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Queensland by Degrees

RGSQ initiated its Queensland by Degrees, a Community Geography (QBD) project, in February 2008. It was globally unique in its scope, its community focus, its comprehensiveness, the large area covered (i.e. 1.7 million square kilometres – almost seven times the area of the UK) and the relatively high resolution of detail provided. It is also unique in the amount of input volunteered by members of local communities with intimate knowledge of their area.

This project had three main aims:

    1. To create a comprehensive, community-oriented geography of Queensland as the Society’s contribution to the State’s 2009 Sesquicentenary. This geography is based on the 185 points within the State where whole degrees of latitude and longitude intersect, together with the area that falls within the ‘degree squares’ of which those intersection points are the centre. Each full degree square covers around 12,100 sq km,
    2. To demonstrate the relevance of geography to everyday life. With the focus on the development of a national curriculum that was current at the time, RGSQ members saw this as a good way of drawing attention to the fundamental importance of geography and the need for a strong and compulsory national geography curriculum through to Year 10, and
    3. To encourage and inspire schools, community groups and individuals to look at the places in which they live and to let the rest of us know what they saw as significant. This could cover anything in the landscape – the terrain, vegetation, fauna, land use, urban centres, infrastructures and industries. The Aboriginal occupation of the area, the impact of European exploration and settlement and the community’s experience of natural disasters such as cyclones and floods were also very relevant.

The decision to publish the results of the project on the Society’s web page was taken at an early stage. The reasoning there was by publishing on the web the “product” could become a dynamic and living knowledge-base of the State’s geography into the future through updates and additional material.


Confluence points of Latitude and Longitude for Queensland, Australia 

By mid-October 2010, the QBD web page contained a basic description and maps of every one of the 185 sites/squares. Some 84% of all points had been accurately located in the field by GPS or had at least been approached to within 5 km or so; a further 8% were either at sea or dangerously inaccessible; more than half of the remainder had a significant amount of detail on the web. At the sites visited, photographs were taken to illustrate the landscape at the point. This massive effort involved many RGSQ members, three local school groups (e.g. the Eromanga State School) and community members travelling at least 150,000 km by vehicle, quad bike, on foot or by sea to locate the confluence points and to gather information on the features within each degree square. It also involved many thousands of hours of research, writing and editing of the accompanying text and tables.

The whole project was funded by RGSQ (mainly the purchase of two quad bikes and trailers) and the generosity in time and money of the many members that participated in the field work. One estimate of the value of this effort suggested that had the same work been done by the public sector it would have cost over $5 million and taken six years to complete. Work on expanding and updating the content continued until around 2014 by which time the software that QBD ran under became unsupported making it virtually impossible to edit or update. By about 2016 access to the site became difficult and eventually it was removed from the Society’s web page. All of the material posted to the site has been recovered. It is hoped that at some stage in the not too distant future the project may be resuscitated.

Ken Granger,
RGSQ Member




The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd
Gregory Place, Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill Qld 4000
Tel 07 3368 2066
ABN 87 014 673 068
ACN 636 005 068

info@rgsq.org.au

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