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Vale Robin (Rob) Simson, B.A., M.Sc., M.Ed. 1936 - 2018

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

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The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd.
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