School of Architecture

Applications due 5.00pm on Sunday, 9 February 2020

Students are invited to express their interest in joining the Semester 1 2020 ARCH7092 research project, Repair Design, where they will explore the depths of the ecological decline in the Upper Georgina River Basin and work with traditional owners on possible design concepts.

Lake Francis and Lake Canellan are two large lakes on the Upper Georgina River near the Qld/NT border at the small remote township of Camooweal. For the local Aboriginal people, the Indjilandji-Dhidhanu people, they are complex sacred sites and the ‘head office’ of regional Aboriginal Law in a wider regional cultural landscape. For millennia, the lakes have always provided a camping place through which passed the travel routes of Dreamtime ancestral beings, visiting ritual neighbours, trading parties, as well as migratory birdlife (including to Lake Eyre).

However, in recent years a new group of visitors has arrived. For some thousands of ‘grey nomads’ they provide a free winter camping site to pull up vans next to the water’s edge, a place to sit around fires made with wood out of the trees on the bank and watch birdlife on the lakes. The problem is that the nomads (along with feral animals and plants) are gradually exacerbating the destruction of the environment of the lakes, through the impacts on riverbank soils and plants, causing erosion, silting and habitat destruction. There have of course been earlier historical impacts on the lakes during the colonial (late 1800s) and post-colonial (20th Century) periods, the largest of which was the impact of the cattle droving industry.

About the project

The traditional owners of the Indjilandji-Dhidhanu Aboriginal Corporation (IDAC) are in the process of preparing a Strategic Plan to address the environmental impact problems of their cultural landscape on the Upper Georgina River Basin. This ARCH7092 research proposal is to contribute to this Plan. The students will explore the depth of the ecological decline, inform the traditional owners on options for ‘repairing’ the site including possible design concepts or strategies, partly for the physical design of roads, protective barriers, new campsites, an information centre, but also for the conceptual design of an educational and citizen science centre. A parallel and complementary part of the project is understanding and documenting the natural and cultural heritage of the Upper Georgina Basin with a view to incorporating Heritage values into productive land and riverine management strategies and cultural tourism.

What's required?

Students who wish to participate will be carrying out a five-day field trip in mid-semester break, to Camooweal on the Northern Territory-Queensland border, flying out from Brisbane on Monday 13 April (Easter Monday) and returning on Friday 17 April. Students will have to partly self-fund this Virgin or Qantas airfare (the school will provide $500 of funding for each student’s ticket). The Aboriginal client, the Myuma Group, will provide transfer bus from airport to Dugalunji Camp (5 kms outside Camooweal) and will accommodate students and provide access to dining room, gym and TV Room. Time allocated for field trip will be offset by reduced work load during semester.

Participants need to be able-bodied and in good health to participate in the one-week field trip, as medical facilities are limited in Camooweal (no doctor, only nurse). Participants will need to take walking shoes, coat, hat for sun protection, sun repellent cream, fold-up umbrella, basic water bottle, camera, and notebook/sketchpad. Any unusual dietary restrictions will need to be discussed in advance to ensure feasibility. Participants will have to be respectful of local Aboriginal customs, protocols and rules, including with respect to workplace safety and health.

(Please note: Maximum number of students possible on field trip is 10 students, restricted by the number of seats in the shuttle bus)

Outputs will comprise a component for the group’s Research Report and two graphic research posters (A3). Students will be allocated a research topic from the following:

  • physical environment and heritage (plants, animals, ecosystems), revegetation and arid zone landscaping techniques;
  • hydrology (river basin, caves, sinkholes, artesian system) and river de-silting;
  • land management practice and environmental threats; 
  • tourism patterns and regulated camping infrastructure responses;
  • interpretative trails, signage, self-guided and guided walks and citizen science;
  • information centre and cultural museum.

The outputs will have two roles: (a) a contribution to IDAC’s Country Plan for the Upper Georgina Basin, and (b) a graphic display on research findings and ideas to address to the Lakes’ environmental problems for display to the government to highlight the need for urgent political action.

Specific output skills:

  • writing a research proposal (iterative process)
  • preparing a research poster (iterative process)
  • contributing research findings to a client project plan (submit written material with bibliography)
  • acquiring basic cross-cultural remote-area field skills (diligent participation)

Each of these items will be assessable.

How to Apply

Selection criteria for participants will be based on GPA score, as well as follow-up acknowledgment of teamwork and affirmed commitment to a fieldwork component with associated costs and mid-semester demands.

Applications close 5.00pm on Sunday, 9 February 2020

Apply now