Probing the Book – River with a City Problem

Author Margaret Cook shares her insights from researching the history of Brisbane Floods

From a PhD thesis – full of extensive research into multiple sources – Margaret Cook was eager to further share the history of the Brisbane River with a broader audience.  This passion to share and ensure that awareness on what has evolved over the last 140 years, saw Margaret Cook craft an engaging, people rich and informative history of the Brisbane River.

The events of the  1893, 1974 and 2011 floods are interspersed with various trends such as engineering efforts to “Tame the River – Chapter 3”, the ongoing spread of Brisbane as the populations grows with the floodplain a convenient option – “Encroaching on the Floodplain – Chapter 5” and the role of regional dams to have dual flood and water supply purpose – “Dam Dependency – Chapter 6”.  The final Chapter – Flood Management with Hindsight – does leave the reader with a perspective that this story of a River with a City has still a number of Chapters to come – especially as the various authorities and local communities strive to be on the front foot and be prepared for the impacts for future floods.

The book is available at most local bookstore or is on sale online.  Plus congratulations to the University of Queensland Press for supporting the publishing.

Interest in the Book

At this Flood Community of Practice event on Thursday 31 October, 2019, 40 participants joined to hear Margaret highlights on the book.   Questions from the audience explored issues such as – what were her various sources, how do highlight finds in this type of research come about and what motivated her to write this book?

A particular passion was to shine a spot light on the many people over the years who add a strong personal touch to the account – whether they are everyday professionals, decision makers/politicians or vigilant community members.  Also a major purpose of the book is to heighten the level of public and community awareness of how to better live with floods and that indeed the River was long here before the City came: so who needs to best adapt to who??

David Fagan – author and past journalist – also joined as a special guest.  The way that newspapers report on flood events can have a strong bearing on public sentiment – and telling the story of being prepared and to be proactive is a challenge.  David highlighted that Brisbane as a city has embraced the River as an asset and with major developments now hugging the River bank is very much part of the lifestyle locals cherish.  So for future flood events how will the expectations from future impacts be managed??

Highlights of engagement and networking during the event