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  • 18 Mar 2019 3:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Wild Apricot for Members is a free App for IOS (Apple) or Android phones that is very convenient for managing your RGSQ events. You can book and pay for events as well as checking your bookings. With a finger click you can ensure that all your bookings go into your calendar as a reminder, just in case you forget. How easy is that?

    Download Wild Apricot for Members from the App Store and use your normal RGSQ account/password to login. Next time you open the App, it will automatically log you in. And yes - you can also pay your membership fees and update your personal profile. New features will be added from time to time.

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  • 1 Mar 2019 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Iraphne Childs

    Many members will have known, may have worked with, or at least be aware of Dr. John Sinclair, the pioneering conservationist who spent decades lobbying to stop sand mining and logging on Fraser Island. Sadly, John died on 3rd February aged 79 after a battle with cancer.

    John was born in Maryborough and formed the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO) in 1971. In the 1970s he took the then-Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen's government to court for failing to protect the natural environment of Fraser Island. With his solicitor, Mr Stephen Comino, he subsequently took a case to the High Court of Australia which overturned the decision of a Mining Warden to grant a mining lease on Fraser Island (Sinclair v Mining Warden at Maryborough (1975). John Sinclair made great personal sacrifices in the two-decade battle for protection of Fraser Island. He was left bankrupt. However, the public attention his efforts and the court cases received paved the way for Fraser Island’s eventual listing as a World Heritage-listed site in 1992 assisted by the Fraser Government’s decision to cancel export licences for mineral sands.

    John gave a lecture at RGSQ Milton in February 2009 entitled “The Great Sandy Region: natural wonder of the world”. In this lecture he emphasised the geographical and biological uniqueness of Fraser Island, saying that “this fragile and beautiful region must be protected from unsympathetic development and its wilderness qualities saved from pressures on the land and surrounding estuaries”. Clearly, in 2009 he was still very concerned about the future of Fraser Island, despite its World-Heritage listing.

    John’s conservation efforts have been widely recognised: in 1976 he was named Australian of the Year for his leading role in protecting Fraser Island; in 1990 he was honoured with the United Nations Environment Program’s Global 500 Award for individuals who made a significant role in protecting the environment; in 1993 he received the Goldman Environmental Prize; in 2014 he was appointed in the Order of Australia and in 2017 received an Honorary doctorate from the University of the Sunshine Coast. John’s achievements and passion for the environment will continue to provide inspiration to protect the values of our precious World Heritage Sites. His latest project was to extend the Fraser Island Great Walk by building a 52 kilometre-long George Haddock Track. Mr Sinclair's family have requested that he be remembered by donations to further the wisest possible use of Fraser Island. A public memorial service will be held in about a month.


    Tony Moore, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/2/19 The conservationist who stopped mining on Fraser Island dies at 79

    The Courier Mail “Fraser Island protector praised for his courage”, 6 February, 2019 Environmental Defenders Office, 5 February 2019, Remembering Dr John Sinclair AO, the dedicated conservationist who helped protect Fraser Island from mining for future generations.

  • 1 Mar 2019 7:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A new technique for monitoring severe weather in Australia

    Professor Hamish McGowan

    Professor Hamish McGowan is a Geographer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Queensland. His research interests include meteorological hazards, earth surface-atmosphere interactions, weather and climates of Alpine and mountainous regions, the role of atmospheric dust in local, regional and global climate dynamics and palaeoclimate reconstruction.

    Professor McGowan has been developing a new field of research into severe weather – in particular thunderstorm and bushfire meteorology. The research is based in eastern Australia making use of the natural thunderstorm hotspot of southeast Queensland, and the bushfire prone states of NSW and Victoria. The research is supported by partners in the Bureau of Meteorology, NSW Rural Fire Service, Victoria Country Fire Authority and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

    This severe weather research is distinguished internationally by the novel use of a portable dual polarised x-band radar (UQ-XPOL). Japanese Radar manufacturer Furuno is providing technical support and software upgrades to enable new radar scanning patterns to observe storm and smoke plume dynamics. Professor McGowan believes this work will have far reaching international applications as his team develops mobile radar specifically designed for real-time wildfire observation and pyro-convective plume dynamics.

