Geography in the News

On this page we bring you items of interest concerning geography and geographers making news.


A Tribute to Donald Sydney Biddle, 1923-2022 by Bruce Ryan

How Theresa May's Geography Background Might Impact Her Leadership As UK's Next Prime Minister

Greenland is Melting Away - New York Times

The Guardian view on Geography: it's the must-have A-level

Social media furore over Year 11 Senior Geography Project

Are natural disasters on the rise?

Is graffiti art or crime?

Can the 2014 Melbourne Cup become 'the race that stops the whip'?

Phil McManus on grisly fate of racehorses

Phil McManus on failed racing syndicate

Katherine Mackellar wins geography prize

Student keen to return as teacher

Melbourne Cup horse death adds fuel to criticisms of racing industry

Summer monsoons blow Somali pirates away

Our shrinking towns

Urban sprawl eats into Sydney farmland

Late bloomer discovers love of learning

Food security

Population pressure in coastal towns

"Pretty good at geography"

Need for awareness of Pacific neighbours


ABC_Boyer_Lectures 2012

Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants

Public transport accessibility in Sydney

Engagement with Asia

Racing industry

Last_Dance - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict



Geopark pioneer wins Hong Kong award

Kevin Dunn on racism in Australia

Helping Laotians adapt to rapid change


 How Theresa May's Geography Background Might Impact Her Leadership As UK's Next Prime Minister

This article examines the elusive question, "What is Geography?"  "Inspired" by news that the UK's next Prime Minister Theresa May is a geographer, this article highlights the status of geography, the links to green jobs and the skills that geographers offer.

Greenland is Melting Away - New York Times

Scientists know that the melting of Greenland is accelerating. As the temperature rises, large lakes form on the surface of the ice, which in turn create a network of rivers.  In this New York Times interactive article take a stunning drone flight along one of these Greenland rivers.


The Guardian view on geography: it's the must-have A-level

Geography is becoming increasingly popular in schools, according to the Royal Geographical Society.  Check out the article published in the Guardian.


Social media furore over Year 11 Senior Geography Project.

In the Sydney Morning Herald and the Newcastle Herald a former candidate for State seat of Newcastle has found herself at the centre of a social media backlash after she made the comments about a student's survey on the closure of the Newcastle rail line.


Are natural disasters on the rise?

In The Conversation, Dale Dominey-Howes, Associate Professor in Natural Disaster Geography at University of Sydney, looks at the trends in occurrence of natural disasters and asks whether they are 'natural' or anthropogenic.


Is graffiti art or crime?

In a podcast interview on The Conversation web site, Cameron McAuliffe, Lecturer in Human Geography and Urban Studies at University of Western Sydney, discusses the relationship between graffiti and street art, and the value of these art forms to the urban environment and the economies of our cities.


2014 Melbourne Cup can become 'the race that stops the whip'

Professor Phil McManus, co-author of The Global Horseracing Industry and President of the Geographical Society, comments in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times on current debates concerning the use of whips on racehorses.


Racehorses meet a grisly fate. But how many?

Professor Phil McManus, co-author of The Global Horseracing Industry, comments in the Sunday Age on the controversy surrounding the fate of retired racehorses.


Failure of Melbourne Cup syndicate

Professor Phil McManus, co-author of The Global Horseracing Industry, comments on failed Melbourne Cup syndicate.

Katherine Mackellar wins geography prize

Society Student Prize winner Katherine Mackellar from the University of New South Wales speaks to the North Shore Times about her background and hopes for the future.


Student keen to return as teacher

Society Student Prize winner Tegan Morgan from the University of New England speaks to the Grafton Daily Examiner about her ambitions.


Melbourne Cup horse death adds fuel to criticisms of racing industry

Associate Professor Phil McManus comments on animal welfare issues in the horse racing industry following a horse death in this year's Melbourne Cup.


