Dear Colleagues of Mike Smith
It is only 10 days ago that I received from a friend of archaeology days a copy of the review by Nicolas Rothwell in the 10-11 November 2012 Weekend Australian about the forthcoming publication of The Archeology of Australia's Deserts.
Mike started archaeology at age 16, still at highschool, with 'the Roonka mob', working as a volunteer on the Roonka river flat in Australia under Dr Graeme Pretty from the South Australian Museum. He soaked up information from the core group and made it known that all he wanted to do was become an archeologist. In 1973 we included him in the party that went to Koonalda for Dr Alexander Gallus' return dig after a long break. There he felt, perhaps for the first time, completely encapsulated by the earth as he crept through the narrowest of tunnels, the 5m long 'squeeze'.
After he completed highschool and left to study at A.N.U we heard from time to time what he was up to and it all confirmed his and our belief that he was doing deep archaeology and loving it.
For his foresight and courage to undertake the writing of The Archeology of Australia's Deserts we, as dwellers on this ancient continent, are indebted to him. It sounds like such a comprehensive and all-embracing work that it can only lift the understanding of this continent to a much higher level than it receives generally, and hopefully penetrate to all levels of Australian society, from rulers and governors to school children.
And so now we realise that we always expected Mike to do a thing like that. I can’t speak for the remaining Roonka mob, but understand some may be writing in as well. Please be so kind as to give the enclosed card to Mike Smith. We have ordered the book to get in touch with Mike’s insights over the decades since we knew him.
Thank you so much.
Sincerely yours Lolo Houbein, ex-Roonka and Koonalda
Transcribing Graeme Pretty's fieldbooks, 1971, Kingston Street lab, Adelaide.