Professor Jo McDonald
Jo is one of Australia’s most distinguished Aboriginal rock art experts. A specialist in Indigenous archaeology, she has been recording rock art for almost 40 years and is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research & Management at The University of Western Australia.
Starting her career working on the rock art of Kakadu in Australia’s Northern Territory in 1986, Jo has researched rock art sites around the world including in Nevada and California. Her recent research projects have been on Murujuga (The Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia), where she works closely with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. As well as documenting thousands of rock art panels across the outer islands of the archipelago – and being on the team which found the first submerged site on the continental shelf in Murujuga’s sea country and the earliest stone houses in Australia (8,000 years old) – her analysis of the rock art and stone structures in the Dampier Archipelago led to their inclusion on the National Heritage List.
Before entering academia in 2012, she was a leading cultural heritage management practitioner. Jo is part of the International Getty-based Rock Art Network, and advises State and Federal Governments on matters around local, national and international rock art management. She has given a TedX talk on why rock art is so important and is a strong advocate for the protection of rock art as an Australian national asset.