The Royal GeographicalSociety of Queensland Ltd
L-R: Geoff Heard, Sheena Gillman, Dave Harper
September’s Geography in Conversation provided a valuable opportunity to hear expert perspectives on monitoring and managing threatened species populations across Queensland.
The Threatened Species Index (TSX) seeks to measure the change in abundance over time of 278 species by collating data from monitoring programs across Australia. Dr Geoff Heard, Science Advisor for the project at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) gave an overview of recent trends for birds, mammals and plants. From 1990-2022 the TSX has decreased by 56% in Queensland; however, the TSX is stabilising in sites actively managed for conservation. More data is needed for frogs, fish and insects to better capture changes across the entire ecosystem.
Sheena Gillman from BirdLife Australia illuminated the practical difficulties of monitoring programs. There are believed to be up to 50 individual Eastern Bristlebirds surviving but there have been no confirmed sightings for 10 years. Its habitat consists of dense native grass close to rainforest along the northern NSW and South East QLD border. Some of this habitat is rugged terrain or private land neither included in the TSX nor accessible to volunteers doing field work. Analysing data from newly installed passive acoustic monitors and a captive breeding program underway at Currumbin will require significant funding and time to be successful.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the most critically threatened mammals in the world, but the population has rebounded from 100 wombats in 2006 to 300 today. Principal Conservation Officer Dave Harper from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science spoke of the activities underway among the two existing populations in conjunction with partner organisations. Traditional techniques (e.g. predator-proof fencing to keep dogs and foxes out) and innovative approaches (e.g. introducing grazing into conservation areas to control invasive buffel grass) are in place to sustain habitat suitable for the growing number of wombats.
The Geography in Conversation committee would like to thank John and Mary Nowill for their smooth moderation of a fascinating discussion.
Contributed by Riley Kernaghan
Register for upcoming Geography in Conversation discussion forums.
For the past decade, Queensland Globe has enabled government, industry and the general public to visualise and explore state-wide spatial datasets. GeoResGlobe was introduced in 2019 and focuses on mining and exploration data.
The Department of Resources is commencing a review of Queensland Globe and GeoResGlobe to help drive innovation and deliver enhanced functionality. Take the survey to share your insights and help shape the future of spatial data access in Queensland.
With serious bushfires affecting the Western Downs in Qld and cyclone activity around our coasts, maybe you have been wondering what is happening with our weather patterns? What is the forecast for the next few weeks?
Large areas of western Queensland are hot and dry, hence the bushfire risk, but tropical lows recently developed across northern Australian waters with two - TC Freddy in the West and TC Gabrielle in the Coral Sea - becoming tropical cyclones. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) indicates that while the current La Niña event continues to ease, “the atmosphere has been slower to respond and remains La Niña-like” (BOM 14/2/2023). Consequently, monsoon conditions are expected to continue, resulting in above-average rainfall for many parts of northern Australia. The BOM issues interesting weekly climate updates which explain what is happening - they indicate a transition coming around late February. Here are the key climate drivers that BOM monitors for Australia's climate:
SSTs sea surface temperatures have weakened since their peak during spring 2022 but are still warmer than average to the south and south-east of Australia resulting in greater evaporation, humidity, cloudiness, and rainfall. All models anticipate SSTs in the central Pacific will return to neutral ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) levels during late February, with neutral conditions (neither La Niña nor El Niño) anticipated until at least mid-autumn.
SAM Southern Annular Mode refers to the north-south movement of the strong westerly winds that blow almost continuously in the mid- to high-latitudes of the southern hemisphere. These westerly winds are associated with storms and cold fronts that move from west to east. The SAM is currently strongly positive, indicating increased summer rain, but is anticipated to ease over the coming weeks and then remain neutral.
MJO Madden–Julian Oscillation is a feature of the tropical atmosphere, an eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days. A strong MJO pulse is currently over the western Pacific bringing monsoonal conditions and above-average rainfall across northern Australia. This MJO pulse is forecast to move into the eastern Pacific in late February.
IOD Indian Ocean Dipole is the difference between SSTs of the tropical western and eastern Indian Ocean. The IOD has three phases: positive, neutral, and negative. A positive IOD results in suppressed rainfall and conversely a negative IOD results in enhanced rainfall in the Australian region. Currently the IOD is neutral and is having little influence on Australian climate.
The BOM also notes that climate change continues to influence Australian and global climates. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.47 °C over the period 1910–2021. There has also been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.
