by Dr Lesley Beaumont,
one of the three team leaders of the Zagora Archaeological Project
Last Friday, Meg Miller, another of the team leaders of the Zagora Archaeological Project, and I undertook a four-wheel drive training course at Eastern Creek in western Sydney. We undertook the training course so that this year we will be equipped and competent to take a 4WD vehicle down an unsealed track that will allow us to get a little closer to the Zagora site to deliver equipment at the beginning of the day and to transport heavy excavation finds to the Archaeological Museum at the end of the day.
This will obviate the need for our team members to carry heavy and bulky items along the rough donkey track that they will be walking every morning and afternoon for half-an-hour in each direction in order to access the site.
In the course of our day’s training we learnt not only how to drive up and down steep slopes, across rocky terrain and through mud and water – a little daunting at first, but great fun once you got used to it! – but also how to recover a vehicle stuck in mud, sand or a deep rut, by using a Snatch Strap.
We also learnt how to change a wheel on a 4WD vehicle in uneven terrain. While we certainly hope we do not need to do any wheel changing or vehicle recovering at Zagora, at least now we will be better prepared should the occasion arise!
PS – Note from Irma Havlicek, producer of this blog: In order to keep the tone of our posts friendly and accessible, and also to avoid repetition, we generally don’t include honorifics (Professor, Doctor, etc.) when naming people in our posts. However I thought it was worth mentioning here that the daredevil stars of this post are two of the three team leaders of the Zagora Archaeological Project (ZAP) and both senior teaching staff in the Archaeology Department of the University of Sydney: Professor Margaret Miller and Dr Lesley Beaumont. (The third ZAP team leader, Dr Stavros Paspalas, is based in Athens, so was unable to take part in this 4WD training.) I don’t think senior academics in other fields generally do gutsy stuff like this in their jobs.