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  • 25 Sep 2018 11:50 AM | Anonymous

    Dysfunctional path dependence in mid-century dairy farming on eastern Australia’s subtropical coastlands: case studies at Moruya and Copmanhurst - a perspective on some historical fieldwork

    Emeritus Professor John Holmes, UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and RGSQ past-President 1995-97, has long researched aspects of Australia’s rural land use. His dedication to the field Geography was triggered by his BA Honours degree at the University of Sydney in 1950, when travelling by Jeep to the Gulf and Peninsula regions with Australia's first Ph.D. awardee (David Simonett). David undertook a pioneering land systems classification and mapping while John enquired into the challenges of isolation confronting the cattle stations.
    The key concept of path dependence seeks to explain how choices made on assets, labour skills and organisational habits shape and “lock-in” patterns of economic action. The fieldwork reported here on the demise of dairy farming in the Moruya and Copmanhurst districts of coastal NSW, was conducted in 1952-54 while John was teaching at Maitland Boys High School. This work was towards an Honours Masters thesis from Sydney University. Some of the challenges of doing geographical work back then included: no funding for fieldwork or higher degrees, lack of technical support for drawing complex maps and diagrams and hand copying large amounts of field data onto foolscap sheets which then had to be analysed without the aid of computers! 

    After a gap of almost 50 years, Professor Holmes has been prompted to revisit and publish this work (recently submitted to the journal Geographical Research) by noting that some of his thoughts on path dependence have currently become fashionable among evolutionary economists and economic geographers who have adapted it to explore patterns of regional growth and decline.

    The entrenchment and prolonged dysfunctional survival of low-cost, low-income, labour-intensive dairy farming on the subtropical coastlands of eastern Australia was a potent case of path dependence. At both Moruya and Copmanhurst, the dairy industry comprised a core of long-term stable producers, located mainly on the more accessible and productive alluvial soils, together with a fluctuating number of marginal producers. The dairy farmers’ “locked-in” economic activities were founded on: the initial rural settlement imprint; the structure of farm enterprises; lack of alternative income sources; the culture and capabilities of farm families; environmental and locational disadvantages; integration within transport, processing and marketing infrastructure; proactive policy support by state and federal governments and preferential trade to an overseas market. The demise of dairying was delayed in part by the industry’s exceptional survival capabilities and the lack of any viable alternative farming staple. Its exceptionally rapid collapse in the 1960s and 1970s was triggered by its inability to undertake the needed reinvestment in response to on-farm and off-farm technological change which occurred on the more productive dairy lands in cool temperate zones in New Zealand and southern Australia. The two case studies here revealed insights into the dynamics of rural change and evolutionary economic geography.



    Fieldwork equipment in 1950s comprised a 1938 Chevrolet coupe sedan, basic gear for camping and sustenance, camera, reporter’s notebooks and biros. Source J.H. Holmes




    1952 photo of Bergalia cheese factory (a production-oriented land use) which closed in 1951. Source: J.H. Holmes





    2010 John Holmes, with Moruya’s last dairy farmer one year prior to the closure of his dairy. Source: J.H. Holmes


    by Professor John Holmes

  • 25 Sep 2018 11:45 AM | Anonymous
    Dear Members, it is a great honour to have been re-elected to the role of President of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland for 2018-2019. I thank you, the members of the Society, for giving me this opportunity. I would like to acknowledge and thank several Society members who have contributed a great deal over the past year.


    Firstly, the excellent team on Council since the 2017 AGM: 

    Council executive - Peter Griggs, Vice-President; Chris Spriggs, Treasurer and Margaret McIvor, Secretary.

    Councillors - Bob Abnett, Paul Broad, Jennifer Carter, Duncan Cook, Ian Francis, Margie Keates, John Nowill, Leo Scanlan and Jamie Shulmeister.

    Thanks to Chairpersons and members of all RGSQ committees and Special Interest Groups for their enthusiasm, energy and skills.

    My special thanks to members of the “Gregory House” Committee, who, over the past 12 months, have done a tremendous job in relocating the Society to a new home:

    Bob Abnett – Chairperson, enthusiastic seeker and investigator of 27 possible properties and supervisor of the move to Fortescue St.;

    Paul Broad, without whose professional knowledge and advice in real estate matters our relocation decision and tasks would have been extremely difficult; Paul has guided us in selling the Milton building, searching for a new home, purchasing the Fortescue St. property and has conducted negotiations with our real estate agent and legal team;  

    Ian Francis – for preparing excellent layout drawings enabling us to envisage operations in several possible locations, commencing modifications in the new premises and supervising tradespeople;

    Chris Spriggs – for wise advice on the financial aspects of our property dealings and for keeping a vigilant eye on all things financial at the Society;

    Bernard Fitzpatrick – working with the committee on a multitude of issues related to relocation;

    Neil Simson – Honorary Planner, researched and reported Town Planning aspects of our purchase;

    Paul Trotter  Honorary Architect, advised on the internal design and layout of functions in the new premises.