Summer monsoons blow Somali pirates away

Society Councillor Dr Duncan Cook’s (ACU) research on monsoons and Somalia (co-authored with Sally Garrett of the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency) was recently reported in the Australian. Cook and Garret found that wind speed has a significant effect on piracy activities making it possible to create ‘pirate forecasts’.


Our shrinking towns

Based on current trends, growth in NSW’s urban population is projected to dramatically outstrip regional NSW, which could be in for a bumpy ride according to Associate Professors Neil Argent (Geography and Planning, New England) and Phil McManus (Geosciences, Sydney).  Read more on their views on the implications...

Urban sprawl eats into Sydney's farmland

Professor Phil O'Neill of the University of Western Sydney speaks to the Sun-Herald on a UWS study that has highlighted Sydney's shrinking pool of farmers sending fresh fruits and vegetables to the Sydney Markets at Flemington, which now draws two-thirds of produce from interstate.


Late bloomer discovers love of learning

Ryan Jones, who appears in one of our "Why Study Geography" videos, features in a graduation story in the Newcastle Herald.

Food Security

Associate Professor Bill Pritchard (University of Sydney) on Weekend Sunrise talking about food security (he is also appearing at the TED talks on May 5 on this subject).


Population pressure on coastal towns

Professor Graeme Hugo (University of Adelaide) speaking about season variations in the population of coastal towns, and how this puts pressure on infrastructure that is not recognised by ABS Census data, which is collected during the non-peak season.

"Pretty good at geography"

Geography gets a mention at the ICAC inquiry into coal mining leases in the Bylong valley.   More... 


Need for awareness of Pacific neighbours

John Connell (Geography, Sydney) – on the Pacific and our mental maps, in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, accompanied by a great Cathy Wilcox cartoon.  More here...


Farmers, residents fight back over coal

Phil McManus (Geography, Sydney) and Linda Connor (Anthropology, Sydney) on mining and environmental issues in the Hunter Region in an opinion piece for the Newcastle Herald (with a map).   More...


ABC Boyer Lectures 2012

Professor Marcia Langton, who has a PhD in geography from Macquarie University and has worked closely with geographers over many years, is delivering the 2012 Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio National.  In the first lecture in the series, on the subject of "The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom", Professor Langton explores the changing relationship between Aboriginal communities and mining companies since the 1993 Mabo agreement and native title legislation, and asks whether this could offer a model for the economic empowerment of all Indigenous people in Australia.  It can be heard (and a transcript read) here


ARC Grants

Several Society members have been successful in the Australian Research Council's recent 2013 round of Discovery Project grants.  They include:

        Macquarie University
        Ruming, Dr Kristian J; Mee, Dr Kathleen J; McGuirk, Prof Pauline M
        Building a more sustainable city: official and everyday practices of regeneration.  $155,925

        University of New South Wales
        Dominey-Howes, A/Prof Dale T
        Why do Australians still die during natural disasters?   $207,526

        University of Sydney
        McManus, A/Prof Phil A; McGreevy, Prof Paul D; Davison, Dr Aidan G; Roberts, Prof Susan M
        Caring for thoroughbreds: addressing social, economic and welfare issues in international horse racing.  $499,786

        University of Western Sydney
        Gorman-Murray, Dr Andrew W; Dominey-Howes, A/Prof Dale T
        Queering disasters in the Antipodes: investigating the experiences of LGBTI people in natural disasters.  $325,183

        O'Neill, Prof Phillip M; Allen, Prof John R; Pryke, Dr Michael D
        Tracing modes of infrastructure financing and their effects on cities.  $183,096

        University of Melbourne
        Woodhead, Prof Jonathan D; Drysdale, Dr Russell N
        The Australian expression of the Pliocene warm period, an analog for future greenhouse conditions.  $890,000

Further details of these projects can be seen here.


