A Photo-elicitation Approach to Exploring the Place Meanings Ascribed by Campers to the Ningaloo Coastline, North-western Australia

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Business and Law


School of Business/Marketing and Services Research Centre




This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Australian Geographer on 29 May 2013 as: Tonge, J., Moore, S., Ryan, M. M., & Beckley, L. (2013). A Photo-elicitation approach to exploring the place meanings ascribed by campers to the Ningaloo Coastline, north-western Australia. Australian Geographer, 44(2), 143-160. Available online here


Although there have been numerous studies of the meanings ascribed to terrestrial places, their applicability or otherwise to coastal and marine places has received limited attention. Through the process of photo-elicitation, the meanings ascribed to a remote coastal camping environment are examined, with the coastline of Ningaloo Marine Park in north-western Australia the focus for this study. Thirty participants were provided with digital cameras and the ascribed place meanings were explored when their photographs were discussed in subsequent in-depth interviews. Key meanings related to the physical environment providing opportunities for escape, participating in multiple marine-based activities, bonding with family and like-minded people, and offering a rewarding experience that makes everybody happy. This emergent meaning of 'everybody's happy' progresses the understanding of the affective elements of place, especially those realised by families and groups of friends. The paper traces important implications of this meaning, and provides a paradoxical perspective on isolation evident from the interviews, for managing coast-based recreation.