Historical excavations at Civic Place, Wollongong


Client: ADM Architects and Piruse Constructions

Location: Burrelli Street, Wollongong, NSW

Date: 2017-2020

Services provided

  • Statement of Heritage Impact
  • Archaeological Research Design and Excavation Methodology
  • Application for Excavation Permit under the Heritage Act 1977
  • Salvage Excavation Report
  • Heritage Interpretation Plan
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment
  • Aboriginal community consultation
  • Application for Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974


Biosis was commissioned to undertake historical archaeological excavations following the successful application for an Excavation Permit under the Heritage Act 1977, which was supported by a Statement of Heritage Impact prepared for the site. The project involved a rotating team of archaeologists revealing, identifying and recording archaeological features from the mid-19th to 20th century. High level coordination of on-site resources and team members was required to ensure that works could be undertaken in an effective manner.

During excavations, an unexpected Aboriginal artefact was recovered. This resulted in the requirement for an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment, along with Aboriginal community consultation and an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit application. Biosis promptly and effectively completed these works to ensure minimal delays to the project.

Following completion of the excavations, artefact analysis and a salvage excavation report was completed to meet the conditions of the Excavation Permit. Biosis also prepared and implemented a Heritage Interpretation Plan and a display of selected artefacts from the excavations.


The archaeological excavations identified archaeological features dating from 1839 to the mid-20th century. Most notably, the earlier findings included a stone and timber cottage (dated to 1839-1887) and associated outbuildings, a separate brick kitchen (dated to 1839-1887), a cesspit (dated to 1887), water tank (dated to 1887) and a timber drainage feature (dated to 1887). The Salvage Excavation Report concluded that the archaeology uncovered at this site was of local heritage significance.

The unexpected Aboriginal artefact, a proximal flake of petrified wood, was identified within a disturbed context, with the entire area having been subject to archaeological excavation previously. However, in accordance with requirements under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, Heritage NSW was notified of the find and an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment commenced. Discussions with the registered Aboriginal parties contributed to an assessment of cultural, historic, scientific and aesthetic values. The result of the assessment considered the artefact to have low significance.

A Heritage Interpretation Plan was developed based on the findings at Civic Place. Biosis proposed interpretive devices and prepared text, images and artefacts for display, with a design team developing signage artwork.

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