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  • 5 Nov 2019 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Henry Tryon (b. England 1856) worked as curator at the Queensland Museum from 1883 and then joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture in 1894 where he was appointed the state’s first Government Entomologist and Plant Pathologist. Tryon was the founding Secretary of the Royal Society of Queensland and a member of RGSQ.

    Tryon made several major scientific contributions to agriculture in Queensland. He was the first scientist to report upon the diseases of economic crops in Queensland (1889), warning farmers and politicians against the uncontrolled importation of plant material into Queensland. During the early 1890s, he drafted the regulations which became the Diseases in Plants Act of 1896. This legislation effectively led to the first plant-quarantine service in Queensland.


    Handover – Iraphne Childs with Shannon Robinson, Co-ordinator, Collections & Research Resource Centre (Library), Qld Museum.

    Tryon’s greatest contribution, however, involved his association with the Queensland sugar industry which suffered from reduced yields in the 1890s due to gumming disease, a very nasty bacterial infection (not discovered until 1926-1927) that destroyed the centre of stalks of cane, thereby reducing sugar content. During 1893 and 1896, Tryon was a member of expeditions to different parts of British New Guinea. Here he was associated with collecting nearly 100 wild varieties of sugar cane then unknown to European science, but his vigilance ensured that no diseased sugar cane material or foreign insects were imported into Queensland. Subsequently, two of these cane varieties – Badila and Goru – were found to be very sucrose-rich and displayed considerable natural resistance to gumming disease. Both varieties were widely grown in Queensland after 1906.


    The Tryon collection held in the Museum library with RGSQ’s 1874 diary, 2nd from the left.

    Tryon also identified methods to combat insect pests troubling the Queensland sugar industry, especially the cane grub (or larvae of the numerous cane beetles in Queensland). In an era before insecticides, Tryon advised Queensland’s canegrowers to collect cane grubs and cane beetles by hand – children earned pocket money doing this task – destroy the beetles’ feeding trees, and fumigate the soil with carbon bisulphide which killed the cane grubs (all methods used by the state’s canegrowers between 1900 and 1940). In the mid-1900s, Tryon also identified that Metarhizium aninsopliae, a fungal pathogen, was fatal to cane grubs, but, unexplainedly, he did not pursue this finding. In 1991, his research was re-examined by CSIRO scientists trying to find a new way to kill cane grubs, following the Commonwealth government’s ban on the insecticide BHC which was widely used by Queensland’s cane growers.

    In 2017 one of his diaries (1874) was found in the storeroom at the Milton premises. How it got there is unknown. A search revealed that the Museum had another of his diaries (1868) amongst its Tryon Collection. Steps were then taken to transfer the diary to the Museum but delayed during RGSQ’s move to Spring Hill. The transfer was accomplished on the 4 October with the diary joining the Tryon Collection at the Museum (see the photos).

    Words by Peter Lloyd and Peter Griggs

    The work continues
    The Tryon Diary story is just a small part of an on-going audit and assessment of the Society’s numerous artefacts and memorabilia begun by Bernard Fitzpatrick in 2015. This work included the 2017 Assessment of Significance report by Judith McKay and Bill Kitson and a detailed listing and photographing of artefacts by UQ student volunteers before the move to Fortescue Street.

    The assessment and placement are now continuing and if anyone is interested in helping please contact the office.

    Photos: I Childs

  • 21 Oct 2019 1:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    What’s happening on RGSQ Council?

    The first regular meeting after the AGM of our new Council was held on Tuesday 15th October. The agenda, as always after an AGM, was a full one with many reports and matters to discuss. Here are some examples which may be of interest to members.

    The Society’s Committees for the year going forward was confirmed at Council as follows:

     Collections: P Griggs (Chair) J Graham, P Lloyd, P Nunan

     Finance: C Spriggs (Chair), J Nowill, I Childs, I Harding, L Darii,

     Honours: D Wadley (Chair), J Holmes, L Isdale, L Scanlan, D Cook

     Ken Sutton Selection panel I Childs (Chair), M McIvor, A Powell (MLA)

     Property: P Tonkin (Chair), N O’Connor, D Stephens

     Publications: I Childs (Chair), A Lau, J Corcoran, I Harding, P Griggs

     Scientific Studies: I Childs (Chair), P Moss, P Nunn, N O’Connor, K Scott, T Sigler

     Traveller: L Scanlan (Chair), L Darii, S Scanlan, I Childs (ex officio)

     Treks and Activities Committee: C Spriggs and W Mackenzie (Co-chairs), M Comer, A Johnston, J Lamont, B Reid

    A new informal advisory group, which will meet only on an ad hoc basis, is forming up to discuss overall technology developments for RGSQ. e.g. updgrading our boardroom facilities. Members who have expressed an interest in this area are Graham Rees, John Fairbairn, Sarah Barry and Councillor John Tasker.