    Photo: Courtesy of H. McGowan


    McGowan, H.A., Soderholm, J.S., Callow, N.J., McGrath, G.S. and Campbell, M.L. (2018) Global warming in the context of 2000 years of Australian alpine temperature and snow cover. Scientific Reports-Nature Publications, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-22766-z.

    McCarthy, N., McGowan, H., Guyot, A. and Dowdy, A. (2018) Mobile X-Pol radar: A new tool for investigating pyroconvection and associated wildfire meteorology. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0118.1.

  • 1 Mar 2019 7:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members, it was great to see so many of you at our Welcome evening on February 5th. The overview presentations from our special interest groups gave a good idea of what is planned for this year’s Society activities, overseas tours, treks and monthly lectures. I hope you can enjoy participating in some of these events.

    The re-fitting of our new home in Level 1/28 Fortescue street Spring Hill is proceeding as planned. The Gregory House committee has negotiated with tradesmen to undertake the work we require to change the layout of the space to fit our purposes. With the Christmas-New Year holidays it was not possible to commence construction until late January. It is anticipated that the work will be completed in March. At present there is limited access to the premises, so we will have the March lecture meeting at the Lavalla Centre in Rosalie. The RGSQ office in Fortescue street will be staffed throughout and can be contacted as usual.

    As always with geographical interest, we have noted the extreme weather events experienced across the globe in January-February 2019. In both the northern hemisphere winter and southern hemisphere summer climatic conditions have been more severe than those experienced at the same time in 2018. The Mid-West of the USA experienced a “polar vortex” – a super cold period with temperatures plummeting to minus 40deg. in some parts and with heavy snow drifts causing road and air transport chaos.

    Australia’s heatwave January 2019; source Bureau of Meteorology

    At the same time in Australia, a prolonged heatwave affected much of the country throughout the month of January, breaking records for duration and individual daily extremes. On January 24th the town of Port Augusta (SA) reached a new record of 49.5 deg., while Cloncurry (Qld.) claimed an unenviable record of 43 consecutive days over 40 °C. Meanwhile 53 bushfires have been burning in Tasmania, some still some out of control at the time of this writing. Imagine the damage to flora and fauna in our temperate world heritage areas of Tasmania!

    Townsville flooding. Source: ABC News, 5 February 2019

    North Queensland received very heavy rainfall caused by the combined effects of the arrival of the annual monsoon trough with an embedded low pressure system. Townsville was the worst affected recording more than a year's worth of rain (1,134 millimetres) in nine days until Monday 4th February. Widespread flooding occurred in the city. With the Ross River dam reaching a flood-mitigation capacity of 240%, the flood gates had to be fully opened on February 4th causing further inundation in many parts of the city. Initially welcomed on previously drought-affected properties in north-western Queensland, the flooding rains have unfortunately resulted in heavy losses of cattle by drowning. An enormous relief effort is being undertaken by Emergency Service agencies, the ADF, the SES, Red Cross and other volunteers. If I am deployed with Red Cross to assist with evacuation centres and recovery, I will give you a “geographer’s view from the ground” in the next Bulletin. In the meantime, stay safe for the rest of summer!


    Steve Turton (Geographer, RGSQ Thomson Medallist) The stubborn high-pressure system behind Australia’s record heatwaves; The Conversation 25 January 2019

    Port Augusta's hot weather record broken again; Sun Herald 24 January, 2019

    BOM says Townsville flooding far from over, as city lies trapped in weather 'convergence' zone; ABC News, 5 February 2019

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 24 Jan 2019 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sir Augustus Charles Gregory (1819-1905) was born two hundred years ago on August 1, 1819 in Nottinghamshire, England. This year marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. Council have decided to celebrate his birth, given that he was our Society’s Foundation President and his descendants left a substantial legacy to the RGSQ in 1940, allowing the organisation to purchase its own building. However, Gregory was also a noted Australian surveyor, explorer and administrator – he was Queensland’s first Surveyor-General. Gregory also served in Queensland’s Legislative Council and was Mayor of the Town of Toowong (before its incorporation into the City of Brisbane in 1924).

