About the Secret Visitors Project

The Secret Visitors Project blog has been set up to support my PhD research at the University of Sydney into the role of pseudoarchaeology in Australian archaaeology.

Archaeologists believe that Australia was settled at least 50,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Aboriginal people.  Apart from the appearance of the dingo within the past 5,000 years or so there is no evidence that they necessarily had any contact with the remainder of the world, apart from their nearest neighbours.  More than a century of historical and archaeological investigation has developed this view and is supported by all of our human physiological, historical, genetic, linguistic, biological and geographical evidence.  Despite this, many people still believe that the Spanish, Portuguese, Egyptians, Chinese, Vikings and others  mapped, explored or even settled in Australia.  Why?

In this blog I look at the evidence that has been put forward in support of secret visitor claims by advocates over the past two centuries.  Much of it has never had a serious critical examination and, frankly, a lot of it doesn’t convince or survive well from a steady gaze.  We will also meet the people who have put these theories to the public.

My PhD study will develop the first detailed analysis of the more than two centuries of speculation around secret visitors.  While it will focus on key individuals such as George Collingridge, Cardinal Moran, Lawrence Hargrave, Arthur Vogan, Michael Terry, Rex Gilroy and Kenneth McIntyre, it will also look at the evidence they have cited, including historical maps, finds of anomalous artefacts and sites around Australia and the theories of cultural contact.  I will also be recording oral histories to capture unpublished information and the most recent phase of the secret visitor story.

I hope that others find it useful as a way of reconsidering their own beliefs, and more rigorously looking at the evidence.

About me

I am an archaeologist by training and heritage specialist by career.  Currently I work at the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority as head of their Heritage team within the RTA’s Environment Branch.

I am also a part-time doctoral candidate in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney, which is the reason for this blog.

My background is primarily in historical archaeology, and I have worked extensively as a public agency and consultant archaeologist in southeastern Australia.  My most recent excavation was at the site of Old Marulan, to the southwest of Sydney.

You can contact me by email on denisg [at] tpg [dot] com [dot] au [just replace the ‘at’ and ‘dot’ with the appropriate symbols].

I hope you enjoy the blog, that it stimulates you to think about Australia’s past, the nature of evidence and proof, and look forward to hearing from you.


Denis Gojak

The author, with Morwong [Cheilodactylidae sp.] for scale

8 Responses to About

  1. Ben Cropp says:

    Interesting site as I also have done extensive research and exploration into probable Portuguese discovery of Australia. While I felt the Bondi engraving must be Portuguese, ignoring Hargreaves comments, your blog it could be a memorial to an Italian worker is a simpler answer, a pity really as it was a good clue!! So, I would love to be on your email list as some comments could make sense and link to my big research file. Good luck, Ben Cropp

    • hi Ben

      A warm welcome. Watching your documentaries as a youngster is partly why I’ve had the fascination that I do with all of these topics.

      For readers who don’t know – Ben Cropp is a legend in Australian documentary-making and bringing maritime history to the general public.

  2. Jilian Huntley says:

    Hi Denis – love this site and your project!
    I look forward to ongoing updates.
    All the best,
    Jillian Huntley

  3. Philip Du Rhone says:

    Hi Denis,

    I have just come across your blog. I’m also a product of University of Sydney in history but some time ago now, and liek you live “down the road”. I agree totally about the lack of real evidence in all this hypothesising but also wonder abot the old intuitive idea of no smoke without fire. IN any case I’ve been pursuing a different avenue which you might term “botanical archaeology” i order to prove (yes prove) the presence of Iberian explorers here (in the south) in the 16th century. Working with the incalculable support of scientists at teh U of Tasmania and Adelaide (who do their job without necessarily supporting any theories). so far incnclusive but I soldier on. Happy to talk with you anytime.

    • Hi Philip

      I assume ‘Iberian’ is encompassing the Spanish and Portuguese from c.1500+, but invite you to tell us yourself when you think the research is ready. And looking to see how you ‘prove’ it – that’s a pretty hard target. All the best, Denis.

  4. Ed Skoda says:

    Just found this site and I love it! Very informative.

    I would love to learn more about pseudo-archaeology closer to my home – how about covering the Gympie Pyramid?

    Any plans to expand your thesis into a book?

    Ed Skoda

    • Many thanks Ed
      In the long run I would like to do a book, but the thesis is a part-time venture wrapped around a very busy full-time job, so dont expect it in this year’s Xmas stocking, or next year’s either.
      A PhD student at University of Queensland is finishing up a PhD that includes detailed discussion of the Gympie Pyramid as part of a discussion about public education on archaeology. Hopefully that will be accessible soon. I’ll do something on it here and hope to put up a few more things on Kariong in the coming months.

  5. Matthew Leavesley says:

    Hi Denis,

    I really enjoyed your comment on New Hanover. In addition to your references there is also a chapter in Willey 1966 “Assignment New Guinea” that is really fun reading.

    Yours, Matt L.

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