Felicity’s discovery of a career in archaeology

Ballarat – home to Victoria’s historic gold mines, Australia’s oldest regional gallery and, for Felicity Smolenaers, the birthplace of a passion for archaeology.

Beginning at 13 years old, Ballarat formed the backdrop of what would become a pathway into the studies of humanity’s past.

“While I was in high school, an excavation was being undertaken in my hometown on a gold rush era police camp. My teacher organised for me to visit this site and speak with the archaeologists, he recognised a passion I had, and helped nurture that,” says Felicity, who is now in her second year of a Bachelor of Archaeology at La Trobe University.

Connecting her community and curiosity, this was an important moment for Felicity; it helped strengthen her interest in archaeology and translated into her choice of degree.

Since then, while studying part-time, Felicity has continued to explore her passion at La Trobe by jumping at the opportunity to be involved in a site excavation as part of the Sports Park project at the Melbourne Campus.

Interning with Andrew Long and Associates, cultural heritage advice, assessment and project specialists, Felicity had the opportunity to learn about excavations on Country from industry professionals and Indigenous representatives.

“Working on this project for five days, I took an active part in the excavation and learnt how to record the processes undertaken. It provided me an essential connection between the knowledge I gained in the classroom, putting it into practice out on the field,” she said.

La Trobe’s Sports Park is a key part of the University’s plan to transform the Melbourne Campus into a University City of the Future. Following completion of Stages 1 and 2 of the project, facilities including a FIFA-1 accredited synthetic soccer pitch, AFL oval and Sports Stadium are now open to the University and local community.

Stage 3 of the project is commencing soon, which will span 15 hectares and become the home of the Matildas and include separate Centres of Excellence for Football Victoria and Rugby Victoria; bringing national, state and local sports organisations to Melbourne’s north.

“Working on this project has been a great experience! It has given me a sense of pride, to be a student participating in a University project, and having an input in outcomes”.

To find out more about the Sports Park project, please visit the project website.

Pictured: La Trobe University archaeology student Felicity Smolenaers working on a historical site in Melbourne CBD, 2020.