• The Hunter Valley has more than mines and wine - it's also home to many culturally significant sites. (SBS)
The concept of archaeology conjures up images of old fashioned pickaxes and brushes, but for Scott Franks and his team, it is anything but.
SBS Small Business Secrets
3 Sep - 5:35 PM 

Scott Franks is the founder of Tocomwall, Australia’s first Indigenous archaeology firm.

The firm specialises in providing Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments, which combines cutting edge 3D imaging and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology along with traditional cultural knowledge.

“It could be talking about creek line that is actually a songline, and along that songline, there are initiation points,” Mr Franks tells Small Business Secrets.

“We then attempt to record that based on the science we find, but then also the information we’ve obtained from the knowledge-holders for the particular area we are working in."

Most of Tocomwall’s work is providing cultural heritage assessments for mining and other major development projects.

However, they also provide pro-bono work for Indigenous groups seeking heritage assessments for native title land claims and other disputes.

Mr Franks said he has invested around half a million dollars into ensuring the company has the most up to date technology for GIS mapping, tracking archaeological finds and 3D modelling. 

But he says every bit of investment has been worth it as it has helped them stay in front of other archaeology firms.

The company has grown in recent years and now employs seven full-time staff and up to 20 casual staff on various projects.

For Mr Franks, a proud Wonnarua man from the Hunter Valley region, it’s the chance to train up and employ Indigenous youth that he is most proud of.

“We’ve started a cadet program where we have taken very unskilled people from the community and we are running them through a training process for the next 12 months to train them for university,” he said. 

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