Public transport accessibility in Sydney


Maps developed for an advocacy group, the Sydney Alliance, by Kurt Iveson and Laurence Troy of the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney show that large swathes of Sydney are without regular public transport services.  More at and


Focus on education, engagement

With the current focus on the government's white paper on engagement with Asia, Robert Fisher's letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald on November 1 makes interesting reading.  Robert is Senior lecturer (human geography), University of Sydney.  Read more...


Country racetracks, Australian stayers, predicted to disappear

All that might be left at some country racetracks to remind punters of local horse races

Photograph: (Phil McManus)

A new book looks at some of the serious challenges that might prove to be the end of the local racecourse.The Global Horseracing Industry draws on 6 years of research in Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand.

Co-author, Associate Professor Phil McManus, says Australian thoroughbred breeding is shifting towards the production of 'sprinters' not 'stayers'.

He predicts multimillion dollar entertainment racing complexes and online gambling will mean rural race tracks will close and punters will watch and bet online on Australian-bred horses in overseas races rather than at home.

More from the ABC Rural website.

He also predicts that the Melbourne Cup could be run without a single Australian horse within the next decade.  Australia's focus on breeding horses rather than racing them could soon result in only international raiders contesting the Cup.  More at

If anybody wants to order a copy of the book the publishers, Routledge,  have a discount at


Last Dance

Professor Kevin Dunn, Vice President of the Society and Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at the University of Western Sydney, offered the following comments on the film Last Dance, a controversial take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and subject of a recent SBS News story.

“I don't think it will change the hearts and minds of anybody who takes a firm position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he says. “But for the rest of us, I think it might mean that we can have a slightly more rounded understanding of the protagonists involved in those debates and why they come to have the very firm and fixed views that they have.”

Dunn is however concerned about the stereotyping of Muslims. 

“The way in which we aren't given a sense of how much of a minority this person would be, how unlikely this event would be,” he says. “Most Muslims in this country are ordinary day to day Australians who have ordinary day to day concerns.”


Sydney Riots

Kevin Dunn has made significant contributions to the ongoing media debate surrounding the violent protests in Sydney in September.

As the lead researcher on the 12-year Challenging Racism research project, Professor Dunn has established a strong media profile and has become the go-to expert for the media when reporting on issues relating to racism and community relations. 

On Wednesday, 19th September, he featured in a page four story in The Australian. In the article, Professor Dunn reiterated an important message that those involved in the protests were radicals, “with views that are outside the mainstream” of Australia’s Islamic communities. 

On the morning that the article in The Australian was published, his comments were mentioned on-air by Chris Smith on 2GB’s ‘Breakfast’ program. Professor Dunn was then asked to participate in an interview with Chris Smith which was broadcast live-to-air the following morning, on Thursday 20th September. 

Professor Dunn’s media coverage continued the next morning, with another live interview on ABC 702 Sydney’s ‘Mornings’ program with Linda Mottram. This particular interview focused on the importance of anti-racism education in schools. 

Here is a Media Monitors report of the coverage to date, which includes summaries of Professor Dunn’s radio interviews, along with another on so-called garage mosques.


Mining vs. dining and room vs. boom

All those one letter differences are explained unemotionally in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21 July, featuring Associate professor Bill Pritchard, economic geographer and food security expert from Sydney University.


Geopark pioneer wins Hong Kong award

Forty minutes by taxi from the shopping malls and finance houses of Hong Kong is a world that escapes the attention of most visitors. More...



Kevin Dunn on racism in Australia

Here is the link to the embedded video on the Weekend Sunrise website in which hosts talk to Professor Kevin Dunn, who runs the Challenging Racism project. Dunn talks about definitions of racism and the extent of racism in the workplace and in education settings. Dunn said most Australians are pro cultural diversity and see the merit of a culturally diverse society. He said indigenous Australians report double the rates of discrimination compared with the average.


Helping Laotians adapt to rapid change

Human geographers and international public health experts from the University of Sydney are collaborating on a project to help people in Laos adjust to large-scale environmental changes, with a research grant of $1.4 million from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. More...



Last updated: 1 February 2016