    Thanks also to:

    Supper volunteers, coordinated by Mary Comer, who provide delicious suppers and the opportunity for members and guests to mingle socially and chat after lectures;

    Leo Scanlan – developing RGSQ Traveller and, together with Sharyn Scanlan, continues to run very successful geographical tours overseas.

    Treks and Activities Committee members – Mary Comer, Ross Gardner, Audrey Johnston, Paul Lambert, Jeanette Lamont, Wayne Mackenzie, Chris Spriggs – for organising geographical treks and activities throughout the year.

    And to the many other members who regularly volunteer in Society activities.

    Office staff: Bernard Fitzpatrick – for the day to day running of the RGSQ office, liaising with Council to implement decisions, relating to members’ concerns and coordinating the AGC; Lilia Darii – for working on Incorporation and new Constitution, AGC, RGSQ Traveller, Bulletins, assisting with accounts and marketing our activities; Rosie Catt – general office duties, assisting with accounts and a welcoming face on reception.

    I view the role of President as maintaining an essential overview of Society activities, providing some leadership when needed and occasionally signing documents to sell a building and buy another property! That was fun! An important role for the President is to chair the monthly Council meetings, ensuring progression and implementation of Council decisions in an orderly and timely fashion. I hope to contribute to the best of my abilities in these matters and in the varied ongoing activities of the Society. I aim to be always available to consult with members, Councillors and committee chairpersons should they wish to raise any issues.

    My own recommendations for the Society going forward include:

    •  investigating community grant schemes for improving the Society’s financial stability and sustainability 
    •  engaging with various professional organisations in the Brisbane CBD/Spring Hill vicinity of our new premises, with a view to increasing membership
    • developing ideas and mechanisms for pursuing future Scientific Studies
    • reviewing our publications via a re-constituted committee

    The move to new premises represents a different phase in the Society’s long history. I have no doubt that interesting opportunities will be presented and that, with the stalwart band of Society members, we will find solutions to the challenges that will inevitably arise. As we consolidate our activities in the coming year, Council will need to be diligent in our surveillance of emerging trends which relate to the question of what kind of Geographical Society we want for the future, and in what exciting directions we should be heading. I look forward to working with you in the year ahead to discover what lies over the horizon. To paraphrase A.A. Milne “I knew, when I took this on, an adventure was going to happen”. Thank you.

    by Iraphne Childs, President

  • 29 Aug 2018 10:13 AM | Anonymous
    Congratulations to the four young Australian geography students who represented Australia at the XV International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) held in Quebec City, Canada, from July 31 to August 6. The Olympiad was organised under the auspices of the International Geographical Union (IGU) with the support of Université Laval, North America’s second oldest university.


    The four-member Australian team were selected through their outstanding performance in last year’s Australian Geography Competition (AGC) and Geography’s Big Week Out (from left to right): Phoebe Blaxill from St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, WA – bronze medal; Harry Hall from Trinity College (Gawler), SA; Hannah Wright from Walford Anglican School for Girls, SA – bronze medal, and Sophie Ohlin from Sydney Girls High School, NSW. The Australian team was accompanied by two team leaders: Kath Berg, Australian Geography Competition Committee and Liam Sloan, Geography Teachers Association of South Australia.

    Forty-three countries took part in this highly prestigious one-week international competition with the Romanian team declared the overall winners at this year’s event.

    To test the best young geographers in the world, the iGeo programme involves three academic challenges over the course of a week: a written response test, a multimedia test and a fieldwork exercise requiring observation, cartographic representation and geographical analysis. The programme also included poster presentations by teams, a cultural session showcasing Canadian cultures, and visits to Old Quebec (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Forêt Montmorency.

    The value of the iGeo experience cannot be underestimated; participating students appreciate not only the opportunity to travel abroad and challenge themselves, but also the experience of meeting and making friends with passionate geography students from all over the world.

    "The iGeo was a fantastic opportunity not only to learn about geography, hearing from bright minds in the field and undergoing insightful fieldwork, but also to make friends from all around the globe. Being around such a wide variety of international cultures, personalities and languages is a rare event, and because of it the experience was invaluable." said Harry Hall, participating student.

