Staff profile

Dr Jillian Garvey


College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce
Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of Archaeology and History

Melbourne (Bundoora)


BA/BSc Hons (La Trobe); PhD (La Trobe, Zoology)

Membership of professional associations

Australian Archaeological Association (AAA); International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ); Australian Quaternary Association (AQUA), Royal Society of Victoria (RSV)

Area of study


Brief profile

I am an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow investigating human occupation and use of the landscape in the late Quaternary of the central Murray River valley, in northwest Victoria. This long-term landscape archaeology project is based at Neds Corner Station (owned by Trust for Nature) and the adjacent Murray-Sunset National Park. This project seeks to address the gaps in understanding of when Indigenous people first inhabited this region. The aim is to investigate long-term human behavioural response and adaptive strategies to environmental change during the late Pleistocene era, a time of significant climatic variability. It is further hoped that this study will provide important information that will assist in the development of cultural heritage management plans for the region, help to formally register archaeological sites and provide information to the three traditional owner groups: Ngintait, Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri, on whose country this project is based.

I have a particular research focus on zooarchaeology, with formal qualifications in both archaeology and zoology. I have been involved in a variety of archaeology research projects on late Quaternary Australia including: southwest Tasmania; Lake Mungo, NSW; and Cuddie Springs, NSW. I have also worked on faunal assemblages in Middle Palaeolithic China. I have integrated my zoological background into my research on modern Australian vertebrates and invertebrates by conducting experiments including: fatty acid nutritional analyses; economic utility or anatomy experiments; and butchery and cooking experiments. These modern experiments are combined with evidence from the ethnographic record to provide an interpretation of patterns in the archaeological record. I also have extensive teaching experience, having lectured and tutored a variety of archaeology and biology subjects since 1999. With a PhD in palaeontology, I am also interested in studying natural faunal assemblages, and what this can infer about past palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology. In particular I am interested in the causes behind the extinction of Australia's megafauna during the late Pleistocene era.

For regular updates concerning my research please join the Neds Corner Archaeology Project Facebook Group.

Research interests

Archaeology of Australia

- Australian Aboriginal archaeology

- Experimental archaeology

- Landscape archaeology

- Late Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoecology

- Zooarchaeology (vertebrate and invertebrate fauna)

Teaching units

Certificate IV in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management run by Archaeology at La Trobe University. 

I am available to supervise Honours and Higher Degree Students, as well as Individual Reading Subjects at undergraduate level.  


I am a Registered Cultural Heritage Advisor with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. I am a specialist the identification of animal bones (both native and introduced species) and invertebrates

Recent publications



Garvey, J., Blau, S., and Crabtree, K. In Prep. What people think are human bones: Preliminary results from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM)/ La Trobe University animal bone project. Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria. Volume 5.

Buckley, M., Cosgrove, R., and Garvey, J. Submitted June 2016. Species identification of the extinct short-faced kangaroo Simosthenurus and other Australian marsupials using collagen fingerprinting. Plos ONE.

Allen, J., R. Cosgrove and J. Garvey. Submitted September 2015. Optimality Models and the Food Quest in Pleistocene Tasmania. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Garvey, J. In Press. Australian Aboriginal freshwater middens from late Quaternary northwest Victoria: prey choice, economic variability and exploitation. Quaternary International.

Cosgrove R., and Garvey J. In Press. Behavioural inferences from late Pleistocene Australia: seasonality, butchery and nutrition in southwest Tasmania. Albarella, U., Russ, H., Vickers, K. and Viner-Daniels, S (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Zooarchaeology. (Publication date 2016). 

Garvey J., Roberts, G., and Cosgrove, R. 2016. Economic utility and nutritional value of the Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus): evaluating Australian Aboriginal hunting and butchery patterns. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 7:751-763.

