Assessing the Character of Australian Coastal Towns Through the Eyes of the Residents
Keywords:place character, public perceptions, Australian coastal towns, environmental changes, methodology
Over the last couple of decades, smaller coastal settlements in Australia, particularly near major metropolitan areas, have experienced accelerated growth associated with tourism and people migrating to these places to live permanently or temporarily. Unfortunately, this attraction to the coast and the development that often accompanies it has resulted in environmental changes that threaten the qualities that made these attractive destinations in the first place. In some such communities, these changes have been rapid and dramatic, eliciting impassioned complaints from members of the local communities that the ‘character’ of their towns and/or individual neighbourhoods was being negatively impacted due to the types, scales, and rates at which these changes were occurring. This article reports on a methodological approach for assessing the contributions of landscape features to the character of Australian coastal ‘sea change’ towns as perceived by their residents. Variations of this methodology were, over the last couple of decades, used by the author to assess how residents of nine Australian coastal ‘sea change’ settlements, including Byron Bay in New South Wales, Airlie Beach in Central Queensland, and seven towns along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road perceive the character of these towns as conveyed by features in the landscape. The findings of these studies illustrate the importance of protecting the natural environment, heritage elements of the built environment and socially vibrant public spaces that are crucal in defining the character of many Australian ‘sea change’ coastal towns. The results of this approach can have a number of practical applications.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Raymond Green
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