    While most of the above committees currently have a full complement of members, we would welcome members who have an interest in and who could contribute to the Collections, Traveller and TAAC committees. If this is you, please contact the office and Lilia will put you in contact with committee chairs.

    At the Council meeting reports were tabled from committee chairs for noting and discussion. This included some bright ideas for additions to the Bulletin from the newly-formed Publications committee, updates from the Scientific Studies and RGSQ Traveller committees and recommendations from the Honours committee for 2020 Thomson medal and Fellowship awards.

    Property committee has been particularly active in progressing important issues associated with our facilities. For example, carpentry and electrical alterations in our kitchen, checking and re-supplying our first aid kit and finalising the Society’s workplace health and safety manual. In addition, we have been liaising with the building’s body corporate regarding fire safety matters.

    Special Interest Map Group is planning activities for the coming year and Archives, Library and Map collection groups are continuing their work. Young Geographers have been active in visiting and presenting to schools and are planning an eventful year ahead with more educational, adventurous and social activities on their agenda. Members are always welcome to join and participate in any of these SIGs if they capture your interest.

    The draft program for our monthly lectures in 2020 was reviewed by Council and we will be contacting prospective speakers to pin them down for dates and lecture titles. Among the exciting possible topics are remote sensing of reef systems, research on the lands of the ancient Maya in South America, impacts of feral animals in Australia and, closer to home, the BCC’s plans for developing Victoria Park in central Brisbane.

    So, there is much going on behind the scenes at RGSQ. It’s clear that the new Council has energy and enthusiasm for leading a productive year ahead that will benefit the Society.

    I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas party on December 3rd when there will be a couple of special awards and again a quiz to test your geographical knowledge ! 

    Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President


  • 21 Oct 2019 1:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    Thank you to all those members who attended in the Annual General Meeting on 17th September and participated in progressing important resolutions and the election of a new Council for 2019-2020.

    As you will recall from the notice of meeting in the September Bulletin, included in the business of this year’s AGM was a Special Resolution dealing with adoption of three specific clauses in the new constitution which provided a mechanism for filling office-bearer positions should there be no further nominations received from the floor at the AGM. This was needed because we are still in transition awaiting approval from ASIC for the transfer to CLG and the new constitution. At the AGM these resolutions were approved by a majority of members present. This made it possible for the newly-elected Council to meet briefly after the AGM, to appoint a President for the forthcoming Society year 2019-2020. A full list of the new Council is included later in this Bulletin.

    I am honoured to have been appointed as President for another year and look forward to working with Councillors, staff and members to move our Society forward beyond the period of “transition” which has consumed our activities to a very large extent for the past two years. I will strive to focus not only on ideas of how to meet and solve problems that arise, but also to anticipate how we can engage with issues and develop enterprises for the future benefit of the Society.

    In dealing with the major challenges over the past 2 years (buying & re-locating to new premises, transition to a CLG, staffing review) I personally, have not had time for some geographical initiatives that I had hoped to progress as an incoming president in 2017. I am pleased to be able to report that we have now re-established the Society’s Scientific Studies Committee and look forward to working to develop our plans in that exciting area. I also hope to re-establish our Publications committee in the near future with the goal of reviewing the roles of our current excellent Bulletin and website and providing a new platform (e.g. an online journal) for publishing geographical research both for the wider academic and professional communities. I am particularly concerned to seek a solution to continuing lecture presentations on the Sunshine Coast. One option we are investigating is how to stream lectures presented at Fortescue street to members via our website.

    The incoming Council comprises an excellent balance of members with academic, business, educational and professional expertise, including both new councillors who will bring fresh ideas and perspectives and re-elected councillors who bring continuity and experience. The year ahead presents interesting tasks – What kind of RGSQ do we wish to build for the future? How should we be investing our efforts and resources to promote and support Geography? How can we increase our membership, particularly of younger people? I look forward to hearing your ideas on these, and many other matters relating to RGSQ over the coming year.

    Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President

  • 21 Oct 2019 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    The next Members’ meeting is our Annual General Meeting on 17th September. So I would like to make here a few comments on the past year. As the Society’s representative, I have attended events and functions in which I would not normally have had a chance to participate. Being President has enabled me to meet and get to know so many members. I wish to record my sincere thanks for these opportunities and to Councillors and our dedicated office staff without whom I would not have been able to fulfil the responsibilities of the President.

    The past two years has been a period of transition. The Society has overcome major challenges - the search for, and relocation to a new home, following the sale of our Milton premises in December 2017. The move to Fortescue Street took place in September 2018 and then we underwent several months of design and fitting out to make Gregory Place fit for our purposes. Finally, we were able to invite members to the Open Day on 9th April and the official opening by our patron, the Governor of Queensland on 18th July. I would like to once again thank the Gregory House committee and all volunteers and staff involved in achieving this momentous change.

    The on-going process to upgrade the incorporation status of the Society has taken up an enormous amount of time and effort over the past three years. The creation of a new legal platform for the Society from Letters Patent to a Company by Limited Guarantee, and adoption of a new Constitution, was passed at a special members’ meeting on 7th May. The 63-page document required to effect this change has been submitted to the Office of Fair Trading. I commend and thank the tireless efforts of Roger Grimley, Chris Spriggs and Lilia Darii as they have ploughed through the minefield of legal and administrative procedures required to make this transition happen.

    Another important change this year has been the review and restructuring by Council of our staffing. This was conducted from October 2018 in consultation with our existing staff. I believe the resolution we achieved is assisting staff in their work and will enable us to pursue more effectively the Society’s wider goals in promoting Geography in future.

    In dealing with these major challenges over the past 2 years, I have had little time to progress some geographical initiatives that I had planned, particularly the renewed development of the Society’s Scientific Studies and Publications. I hope to have an opportunity to work on these in the future. I look forward to continuing my associations with RGSQ.

    Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President

  • 21 Oct 2019 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    June and July were very busy months at RGSQ. The end of the financial year always brings extra work for our Treasurer and our Business Manager. Many thanks to both Chris Spriggs and Lilia Darii for their excellent efforts and many hours of work to complete all the necessary procedures and paperwork for our financial systems in preparation for meetings with our auditors.

    On Thursday July 18th we were pleased to be able welcome His Excellency the Hon. Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland and Patron of RGSQ to officially open Gregory Place, the Society’s new home. His Excellency was particularly interested in the Society’s long history, some of our archival materials, maps and the library. We presented His Excellency with a copy of “A Dream in Trust”, a history of the Society by Peter Griggs, for the Government House library. Thanks to all who helped to prepare the displays for the evening and assisted with information as the Governor toured around the premises. Among the invited special guests who attended were the Hon. Trevor Evans, Federal Member for Brisbane, the Reverend Dr. Richard Martin (a life member of RGSQ), from All Saints Church, Spring Hill, Mr. Geoff Edwards, President, Royal Society of Queensland, Mr. Stephen Sheaffe, President, The Royal Historical Society of Queensland, several past presidents of RGSQ, Associate Professor Patrick Moss and Dr. David Wadley from the University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and some 25 current RGSQ members. It was great to see you all there. Thanks to our Society photographer Kay Rees, for taking photos of the event – see some later in this Bulletin.

    In July we installed a new public address and associated audio-visual system. Many thanks to Ian Francis and the Property committee, for all their work over several months in sorting out what was appropriate for our premises, purchasing equipment and overseeing the installation. We now have a professionally-appointed lecture space which will enable easy listening at our lecture evenings. Both the Society board room and the lecture space can now be hired out for meetings by other societies and organisations.

    In early August Ralph and I will be exploring around the Pilbara region of Western Australia. We expect to see lots of red earth and iron ore mines, stunning landscapes and gorge country, famous Aboriginal rock art and we will be very careful of driving with the road-trains !

    Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President

  • 8 Sep 2019 8:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members, welcome to winter! In Brisbane we remain relatively warm compared with really cold parts of Australia, but westerly winds at this time of the year can make a big difference to how cold we feel in Southeast Queensland. In early June snow fell near Stanthorpe and the granite belt and wind gusts lowered temperatures across southern Queensland. A wind chill on June 4th caused the apparent temperature at Toowoomba to plummet to minus 5 degrees at 6.00am, and minus 4.4 in Applethorpe at 6:30am. Meanwhile, at the Brisbane Airport the apparent temperature was 1.9 degrees, while the actual temperature was 10.5 degrees due to 46 kilometres per hour wind gusts. Snowfall was also recorded in the Blue Mountains and Central Tablelands in New South Wales, with heavy snow in Alpine areas – good for an early start to the ski season.


