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Mapping Brisbane History

23 Jun 2018 5:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

by Neville Buch

Neville is an independent historian, undertaking a major history project - “Mapping Brisbane History”, to date, primarily funded by Brisbane City Council. Neville has been working with many local historical societies spread across Brisbane City, as part of the process of combining the locational aspects of various historical sites spread across Brisbane with modern day digital mapping. His presentation to the Map Group focussed on the mapping aspects of the total project.

In summary, his Presentation made it clear that a huge amount of geographical/historical knowledge and technical digital mapping/website design work and effort is undertaken to create the website Mapping Brisbane History  Such ‘background work’ then makes it quite easy for the website user to click on an identified historic site located within an identified local area, leading to a side panel of information (up to 200 words) coming onto the webpage screen describing the historic site and what it is about.

Neville advised Map Group that most local historical societies work at the district level and it is difficult for them to think and operate at a higher level, such as regional. Whereas, the starting point of the mapping process for the website had to begin at the regional level across Metropolitan Brisbane. The boundaries of these initial ‘mapping units’ were influenced by the historic sequence of development of the settlements which now make up Brisbane. These settlements generally followed the creeks located to the north and south of the Brisbane River, versus the more traditional view of the “North/South divide” of Brisbane along the River. This more geographic process generated 11 regions within Metropolitan Brisbane. The development of regions took different directions in settlements and urbanisation, which also enables the imaging of the boundaries of each region. For an example, the South-Central region generally started from the north and headed south, and followed the arterial pathways towards Ipswich and Beaudesert, between the Oxley and Norman creek catchments.

The next significant mapping phase was the generation of Local Study Areas (LSAs), which synchronised the “mapping of history” with the spatial views where a historical district is considered much more in relation to its neighbouring areas. This is an unusual view to that which is held by most local historical societies. The argument is that history of settlements and the social interaction across Brisbane does not match the local historical societies’ narrower and the more modern concept of historical districts. The evidence can be seen in how the history of settlement, spread out the over four broad periods or epochs of history within Brisbane: being early 19th century; late 19th century; early 20th century; and late 20th century. This is important to the identification of historic sites. The process created 66 LSAs across Metropolitan Brisbane and the local historical societies extensively engaged in the project providing their knowledge of local historic sites within the LSAs associated with their district.

The historic sites cover a wide range of activities, based upon the social and cultural elements of the people who lived within the landscapes of these LSAs. The sites include heritage buildings, schools, community halls, churches, and a wide range of other historic features of a local community.

Bob Abnett, Coordinator, Map Group.

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