Garvey, J. and Perry, D.2015. Lessons from freshwater middens: Archaeological and Traditional Owner perspectives of the importance of these cultural sites from the Central Murray River Valley, northwest Victoria. Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Volume 4:39-42.

Smith, C., Garvey, J., Burke, H., Domingo Sanz, I. 2015. Success strategies for a career in archaeology. Archaeologies: The Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, 11(2):300-336.

Garvey, J. 2013. Palaeoenvironments and human adaptation in the semi-arid Murray River Valley of northwestern Victoria. Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Volume 2:119–124.

Davies P., and Garvey, J. 2013. Early zooarchaeological evidence for Mus musculus in Australia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 23(1):106–111.

Field, J.H., Wroe, S., Trueman, C.N., Garvey, J., and Wyatt-Spratt, S.J. 2013. Looking for the archaeological signature in Australian Megafaunal extinctions Quaternary International 285:76–88.

Garvey, J. 2013. Review of The Australian Heritage Council, Australia’s Fossil Heritage: A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites. Quaternary Australia 30(1):34–36.

Garvey, J. 2011. Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) bone marrow quality vs quantity: evaluating human decision making and seasonal occupation in late Pleistocene Tasmania. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:763–783.

Garvey, J., Cochrane, B., Field, J., and Boney, C. 2011. Emu butchery and economic utility: Implications for understanding Australian zooarchaeology and megafauna extinctions. Environmental Archaeology 16.2: 97–112.

Garvey, J. 2011. Review of Aziz F., Morwood M.J., van den Bergh, G.D. (eds) Pleistocene Geology, Palaeontology and Archaeology of the Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia. Australian Archaeology 72:52–54.

Garvey, J., and Field, J. 2011. Recent studies in Australian palaeoecology and zooarchaeology: a volume in honour of the late Su Solomon. Environmental Archaeology 16(2):79–81.

Garvey, J. 2010. Economic utility of the Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus): implications for understanding human hunting strategies in late Pleistocene Tasmania. Quaternary International 211(1-2):144–156.

Cosgrove, R., Field, J., Garvey, J., Brenner-Coltrain, J., Goede, A., Charles, B., Wroe, S., Pike-Tay, A., Grün, R., Aubert, M., Lees, W., and O'Connell, J. 2010. Overdone overkill – the archaeological perspective on Tasmanian megafaunal extinctions. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(10):2486–2503.

Garvey, J. and Sandy, J.R. 2009. The first record of palaeopathology from the zooarchaeological record of late Pleistocene Tasmania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 19(6):742–748.

Garvey, J. and Hasiotis, S. 2008. An ichnofossil assemblage from the Lower Carboniferous, Snowy Plains Formation, Mansfield Basin, Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 258:257–276.

Pike-Tay, A., Cosgrove, R., and Garvey, J. 2008. Systematic seasonal land use by late Pleistocene Tasmanian Aborigines. Journal of Archaeological Science 35(9): 2532–2544.

Wang, S., Lu, H., Zhang, H., Zhao, J., Cosgrove, R., Yi, S., Sun, X., Wei, M., Garvey, J., and Ma, X. 2008. A preliminary survey of Palaeolithic artifacts and loess deposit in the middle south Luohe River, Eastern Qinling Mountains, central China. Quaternary Sciences 28(6):988–999.

Garvey, J. 2007. Surviving an Ice Age: the zooarchaeology from SW Tasmania. Palaios 22(6):583–585.

Garvey, J. 2007. Ice age wallaby hunters. Australasian Science 28(5):30–33.

Holland, T.M., Warren, A., Johanson, Z., Long, J.A., Parker, K., and Garvey, J. 2007. A new species of Barameda (Rhizodontida) and heterochrony in the rhizodontid pectoral fin. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(2):295–315.

Garvey, J. 2006. Preliminary zooarchaeological interpretations from Kutikina Cave, southwest Tasmania. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2006/1:57–62.

