Beacon Island Virtua: A Digital 3D Representation

Australian Archaeological Association 2015 Conference
December 2015

Paul Bourke (University of New South Wales), Jeremy Green (Western Australian Museum)

See also: Beacon virtual environment
Beacon Island


The wreck site of the Dutch East India Company Batavia (1629) has long been associated with terrestrial archaeological sites on the islands adjacent to the site. It is known from the journal of the commander of the ship, Francisco Pelsaert of the events that took place on these islands. Numerous people including men women and children were brutally murdered by a group of mutineers. In the 1950s, Beacon Island was occupied by people involved in the fishing industry. Problems arose between the requirements of maintaining the industry and the management of the archaeology of Australia's oldest European habitation site including damage to a mass grave. The WA Museum has responsibility for these sites under both State and Federal legislation. As a result of the developing problems on Beacon Island negotiations were undertaken to relocate the fishers from the Island. While this was underway the Museum obtained a Your Community Heritage grant to start recording the buildings and their heritage significance with the objective that when the fishers were relocated the buildings would be demolished and it would be important to record these buildings for posterity. In 2013 The University of Western Australia was awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage grant called Shipwrecks of the Roaring 40s. The aim of this grant is to investigate new technologies that are available since the work of the WA museum in the 1970s and 80s. It was decided to incorporate this heritage project as part of the Roaring 40s with the idea of producing a digital 3D representation of Beacon Island and the fisher's buildings as a method of recording the heritage that existed prior to the demolition. This paper examines the methods and techniques used to record a range of digital assets from the island and the resulting opportunities by which these allow the heritage to be experienced and conveyed in novel and engaging ways.

Presentation slides