Dr Mick Morrison

Fieldwork, Pilbara 2010
Department of Archaeology
Phone: +61 8 82015906
Location: Humanities (273)
Postal address: GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia


Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours), James Cook University
Doctor of Philosophy (Archaeology), Flinders University


Teaching interests

In 2014 I am on Study Leave for Semester 1 and I recommence teaching in Semester 2. Information about the topics I teach in Semester 2 can be found at the links below:

ARCH2106/ARCH8801: Archaeological Field Methods (Undergraduate and Graduate versions)

ARCH8021: Introduction to Professional Archaeology (Graduate version only)

ARCH3205/ARCH8406 : Issues in Indigenous Archaeology (Undergraduate and Graduate versions)

Research and supervision

Research expertise

  • Archaeology

Research interests

My research focuses on the archaeological investigation of Aboriginal political economy  through the historical period and into the pre-contact past. I also have an active research interest in Aboriginal Caring for Country frameworks and holistic approaches to heritage management.

My principal research interest focuses upon questions surrounding the use of marine shellfish by Aboriginal people during the past 2,500 years at Weipa, western Cape York and this was the subject of my PhD. I am interested in the economic strategies that Aboriginal people employed through the past several thousand years in tropical coastal Australia and what these reveal about broader characteristics of Aboriginal societies at this time. I have recently commenced a new field project targetting previously investigated shell mound sites in the Weipa region.

My second key research interest is how Aboriginal political economies changed in association with the arrival of Europeans in western Cape York Peninsula, and in particular, Moravian and later Presbyterian Missionaries from the 1890s onwards. This has included extensive oral history and cultural mapping work extending over a decade as well as archaeological survey and excavation work. I am interested in the way that Aboriginal political economies were influenced (and were influenced by) the establishment of the missions, particularly through changing ways that both Church and State engaged with Indigenous Australians in the late 19th and early 20th Century. My present focus in 2014 is publishing results of work conducted between 2008-2011

A relatively new (2013) project I am involves working with other researchers and Alngith People (Weipa) and to establish a framework for establishing a caring for country program. This is based on a qualitative research approach.

For a more comprehensive overview please see http://mickmorrison.com

Supervisory interests

  • Coastal archaeology
  • Contact archaeology
  • Indigenous archaeology
  • Indigenous heritage issues

RHD research supervision


Principal supervisor: Indigenous Archaeology (Australia) (2);

Associate supervisor: Cultural heritage management (Australia) (1); Cultural heritage management (international) (1); Indigenous ethnoecology and ecological values (1);


Refereed journal articles
  • Morrison, M. (2013). Niche production strategies and shell matrix site variability at Albatross Bay, Cape York Peninsula. Archaeology in Oceania, 48(2) pp. 78-91. [10.1002/arco.5002]
  • Morrison, M. and Shepard, E.E. (2013). The archaeology of culturally modified trees: Indigenous economic diversification within colonial intercultural settings in Cape York Peninsula, northeastern Australia. Journal of Field Archaeology, 38(2) pp. 143-160. [10.1179/0093469013Z.00000000044]
  • Morrison, M.J. (2013). From scatter to mound: A new developmental model for shell mound sites at Weipa. QUEENSLAND ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 16 pp. 165-184. [Link]
  • Morrison, M., Shepard, E.E., McNaughton, D. and Allen, K. (2012). New approaches to the archaeological investigation of culturally modified trees: a case study from western Cape York Peninsula. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 35 pp. 17-51. [Link]
  • Morrison, M., McNaughton, D. and Shiner, J. (2010). Mission-based Indigenous production at the Weipa Presbyterian Mission, western Cape York Peninsula (1932-1966) International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 14(1) pp. 86-111. [10.1007/s10761-009-0096-8]
  • Shiner, J. and Morrison, M. (2009). The contribution of heritage surveys towards understanding the cultural landscape of the Weipa bauxite plateau. Australian Archaeology, 68 pp. 52-55. [Link]
  • Morrison, M. (2003). Old boundaries and new horizons: the Weipa shell mounds reconsidered. Archaeology in Oceania, 1 pp. 1-8.
Journal articles
  • Roberts, A. and Morrison, M. (2013). Editorial. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 37 pp. ii-ii.
Other public research outputs
  • Morrison, M. and ULm, S. (2013). Co-Editor. North of 20 Degrees: Recent Archaeological Research in North Queensland. University of Queensland: Queensland Archaeological Research. 16[Link]
  • Roberts, A. and Morrison, M. (2013). Co-Editor. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia - Special Edition Aboriginal Missions. Adelaide: Anthropolgoical Society of South Australia. 37

Professional and community engagement

A central element of my research philosophy is that ethical and socially valuable results can only be generated in the context of projects that draw inspiration, motivation and purpose from community priorities and concerns. The ability to carry out research is a privilege and as researchers we should actively seek to address questions and further knowledge in areas that can contribute to the needs and aspirations of communities or specific interest groups, particularly where these groups are marginalised in the present.

Most of my research focuses upon the western Cape York Peninsula region, particularly around the townships of Napranum and Weipa where I've worked closely with community members since 2000. I am currently a cultural adviser for the Alngith Corporation (voluntary) and facilitate a range of small to medium projects via collaboration with the Alngith Caring for Land and Sea Country Committee. I regularly involve students in this work, as volunteers, as paid research assistants and as researchers completing thesis components of Honours, Graduate or Postgraduate Degrees.

inspiring achievement