Garvey, J. 2006. An Early Carboniferous Fossil Assemblage from Fish Hill, Mansfield Basin, Australia. The Royal Society of New South Wales 139:63–64.

Garvey, J. and Turner, S. 2006. Microvertebrates from the Early Carboniferous of Mansfield, Australia. Alcheringa 30(1):43–62.

Holland, T.M, Long, J.A., Warren, A., and Garvey, J. 2006. Second specimen of the lower actinopterygian Novogonatodus from the Early Carboniferous of Mansfield, Victoria. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 118(1):1–10.

Harris, J.M. and Garvey, J. 2006. Palaeodistribution of pygmy-possums in Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 140:1–10.

Garvey, J., Johanson, Z., and Warren, A. 2005. Redescription of the pectoral fin of Barameda decipiens from the Early Carboniferous of Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, 25(1):8–18.

Johanson, Z., Burrow, C., Warren, A. and Garvey, J. 2005. Homology of fin lepidotrichia in osteichthyan fishes. Lethaia 38(1):27–36.



Garvey, J. and Perry, D. 2015. Lessons from 20,000 years of life along the Murray River: its cultural significance and future directions for modern rural communities. Transforming Human Societies, Research Focus Area, Mildura Meeting November 13.  

Garvey, J. 2015. Royal Society of Victoria. Megafauna, camels and the Australian desert: The Simpson Desert Palaeontology Expedition. August 27 2015.

Garvey, J. and Cosgrove, R. 2014. Australian Zooarchaeology Workshop. Current issues and future directions in Australian zooarchaeology: the importance of butchery, nutrition and seasonality studies. University of Queensland, Brisbane, May 26-28.

Garvey, J. and Smith, C. 2014. National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC) workshop: Pursuing an academic career in archaeology: volunteering, publishing, grant writing and postdocs.NASC2014, Flinders University, SA, April 2014.  



Garvey, J., Blau, S. and Crabtree, K. 2016. What people think are human bones: Preliminary results from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM)/ La Trobe University animal bone project. Victorian Archaeology Colloquium, February 5, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Frost, E., Garvey, J., and Herries, A. 2016. Faunal analysis of the late Holocene Brown Creek 3 Marine Shell Midden, southwestern Victoria. Victorian Archaeology Colloquium, February 5, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Garvey, J. 2015. The role of native fauna in the diet of Indigenous Australians: implications for understanding the archaeological record. La Trobe University, Early Career Researcher. October 1, 2015.

Garvey, J. and Cosgrove, R. 2015. The role of economic utility and nutritional studies of Australian native fauna in zooarchaeology and palaeontology. Conference on Australasian Vertebrate Evolution Palaeontology and Systematics (CAVEPS), Sep 1-5 2015, Alice Springs. 

Garvey, J. and Perry D. 2015. Lessons from freshwater middens: Archaeological and Traditional Owner perspectives of the importance of these cultural sites from the Central Murray River Valley, northwest Victoria. 2015 Victorian Archaeology Colloquium, February 6, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Garvey, J. and Perry D. 2014. Lessons from freshwater middens: late Quaternary economic faunal resource patterning along the Central Murray River Valley, northwest Victoria. Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Cairns, Queensland, December 1-3.

Garvey, J., Roberts, G., and Cosgrove, R. 2014. Economic utility and nutritional value of the Common wombat: evaluating Australian Aboriginal hunting and butchery patterns. Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Cairns, Queensland, December 1-3.* Poster presentation.

Birkett-Rees, J., Garvey, J., Fall, P., Tumney, J., and Perry, D. 2014. Modelling the past: the application of geospatial analysis to late Quaternary, northwest Victoria. Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Cairns, Queensland, December 1-3.

Manne, T., Garvey, J., Aplin, N., and Cosgrove, R. 2014. Methodological challenges in tropical zooarchaeology. Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Cairns, Queensland, December 1-3.

