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The interpretation of landscapes that don’t speak to us. Keynote address

Newsome, D. (2008) The interpretation of landscapes that don’t speak to us. Keynote address. In: Inaugural Global Geotourism Conference, 17 - 20 August, Perth, Australia.

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The planet we live on contains a vast array of geological features that, amongst others, take the form of volcanoes, glaciers, fold structures, sequences of sedimentary rocks and fossil beds. Such features very often ' speak for themselves' in that they are visually impressive and elicit a sense of wonder in most visitors. Geotourists find it easy to appreciate the power of a volcano, the erosive forces at a waterfall and are able to follow the story of the creation of a canyon.

There are, however, many places in the world that do not reveal their story in such a dramatic or obvious manner. Such places include the flat landscapes of Australia where there are few mountains and only limited rock outcrops, with very subdued topography, often covered by a deep regolith, dominating the terrain. Such places can provide a substantial challenge for tour operators who are often transporting clients long distances to access a specific site. It is in these circumstances that creative interpretation can value add to a tour and increase the level of visitor satisfaction. Such interpretation requires the interpreter to engage the visitor and connect them to the landscape through which the journey is taking place. This can be achieved via a series of planned stops where the interpreter reveals the story of landscape through the development of theme, active involvement, maximum use of the senses and the fostering of self-discovered insight.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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