Deep Timetable: A Noongar Rail History

The invisible history of Indigenous peoples and Country in building Australia’s rail infrastructure is slowly being recognised. This project, auspiced by the Noongar community, will clarify the impact of the railway on Noongar people and Country.

Utilising public records the PhD will build and analyse a dataset documenting the land relation in the development of the railways across Noongar Country. 

Equivalent to RMIT scholarship, 3 years from commencement.

Open for applications now.

30 November 2022

One scholarship is available. 

The PhD will suit someone with training in disciplines such as history, geography, social anthropology, critical Indigenous studies. The PhD will need to have a well developed ability to think and analyse in spatial and geographical terms and strong textual analysis skills. The PhD project will involve considerable archival data, and therefore the preferred candidate will need to have the skills to manage a large textual dataset in a sensitive manner following Noongar-established protocols.

  • A Noongar or Aboriginal candidate is strongly preferred. 
  • Ability to work in a culturally competent and safe way with Noongar community
  • Ability to access, interpret and analyse historical archival records 
  • Ability to work creatively and analytically with those records to deliver a critical yet sensitive analysis of the relationship between railway development and colonisation
  • Strong understanding or ability to grasp the dispossessory role of urban infrastructure and the implications of that for contemporary community 
  • Satisfy RMIT University’s Doctor of Philosophy entry requirements
  • Have a first-class Honours or Masters degree in a relevant discipline with a major thesis component, or an equivalent level of research or community-based experience
  • International applications must met the minimum English language requirements

Please submit the following documents directly to Professor Libby Porter via email at

  • Cover letter outlining your interest and alignment with the proposed research, statement of understanding of working in accordance with Noongar protocols and respect for Noongar knowledge, and addressing the eligibility criteria
  • Copy of academic transcripts
  • CV including the names of two referees

 The project is funded by the Australia Research Council, is conducted in collaboration with the Wadjuk and Gnaala Karla Booja communities, and with Metronet (PTA WA). The PhD scholarship is provided to the project by RMIT University. 

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.