Contributed by Dr Iraphne Childs
Dr Annie Lau grew up in Hong Kong where she completed her high school education and her undergraduate and M. Phil degrees. She completed her PhD in Singapore. Annie is currently a Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, UQ, specializing in geomorphology, coastal science, coastal change, storms, and tsunamis in the Pacific and Australia. Annie is an RGSQ Councilor and Treasurer.
Dr Annie Lau in 2016 visiting Lavena, Taveuni, Fiji
Why did you first become interested in being a geographer?
I have always loved maps and spent hours reading road maps with my younger brother. Geography was my favourite subject in school. I enjoyed learning about mountains, rivers, population change and urban development. I was particularly amazed by the fact that I could apply the concepts learned in class to better understand the natural disasters reported in the news. I feel blessed that I am still working in the field of natural hazards, and that I can share my passion with students as I teach the “Environmental hazards” course at UQ now.
What do you see as your main contributions to Geography?
My research focuses on using landforms, rocks, and sediments to understand how and why coastlines change through time. Some changes are gradual (e.g. accumulation of sand to form dunes), while some happen within minutes (e.g. erosion caused by natural hazard events). The results of my work can help stakeholders and policymakers to make better decisions in risk and land management for protecting coastal environments, habitats, and people.
What has been your greatest joy in your work as a geographer?
Spending time and talking with people in coastal communities, especially in more isolated, remote places, motivates me to research coastal hazards as I can help people to understand the past and be better prepared for future hazards like cyclones and tsunamis. At the same time, I always feel very contented and excited to learn about nature as local people share their knowledge with me generously.
The RGSQ is a proud supporter of geographical science in Queensland. Between 1992 - 2012 the Society and its passionate members supported seven Scientific Studies at sites of interest across the state. Each study generated a detailed report about the site and relevant scientific outcomes.
The RGSQ Publications Committee has worked with the University of Queensland Library to digitise and publish these reports in UQ eSpace, an open-access repository of research materials.
We would like to thank Kellie Ashley (SEES Liaison Librarian), Tracey Powell (eSpace Librarian), and Dulcie Stewart (Metadata Creation Officer), for their help in digitising and making these reports available in eSpace.
Follow the links below to access the reports:
John Tasker, RGSQ President
With restrictions easing and hospitalisation rates dropping, I encourage members to take full opportunity of the in-person and hybrid events currently organised for the coming months. We have an exciting program ahead, including our March Lecture from Steve Noakes who is set to provide insights into the early history of Binna Burra and the RGSQ. In addition, event registrations are now open for several activities, so please visit the RGSQ website to ensure you don’t miss out!
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have been a fascinating event. With more than 180km between the key venues in Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou, the 2022 Winter Olympics are one of the most spatially distributed in over 20 years. While engineering solutions have solved many challenges, including a driverless high-speed railway and more than 350 snow machines, the environmental cost of any modern Olympics remains a major concern. I encourage you to follow the links below to learn more about some of the key achievements and challenges of the recent Winter Olympics. As Queensland progresses towards our own Olympic Games in 2032, understanding the challenges of the events today is critical to inform how we can do better over the next decade.
As discussed last year, the Council and I will be working on a new Strategic Plan for RGSQ over the coming months. To support this work, we will shortly be releasing a survey so that all members can provide their input to shape the direction of RGSQ over the coming four years. I look forward to your participation and encourage any member to reach out to me to discuss our opportunities and challenges.
Dr Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President
Dear Members, I hope this finds you in good health and enjoying the start of our spring weather, awaiting the arrival of the purple jacaranda haze adorning our city - opportunities for some colourful shots to submit to our 2021 photographic competition - City and Townscapes of Queensland. Some excellent prizes are on offer including a “Members’ Choice” prize.
As President of RGSQ I have served in this role for the past four years (2017-2021). Under our Constitution no member shall serve more than four consecutive one-year terms as President and so I shall be stepping down at the forthcoming AGM, passing the baton onto the next President. If elected I will continue to serve as a Councillor for the coming year to assist in the transition. I am humbly and continually grateful to the Society’s membership for the opportunity to be President for two terms (my previous term was 2003-2005). It has been a tremendous privilege, honour, and pleasure. Over the past four years RGSQ has achieved some momentous milestones. I am so pleased to have participated in and, in some ways, helped to shape these achievements. So, if I may reflect on my term of office, here are some of the highlights.