Silvester, C., Garvey, J., Dillion, E., Lombardo, S., Valka, A., Romano, A., Dinckal, A., Blackwood, A., Campaneli, M., Clarke, J., Clark, D., Dall’Oste, D., and Perry, D. 2014. Identifying Aboriginal hearths in Late Quaternary northwest Victoria: an experimental study to replicate the production of ‘clay ball’ and carbonate nodule heat retainers. Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Cairns, Queensland, December 1-3. * Poster presentation

Garvey, J. 2014. Late Quaternary human occupation and subsistence along the central Murray River corridor, semi-arid northwest Victoria. Australian Quaternary Association Biennial Conference. Mildura, Victoria, 30th June- 3rd July.

Kibble, M. and Garvey J. 2014. New faunal analyses from the late Quaternary fauna from Lake Mungo, NSW. Australian Quaternary Association Biennial Conference. Mildura, Victoria, 30th June- 3rd July.

Stern, N., Crowdler, K., Denham, T., Dillon, E., Garvey, J., Herries, A., Balkis, M., and Fitzsimmons, K. 2014. Insights into life at Lake Mungo during the Last Glacial Maximum. Australian Quaternary Association Biennial Conference. Mildura, Victoria, 30th June- 3rd July.


Research projects


Palaeoenvironments and human adaptation in the Late Quaternary of the semi-arid Murray River Valley, northwestern Victoria.

2013-2018 (Part Time) ARC DE130101816, Jillian Garvey.

This ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award project will address the gaps in our understanding of when Indigenous people first inhabited the semiarid region of the Murray River Valley in northwestern Victoria, and their subsequent long-term behavioural response and adaptive strategies to environmental change during the late Pleistocene- a time of significant climatic variability. It will provide the first integrated investigation of the history and chronology of human settlement, landscape structure, palaeoenvironment and palaeoecology for the region. The second, related significant issue to be addressed is the extinction of Australian megafauna in this region. A preliminary survey in 2009 detected megafaunal remains in the study area and offers the opportunity to address the significant question of megafaunal extinctions. This study will extend and fill the gaps in previous assessment of relevant young, late Pleistocene sites in southeast Australia, with excavations at a new megafaunal and archaeological site at Little Lake WallaWalla in the Murray River Valley. At this site large macropod bones may be associated with numerous stone tools made from a variety of raw materials, middens of the freshwater billabong mussel Velesunio ambiguous, and clay heat retainers. Results will play an important role in helping to predict how the local environment and fauna will respond to the current short and future long-term effects of climate change.  

For regular updates about this project please join the Neds Corner Archaeology Project Facebook Group. 


Well Beaten Paths: the antiquity of Aboriginal land use in eastern Tasmania.

2015-2018 ARC DP150100586, Richard Cosgrove, Jillian Garvey and John Webb.

This ARC DP project examines the archaeology of Aboriginal people in eastern Tasmania. Its major aim is to test two models of Holocene and late Pleistocene land use. It investigates the earliest traces of human occupation in eastern Tasmania and subsequent cultural developments after the apparent abandonment of southwest Tasmanian caves at the end of the ice age. The study aims to strengthen understanding of the impact of geographic connectedness and isolation on Aboriginal populations and the development of Tasmanian Aboriginal society recorded at European contact. Its potential significance lies in contributing to debates on Aboriginal social/economic change and stasis.


Investigating the palaeoecology of the central Murray River Valley corridor: Implications for human occupation and subsistence

2015-2016 LTU Transforming Human Socities Research Focus Area grant, Colin Smith and Jillian Garvey

This project will investigate long term palaeoenvironmental changes during the late Quaternary in the Central Murray River Valley, via a new methodology for studying the stable isotopic signal of proteins in the freshwater mussel Alathyria jacksoni. The results from this modern baseline study will be applied to archaeological midden material excavated from along the Murray River spanning the late Pleistocene and Holocene, enabling us to infer both long-term environmental changes in the river system, and how humans exploited the shells on a seasonal (or otherwise) basis. This project has implications for studying the past occupation and subsequent settlement of Indigenous Australians along the Murray, as well as the modern and future management of Australia’s largest river system. Furthermore, the techniques refined during this study may be applied to other Australian archaeological sites.


