The Storied Landscape: A Queensland Collection

Luke Keogh (2011). The Storied Landscape: A Queensland Collection PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Luke Keogh
Thesis Title The Storied Landscape: A Queensland Collection
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-02
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Marion Stell
Dr Geoff Ginn
Dr Sean Ulm
Prof David Carter
Total pages 253
Total colour pages 42
Total black and white pages 211
Subjects 21 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary History’s train travels across the country capturing a film as it goes. The view from the train makes immediate the motion intrinsic to all landscapes. But this train, this film of the landscape, is not silent. Listen. There are words and stories and storytellers to be found: an intimate and evocative map of the landscape embedded with literatures and histories. To celebrate its sesquicentenary of responsible government an historical steam train travelled throughout Queensland, a north-eastern state of Australia. The train moved along a resource pathway from Mount Isa in the far west and travelled all the way to Townsville on the east coast; from cattle country to cane country, and all the while it was powered by Blair Athol’s famous steaming coal. It was an extraordinary moment in Queensland environmental histories where an image of resources collided with history and landscape. Sites of such wreckage are not just to be found with celebratory historical steam trains, but are scattered across Queensland. Indeed, so frequently do stories, landscapes and commodities collide, that they fuel The Storied Landscape. Commodities and resources are a defining way that Queenslanders have engaged with their environment. And so the archive of the land, the feel of its history, continuously leaves the residue of things. This thesis is a collection of stories and landscapes but it is a distinctly Queensland collection with resources framing the study. Three exploratory historical case studies focus on the Queensland commodities of pituri, coal and sugar. Challenging the normative economic perspective often given to these commodities, especially coal and sugar, the approach adopted here develops new ways of looking at landscapes transformed by resource extraction. In other words, not how big the hole in the ground is or how many acres of land have been cleared, rather how the landscape enters the mind and remains there. Such visions and contradictions are critical in the ways we continue to look at landscapes and the decisions made about changing them. This is an environmental history with a creative logic, which engages with recent anthropological works of ‘ethnographic natural history’. Stories and landscapes have material connections and to explore this means looking at the roots that stories take in the landscape. Such material connections form this Queensland collection. There is a map, a road sign for tourists, a lost natural history specimen, a colonial novel, an Aboriginal dreaming story collected by a pastoralist, a government report about a coal seam, a poem by a miner’s son, an ironbark prop, a pyramid, a collection of historical bulletins and a grave. A collection so diverse one wonders if a train could ever travel through so many places. Yet throughout this journey the storied landscape will persist as a central way to understand and see Queensland. Moving like a resource train across the country, the thesis stops at certain moments in time and space and collects stories and landscapes and explores the roots between them. How all this unfolds is a matter for this story. All aboard.
Keyword stories
environmental histories
Additional Notes Colour pages: 1, 18, 31, 38, 41, 60, 67, 68, 70, 74, 76, 78, 83, 86, 104, 106, 112, 116, 123, 126, 127, 135, 151, 157, 159, 160, 162, 165, 172, 180, 182, 187, 192, 194, 195, 196, 198, 200, 207, 210, 213, 228

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Created: Mon, 22 Aug 2011, 16:29:07 EST by Mr Luke Keogh on behalf of Library - Information Access Service