The search for a new Society home and move from Milton:
in November 2017 I signed the sale of contract of our Milton premises. Over the next nine months Council investigated 28 premises across a range of suburbs. Nowhere was perfect, but we settled on Fortescue Street Spring Hill in August 2018 based largely on the advantages of a central location. After the process of refitting Gregory Place for our purposes, we invited members to the Open Day on 8th April 2019 and had the official opening by the Governor, his Excellency Paul de Jersey AC on 18 July 2019.
Changing our legal status from Letters Patent to a Company Limited by Guarantee: Our Society was set up under Letters Patent from Queen Victoria in 1885. Uncertainty surrounding governing and liability provisions applying to Councillors, employees and membership under this regime suggested that it was no longer an optimal legal structure. Bringing us into the 21st Century, changing to a CLG provided an appropriate platform for the Society’s future. After a lengthy legal process, development of a new Constitution and By-laws and wide consultation with members this change was approved at the September 2018 AGM. Importantly, we retained our status as a Royal Society and a not-for-profit charitable entity.
Safeguarding Collections: The Society has been accumulating artefacts, the library and map collections and our own archives since 1885. Extensive on-going work by Collections committee members with funding from the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grants has enabled Significance Assessment and Preservation Needs Analysis for this important component of RGSQ.
Reviving Committees: I have enjoyed chairing the revival of two committees which had been inactive for a few years: Scientific Studies developing a project on Stradbroke Island and Publications organising photographic competitions and publishing an inaugural RGSQ calendar.
For the future, the Society’s finances are in the good hands of a dedicated and capable finance committee; there is much positive energy in the Treks & Activities Committee, Map Group and Young Geographers special interest groups. The AGC is powering ahead with a new coordinator and an enthusiastic committee moving the Competition into the digital age. Our capacity to present monthly lectures both via zoom and in-person at RGSQ premises, record and display on the RGSQ YouTube channel, now has the potential to increase RGSQ’s profile more widely. While over the past 18 months the challenges of COVID-19 have had major impacts on RGSQ, I have observed that the Society has prevailed with flexibility, adaptation, strength and the dedicated work of Council, members, and staff.
I sincerely thank all who have assisted me over the years on Council, member volunteers and office staff through some difficult times and some great achievements. I wish the incoming President every success in leading the Society with a collegiate and wise Council, supportive office staff and a wonderful membership.
With best wishes, Iraphne Childs, President
Dear Members, I hope members in Southeast Queensland have managed to stay well and cope with the recent lockdown. At this writing we are, thankfully, out of lockdown, but remaining vigilant under some restrictions to control the re-emergence of the COVID Delta strain. Despite the challenges of holding the Olympics in Tokyo with its high rate of COVID cases, the event has been a success and at least it gave us something to keep us entertained during lockdown. How good were those Australian swimmers and athletes!
Geography reveals new vulnerability in Brisbane’s lockdown:
The recent Southeast Queensland lockdown has presented a new and largely unanticipated vulnerability due to the geography and demography of the 11 affected LGAs in Brisbane. Consider the list of the 10 private and State schools at the core of the outbreak:
This list includes most of the elite and wealthiest schools in Brisbane. Students attending these schools and their families were required to isolate and/or quarantine for up to two weeks, many obliged to remain in quarantine longer as more cases have emerged within those families. Many of these students and their friends in a wider circle of western Brisbane suburbs are from households where parents work in professional fields. According to the ABS 2016 Census the most common occupation in Greater Brisbane was Professionals 23%. This includes medical specialists and practitioners and healthcare workers. It was reported (ABC News) that more than 400 medical professionals were forced into isolation during the outbreak in Southeast Queensland due to their children’s attendance at the listed schools. This was a first for essential medical workers, who are normally allowed to work during lockdowns. This development placed a burden on our hospitals, especially in emergency departments, with non-isolating medical staff having to pick up the extra workload.
Keep checking the RGSQ website for updates on these and other Society events.
AGM and Council nominations
The RGSQ Annual General Meeting is on 19 October. If any member would like to nominate for the 2021-2022 Council, please email the Office at email@example.com for a nomination form or to discuss a role on the Council please feel free to contact me at 0419 756 936.