    Snow at Pyramids Road near Girraween National Park just after sunrise. ABC News, June 4, photo local resident Glenda Riley.

    Representing RGSQ at Queensland’s Government House: On Monday 10th June, Ralph and I attended a reception to celebrate the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On Thursday 13th June, Councillors Neal O’Connor, John Tasker and I attended a reception to launch the Queensland Science Network (QSN), an initiative of the Royal Society of Queensland. RGSQ is a member of the QSN. On both occasions it was a great honour to represent RGSQ.

    Special lecture on Thursday 27th June: "In the wake of the first Australians - Voyaging a Bamboo Raft from Timor to Australia”. This event is presented jointly by the RGSQ and The Royal Society of Queensland. The presenter, Glenn Marshall, a member of the First Mariners organisation, will be part of the team in February 2020 which will construct and sail a bamboo raft from Timor to Darwin, aiming to re-enact the first ocean crossings by people to Australia 70,000 years ago. The presentation will outline details of the voyage plus discussion of archaeological, genetic, rock art and other evidence about the ancient maritime culture in the islands of Indonesia. There will be a charge for this lecture of $5 for RGSQ and RSQ members, $10 for non-members. If you would like to attend this event please register and pay via the RGSQ website.

    Official opening of Gregory Place, Thursday July 18th: RGSQ members are invited to attend the official opening of ‘Gregory Place’, the Society’s new home, by His Excellency the Hon. Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland and Patron of RGSQ. There will be a number of invited special guests as well as RGSQ members attending this event. Please note that as seating for this event is strictly limited, members are asked to register in advance via the RGSQ website. The Governor will arrive at 5pm and, because of the protocols involved with his visit, we ask that everyone attending arrive at RGSQ premises no later than 4:30pm and be seated by 4.45pm. Arrivals after 4:30pm will not be admitted.


  • 25 May 2019 1:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nicole Garofano, UQ Candidate Development Award recipient

    Ms Nicole Garofano, PhD Candidate at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, has received a very competitive University of Queensland Graduate School’s Candidate Development Award. The award focusses on skills which will enhance employment opportunities after the degree and supports travel costs associated with the candidate’s research. Nicole will use her award to travel to London to present a paper at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG) Annual International Conference 27-30 August 2019. Congratulations to Nicole! Her itinerary also includes meetings with sustainability consultants in Manchester and London, 2 weeks with the Asian Development Bank Pacific Division and a return visit to Barbados and St Vincent to present her research findings to fieldwork stakeholders.

    Nicole’s research focusses on Managing plastics waste in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Indian Oceans. Such states have small land area, limited human, financial and technical resources and few options to effectively manage plastics in both land and marine ecosystems. The plastic used for packaging foods and beverages is manufactured in distant and more developed economies, either as finished products (e.g. packaged rice or biscuits) or raw materials (e.g. plastic to make bags or bottles locally). Nicole is documenting a ‘Plastics System’ - the “flows of plastics” to and through geographically remote SIDS markets. In 2018, she did field work in Vanuatu, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles, conducting interviews, organising focus groups, packaging audits and field observation to generate flow maps of plastic materials from manufacturers to disposal or recycling.

    Early findings identify opportunities for local innovative entrepreneurship for managing plastics which could generate livelihood benefits for SIDS communities. For example, on Union Island (in the St Vincent and Grenadines archipelago) a school-based collection programme for beverage containers uses the inter-island shipping service to send bottles to St Vincent for reprocessing and sale to secondary plastic markets. In Barbados, plastic beverage containers have been collected for in-country recycling into plastic roof tiles. In Vanuatu local entrepreneurs with trucks have adapted pre-paid waste collection systems, including plastics, removing material from remote villages for disposal at a regulated landfill.

    References:
    Garofano, N 2019 (forthcoming), ‘Geography, islands and plastic: how documenting the flows can contribute to change’, presentation to the Royal Geographical Society RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019, London, 27-30 August 2019.

    Garofano, N 2018, ‘Community-Based Recycling in a Small Island Developing State: A Case Study from Barbados’, paper presented to the International Solid Waste Association World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, 22-24 October 2018.

