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'A River with a City Problem, not a City with a River Problem': Brisbane and its Flood-Prone River

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This article explores the relationship between the Brisbane River and its river-plain dwelling citizens between 1824 and 1900 through four distinctive narratives. The first is praise for the river for its economic and utilitarian potential until severe flooding in 1893 prompts a second response of incredulity, followed by a third viewpoint demanding engineering solutions to tame nature to prevent future floods. A fourth subordinate voice appeared as an undercurrent to the demands to control nature, reflecting a burgeoning realisation that human action had created the flood hazard. Settlers had created a problem for both the river and the city. I argue that despite the accumulation of flood experience and climatic knowledge, prospective actions have evolved little since the initial British settlement in 1824.
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Keywords: Brisbane River; Flood; Queensland; settlement

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 5, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "‘A River with a City Problem, not a City with a River Problem’: Brisbane and its Flood-Prone River".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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