Understanding the role of animal bush tucker in Aboriginal diets.

2015 LTU Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area grant, Jillian Garvey and Richard Cosgrove.

Whilst the role of Australian plants in past Aboriginal diets has been well studied and documented, we know very little about animal ‘bush tucker’ and its nutritional value, how it was hunted, butchered and cooked. Ethnographic studies have shown that prey animal butchery and body part division played an important role in tribal social and economic cohesion. This project will be longitudinal, aimed at understanding the hunting, butchery and subsistence behaviour by Aboriginal people over the past 40,000 years. A multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of traditional ethnographic and modern hunting, butchery and cooking techniques will be undertaken. The dietary benefits of key endemic prey species will be recorded through an examination of the nutritional quality of several native animals. It will broaden our understanding of how people survived climatic and environmental change in different geographical regions. Other important outcomes include the potential role of endemic fauna in contemporary diets.


Late Pleistocene cultural and environmental landscape evolution of the semi-arid Mallee region, Victoria

2014 LTU Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area grant, Jillian Garvey and Jessie Birkett-Rees

We are producing a predictive map of the late Pleistocene landscape of northwest Victoria along the south bank of the Murray River through the creation of a high resolution digital elevation model based on LiDAR data.‚Äč Modelling the varied cultural record within an integrated study of landform development and palaeoenvironmental context provides a method by which to address the human occupation and utilisation of one of Australia’s greatest resources, the Murray River. An extension of this investigation into the legacy of human occupation and adaptations to late Pleistocene-Holocene environmental changes is the integration of information on more recent alterations to the Murray River landscape, including the creation of historic pastoral landscapes.


Establishment of an Optimal Foraging Model (OFT) for late Quaternary NW Victoria.

To supplement and enhance our understanding of human subsistence during the late Quaternary of NW Victoria, the taphonomy and palaeoecology of local modern freshwater shellfish species (freshwater river mussel Alathyria jacksoni, freshwater lake mussel shell Velesunio ambiguous and the freshwater snail Notopala hanlei) and their potential as a food source for humans in relation to Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT); how people may utilise potential food resources given different sets of environmental parameters, will be investigated. To develop an OFT model for the study area an innovative combination of: 1) taphonomic analysis of the archaeological midden assemblages; 2) ethnographic and modern studies of shellfish harvesting and cooking and; 3) seasonal analysis of the shellfish nutritional quality will be used. Such combinations have been successfully used to integrate modern studies and archaeological assemblages elsewhere in late Pleistocene Australia (e.g. Pike-Tay, Cosgrove and Garvey 2008; Garvey 2010, 2011; Garvey et al. 2011). It is anticipated that this extensive study will provide significant baseline data that can be used to interpret other freshwater midden assemblages, such as that already developed for archaeological and modern acquisition of marine resources, prehistoric diets and economy in Australia and New Zealand (i.e. Shawcross 1972; Meehan 1977; Anderson 1981; Bird and Bleige Bird 1997). These results will also be compared to the apparently homogenous aquatic resources exploited during the last 27,000 years from middens along the lower Darling River region (Balme 1995) and similar findings from the WLWHA (Allen 1972) to the north of the study area, to see if such a pattern is maintained along the reliably flowing late Quaternary Murray River.


Zooarchaeology of late Pleistocene southwest Tasmania. 