    Kath Berg, Australian Team Leader commented that “The iGeo is a prestigious international contest. It inspires active interest in geographical studies among students and contributes to greater intercultural understanding through the friendships developed between students from different countries.”

    The Australian team has once again scored commendable results. This highlights the strength of Australia's Year 11 and 12 geography curricula in teaching students to think, analyse and interpret information. The role of geography in schools is continuously supported by the Australian Geography Competition.

    The pre-selection for the four-student team that will represent Australia at the 2019 iGeo in Hong Kong, China, is under way. Sixteen high-achieving Year 11 students from the 2018 Australian Geography Competition will soon be selected to take part in Geography’s Big Week Out, a six-day training/selection event, to be held on Kangaroo Island, South Australia in early October this year.

    The participation of the Australian team at the International Geography Olympiad is made possible with the support of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Australian Geography Competition and with sponsorship of the AGC from Monash University (School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment and School of Social Sciences), Macquarie University (Department of Geography and Planning and Department of Environmental Sciences), and The University of Queensland (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences).

    The annual Australian Geography Competition is a joint initiative of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (www.rgsq.org.au) and the Australian Geography Teachers’ Association (http://www.agta.asn.au/).

    Photo courtesy of Liam Sloan, Australian team leader at 2018 iGeo in Quebec City, Canada.

  • 29 Aug 2018 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    Modern Spatial Mapping Techniques

    This Gathering’s Presentation was on modern spatial mapping techniques and quite different to previous Presentations held during 2018.

    The Presenter was Sylvia Michael, trained in Geology and Mathematics, who became a geospatial specialist.  She then set up the company Geoimage Pty Ltd in 1988, which continues to operate as a geospatial services provider, specialising in the sales and processing of satellite imagery and in the delivery of geospatial solutions for a wide range of industries, including the resources and mining industries, agricultural industries, and a wide range of government agencies utilising geo-imaging technologies in their work.

    Over the past 30 years, Sylvia has seen satellite imagery mature from the Landsat 1 images, first used in the early 1970s, through to the current Landsat 8 imagery which has been utilised since 2015. Considerably greater detail and clarity of images have emerged over this period, via the greater use of sensors and far better cameras mounted upon modern day satellites. There are also far more satellites orbiting the earth than 30 years ago.

    These improvements in technology have led to far more sophisticated analytical outcomes, which provide a lot more information in understanding the earth’s various surfaces and sub-surfaces, depending on the intended use of such surfaces (e.g. for agriculture), or sub-services (e.g. for the exploration and extraction of various minerals).


    Photo: Bob Abnett congratulating Silvia Michael following her presentation. Courtesy of Ian Francis.


    Sylvia went onto to explain some of the technologies used today, such as:

    • The electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. the various colours that make up this spectrum and how they are used);
    • Spectral graphs (i.e. how the colour range is used to highlight and detail attributes of various surfaces and sub-surfaces);
    • Stereoscopic images (i.e. how software associated with modern satellite imagery can provide contours of land surfaces);
    • Short wave infrared (i.e. used in exploration to indicate the weathering of the earth’s surfaces to reveal potential sub-surface minerals).

    Sylvia then explained how the large multiple archives of images accumulated over the last 30 years or more, are being gathered together and placed on “the cloud”, to meet the needs of an increasing number of users who want to access such imagery in their industries and their work.

    The Presentation showed how the modern world has changed so dramatically from the recent past. 

    In that past world, which many members of the Map Group worked, it included the then world of hard copy mapping covering a wide range of 2 dimensional maps of topography, geology, soils, vegetation, etc. Today, so much of that mapping information has been replaced by digital imagery, which is far more flexible and manageable in its digital format and which now covers many places on this earth, almost at the “click of a button”!

    18 Map Group Members and 2 guests attended the event.
    by Bob Abnett,  Map Group Coordinator

  • 29 Aug 2018 9:43 AM | Anonymous

    Too wet? Too cold? Too hot? How does the weather affect the trips we make?

    Professor Jonathan Corcoran, Director of the Applied Centre for Population Research and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been researching the relationship between the weather and daily travel behaviour in our cities.


    We know that the weather conditions can change the way we go about our daily routines. A wet morning might mean we take the car rather than walking, cycling or taking public transport and this can lead to planned journeys being rescheduled, rerouted or cancelled. The consequences of these individual travel choices are important when we consider their impact in aggregate across an entire city. These shifts in daily travel choices have the potential to increase travel delays and road congestion, add to pollution and result in a general decrease in the overall travel experience.

