Landscapes of fear : floods, environmental experience and pioneer identity in South-West Queensland, 1860-1900

O'Gorman, Emily (2004). Landscapes of fear : floods, environmental experience and pioneer identity in South-West Queensland, 1860-1900 Honours Thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author O'Gorman, Emily
Thesis Title Landscapes of fear : floods, environmental experience and pioneer identity in South-West Queensland, 1860-1900
School, Centre or Institute School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2004
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Geoff Ginn
Total pages 78
Language eng
Subjects 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Formatted abstract
This thesis explores the impact of cumulative experiences of floods on the knowledge and perception of particular, flood-prone environments by settlers of European descent in southwest Queensland during the last four decades of the nineteenth century. The period covers the time from the colony's separation from New South Wales in 1859 to statehood and Federation in 1901. While formative politically, it was also a time when non-indigenous environmental knowledge about the Queensland portion of the Murray-Darling Basin was shaped. Settlers encountered an ecology for which they had few precedents. The thesis demonstrates that cumulative experiences of floods in this area contributed to the development of a pioneering identity, grounded in stoicism, community self-reliance and individual 'survivalism'. Apprehension about the unpredictability of floods resulted in helplessness in the face of their destructive possibilities. However, these insecurities were countered by stoic pride in surviving adverse circumstances. Cumulative experiences reinforced these initial identifications.

This topic is approached from three directions: an analysis of settler experiences of the environments; of scientific conceptions of them; and of political influences on settler experiences. Although they are here separated for individual analyses, these factors are interrelated and collectively contributed to the formation of a pioneering identity in Queensland during the period.
Keyword Murray Darling River System
South West Queensland -- Floods

 
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