21 October 2002

The University of Queensland’s historical consultancy service Histori|co is bringing the past into the future with a cultural heritage study aimed at helping return Gowrie Creek to its natural condition.

The creek flows west from Toowoomba in the Great Dividing Range, into the Condamine River then the Darling before running out to sea at the port of Goolwa in South Australia. Histori|co is a commercial venture associated with UQ’s Centre for Applied History and Heritage Studies (CAHHS) in the Faculty of Arts. It specialises in applied historical research for cultural heritage and environmental planning projects.

CAHHS Director Dr Geoff Ginn said the completed Gowrie Creek project uncovered a wealth of local history via local library searches and interviews with local residents. This helped establish places of historical significance and set management zones.

“Stories attached to some areas showed that sections of the creek were important for local and spiritual purposes,” he said.

Stories ranged from those of European settlers who swam and fished in certain parts of the creek to those of the Aboriginal community, which has retained many spiritual and social connections to the creek and its environs. From March to May a large history of the waterways was produced which looked at the cultural values and historical changes.
Toowoomba City Council commissioned the Gowrie Creek study after public requests to improve the creek’s condition. ARCHAEO Cultural Heritage Services carried out a cultural heritage assessment, with Histori|co engaged as a sub-consultant for the historical research. Dr Ginn said 10 years ago the Council began looking at how the creek could be enhanced.

“They wanted to return parts of the creek to its natural condition and to look at the water quality and social use of the creek as well as any indigenous associations attached to it,” he said.

Histori|co has grown steadily since its establishment in January 2002. “We are looking forward to steady growth and hope to increase turnover by 10 to 15 percent a year,” Dr Ginn said.

Histori|co was established through Uniquest Pty. Ltd, the University’s technology commercialisation company. UniQuest’s Managing Director David Henderson said he was pleased to be involved with university expertise in the Humanities.

“Histori|co is an excellent model for making this expertise available to the wider community,” he said.

Clients include key heritage consultancies working for a range of different bodies and groups. Dr Ginn said Histori|co was a great example of how humanities research and scholarship could add real social and economic value to the community.

“This kind of thing wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but with the commitment from the Faculty of Arts and the great assistance of UniQuest, Histori|co has a bright future,” he said.

For more information, contact Geoff Ginn on (telephone 07 3365 6407, email: g.ginn@uq.edu.au) or UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 3367, email: communications@uq.edu.au).