    Amsterdam cyclists not deterred by wind and rain; +3C early morning. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamchenkov/2394449754; licence  2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

    Despite the importance of weather on daily travel choices, our understanding of these weather-travel behaviour relationships is still in its infancy. There is a compelling need to collect more evidence using emerging digital sources of data. Data automatically collected via transit smart cards (such as the GoCard in Brisbane) offer a new and promising source of information that can be used to better understand the weather-travel behaviour relationship and provide the necessary evidence for cities to develop planning and urban transport responses.

    Reference: https://theconversation.com/too-wet-too-cold-too-hot-this-is-how-weather-affects-the-trips-we-make-93724

    by Professor Jonathan Corcoran

  • 29 Aug 2018 9:40 AM | Anonymous

    Annual General Meeting - September 11, 2018

    Notice is hereby given to members of the Society that the 2018 Annual General Meeting of The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc will be held:

    at Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Road, Paddington, 4064.

    on Tuesday, the 11th of September 2018, commencing at 7:30 pm, see map on page 8 for directions to the venue.

    The business to be transacted at the meeting is:

    (i)         to receive the Council’s Report and the Statement of Income and Expenditure, Assets and Liabilities of the Society for the financial year to 30th June 2018.

    (ii)        to receive the Auditor’s Report in respect of the financial year to the 30th June 2018.

    (iii)       to appoint the Auditor in respect of the financial year to 30th June 2019.

    (iv)       to elect members of the Council.

    Explanatory Notes

    Business items (i) – (iii)

    Material supporting these items (Council’s Report and the Financial Reports, including the Auditor’s Report) will be available for those attending the meeting, and will be added to the Society’s website following the meeting.

    Business item (iv) Election of Members of the Council

    Under the Rules of the Society, all Councillors retire from office each year, and a new Council is elected by members. The Society Rules provide for a Council of thirteen (13) members. Any member may nominate (and be seconded) for election as a Councillor, and nominations can be lodged at any time up to the commencement of the meeting. For a copy of a Nomination Form, please contact us at info@rgsq.org.au. The functions of a Councillor are set out in a document ‘Role Description – Councillors’, which can be obtained from the Executive Officer, or any current Councillor.

    The following current members have nominated for election to the Council for 2019 (and positions where indicated):

    Bob Abnett, Paul Broad, Jennifer Carter, Iraphne Childs (President), Duncan Cook, Ian Francis, Peter Griggs (Vice President), Margaret McIvor (Secretary), Leo Scanlan, Chris Spriggs (Treasurer), John Tasker.

    AGM Format

    • 7:30 pm - Annual General Meeting;
    • Presentation on new RGSQ premises (delivered by Bob   Abnett, Chair of Gregory House Standing Committee);
    • Tea, coffee and light supper.
  • 29 Aug 2018 9:38 AM | Anonymous
    UPDATE ON NEW PREMISES: very good news! Over the past few weeks we have been going through a period of “due diligence” seeking confirmation that the property we have been considering in Spring Hill passes all the necessary inspections. This has included a building and pest inspection, town planning inspection, inspection by the Society’s Honorary Architect, Brisbane City Council and other searches (undertaken by our Solicitors) and analysis of body corporate financials (undertaken by our Treasurer and also our Solicitors). I am very pleased to report that all these investigations have been satisfactory and no issues of concern have been noted. RGSQ Council, therefore, expects to be going ahead with the purchase of this property and arranging the settlement date. We look forward to presenting a visual “show and tell” about the new premises including details of the location and internal space, parking options, public transport access and with opportunities for questions from members at the AGM on September 11.

    GEOGRAPHY PRIZES AND MEDALS: on Saturday, 4th August, I had the pleasure of presenting prizes for the Australian Geography Competition (AGC) to this year’s Queensland State winners, years 7-12. The awards were presented at the annual Geography Teachers Association of Queensland conference held at the University of Queensland. In talking to attending geography teachers (including some of my former Education degree students!) it was very pleasing to hear that they are keen to continue the association of the GTAQ with RGSQ.  

    Congratulations to the Australian team which has won two bronze medals at the XV International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) held in Quebec City, Canada, from July 31 to August 6, organised under the auspices of the International Geographical Union (IGU).

    ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: will be held on Tuesday 11th September at the Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Road, Paddington. The AGM is an important event in the Society’s annual calendar. It provides an opportunity for members to hear a review of the Society’s activities and achievements over the past year and the anticipated projects and plans for the year ahead. I encourage members to come along to the AGM and to participate in the deliberations. If any member wishes to nominate for Council for the 2018-2019 year, nomination forms are available through the RGSQ Office. We would appreciate it if nomination forms could be received at the RGSQ Office by Thursday, September 6th.    

