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SPATIAL WHAT???. These 9 little gems (Spatial Concepts) will so help us kick some Geography butt this year. Let’s start slow. What is this Geography?. Geography is the study of the earth and the way that things are arranged across the earth.

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These 9 little gems (Spatial Concepts) will so help us kick some Geography butt this year. Let’s start slow.......

What is this Geography?

Geography is the study of the earth and the way that things are arranged across the earth.

We use our geographic skills constantly-the main skill being the art of observation. You would be surprised at just how much information can be unlocked from a simple form of geographic data such as a photograph.

Geographers identify and investigate any patterns that may emerge in the way that things are distributed.

Task 1:

Observe the composite satellite photograph of the world at night

  • What are you observing?

  • Are you seeing man-made or natural features?

  • Do you notice any patterns? i.e. clusters, lines, areas of few lights etc?

  • Where are the lights in abundance? Why?

  • Where are there few lights? Why?

  • Can this photo help us to identify the natural characteristics of various landforms?

What are spatial concepts?

  • As geographers, we adopt a unique approach when we study the world.

  • This is because we take a spatial view of our world.

    Uuh what does spatial mean?

  • 1. Spatial is related to the word space.

  • We study people and objects in the world (or space) around us.

  • 2. The scale (or size) of this space may vary from the global to the local.

  • 3. Spatial emphasises WHERE questions.

  • 4. In VCE Geography, we use NINE spatial concepts.



This sign shows you the location of the Murry Darling Basin


  • ‘Where is it?’ This is the first of the KGIs and probably the simplest of the concepts to understand.

  • Location can be ABSOLUTE or RELATIVE.

  • Absolute location can specifically pin-point a feature, like an address or map coordinates.

  • Relative location measures distance and direction from one place to another, e.g. Hoppers Crossing is 25km west from Melbourne CBD.

Task 2

  • A: Turn to page 48 in the Atlas. What could you use to describe the absolute location of Uluru? How would you describe the relative location of Uluru?

    Location depends upon distance and direction.

  • B: Describe the absolute and relative location of Hoppers Crossing Secondary College.


These signs details distance to landmarks.


Distance is just the space between two or more locations.

Determining distance on a map requires that you have a knowledge of scale. Most of you would have used map scale in junior levels to determine distances.

You can also think of distance as being the time or cost of moving between locations. This concept is known as relative distance.

e.g. I catch the Werribee train every morning to get to school from Southern Cross Station. The TIME it takes affects my relative distance. (I also have to pay which influences the relative distance, grrrr!)

Task 3

  • Observe the map of Albury on your handout. What is the absolute distance from Albury Airport to Huon Hill? (in kms)

  • Suggest a reason why the Melbourne Albury Rail Line does not run directly east/west between Wodonga and Barnawatha-you will notice that it heads slightly North East.

  • The quickest rail route between Wodonga and Barnawatha was not chosen. What aspects would have added to the relative distance of this route?

  • What is the scale of this topographic map?


  • Not weigh yourself scale....

This refers to the size of a feature in relation to another feature. You are now familiar with map scale- how much the map needed to be reduced in size to fit on the paper you can see in front of you.

Scale allows you to express distance in kms.

  • Or stinky fish scales...

BUT WAIT, there is more!!!

Scale can also be used by geographers to describe the SIZE of the area being studied.

When you study the Docklands you will be investigating a small region. This is known as Local scale.

If we were to study a larger area such as the Mallee or the Wimmera then we would be investigating at the Regional scale.

A study of Australia would be at the National scale.

A study of the spread of AIDS could be best achieved at a Global scale.


Distribution refers to the way features are arranged over space. The features may in fact form patterns or be grouped together.


Clustered Dispersed

The location of Trans-Siberian towns in Russia are a great example of a LINEAR pattern.

We would say that towns along the railway are distributed in a linear pattern.

The key with distribution is being able to first identify any patterns and then suggest reasons why the patterns may exist.

Describe the distribution of Greek born migrants across Melbourne. Are there any patterns? Are there any clusters? Do they form a pattern similar to those displayed at the top of page 8 of the textbook?

Suggest a reason to explain this pattern.

Task 4


Wetlands are a natural region


A region is an area of the earth’s surface that contain one or more characteristics that distinguish it from other areas.

  • A rainforest, coral reef, drainage basin are all examples of regions.

  • Our States are regions, so too are our LGAs and geographical divisions such as the Mallee, Wimmera, Gippsland, Riverina, Sunshine Coast etc.

  • Regions can also be political i.e. ASEAN, EEC or may refer to climate i.e. temperate climate etc.

  • Large shopping centres such as Eastland and Chadstone are also regions.

Task 5

  • List 3 natural regions (i.e. coasts) and 3 human regions (i.e. heavy industry zones)

  • Imagine you are building a new shopping centre. What are some possible regions that could be created to organise all the stores and services?


Change is inevitable.

Areas change their geographic characteristics over time.

Think of Melbourne’s newest suburbs to the west, like Caroline Springs. These were once cow paddocks!

Geographers need to be able to identify and account for these changes.

Task 6

  • Observe the photos of Melbourne with the Yarra River in the foreground from similar views.

  • Identify 5 changes that have taken place.

Early 1960

Late 1970


This is one of the most important of the KGIs.

Spatial Association describes a situation where two or more features have a similar pattern of distribution.

Rainforests and areas of high rainfall have a strong spatial association so to do areas which receive less than 250mm of rain per year and the location of deserts.

You can use three terms to describe the extent of spatial association, strong, weak or non-existent.

Task 7

Spatial Association is just a statement about how similar the patterns are.

Observe the map of India on page 11 of the textbook.

How would you describe spatial association between female literacy rates and infant mortality levels?

Suggest a reason why this level of association may exist?


Water flows in the Moorabool River.

  • This refers to the change in the location of features such as people, resources and ideas between places.

  • Movement could refer to people travelling between one destination and another. Populations often move after a natural disaster or a war.

  • It can also refer to physical processes such as the movement of a river or the process of sand being moved along a beach due to longshore drift.

  • Movement could follow a purpose built path i.e. electricity lines, freeways, the Goulburn pipeline, ski lift etc OR the movement could be random i.e. blackberry seeds being blown in the wind.

Task 8

Energy can also be moved. One of your studies this year will examine erosion along a beach. This involves the movement of energy leading to the movement of rock material.

Maps often show movement with arrows.

Proportional flow lines can be used to show the ‘extent’ of the movement ( thinner arrows and fatter arrows)

Complete activities 1 and 2 on page 10 of the textbook.


  • This is possibly the most complex of the KGIs to master but it really isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it. S.I refers to the type and degree of interaction that occurs between features.

  • Unlike spatial association, S.I looks at the degree to which certain features influence or interact with each other. Most S.I involves some form of movement.

  • When discussing S.I you need to make mention of the type of link between the features and the degree of influence which exists.

Good examples of spatial interaction include the Gold Coast and Schoolies, drought forcing farmers off the land, the depletion of the Amazon rainforest, pollution in the Yarra and the disappearance of aquatic life.

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