Caroline Ford

Honorary Associate
BA (Hons) University of Sydney 2000; PhD, University of Sydney 2008

Twitter: @DrCarolineFord

Caroline Ford researches and writes about Australian cultural and environmental histories and the cultural heritage of NSW. She is interested in the ways community attitudes towards particular landscapes shape the natural environment and embed it with cultural meaning. Most of Caroline’s work to date has focused on beaches and national parks.

Caroline’s first book, Sydney Beaches: A History, was an extension of her doctoral research into the same subject. While her PhD focused on the period between 1810 and 1920, the book brought the subject up to the present day. It includes a broader consideration of some of the major themes in Sydney’s beach history, from the shark hysteria of the inter-war period to community responses to pollution and destructive erosion in the second half of the twentieth century. This research was funded by a NSW Archival Research Fellowship, awarded in 2009.

Since 2007 Caroline has worked for the NSW Government in heritage and policy. Between 2009 and 2013 she was on the NSW Heritage Council’s History Advisory Panel.

Current projects include a history and heritage of amusement parks, and early research into the cultural history of tanned bodies.

Selected publications


  • Sydney Beaches: A History. Sydney: NewSouth Books, 2014.
  • with Richard White (editors), Playing in the Bush: Recreation and National Parks in New South Wales. Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2012.
  • Challenges in the Landscape: Memories of Conserving Historic Heritage in the NSW Park System 1967-2000. Sydney: Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2009.

Articles and book chapters

  • ‘The Heritage of Public Space: Bondi Beach, Luna Park and the Politics of Amusement in Sydney’ in Jason Wood (ed) The Amusement Park: History, Culture and the Heritage of Pleasure. London: Ashgate (forthcoming, 2015).
  • ‘The Battle for Public Rights to Private Spaces on Sydney’s Ocean Beaches, 1854-1920s’. [[i|Australian Historical Studies]], 41 (3), pp253-268.
  • ‘The Lifesaver’ in Richard White and Melissa Harper (eds), Symbols of Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press and National Museum of Australia, 2010. pp153-160.
  • ‘”What Power, What Grandeur, What Sublimity!” Romanticism and the Appeal of Sydney Beaches in the Nineteenth Century’ in Susan Hosking, Rick Hosking, Rebecca Pannell and Nena Bierbum (eds), Something Rich and Strange: Sea Changes, Beaches and the Littoral in the Antipodes. Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2009. pp20-34.
  • with Ed Jaggard, ‘Spreading the Word: Surf Lifesavers Overseas’ in Jaggard (ed), Between the Flags: One Hundred Summers of Australian Surf Lifesaving. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2006. pp189-214.
  • ‘Gazing, Strolling, Falling in Love: Culture and Nature on the Beach in Nineteenth Century Sydney’. History Australia, 3 (1), pp8.1-8.14.