Jo McDonald interprets and records some of the oldest rock art ever found and is interested in how rock art can provide insights into the earliest forms of human communication and knowledge transfer.
Jo is the Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at the University of Western Australia. Before entering academia in 2012, she was a leading cultural heritage management practitioner.
She has recorded rock art and dreaming stories with the Martu and Walmajarri, traditional owners of the land along the Canning Stock Route in the Western Desert. Her analysis of the rock art and stone structures in the Dampier Archipelago led to their inclusion on the National Heritage List, ensuring their protection. She has also worked on rock art sites in California and Nevada in the Great Basin Desert, and visited rock art sites around the world – from Argentina to South Africa to Norway.
She holds the Rio Tinto Chair in Rock Art Studies and recently completed an ARC Future Fellowship. She is currently working on an ARC Linkage Project collaborating with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and RTIO to help record and manage the heritage values in the National Heritage Place and works to ensure the conservation of Australia’s great rock art estate for future generations.