Brisbane lies on the floodplain of the Brisbane River, a sub-tropical river prone to both extreme flood and drought. Yet in 2011 the city’s residents seemed surprised when floods struck, and they looked for someone to blame.
Through an historical account of floods, most notably those of 1893, 1974 and 2011, Dr Margaret Cook explores how the city has steadily built beside the river, relying on Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams to prevent floods, although they are incapable of doing so.
She unravels the complex relationship between the river and its human floodplain dwellers to argue that we need to find ways to adapt human behaviour to reduce the flood hazard in the future.
About the Speaker
Dr Margaret Cook is an historian, cultural heritage consultant, academic and a Post-Thesis Fellow at the University of Queensland and an Honorary Research Fellow at La Trobe University.
She has recently published A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods, with University of Queensland Press. Her current research interests are natural disasters and closer settlement in central Queensland in the 1920s and 1930s to produce cotton, with a focus on gender, climate and water.