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The Brisbane River

In front of you is a view of the Brisbane River.

It’s not your guide but a young woman, with soft, dark skin and smiling eyes, that stands from her gathering of nuts from the pinecones that litter the bank and greets you. “For a long time, this land has been home to the Jagera people. We’ve walked these banks and fished the waters of Maiwah.”

She holds up a collected nut. “My people have eaten bunya nuts for centuries. When they ripened in the summer, we’d send messengers to other tribes, telling them to meet us at the bunyas in the hills, where we’d hold great festivals, marriages and trade.”

“But time brings change, that’s its nature. Watch how the river, Maiwah, shapes our land and forms Meanjin,” she makes her hands into a point showing the spiked shape of the land. “See how it flows and floods. But then consider how the river changes slowly across a vast landscape. Watch as the settlers arrive, building bridges and buildings. The river water changes, and Marabunga, the mangroves, grow further upstream.”

Your guide turns to you. “You want to shape time and make it yours. But is that really wise?”

You think back over what you’ve just seen on your journey through the gardens. You’ve experienced time stretch and shorten, and watched it tick on regardless of all change. You struggle with your visions of glory, trying to fit them in with the lessons you’ve learnt, to make it work.

“What have you got in your pockets?” asks your guide.

You sheepishly pull out the items you’ve gathered. “I thought they might help me unlock the secrets of time.”

“And what have you learnt instead?”

You place the piece of banyan bark down. “Without time, I will miss out on the anchored knowledge that has spread its roots to those around me.” On the ground, the arrow carved in the bark glows bright.

You let the bamboo leaf settle by the bark. “If I don’t let time slow down once in a while, I won’t build up the strength to face future challenges.” The leaf splits in two, forming pointed arms that stretch out from the arrow.

You hold up the stone. “Time cycles, repeating many patterns that can be read in the plants, the days, the seasons. I can learn more from this repetition than by trying to repeat moments which have already passed.” In your hand, the stone multiplies by twelve, and you place them in a circle mimicking the ring of palms.

Lastly, you pull out the pink petal. “I share time with others.” You pause here, letting this truth sink in. “It does not belong to me.” The petal falls into the rock at the top of your circle, and for a second there glows the number 12.

“Finally, Time’s constant is change.” You pick up two glowing bunya nuts from the ground and strike them together. They start the ticking of your clock.

“So, will you embrace the change, or will you use what you’ve learnt to manipulate time?” asks your guide. But rather than waiting for a response from you, he turns and walks away.

“Wait!” you call to your guide. For once he turns around. “Who are you?”

“Harry.” He smiles. “Harry Oakman. It’s been nice to acquaint you with our garden.”

The names rings a bell. You click your fingers. “You’re the landscape architect I read about! You’re a designer of the gardens.”

“Many people have worked in these gardens overtime – shaping them, collecting plants, and stories to share. There are many ways you can shape the world with time; landscape architecture is one of those. As landscape architects, we make a space that is useful, beautiful, and allows our community to celebrate the changes of time.”

Before you can ask more burning questions he fades away, back through time.

You down look at the bunya nuts in your hands, then throw them into the water. Your clock materials glow brightly once, then fade, the leaves and petals blowing away in the wind, the bark and rocks sinking into the leaf litter.

We hope you enjoyed this adventure thanks to QUT Landscape Architecture’s 50th Birthday celebrations. You too can be a Master of Time through the design of landscape and space. Imagine creating gardens and recreational spaces that can slow down time, speed it up, or create long-lasting memories for people many years after they had seen them. Whether it be the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, New York’s Central Park, or the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in France, all were the work of landscape architects. Graduates of Landscape Architecture courses like the ones found at QUT, are working in Australia and overseas, and have participated in humanitarian projects in countries like Vietnam where they help vulnerable families in flood prone areas of the Mekong Delta create sustainable designs for the waterfront homes and businesses (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AHuMmqiIZ8). So, if you’re interested in a design career combining art and science to create long-lasting and meaningful outdoor places, that can change people’s lives, then check out the information on QUT’s Landscape architecture courses at the link in the bottom of this page and become a master of time and space.

QUT Landscape Architecture website.