As the smoke clears: Port Kembla’s stack and the place of industrial heritage

Port Kembla’s iconic smokestack stands no more. Towering above the Illawarra skyline since 1965, the 198 metre stack was demolished this morning. The Illawarra Mercury has provided rolling coverage leading up to the demolition. The demolition of the stack has divided opinion, but on the whole its removal appears positive – touted to instigate a revitalisation of Port Kembla’s social character, and an improvement in the Illawarra’s economic fortunes. Conversely, the demolition of Port Kembla’s stack highlights the uncertain place of industrial cultural heritage in today’s modern, technology-driven, climate-aware society.  Continue reading

Meet Eliza de Vet

Eliza de Vet

Eliza de Vet

The Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) is a teaching and research group focusing on cultural and social aspects of environmental issues. AUSCCER’s expertise and research is wide-ranging. Each month we’ll introduce a new academic or PhD candidate to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Eliza de Vet is completing a PhD with AUSCCER. Here she answers questions about her research.

You’re a PhD candidate with AUSCCER and you’ll be finishing your thesis soon. What is the focus of your research?
I’m interested in everyday weather and what it means to individuals in their day-to-day life. So much climate change discussion has revolved around statistics and broad geographic settings. Yet, how climate (change) translates into the daily life of individuals is not well understood. In order to comprehend how individuals experience and respond to climate, it is first necessary to examine the tangible, the amalgamation of climate – weather. This is where my research comes in. Over the past three years I’ve worked with residents in Darwin and Melbourne, exploring the role of weather in their everyday practices. These practices relate to household chores, work, leisure, travel, food, domestic comfort etc. It’s been fascinating to observe how tropical and temperate weather creates different daily challenges and luxuries, how willing and proactive participants were to staying weather connected, and the degree of tolerance participants expressed during less-than-comfortable conditions. These and other findings show promise for individuals capacity to adapt sustainably to future environmental change. Continue reading

IAG 2013 – an invaluable experience

Post by Justin Westgate

I had the opportunity to attend the Institute of Australian Geographers’ conference in July which was held in Perth. Having only recently begun doctoral studies here in Australia, and moving across from the more ‘creative’ space of design, the conference not only allowed me to get a gauge on the current landscape of research situated in Australia, but both posed and helped to answer questions about how my own research – which still draws on my creative practice background might intersect with other research strands currently being investigated. Continue reading

Whiteboards and contingency

I approached the week with some trepidation. Three days teaching the first part of an intensive PhD course. As we don’t have PhD coursework in Australia, what is the appropriate level? What is the right balance between me talking and engendering a conversation within the group? How many authors to include on the reading list? Better to try and give a broad sweep, or a focused ‘take’ on the topic – ‘Sustainable Landscapes’? And the students themselves were at a range of different levels, from Masters coursework to some nearly ready to defend their PhDs, so it had to be accessible in different ways. Continue reading

PhD Scholarship: cultural geographies of human-plant relations

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship in the broad area of cultural geographies of human-plant relations. Specific areas of interest are open and could include for example invasive plants, food, urban ecology, biodiversity or conceptual questions.
A stipend of $23,728pa for three years is available. The project is supported by a generous fieldwork budget as part of Professor Head’s ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship.
Applicants should have a Bachelor Honours degree, with a mark of Second Class/Division I or higher, or equivalent, in human geography or a relevant discipline (e.g. anthropology, biogeography, environmental social science). (Current students expecting such a result at the end of 2012 are welcome to apply.)
Current staff and students in AUSCCER come from backgrounds in human and physical geography, environmental history, political ecology, archaeology and cultural studies. Located in a world-class School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, we have good working relationships with colleagues in the natural and environmental sciences. Facilities include a state of the art human geography laboratory with specialist field equipment and spatial analysis (GIS) systems.
AUSCCER provides a vibrant and supportive environment for postgraduate research students – have a look around this blog for recent activities.

Enquiries can be directed to Lesley Head (
Applications should be sent to Denise Alsop ( by August 31, 2012. Please format as a single document (pdf or word doc) that includes cover letter, Curriculum Vitae, copy of academic transcript, a brief research proposal (3 pages maximum) and contact details for 2 referees.

(Apart from this specific opportunity, don’t forget that you can apply to undertake postgraduate research at AUSCCER via the main scholarship rounds, the next one of which closes October 17, 2012 for commencement in March 2013. Details about the process here )