Our Approach

KFA’s approach, referred to scientifically as a ‘catchment type’ approach, focuses on locating research sites that are relevant across key disciplines. These include archaeological and paleontological sites and cultural landscapes. We typically build on research already undertaken, expanding the depth and scope of our understanding. All research is undertaken in concert with the Prescribed Body Corporates and Indigenous Protected Area Ranger programs and industry stakeholders to ensure engagement, cultural relevance and compliance. The appropriate selection of projects is essential to ensuring our research program is well integrated. We work collaboratively and respectfully with traditional owners and their communities.  Read about our cultural protocols.

Jenna Hoy and Dr Helen Green, Rock Art Dating Project. Photo: Pauline Heaney

Research Themes and Priorities

The following five priority research themes reflect leading questions in Kimberley rock art research and guide KFA in identifying and funding research projects:

  1. Interpreting and understanding Kimberley rock art and the people and cultures that produced it.
  2. Reconstructing past climate and environments
  3. The production, composition and conservation of Kimberley art
  4. The antiquity of engraved and pigment art in the Kimberley and how we understand its variability across space and time
  5. The chronology of human occupation of the Kimberley in the context of archaeological and genetic data from Sunda (southeast extension of the continental shelf of Southeast Asia) and Sahul (part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent)

KFA’s approach in pursuing these themes, referred to scientifically as a ‘catchment type’ approach, focuses on locating research sites that are relevant across key disciplines. These include archaeological and paleontological sites and cultural landscapes. We will build on research already done expanding the depth and scope of our understanding.

Research Chairs

The Foundation’s towering achievement is the establishment of two fully endowed Chairs – one in the west and one in the east. These two pillars of research, The Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art at the University of Western Australia, and the Kimberley Foundation Minderoo Chair In Archaeological Science at The University of Melbourne will help establish the importance of Australia’s archaeological record and its place in the global narrative of human origins, culture and development.

Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art at the University of Western Australia
Professor Joakim Goldhahn, an internationally acknowledged rock art scholar with more than 25 years’ experience exploring the meaning and significance of rock art, was appointed to the Chair in August 2020.

The Chair sits within the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Rock Art Research + Management and is linked to the Discipline of Archaeology, which was recently awarded the highest possible ranking in the Excellence for Research in Australia exercise by the Australian Research Council.  Prof Goldhahn replaces Prof Peter Veth (inaugural Chair 2013-2018).

The Chair is funded in perpetuity by the Kimberley Foundation Australia through gifts from The Ian Potter Foundation ($1.5 million) and INPEX ($500k) with matched funding of $2 million from the University of Western Australia.

The Kimberley Foundation Minderoo Chair in Archaeological Science
A Chair in Archaeological Science is a unique position worldwide and provides an extraordinary opportunity to progress archaeological science in Australia and beyond. Archaeological science is fundamentally a multidisciplinary field that integrates both cultural and analytical expertise and perspectives.
Prof Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, an internationally recognised expert in radioanalytical chemistry and the scientific analysis of Indigenous Australian natural mineral pigments started her role as Kimberley Foundation Minderoo Chair in May 2020.  Rachel leads the University of Melbourne’s Archaeological Science Group and will develop collaborative relationships based on existing projects, and build new initiatives, networks, infrastructure, and projects. Rachel is currently the School’s representative to the Faculty Indigenous Advisory Committee and will continue in her role as the Past President of the Society for Archaeological Sciences.

This Chair has been made possible thanks to donations from the Kimberley Foundation Australia, Allan Myers AC QC, the Minderoo Foundation through KFA Patrons Andrew and Nicola Forrest and a contribution from the University.

Prof Andy Gleadow, discusses the initial results of our groundbreaking academic research across the Kimberley region.

Our Research Portfolio

KFA’s current research portfolio of $5,193,000 stretches across three Australia Research Council linkage projects, the KFA Rock Art Dating Fellowship and several smaller first stage projects. The additional funds raised for the two perpetual Chairs, at the University of Western Australia and The University of Melbourne, brings the total portfolio to $14.2 Million.

Current research projects

The Kimberley Foundation Australia and the Australian Research Council are supporting two major projects called Rock Art Dating and Kimberley Visions. A new project, Unlocking environmental archives of the Kimberley’s past, will be our sixth ARC linkage project.

Annual Research and Activities

Download the 2019 report to learn more about the research projects.


Rock Art Dating Story on ABC’s 7.30 report, November 2015

  • Apply for Research Funding

  • Current Projects

  • Research Publications

  • Completed Projects

Our Support Partners:

You can make a difference:

Make a Donation

Rock art research is central to answering some of the big questions about human migration. The impact made through KFA rock art research has the potential to rewrite the history of human migration. Recent research in Sulawesi has uncovered prehistoric stone tools thought to be 118,000 years old and nearby rock art at 35,500 years old.

It bears a close resemblance to one of the earliest Kimberley rock art styles. This research including KFA-backed research is the latest in a string of findings that is re-shaping ideas about human migration. It has shifted the focus of early archaeological research from traditional Western hotspots to Australia’s doorstep.

Make a Bequest

You can ensure the rock art is recognised for its international significance and protected accordingly by leaving a bequest to the Kimberley Foundation Australia. If you wish to make a bequest we welcome the opportunity to meet you and answer any questions or discuss specific details with you.

Contact us today to start a conversation about how you want to get involved. Complete the form with your details and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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Donate Shares

You can support the Kimberley Foundation Australia by donating shares as well as cash. ShareGift Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that makes it easy for you to support us. Through ShareGift Australia you can ‘convert’ your shares into a charitable donation without paying brokerage fees. If the value of the share sale exceeds $50, you have the option to recommend Kimberley Foundation Australia as beneficiary.

ShareGift Australia is a public ancillary fund with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. The process is straightforward and shareholders receive a tax deduction for donations over $2.00.

The process to donate shares to support KFA is simple:

  1. Download and complete the share sale donation form available on the ShareGift Australia website (remember to recommend Kimberley Foundation Australia (don’t leave off ‘Australia’)
  2. Send the signed form directly to ShareGift Australia either by scanning via email to info@sharegiftaustralia.org.au or post to GPO Box 4370 Melbourne VIC 3001.
  3. ShareGift Australia will manage the sale of the shares through one of their supporting brokers and once completed, send you a receipt for tax purposes.
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