Historical coastlines (community perspectives) - Assessing intergenerational attitudes to environmental change

Historical Coastlines (community perspectives), was a joint CQU/Coastal CRC research task applying historical methodology to investigate the relationships between local communities and their coastal and estuarine environments. Focussing on the Fitzroy River and the Capricorn Coast its aim was to help foster awareness of the past states of local environments, develop a better understanding of intergenerational attitudes to environmental change, and consequently to encourage an appreciation that environmental management is an intergenerational concern.

Current projects:

Sculpting the Capricorn Coast: bridges, barriers and beach erosion
(Cosgrove & Mullins)

Fitzroy River improvements 1876
Fitzroy River improvements 1876 (click on image to get a larger view - 61KB)

This project aimed to stimulate public curiosity about the physical changes that have occurred on the Capricorn Coast over the past 100 years or so, to encourage residents to take an active interest in the impact of development on the local natural environment. It takes as a unifying theme the construction of the Scenic Highway in the late 1930s, which was built to connect the coastal towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park. The analysis included investigations into the re-development of Yeppoon main beach esplanade in the 1930s and 40s, the construction of the first Ross Creek bridge in 1925-26, the road spur to Double Head (now Rosslyn Bay boat harbour) and the Causeway Bridge (1939). The examination of each infrastructure decision revealed useful insights into historical motivations for development and re-development on the Capricorn Coast, and community responses to those developments.


Taming a ‘disorderly, hydra-headed, tidal river’.
(Webster & Mullins)
Flood on the Fitzroy 1918
Flood on the Fitzroy 1918 (click on image to get a larger view - 54KB)

This project explored the historical relationship between the people of Rockhampton and the Fitzroy River. It involved detailed research into the ‘training’ of the estuary from the 1870s to about the 1930s, which was undertaken to scour the river bed and make it navigable for shipping from the sea sixty kilometres to the town. It also has resulted in the publication of a monograph (pp.134), Marooned: Rockhampton's Great Flood of 1918, which describes how the people of Rockhampton dealt with the greatest calamity that nature ever inflicted upon them. Another outcome of this project was a ‘Timeline of Change on the Fitzroy 1855-1955’.


Image & Manuscript Archive
Quay Street Wharfs
Quay Street Wharfs (click on image to get a larger view - 38KB)

The project also developed an historical image and manuscript archive illustrative and informative of physical environmental change in the Fitzroy River estuary and on the Capricorn Coast. The archive was compiled as a first port of call for individuals and community groups who, for instance, might be interested in researching historical change in specific locations, or baseline biophysical data, or to demonstrate land use patterns, illustrate cultural continuities, or simply to satisfy their curiosity about the past states and uses of these local environments. If you click through to the archive via the link above you will also find a case study of these images and manuscripts might be used. It is called 'Shifting sands'.

The archival material was collected throughout the life of the project, initially from institutional repositories, in particular the Capricornia Collection of the CQU Library, the Rockhampton and District Historical Society collection, the Emu Park Historical Museum collection, and the Capricorn Coast Historical Society collection. We are indebted to the management and staff of CQU Library, the executives of the local historical societies and museum for their friendly cooperation. So far the image archive contains about 700 photographs. As part of the project local historians have undertaken the laborious and time-consuming process of accurately identifying and dating the images.


Yepoon Main Beach circa 1920
Yeppoon Main Beach circa 1920
Darumbal memories of the Fitzroy
(Hatfield & Mullins)

A collaboration with Doug Hatfield, executive member of the Darumbal-Noolar Murree Aboriginal Corporation for Land and Culture, native title claimants for the northern side of the Fitzroy River estuary, to collect traditional stories and more contemporary memories of Darumbal life on the River and adjacent waterways, and incorporate them with ethnographic evidence to produce a brief but overarching narrative of the Darumbal relationship with the coastal zone.


Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI) at Joskeleigh, Keppel Sands & Moores Creek: identity and place
(Lander & Mullins)

The aim of this project wais to describe and theorise the ASSI relationship to place in the coastal and estuarine zone of the Fitzroy region, and taking that into account make an appraisal of the ASSI status as stakeholders in the activities of the Coastal CRC and other environmental agencies active in the region.

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© Coastal Zone Australia Ltd., 2006
Last Updated:
30 June 2006