Melinda Loe and Annerose de Jong

How we teach archaeology to kids at The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre including a tour of The Big Dig site

Archaeological excavation of the Cumberland/Gloucester Street site undertaken in 1994 recovered evidence of the lives of more than a thousand people who lived, worked and died at the site from the earliest years of the colony through to the resumption of the area by the NSW state government in 1901. The stories of those who lived here, some of three quarters of a million artefacts found on site and the remains of structures such as cesspits, houses and lanes are key resources used in The Big Dig Archaeology Education Programs.

In 2009 Sydney Harbour YHA commissioned Louise Zarmati (Zarwood Education) to develop five archaeology education programs to respond to the learning needs of student visitors aged 5 to 18 years. The programs are based on current research on teaching and learning historical thinking and are aligned to the NSW history and HSIE syllabuses and the forthcoming Australian Curriculum: History. Sydney Learning Adventures, the educational unit of Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, is responsible for delivering the programs and engaging students in learning by guiding them through the process of analysing archaeological evidence and telling the stories of the inhabitants.

This session offers a ‘snapshot’ of the on-site components of The Big Dig education programs presented by Sydney Learning Adventures to student visitors. Guides will work with groups of 8-10 symposium participants who will have the opportunity to experience this unique site from a student’s perspective and learn about the history and archaeology of The Big Dig from those at the ‘coal face’ of program delivery.

Sydney Learning Adventures (NSW)
Sydney Learning Adventures link


Melinda Loe is the Museum and Education Manager for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. Her role includes management of Sydney Learning Adventures and The Rocks Discovery Museum and interpretation strategic development for The Rocks and Darling Harbour. Melinda’s background includes primary and ESOL teaching, guiding on Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, exhibition development at The Rocks Discovery Museum and education program development at Te Papa Tongarewa – the Museum of New Zealand – and Sydney Learning Adventures. In 2010 Melinda was awarded the Interpretation Australia Silver Award for Excellence for development of The Rocks Discovery Museum.

Annerose de Jong has been a performer and Drama teacher for the past twenty-five years. She has always had a passion for history and since joining the Sydney Learning Adventures team— first as an Education Guide and more recently as Guide Team Leader?Annerose has been able to nurture and develop a greater understanding of archaeology and local history. For Sydney Learning Adventures Annerose has created education programs, scripts for special projects, self-guided tours, an audio tour, costumes and program resources. She has a particular interest in creating resources for students to use in education programs. At times her carefully-aged mock-documents have almost fooled even the most experienced of archaeologists!