State Library of South Australia logo Mountford-Sheard Collection
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Camp, Yirrkala
Title : Camp, Yirrkala Camp, Yirrkala View More Images

(Selection of Yirrkala campsite)

Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Mountford, Charles P., photographer
Source : PRG 1218/35/1376
Date of creation : 1948
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 25 x 35 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

Campsite of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land in Yirrkala, 1948.

Attached, is an entry from the journal of C.P. Mountford. 20 June, 1948.

According to Mountford, some of the Expedition party had suggested the abandoned station at Gove Airstrip as a potential location to set up camp. Mountford however, was convinced the beach at Yirrkala would be a better location, but decided to fly out from Groote Eylandt to inspect them both and make a final decision. There must have been some recent disquiet in the party, as Mountford indicated that it was prudent for him to consider both camps "especially after the politics of [Smithsonian anthropologist] Setzler."

The trip, made uncomfortable by illness, confirmed Mountford's initial belief - he dismissed the Gove location as unsuitable.
"The old Gove station is in a ramshackle state. The kitchen and dining room were in good order, but all the other buildings were devoid of walls, some even of roofs... Also, all the water required by the party would have to be carried from Yirkalla [sic], a hundred gallons a day. The final aspect however that decided me against Gove was that, should the motor vehicles fail, we would be isolated from water, and our work."

"Yirrkala camp is on the beach, a sandy camp, with water near at hand and the [Aboriginal's] camp within a half a mile. The supplies can be unloaded direct on the beach and there is no danger of being isolated on account of the failure of the motor vehicles. So, I decided on Yirrkala."

Journal entry is from PRG 1218/17/13
Coverage year : 1948
Place : Yirrkala
Region : Northern Territory
Further reading :

American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, (1948). Records of the American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land, Melbourne : Melbourne University Press, 1956-1964

Lamshed, Max. 'Monty' : the biography of C.P. Mountford, Adelaide : Rigby, 1972

May, Sally K. Collecting cultures : myth, politics, and collaboration in the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition, Lanham, Md. : AltaMira Press, 2010

National Geographic Magazine, vol. 96, no. 6, 1949, pp. 745-782, 'Exploring Stone-age Arnhem Land' by Charles P. Mountford.

Internet links :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on