This sequence of learning activities explores the expansion of Sydney’s urban areas and how this impacts on the natural environment. Throughout the growth of the colony from early settlement to global city, people have made substantial impacts on the natural environment. In the early colony people went in search of farming land. Areas of land from Sydney Cove to the Nepean River were considered fertile and the natural environment was altered to create farming land. Through the processes of urbanisation, migration and natural population increase, Sydney continued to expand and the need for housing saw the subdivision of farming land into residential housing blocks.
Sydney’s urban sprawl continues and with population forecasts predicting Sydney to grow by two million in the next 20 years, the geographical expansion of Sydney will continue as will the changes people make to the environment.
The inquiry process
Students will investigate the changes that have occurred throughout this process using the Geographical Inquiry Process guided by inquiry questions behind a definition of geography put forward by Charles F. Gritzner. It uses the inquiry questions of What is? Where is? Why there? and Why care?
- What is an urban place?
- Where are the urban areas located in Sydney?
- Why are the urban areas where they are in Sydney?
- Why care? How has the expansion of Sydney’s urban areas changed the natural environment? How will this continue into the future?
Defining Geography: What is Where, Why There, and Why Care? by Charles F. Gritzner, Journal of Geography 101, No. 1 (January/February 2002), pp. 38-40. ml
Window by Jeannie Baker
Window is a rich resource that can be used to engage students in discussing changes to the natural environment and the reasons for these changes. Belonging by Jeannie Baker follows the theme and considers the inquiry question, Why care?
This learning sequence takes students through virtual fieldwork of Sydney’s southwest and western growth areas. In the images by Geoff Ambler students will observe the changes that are being made to the environment in the development of new housing estates and the amenities that are required for people to live in places. The use of satellite imagery, Street View and photo galleries in Google Maps provides students with an understanding of what these places look like and allows for rich discussion in the topic.
If possible, students can also conduct fieldwork in their local area. Depending on your location, students may observe examples of urban expansion and the environmental changes that occur in the form of newly created subdivisions, residential apartment developments and business service development. These are such things as: shopping centres; office complexes; business parks or office towers; road and rail infrastructure or additional amenities such as schools and parks.
A local planning issue – Badgerys Creek
The State Library of New South Wales holds the collection of images by Geoff Ambler on Badgerys Creek
These images, taken in 2014, allow students to conduct an investigation into the proposed second airport of Sydney. Students can investigate how people will influence Badgery’s Creek when the second airport is built, who will manage the area, the issues surrounding environmental management and sustainability and the views of each of the stakeholders. The images in the collection show the before, students will need to research and imagine the after.
Link to Stage 3 History The Australian Colonies
The introduction of rail networks in the 1880s shaped Sydney’s settlement patterns in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Students could investigate the impact of rail as a significant development on the colony of Sydney as a lead in to this geographical inquiry investigating environmental impacts of Sydney’s growing urban places.