University of Tasmania

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Historical Cartography & GIS: Tasmanian Aborigines

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 10:50 authored by Robert AndersRobert Anders
Maps are a powerful way in which to represent and explore spatial relationships (location, proximity, and adjacency). Map making has evolved rapidly with the digital era, leading to the now widespread use of computerised Geographic Information System’s (GIS). These systems dramatically enhance our capacity to store, manipulate, analyse and communicate spatial information, whether it be 2-dimensional (planimetric), 3-dimensional (topographic), or 4-dimensional (representing change over time). A GIS is a system that can capture, store, analyse, manage, and display data that is defined spatially by geographic coordinates, usually as points, lines and polygons with attached attributes, or as a raster grid of data. GIS technology can allow data from a number of disparate sources to be brought together into a consistent format, combined through spatial and database processes, analysed using spatial and database queries, and presented in a variety of different map forms, or using an array of cartographic devices. Importantly, unlike a paper map, a GIS representation can efficiently evolve and grow as new information comes to light. In this presentation, a selection of relatively simple maps with a Tasmanian Aboriginal focus is presented and discussed. The capacity of GIS to aid historical research is demonstrated through examples such as identifying potential routes across the land bridge from the mainland Australian into Tasmania; using rivers to determine the extent of tribal boundaries; visualising the contact zones between settlers, troop depots, and Aboriginal nationals; and viewing a compilation of the journey lines of George Augustus Robinson.


Publication title

Australian Historical Association Regional Conference


Tom Dunning


School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Australian Historical Association

Place of publication


Event title

Australian Historical Association Regional Conference

Event Venue

Inveresk, Launceston

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other culture and society not elsewhere classified

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