  • 25 May 2019 1:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The SEQ Regional Plan

    By Dr. Bishna Bajracharya

    Dr Bhishna Bajracharya is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning in the Faculty of Society and Design, Bond University. He completed his PhD in Geography and Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Hawaii and has previously worked at the Queensland University of Technology and Australian National University. His major research interests are in urban governance, master planned communities, smart cities and disaster management.

    Dr. Bajracharya’s recent work, funded by the Bond University Faculty Grant, reviews the regional planning process in rapidly growing South East Queensland (SEQ) over the last twenty-five years. In the 1990s, strategic regional land-use planning was initiated in response to growing concerns about the rate of growth and the potential loss of environmental, agricultural and cultural landscapes in SEQ. A cooperative exercise between state and local governments resulted in the first “Regional Framework for Growth Management” in 1995, known as the “SEQ 2001”. In 2005 an updated regional framework became a statutory planning instrument. Periodic reviews of the plan have augmented its sophistication and detail, but the overall planning vision and spatial planning approach to contain and guide growth have remained relatively consistent.

    Framed within the urban containment paradigm, the latest SEQ Regional Plan (2017) establishes specific principles and statutory planning controls to direct the spatial distribution of growth while attempting to preserve natural, cultural and productive landscapes and overall liveability. Identification of desired regional growth patterns, coordinated governance, economic and infrastructure development and Plan monitoring are key attributes of the framework. Major challenges remain for maintaining regional resilience amidst continuing growth pressures in the region. They include greater recognition and delineation of peri-urban areas, integration of regional planning and disaster management and growth management of peri-urban master-planned communities.

    The State of Queensland. Shaping SEQ: South East Queensland Regional Plan (August 2017) Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Brisbane.

    Figure 1. The SEQ Urban Footprint (Source: The State of Queensland, 2017)


    References

    Bajracharya, B. and Hastings, P. (2018) A Regional, Strategic Growth-Management Approach to Urban and Peri-Urban Development in South East Queensland, Australia. Journal of Regional and City Planning, V.29 (3) pp.210-233

  • 24 May 2019 9:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thank you to all who attended the special members’ meeting on Tuesday 7 May. It was fitting that this meeting, which dealt with a new legal platform for the Society, was considered at the first general meeting of members held in the Society’s new home, Gregory Place.  

    Transfer of the Society to a Company Limited by Guarantee: The formal notice convening the meeting on 7th May and setting out the specific matters to be considered was distributed prior to the meeting to all members in accordance with the provisions of the current constitution. This meeting was the culmination of much effort that has been underway since the Council initiated, almost two years ago, the upgrade of the incorporation status of the Society from Letters Patent to a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), including adoption of a new constitution. Two previous meetings in mid-2017 and 2018 were particularly useful in obtaining members’ views on the overall proposal and on the new constitution. The meeting on 7th May passed all resolutions relating to the transfer of the Society to a CLG and the adoption of the new constitution. On behalf of the Council, I’d like to thank Roger Grimley, Lilia Darii and Chris Spriggs who have worked tirelessly to bring this process to completion and also all those members who have contributed to the deliberations on the matter.

    As a CLG we retain the status of “Royal”, so our name continues to be The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland – the only change being from “Inc” to “Ltd”. We also retain our status as a not-for-profit charitable organisation. The process now is to submit various applications to implement the resolutions passed, including an application for registration to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The aim is to have everything completed so that the 2019 AGM can be held under the new regime and constitution.

    First lecture at Fortescue Street: Following the formal special meeting, Vice-President Dr. Peter Griggs presented a very interesting and entertaining lecture on “Taking the Waters” -  mineral springs, artesian bores and health tourism. The lecture was followed and much appreciated, as usual, by delicious refreshments organised by our supper team. I hope this is the first of many successful lecture evenings at Gregory Place.

    Official opening of premises: His Excellency, the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, has agreed to officially open our new premises on Thursday July 18th 5.00-6.00PM. We are now making arrangements for this important event and drawing up a guest list to include some local dignitaries. More information on this will be forwarded to members later.     

    Map library: Thanks go to Doreen Worth and Ralph Carlisle who have volunteered to work with Peter Nunan in sorting and cataloguing our collection in the Map Library. Your assistance is much appreciated.

    I look forward to welcoming more members to Gregory Place in the near future.