This ongoing research is investigating the rich faunal assemblages from several archaeological cave sites in southwest Tasmania. More than 950,000 bone fragments have now been recorded from south-west Tasmania, providing significant important information on the population structure and palaeoecology of the region during the last ice age. My research has predominately focused on Kutikina Cave on the Franklin River. Excavated by Rhys Jones and colleagues, it is one of Australia’s richest and best known archaeological sites. Taphonomic analysis indicates that people focused on hunting the Bennett’s or Red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), focusing on the larger and meatier hind limbs. The long bones were regularly smashed open to access the nutrient rich bone marrow.



2015-2018 ARC Discovery Project DP150100586 ($356,322). Well beaten paths; the antiquity of Aboriginal land use in eastern Tasmania. (With lead CI Richard Cosgrove and CoCI John Webb).

2015-2016 Research Grant, LTU Research Focus Area Transforming Human Socities ($18,000), to investigate stable isotopic signal of proteins in the freshwater mussel Alathyria jacksoni (with coCI Colin Smith).

2016 ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellowship Mentoring Scheme.

2015 AINSE Grant ALNGRA15014 ($6,820). Comparing C14 dating of charcoal and bivalves from the late Quaternary of the Central Murray River Corridor, northwest Victoria and the implications for human subsistence strategies.

2015 Research Grant, LTU Research Focus Area Transforming Human Societies ($20,000): Understanding the role of animal bush tucker in Aboriginal diets. (With CoCI Richard Cosgrove.)

2015 La Trobe University Staff Award Supporting Research Excellence.

2014 Research Grant, LTU Research Focus Area Transforming Human Societies ($20,000), to extract pollen cores to investigate paleoecology of late Quaternary northwest Victoria. (With CoCIs Jessie Birkett-Ress and Pat Fall, LTU.)

2014 AINSE Grant ALNGRA14012 ($6,960). Comparing C14 dating of charcoal and turbo opercula from a shell midden near Apollo Bay, VIC, Australia. (With lead CI Herries, A.I.R., and CoCIs Arnold, R., Berelov, I. Tumney, J., Birkett-Rees, J., Fall, P., Falconer, S.)

2012 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award ($348,088).

2010 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize, International Council for Archaeozoology.

2008 & 2006 La Trobe University Research Travel Grants (travel to Vancouver, Canada, and Vassar College, New York, USA) 2008 La Trobe Large Research Grant ($23,814).

2006–2008 La Trobe Postdoctoral Fellowship, Archaeology, La Trobe University.

2006 best paper prize at Australian Archaeology Association Conference, Beechworth, Victoria.

2006 La Trobe University Research Enhancement Funding Grant (with lead CI Richard Cosgrove, LTU) ($11,078).

2004–2005 AIATSIS Research Grant G2004/6909 (with CoCI Richard Cosgrove, LTU) ($46,270). 



2015. Radio interview with ABC Mildura-Swan Hill, November 19.

2015. Radio interview with Richard Stubbs ABC 774 Melbourne, March 19.

2015. Radio interview with Gillian O’Shaughnessy on ABC 720 Perth, March 19. 

2015. Another roadside attraction: how Jillian Garvey's road-kill study reveals ancient Aboriginal practices. The Sunday Age March 15.

2015. Plea to save ancient sites. The Mercury March 14.

2014. Eighteen page feature article by the German edition of Geomagazine on the Simpson Desert Palaeontology Expedition.

2014. Interview with Geomagazine on the Simpson Desert Palaeontology Expedition (

2014. The Australian palaeodiets: 40,000 years in the making. La Trobe University Big FAT Ideas (

2014. Neds Corner dig discovery offers diet clues. Sunraysia Daily 17th June (

2014. Major Archaeological Project Underway. 27th March.

2014. Big dig at Ned's Corner Station. ABC News. 6th February (

2014. Dig reveals ancient life. Sunraysia Daily. 18th January (

2013. Digging deep into history. Sunraysia Daily 28th December (

2007. Ancient bon ton in south Siberia. Sydney Morning Herald. 2nd June ( 

2006. Cave reveals Indigenous ice age lifestyle secrets. 11th March (