With best wishes, Iraphne Childs, President
References: ABC News 2/8/2021A COVID-19 Delta cluster is spreading across major Queensland schools. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-02/qld-covid-tracking-delta-outbreak-schools-students-cluster/100342818
ABS 2016 Census QuickStats Greater Brisbane. Code 3GBRI (GCCSA) https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/3GBRI?opendocument
ABC News 4/8/2021Queensland's COVID-19 Delta outbreak forces hundreds of key healthcare workers into quarantine https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-04/qld-covid-doctors-in-home-quarantine-affected-by-school-cluster/100345542
by Steve Turton
A small group of RGSQ Sunshine Coast members braved the sunny but cool conditions to enjoy a forest walk and picnic at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve near Maleny. The forest walk was led by Professor Steve Turton, convenor of the RGSQ Sunshine Coast group. Steve gave a short field lecture, starting with the break-up of Gondwanaland 45 million years ago through to the present. This included a brief overview of the widespread volcanic activity that affected the area from 30-22 million years, which has shaped the modern landscape including the formation of the Glasshouse Mountains. The scenic reserve is 55 ha in size and provides an exceptional example of the complex sub-tropical rainforest that once covered the rich basalt soils of the Blackall Range, prior to European colonisation of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The forest contains a diverse array of flora and fauna, many with ancient Gondwanan origins.
RGSQ group, Mary Cairncross scenic reserve, 20 June 2021; image courtesy of Ralph Carlisle.
After enjoying the forest walk and hearing interesting observations from bird watchers in the group, members gathered for a picnic winter solstice lunch, having been joined by the Society’s president, Iraphne Childs, and Ralph Carlisle. Discussions were held about future activities for local members, including occasional guest lectures, other interesting site visits on the Sunshine Coast and a possible joint excursion with the Brisbane members.
By Iraphne Childs
Dear Members, I hope you are managing to keep well during the colder weather. Although we are now in winter and Brisbane recently experienced a cold snap, the winter solstice has passed, so we can soon look forward to days getting longer again.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice: the solstices are the two times each year when the tilt in Earth's axis lines up most with the direction of the Sun, creating the maximum difference between daylight and night-time hours. The winter solstice is the day of the year that has the least daylight hours, the darkest and shortest day of the year. In 2021 the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurred on Monday, June 21. Across Australia various communities mark the winter solstice with feasting and ceremony.
Hobart’s DARK MOFO festival delves into centuries-old winter solstice rituals, including a mid-winter feast and colourful parade at the Hobart waterfront. The annual Hobart nude Solstice Swim usually has more than 1000 people dropping their clothes and inhibitions to welcome back the light after the longest, coldest night in the nation. Brrrr!! In Brisbane, the Northey Street city Farm had a Winter Solstice festival on 19 June 2021 with a bonfire, solstice ceremony, lantern parade, music, dance and lots of food.
Geographical conferences: The Institute of Australian Geographers & New Zealand Geographical Society (IAG/NZCS) combined conference is in Sydney 6–9 July 2021. The conference theme, Remembering, Reimagining Geography, considers how geography evolved, its influences on the human world and the contribution the discipline can make to more just and sustainable futures.
The Geography Teachers Association conference (GTAQ) will be held at the QUT Kelvin Grove campus in Brisbane on 31 July; conference theme is Visible Geography.
At RGSQ in July we present a very important public lecture Bushfire - an Intensifying Risk for Queensland by Lee Johnson AFSM FIFireE Commissioner (Ret) QFES on 6 July. Hope you can attend either in-person or via zoom. To register, visit https://rgsq.org.au/event-4343673.
TAAC’s Christmas in July in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland on 13 July is already fully booked out. A reminder that our trips and activities are popular so keep an eye out on the website for events that you may wish to join.
The 2021 AGM will be on 19th October. I hope that we will be able to hold this important meeting at our premises this year, rather than by zoom. Although still months away, I invite members to consider nominating for the Society’s Council. This is my 4th consecutive year as President and under our Constitution the limit is a maximum of four (4) consecutive one-year terms to serve in this role. So, the position of President will be vacant at the October AGM. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any further information on any of these roles.
Enjoy the Brisbane winter!
Best wishes, Iraphne Childs, President
Geoscience Australia. Summer and Winter Solstice. https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/astronomical/summer-and-winter-solstice
BOM Solstices and equinoxes: the reasons for the seasons, 21 June 2018 http://media.bom.gov.au/social/blog/1762/solstices-and-equinoxes-the-reasons-for-the-seasons/
Northey Street City Farm (2021) https://www.nscf.org.au/solstice-festivals
Dark Mofo 2021 https://tasmania.events/event/13161855-a/dark-mofo-2021#gallery-1
Solar diagram: Media BOM, 2018; Dark Mofo: Dark Mofo 2021
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The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd.Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill QLD email@example.com | +61 7 3368 2066ABN 87 014 673 068 | ACN 636 005 068
Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM, Governor of Queensland