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 18 Apr 2019 5:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dr Peter Griggs

    Recently, Tracey and I were fortunate enough to spend some time in Israel. We started our trip in Jerusalem, being present in the city over a Friday and Saturday. These two days coincided with Shabbat or the Sabbath which is Judaism’s day of rest. Businesses, government offices, museums, art galleries and libraries start to close soon after noon on Friday. By the time a siren rings out at dusk announcing the start of Shabbat, much of the city had shut down. It is an eerie feeling when a city falls very quiet, as the traffic dwindles and most of its citizens head indoors for festive meals.

    We were staying in accommodation in West Jerusalem, so we decided to go for a walk to see what shops etc. had remained open. Other people who we presumed to be tourists must have had the same idea as we were not alone.  We encountered a few open pizzerias and restaurants, and a Filipino grocery store and restaurant which was being well patronised by Filipinos. The presence of so many Filipinos was puzzling and the next day we asked our guide for an explanation. He explained that Israel has an ageing population* and difficulty attracting workers to the aged care sector. Filipinos can enter Israel on five-year work permits, and now make up a considerable portion of the aged care sector in the country.

    Jerusalem has a population of approximately 800,000. The city sprawls across several hills which form part of the Judean Mountains, an elevated plateau which runs through the centre of Israel. The hills of Jerusalem are bisected by the Kidron Brook, a non-permanent watercourse that is prone to sudden flooding after rain.

    Fig 1. Map showing the three parts of Jerusalem. Source: https://www.city-journal.org/html/between-green-line-and-blue-line-13397.html

    Jerusalem has a complicated internal geography (Fig 1). East Jerusalem is quite hilly and populated by approximately 260,000 Palestinian Arabs. Many live in three to six storey apartments (see Figure 2). Until the Six-Day War or Third Arab-Israeli War (5-10 June 1967), this territory was part of Jordan. Jewish areas, however, have been established in East Jerusalem and it is estimated that approximately 200,000 Jews now live in East Jerusalem.

    West Jerusalem is not as hilly and is that part of the city created mostly after Israel became a separate country in 1948.  Israeli Government Ministries, the Israeli Parliament, and the Israeli National Museum and Art Gallery are located in this part of the city. The third section is the Old City, which was first established c. 1500 BCE, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and then later rebuilt during the second and third century CE.  Today, it is an area of narrow, winding streets (see Figure 3) and is still surrounded by walls (see Figure 4). The Old City is entered via various gates in the walls (e.g. Damascus; Jaffa; Zion), including one whose name conjures up past city functions (see Figure 5). 

    Fig 2.  A view of East Jerusalem from the Old City, January 2019.  Source: Peter Griggs


    Fig 3.  Some of the narrow streets in the Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem.  Source: Peter Griggs

    We did not venture into East Jerusalem. This area is what geographers call “contested space.”  As mentioned earlier, this territory was annexed by Israeli after 1967. The Palestinian Authority, created after the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, claimed in 2002 that East Jerusalem should become the capital of the new state of “Palestine.”  This idea has been rejected by Israel, with successive Israeli governments declaring that Jerusalem is the “complete and united capital of Israel.”

    Most of our time was spent exploring the Old City, which is split into the Armenian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian Quarters.  Access to the Muslim Quarter is regulated so we did not visit that part of the Old City where Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock are situated (can be seen from a distance, however). The other main sites that can be visited include the Western Wall, Herodian mansion ruins, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, King David’s Tomb (reputedly), Via Dolorosa and various Christian churches. 

    Fig 4.  A view of the Old City of Jerusalem taken from Mount of Olives.  The Dome of the Rock, Islam’s third holiest site, is featured in the centre of the image. Source: Peter Griggs

    Fig 5.  One of Jerusalem’s Old City’s gates. The Dung Gate allows entrance into the Jewish Quarter. Source: Peter Griggs.

    We were reminded that Jerusalem has had a violent recent past (and ancient past) when our guide showed as two features. The first was the bullet holes made in the city’s walls by the fighting between the Israeli and Jordanian troops in 1967. The second was the site where archaeological excavations have revealed an almost metre thick layer of ash which the archaeologists have concluded was created after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. 

    For a very readable account of Jerusalem’s complicated history, I would recommend Simon Montefiore’s Jerusalem. The Biography (London: Phoenix, 2011).

    * In 2018, 11.6% of Israel’s population was aged over 65 years of age (Source: CIA World Factbook).

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