Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New England Australia History Research Report - April 2009

It is just over one month since my first research report.

I have spent a fair bit of time on an update of New England in the Pleistocene Period. I have decided with referenced posts like this one to progressively update in Word and then re-post, so I will do so over the next day or so.

To avoid confusion, I will need to put a header on past posts alerting readers to changes. The alternative would be to just update the previous post. I may go this route ultimately, but for the present I like to be able to see how my thinking has evolved.

As part of my thinking on the Pleistocene period I have been much concerned with the sea-bed. We are dealing with major shifts in sea levels. To understand the impact of this on New England's coastal strip, we need to understand what the sea bed is like in structure and depth.

The maps that I have found on-line to this point have limited coverage of the sea bed. While they are helpful in showing that major bays or harbours such as Port Stephens or Trial bay would have been either dry land or river valleys, they do not allow me to look far enough out to sea.

I really need maritime maps showing depth contours up to at least 140 metres, maybe more.

The sea-bed slopes quite steeply. As sea levels fell, the rivers would have pushed out through progradation. However, the extent of the estuaries and wetlands - good food areas - would clearly depend on the slope of the land. Too steep, and a falling sea level, while still expanding land, might actually have reduced food supply. 

Turning to more modern times, I remain heavily entrenched in the Inverell region.

I spoke of Elizabeth Wiedemann's work in Book review - Elizabeth Wiedemann's World of its own: Inverell's early years 1827-1920. I know that she has published another book covering the later period, but have yet to find it. 

Following Elizabeth's book, I turned to Helen Brown's Tin at Tingha (Brown, Armidale, 1982).

What a fascinating book this is, although I wish she had used footnotes. She was criticised at the time for this. She makes it clear that she promised not to identify sources because of the need to get people to speak freely. Still, it does create problems.

Using Wiedemann and Brown together will allow me, among other things, to write a first slice on the Chinese in New England. I do not know whether the Chinese presence was important outside the Tablelands and Western Slopes. That is something that I will need to find out later.       

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