An ancient meeting place dating back almost 20,000 years is being excavated by staff and students from The University of Western Australia at Albany, 390km south of Perth.
The archaeology team is working on the Kalgan Hall site in collaboration with the local Aboriginal community, who knew it by the Noongar name Kalganup.
The team of 50, including third-year students who will undertake the field work as part of their final year of training, will also excavate nearby Old Farm, Strawberry Hill, Western Australia's oldest farm originally built in 1831.
UWA Discipline Chair of Archaeology, Professor Alistair Paterson, said Kalgan (situated 17km north-east of Albany) was considered to be a meeting place for the Menang people and was first used at least 19,000 years ago.
Associate Professor Joe Dortch, Director of UWA's Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting Centre, said the excavations at Kalgan Hall had been driven by the local Indigenous community.
"They are interested in finding out how old the site really is and how the environment has changed over time," Professor Dortch said.
"Kalgan Hall was a significant location for people in the past, perhaps related to the site being where the river met the salt water from Oyster Harbour, and was dated to 19,000 years ago in an earlier excavation.
"We're planning to use modern dating techniques to better date the site and to explore for evidence of how the landscape use has changed over time."
The work is partly funded by an Inspiring Australia grant, "From fire-stick farming to the friendly frontier: landscape change at Albany, WA".
One of the oldest standing buildings in the State, Old Farm, Strawberry Hill was the site of the first farm in Western Australia and is a major tourist attraction.
"The original farmhouse was first built in 1831 but destroyed by fire in 1870," Professor Paterson said. "We're aiming to find the remains of two buildings that were built as part of the farm in the early 1830s but burnt down in the 1870s."
Researchers would also use archaeobotany, the study of plant remains in archaeology, to look for evidence of early farming and gardens, Professor Paterson said.
Known as Barmup by the Noongar people of Albany, Old Farm is also a significant site for local Aboriginal people, who used it before British settlers arrived.
The project is supported by the National Trust (WA) which is preparing to mark the 50-year anniversary of it taking responsibility for the nationally significant Old Farm, Strawberry Hill, on behalf of the community.
Professor Alistair Paterson (UWA Chair of Archaeology) (+61 8) 6488 2867 / (+61 4) 01 154 454
Sarah Murphy (National Trust WA) (+61 4) 19 951 454
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783