Depicting Boom Urbanism: A Critical Investigation of Kalgoorlie and Boulder, Western Australia, 1893-1903

Philip Goldswain - PhD Completion Seminar

Hansen Yuncken
Room, Level 4, MSD Building

This thesis considers the spaces, events and processes of boom urbanism and industrialisation in the East Goldfields mining towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder, Western Australia. In comparing photographs, maps and ephemera dating from between 1894 and 1903, the study explores how these boomtowns were constructed via the cartographic, photographic and textual imagination.

The research has three aims. The first aim is to understand the mineral-dependant boomtown which remains an under-examined aspect of Australian’s urban history. The second aim of the research is to examine the use of photographs and maps in recording and constructing an urban identity. Thirdly, in recognition of the significance of this visual depiction, the thesis aims to propose methods of analysis that further elaborate on the urban processes of change over the short period of the boom years.

The thesis has a number of findings. Methodologically, the research illustrates that the organisation and analysis of primary visual material offers the potential for new ways of understanding how Kalgoorlie and Boulder imagined and constructed a reality for themselves. In creating these identities through photographs, maps and ephemera, the research reveals the temporal complexity of the boomtown’s past, present and future. And finally, the thesis recognises that the peculiarities of boom urbanism are to be found as much in the process of its urbanisation as the resultant urban artefact. A close reading of the boomtown’s transient state offers the opportunity to consider the importance of other determining factors, such as land and resources regulation and legislation, that helped delineate urban form.

Philip Goldswain is a lecturer in the School of Design at The University of Western Australia.

Professor Paul Walker

A/Professor Hannah Lewi A/Professor Andrew Saniga

Advisory Committee:
Professor Paul Walker