Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)


School of Earth & Environmental Sciences


Map-making has changed substantially over the past few decades with the creation of new technologies and a literary critique of the cartographic process. This has lead to maps being used in different ways, one of which - participatory map-making in a focus group setting - is explored in this thesis. Young people are continually learning about and exploring natural environments to gain an understanding of and form a relationship with them. These natural environments, and especially natural water bodies, are found to be important places for young people to have access to. In a case study of the Shoalhaven River, on the coast of south-eastern Australia, this research project’s second aim is to explore how a natural place is important for young people.

To explore the idea of young people and significance of place, I have chosen to combine two methodologies: participatory map-making and focus groups. Participatory map-making is a relatively new methodology for human geographers and has been used in a number of settings. In this project it will be used qualitatively to gain insight into how young people view place. The mapping portion of the research will be integrated into a focus group setting, which will give young people the opportunity to share stories and understandings of the river.

The results from the focus groups and mapping exercise indicate that the Shoalhaven River is significant for the young people that live there, especially in terms of leisure activities and aesthetics. The results from the mapping methods indicate that mapping in a focus group setting is a useful and viable method and warrants further use and expansion as a methodology.

This research is significant because it covers two areas where a gap exists in the literature. It explores the use of maps and participatory map-making in qualitative research while investigating the significance of place for young people. As well as investigating these gaps, this project raises more questions and areas for study around these themes.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.