Archaeological dig at Killalea is a treasure for youngsters

Tyler Hogg, 8, excavates "artefacts" and identifies them as part of Kidsfest at Killalea State Park. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Tyler Hogg, 8, excavates "artefacts" and identifies them as part of Kidsfest at Killalea State Park. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

The chance to play Indiana Jones at Killalea State Park is proving to be a big hit with the kids - and mum and dad too.

For this week, an area of Killalea State Park has been turned into a simulated archaeological dig site where children are given tools and a square-metre area to dig in and see what they can uncover.

It's designed by Adam Selinger and forms part of Kidsfest Shellharbour. Mr Selinger said the first day of the dig was very popular.

"Children - and adults as we've been finding out today - just love to dig," Mr Selinger said.

"We've actually had the same children coming back all morning. They've spent three hours here because they just love doing it."

The children - and grown-ups - are digging up a combination of genuine and manufactured artefacts from a sand pit measuring five square metres.

But the artefacts are based on what would actually be found at the site.

"We've done our research and we've talked to colleagues who are archaeologists in the area and our colleagues at the Tongarra Museum," he said.

"We worked out that, in an area like this in Killalea State Park, there would have been farming.

"So there was a dairy farm and so we have out in the sand here artefacts that are related to a farmhouse - farm tools, tools from a house, domestic equipment like pegs or some wooden dolls that a family of 12 that were here would have used.

"Once they find a few of these objects, we have an ID tent where they can examine them a little bit further and have a chat about what they've found and what it means," Mr Selinger said.

There are also working archaeologists in the ID tent for children who want to know more about digging into the past.

Mr Selinger is project co-ordinator at the University of Wollongong's Early Start Discovery Centre.

He said the dig site was an example of "learning by stealth" - where children have so much fun that they don't realise they're learning at the same time.

The dig is one of a range of events on this week in the annual Kidsfest Shellharbour celebrations, which runs until May 24.

Go to www.kidsfestshellharbour.com.au for more information.

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