Within the various categories of tangible cultural heritage places cultural landscapes are arguably the least understood and the least represented among the places being conserved. In a similar way the cultural heritage of the rural-urban fringe has not received the attention that is afforded heritage places within towns and –truly” rural areas.
The aim of this project was to address both of these cultural heritage 'underdogs' by examining the cultural heritage of a near urban rural landscape. The area chosen was originally part of the land of the Wiradjuri people, adjoining the Hume River (later renamed the Murray) near the point where the explorers Hume and Hovell crossed on their journey to Melbourne in 1824. A 16,000 hectare area was taken up by Charles Ebden in 1835 as the cattle run 'Mungabarina'. The 'Crossing Place' for travellers moving between Sydney and Melbourne was in the south-western corner of the run and became the site for Albury. The next 50 years saw the alienation of most of the land in the region and the rapid development of Albury and the surrounding district. It is the area surrounding Albury that witnessed many changes in land ownership and usage that was selected for this study.
The study followed three avenues of investigation to enable a comparison of the effectiveness of different methods of identifying the essential elements of the cultural heritage of the area. The first was a series of surveys, mostly windscreen surveys with follow up pedestrian surveys conducted of accessible areas. These were supplemented by two aerial surveys, the first to examine patterns and spatial relationships, the second to identify possible past land use as indicated by shadows. The second strand was to examine the historic record, including published histories, consultants' reports and archival resources. This strand sought to identify the recognition given to the cultural heritage resources of the area by traditional methods. The final strand was the examination of the extensive set of property records held by the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation for land that it purchased from the mid 1970s.
It was hypothesised that the property records would provide a new dimension of data that would greatly enhance the examination of the cultural heritage of the chosen study area. After the painstaking extraction of data from the records they were analysed to identify the level of success in identifying cultural heritage places. They were also graphically analysed to identify trends in Crown Grants, conveyancing and mortgages.
A particular quality of these data is their lack of bias, certainly present in the published histories, and possibly present in consultants' reports. Disappointingly, the analysis of the property record showed only a low level of data that identified places of cultural heritage significance. They did, however identify several trends that reflect the economic and social stages of the region.
Further scope for a range of research has been identified, of particular value may be the utilisation of council and shire property rate records.
The analysis of property record data has been demonstrated to add a valuable dimension to the study of cultural heritage, as exemplified in a near urban rural landscape.