    A small display about Gregory’s association with the RGSQ will be created for viewing by members. Occasional Bulletin articles will outline some of his noted achievements and one of the monthly lectures will be devoted to the topic of Gregory. Interested members can also visit the Toowong Cemetery and view his grave which was restored in 1993 with support from the RGSQ.

    Image: Rocketrod1960 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

    Peter Griggs

    Further reading:

    Duncan Waterson, “Gregory, Sir Augustus Charles (1819-1905)” Australian Dictionary of Biography.

    William Kitson and Judith McKay, Surveying Queensland 1839-1945 (Brisbane: Queensland Department of Natural Resources and the Queensland Museum, 2006).

    Wendy Birman, Gregory of Rainworth (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979).

    “Gregory Birthday Celebration,” Queensland Geographical Journal, Vol. 18 (1903): 117-35.

  • 24 Jan 2019 5:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On behalf of the Society’s Council and staff, I wish all RGSQ members a happy and successful New Year in good health and prosperity.

    While many of you will have spent Christmas relaxing by the beach or at home in air-con, my family and I enjoyed a snowy white Christmas and greeted the New Year in Invermere, British Columbia in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Most days the temperature reached a maximum of minus 9 or 10 deg. C. but our “Airbnb” chalet was super warm with 2 log fires and central heating.

    The small town of Invermere, 800km east of Vancouver in the Columbia River Valley, has an interesting history. It is the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa and Shuswap First Nations people. In 1890 European settlers named it Copper City because of the rich copper deposits in the surrounding East Kootenay and Purcell spectacular mountain ranges. Adjacent to Lake Windermere, the town’s name was changed in 1909 to Invermere (Gaelic for “mouth of the lake).

    The lake freezes over in winter enabling people to enjoy skating, ice-hockey and the Canadian game of curling, a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target goal. In this photo the locals are having a “BBQ” in a tin brazier on the ice on a Sunday afternoon !

    The Columbia River valley is famous for its hot springs. We took a dip in Radium Hot Spring, just north of Invermere. Relaxing in the 39deg.C spring water while snow falls from the surrounding trees is an unusual and delightful experience.

    Vancouver in winter is very rainy but we had a few fine days and saw the sights of this beautiful Pacific coast city. Canada’s 2nd largest port, Vancouver has an efficient and very user-friendly public transport system – buses, trolley buses, trains and subways. Highlights of our visit included the Museum of Anthropology located on the spacious grounds of the University of British Columbia, Grouse Mountain cable car and ski resort only 45 minutes by Seabus across the harbour and then local bus, and Capilano Gorge and suspension bridge, where the Christmas lights turned the Capilano forest into a magical fairyland.

    Photos: Iraphne Childs

    Best wishes to all, and I look forward to seeing you at the next RGSQ lecture night.

    Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

  • 4 Dec 2018 7:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear members, as 2018 draws to a close it is time to reflect on a momentous year for the Society. I would like to thank all those members who have continued to support and assist RGSQ through this year of change. Of necessity, we have been a “movable feast” in our lecture and meeting venues but have always been encouraged by members and non-members continuing to attend our excellent program of presentations. We also reflect with sadness on the passing, this year, of several long-standing members whom we remember with gratitude for their contributions to RGSQ. We now have a new home in Spring Hill which is currently undergoing some fit-out modifications. It is hoped that we can start the new year with an official opening and welcome in February.

    Christmas around the world happens in many landscapes, climes and formats. Here are some interesting Christmas celebrations and feasting traditions from different parts of the world.

    In Bethlehem, a star is set on a pole in the village square and Christmas is celebrated by the Protestant, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, Syrian and Armenian churches. Services are conducted at the same time in different languages in different parts of the Church of the Nativity. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where there is a 14-point silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus. Feasting includes turkey spiced with pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stuffed with rice, pine nuts and almonds.

