BA MA PhD (Sydney)

History, Heritage And Archaeology

Professor Grace Karskens FAHA FRSN is a leading authority on early colonial Australia, cross-cultural history and ethnographic history. Her research expertise also includes environmental and urban history, historical archaeology and public history. Grace’s books and articles have shifted the shape of Australian colonial and cross-cultural history, reached national and international audiences and won prizes nationally and internationally. Grace has served on a number of editorial boards, most notably Australia’s leading history journal Australian Historical Studies. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Grace taught Australian history, urban history and public history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Her particular interest is in connecting students’ scholarly learning and research with real world contexts and issues. She successfully trained a generation of students via hands-on research, original projects and internships. She is a recipient of the prestigious UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award.

Grace began her career as a public historian and has a lifelong commitment to bringing good history to wide audience through writing, speaking and teaching. She is an active contributor to several significant cultural and government organisations, including Sydney Living Museums, the State Library of New South Wales and the Dictionary of Sydney project, and she often works with film, television and radio producers. Her latest project is The Real Secret River: Dyarubbin, a collaborative project with Darug researchers which relocated over 90 Aboriginal place-names on Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River, see

2022 Inaugural Prize for Public Environmental History, Australian & Aotearoa New Zealand Environmental History Network, co-winner, for The Real Secret River Dyarubbin project. 

2022 Prime Minister’s Australian History Prize People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia 

2021 Australian History Prize, New South Wales Premier’s History Awards, for People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia

2021 Henry A. Wallace Award for Best Book, Agricultural History Society (US), for People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia

2020 Ernest Scott Prize (co-winner), for People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia 

2019 Calibre Prize, Australian Book Review, for the essay ‘Nah Doongh’s Song’.

2018-2019 Coral Thomas Fellowship, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

2014-2016 Australian Research Council LIEF grant, for Federated Archaeological Information Management Systems project: Transforming archaeological research through digital technologies, LE140100151, , Chief Investigator

2012 Carson Fellowship, Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and History, Ludwig- Maximilians-Universitat, Munich

2012 Allan Martin Lecturer, Australian National University

2011 Winner, Best Book 2009-2010 (non-North American), Urban History Association (US) for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

2010 Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award – Non-Fiction, for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

2007 Director’s Fellowship, National Museum of Australia

2006 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of New South Wales

2003-2007 Australian Research Council Discovery Award for 'Water dreams, earthen    histories: the Penrith Lakes Scheme and the Remaking of Castlereagh, NSW’

2000 National Trust Heritage 2000 Award: Category E – Print for Cumberland/ Gloucester Street Site Archaeological Project Publications, including Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighbourhood (joint winner)

2000 National Trust Heritage 2000 Award : Category A - Conservation- 

Built/Cultural Heritage for 'Stage 1 Conservation Plan for the Great North Road' (joint winner)

1998 NSW Premier's History Award, Community and Regional History, for The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney

1998 National Christina Smith Award for Community History, for The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney

1997 Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellowship, Australian Research Council

1. People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 2020

2. ‘Fire in the forests? Exploring the human-ecological history of Australia’s first frontier’, Environment and History, 2018, vol. 25, 2019, 391-419 DOI: 10.3197/096734018X15254461646378

3. The Colony: A History of Early Sydney, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 2009

4. ‘Nah Doongh’s Song’, Australian Book Review, August 2019, 31-3

5. Dyarubbin: Mapping Aboriginal History, Culture and Stories on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales, ArcGIS StoryMap, Spatial Services, NSW Department of Commercial Services and Geographic Names Board of New South Wales, 2021