    Dr Iraphne Childs, President

  • 21 Jul 2018 4:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 2018 iGeo is being held in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada from July 31 to August 6, 2018.


    Australian Team Students (announced in the March 2018 Bulletin):

    Sophie Ohlin, NSW, from Sydney Girls High,
    Harry Hall, SA, from Trinity College (Gawler),
    Hannah Wright, SA, from Walford Anglican School for Girls, and
    Phoebe Blaxill, WA, from St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, Karrinyup.

    Australian Team Leaders are:

    Kath Berg, Australian Geography Competition Committee and RGSQ member, and
    Liam Sloan, Geography Teachers Association of South Australia, and 2017 and 2018 Geography’s Big Week Out Coordinator

    The Australian Team will be departing for the 15th iGeo on the weekend of Saturday 28 July.

    We will update members on the Australian Team endeavours at the 15th iGeo in the September Bulletin.

    Australia’s participation at the 15th iGeo is supported by funding from the Australian Department of Education and Training, and Australian Geography Competition sponsorship from Monash University (School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment (Physical Geography), and School of Social Sciences (Human Geography), Macquarie University (Department of Geography and Planning and Department of Environmental Sciences), and The University of Queensland (School of Earth and Environmental Science).

  • 21 Jul 2018 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Phoebe Blaxill, one of the four students on the Australian team at the 2018 International Geography Olympiad in Quebec City, Canada

    What do you like about geography?
    What I like most about geography is discovering the ways humans interact in complex ways with the natural environment. I have always been a person who is interested in science but also humanities subjects. For me, geography is the ideal subject because it interlinks physical sciences with human sciences such as politics and economics. These interconnections enable us to explore ways to improve our world through sustainable development opportunities. I love this practical aspect that geography brings.

    Why do you want to represent your country at iGeo?
    I am so excited to be representing Australia at iGeo because I am looking forward to sharing my Australian geography experiences with other people from all around the world as well as learning about so many other countries. The world has so many unique and interesting places and I can’t wait to learn about different cultures and environments and meet young people who have a similar passion for learning.

    First published on Canadian Geographic

  • 21 Jul 2018 4:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    1985: Thomson Bronze Medal for advancement of geographical education, particularly in outdoor education and orienteering.

    2015 – 2016: RGSQ Councillor

    2015 – 2018: Coordinator of the RGSQ Library Group

    It is with sadness that we inform you of the death of fellow member, Rob Simson, on Sunday 15 July. A member of the RGSQ since 1970, Rob was a geographer and teacher ahead of his time and contributed a great deal to geography education in Queensland and Australia.

    The Society offer our condolences to the Simson family. Rob’s son, Neil, is an RGSQ member and Honorary Planner.

    The following words about Rob have been penned by Ian Stehbens, Rob’s friend and colleague, and RGSQ member.

    “Students have written that Rob challenged them softly with questions, and then gave them the experience to gain the knowledge to answer those questions. Young people felt very proud to have been involved in activities and learning experiences alongside Rob. Rob intentionally brought young people together in environments that meant they built friendships that continued into their adult lives. And those experiences were treasured as "life-changing", "greatest moments of their lives", "giving insights that changed [the] way of thinking and even [their] life choices", "fabulous experience". 

    Geography was taught by Rob to be lived in the world, to appreciate landscapes, to love outdoor recreation, to challenge young people to reach a fuller potential. He led students across the button grass bogs of the Overland Track in Tasmania before it was tamed, he took young people into Robinson Gorge and over Consuelo Tableland before the area was mapped and we relied on oil search aerial photos to navigate our way through the unknown.

    Rob was convenor of the Syllabus Committee at a time when major new paradigms in education were emerging. And we were at the vanguard of the new era: Settlement Patterns and Processes, People & Environment, Australian Geographical Inquiries were new curricula in senior geography. Fieldwork was championed by Rob, and many Weekend Field Camps were held to which teachers accompanied by a group of their students attended and together learnt and developed fieldwork and reporting in geography.

    Innovation was important to Rob, for he had assessed the limiting that old pedagogy had on people, and he could see a new world emerging if young people were inspired, challenged, and peer supported. One of his significant contributions was to give leadership to the Queensland Geography Competition, which brought reward for many fine students, and opened up new discoveries. One of those discoveries that stands out for me is Undarra Lava Tubes, which we encountered through the work of a year 10 distance education student, who lived on the grazing property that embraces those tubes. Today, Undarra is a tourism draw card.”

    The RGSQ would appreciate any information or stories about Rob for our records. Please email the Office at info@rgsq.org.au

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