers - 1705 Dutch landing & well site.
Day 4. Macassan Weir & fish trap with Land Council Chairman Gibson Farmer and TO's - WW2 jetty - Taracumbi Falls polished axe.
Day 5. Fort Dundas 1824-29
Day 6. Dundee Beach community presentation at club - Doukas bronze swivel gun - invite locals to bring finds.
Day 8. Presentation at Dundee Beach foreshore - community engagement & sensitising to presence of archaeology.
Port Essington & Escape Cliffs Expedition
Port Essington & Escape Cliffs Expedition 2017
Day 1. Escape Cliffs - plot coastal erosion - identify bricks as recovered from Victoria Settlement.
Day 3 & 4. Record Point - discover location of well where 'coins' scattered by JS Roe in 1824.
Day 5. Victoria Settlement - locate Macassan site - plot cemetery - identify Lambrick family in UK.
Day 6. Seven Spirit Bay & Black Point Ranger Station - Macassan anchor and ballast - discuss finds with Rangers.
Day 7 & 8. Trepang Bay - extensive Macassan presence - middens - graves - find mid 19th century uniform buttons x Fort Victoria.
Wessels Islands Rock Art & Radar Expedition
Wessels Islands Rock Art & Radar Expedition with Flinders University 2018
Day 1. Elcho Island - meeting of TO's at Marthakal Rangers Station
Day 2. Hopeful Bay - rock art survey locates rock shelter containing image of axes and Flinders' ship HMS Cumberland
Day 3. Australians Bay - record Indonesian flotsam - affix plaque commemorating Flinders meeting Yolngu & gifting axes to 'the Australians'.
Day 4. Pat Cam beach in Gurraka Bay affix plaque commemorate where survivors came ashore & where Percy Cameron & Milirrma Marika were buried.
Day 5. Jensen Bay - TV show 'Coast' - Elder Cave rock art
Day 6. With 'All 4 Adventure' & Rangers discover location of 312RS Radar Station camp where Isenberg was serving when he found the Kilwa coins in 1945.
Wet Season Wessels on the Wildcard Expedition
Wessels on the Wildcard Expedition 2019
Day 1- 4. Magnetometry search for the wreck of HMAS Patricia Cam.
Day 5. Detailed survey of island in Gurraka Bay and environs.
Day 6 & 7. Through Cumberland Strait up to Triple B Bay - Sea Caves
Day 8 & 9. Burston Bay - discover previously unrecorded 109ka beach front.
Day 10 & 11. English Company Islands - discover Macassan watering site where Flinders met Pobassoo in 1804 & shared a bottle of red.