    In Ethiopia Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January (Eastern Orthodox, Julian calendar). Christmas Mass takes place both in ancient churches carved from volcanic rock and also in modern churches designed in three concentric circles. Pilgrims receive candles as they enter the church and walk around the circles three times. Feasting includes sourdough pancakes and spicy chicken stew.

    In Norway the Christmas gnome, Nisse, guards farm animals and plays tricks on children who forget to leave him a bowl of porridge and Julebukk, a goat-like being who traditionally accompanied the Viking god Thor, makes an appearance. Norwegian Christmas fare includes lye-treated codfish, boiled potatoes, rice porridge, gingerbread and punch.

    In India Christians decorate banana and mango trees, fill churches with red poinsettia flowers, give presents to family and charities and place clay oil-lamps on rooftops and walls. Christmas foods include Jalebi cakes, Mathri flaky biscuits and spicy coconut sweets.

    In Canada, in Nova Scotia, descendants of Scottish highlanders sing carols and belsnicklers (masked mummers) ring bells and go from house to house seeking treats such as maple cream cookies. In British Columbia Christmas turkey may be accompanied by smoked salmon, with a dessert of Christmas pudding with brandy sauce – most like an English Christmas.


    Maybe you’d like to try some of those dishes – even bring some to our RGSQ Christmas gathering!☺ – on Tuesday 4th December at the Lavalla Centre, Paddington.

    Meanwhile, can you identify the geographical origin of these Christmas greetings?

    Feliz navidad, Selamat hari natal, Nadolig Llawen, Zalig Kerstfeest, Mele kalikimaka, Buon Natale, Craciun fericit, Joyeux Noël, Merii Kurisumasu, Nollaig shone dhuit, Wesolych Swiat Bozego, Narodzenia, Idah saidan wa sanah Jadidah, Frohliche Weihnachten, Shengdan jie kuai le, Kala Christougena, Nollaig chridheil, Schastlivogo Rozhdestva!

    Find out if you are correct at the Christmas party! I hope to see you there.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, good health and happiness, peace and prosperity in the New Year.

    Dr Iraphne Childs

  • 26 Nov 2018 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian Geography Strategic Plan, launched November 22, says "Australia should enhance & capitalise on existing skills/expertise in geographic information systems (GIS)/big data to address the challenges of our region & the emergence of the ‘China Century’”.

    RGSQ is a sponsor of the plan, with Dr. Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President, who represents the Society on the Australian Academy of Science National Committee, attending the launch of the strategic plan in Sydney on 22 November.

    The plan presents the state of play of geography as a discipline in Australia, provides a unified vision for Australian geography over the next decade and offers a framework for engaging research, teaching and industry that aligns strategically with contemporary social, economic and environmental challenges of our region.

    Addressing twenty-first century problems of sustainable development, climate change, regional development, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss necessitates an increasingly whole-of-government, industry and academia approach. The breadth and depth afforded by geographical understandings to these problems strongly positions Australian geographers to provide evidence-based research—informing and advancing innovative policy and practice. Given the need for an integrated approach, it is recommended that Australian governments at all levels better understand how Geography as a discipline enhances complex, multi-sectoral policy decisions by integrating knowledge across natural and built environments, society and the humanities through its unique perspectives of space, place and the environment.

    Key recommendations in the plan are:

    • That the significant role that Geography plays in schools, universities, research organizations, government and industry, and the contribution of the discipline to Australia’s society and economy, is enhanced;
    • That the work of Australian geographers is increasingly cited and referenced in policy and strategic documents;
    • That there are a greater number of scholarships for graduate geography students to pursue research in government priority areas;
    • That the National Committee for Geographical Sciences works with the Australian Academy of Science and other stakeholders to enhance school geography education (for example, by encouraging or making compulsory geography study to Year 10);
    • That the Australian Bureau of Statistics recognises Geography as a discipline in both the Fields of Research Codes and the Field of Education Codes. Not doing so places Geography at a disadvantage compared to other disciplines, weakening its identity both within and outside universities.

    Reference: National Committee for Geographical Sciences (NCGS),Australian Academy of Science, Canberra

  • 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

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