(PO Box 530 Civic Square ACT 2608)


Talk by David Jupp – given on Wednesday 29 April with the title:



The talk was informal and its background subject is best described by the abstract of a semi-formal document that is available at the ACC Project web site at:


“Since ancient times, people have moved between the Guanzhong or ‘land within the passes’ of Shaanxi, where the ancient capital now called Xi’an stands, to the plains of Sichuan,or ancient Shu. The Qinling and Daba Mountains form a formidable barrier to communications but by skilfully navigating the terrain and developing innovative technology, called “Plank Roads”, ancient people created effective trade and traffic routes between the north and south. These communication lines are collectively known as the “Shu Roads”. They pass through rugged mountains, forests, wild rivers and natural wilderness, and contain conservation areas, ancient historical relics and minority peoples whose isolation has developed unique cultures. The roads provided a bridge between southern trade routes such as the Tea and Horse road to Tibet and northern routes such as the Silk Road. They are well known in the cultural traditions of Chinese people but are not well known in the west. As its history and ecology become better known, an internationally recognised ‘Shu roads ecological and historical tourism route’ can develop where historical, ecological and adventure tourism will all grow strongly in the future.”


Getting to know these relics of the past in company with people in Hanzhong who knew all about them and using geeky technology such as GPS and remote sensing has been my pleasure for the past three years. The work had the good fortune to be supported by the Australia China Council. In Australia the project has completed but not in China. The talk is not academic or technical but simply hopes to introduce some of the history, interesting places and interesting people who live (or have lived) along the Shu Roads. The Shu roads have always been hard. The first made road was built by the Qin Kingdom in the Warring States period and used to conquer Shu (Sichuan). A Tang poet, Li Bai wrote in a poem that “The road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing to heaven” but it was only what everyone knew. Missionaries going to Hanzhong in 1934 left photographs of the hard roads as they walked in with mules to carry their luggage. Just as the new tollway from Chengdu to Xi’an neared completion in 2008 it was shaken by the Wenchuan Earthquake and aftershocks. So the mountains are still “hard” places. But the areas the roads passed through are also China’s mountain wildernesses and the homes of rare animals, challenging climbs to remote temples or ecological islands and wild rivers. In remote valleys, ideal places in which to avoid warlike neighbours, live the Qiang people who are now struggling to rebuild their lives and find out who they are. Not all of this will be covered but it may illustrate what sorts of things can be discovered if you wish to find out more.


Downloads: A PDF of the main talk (warning, PDF is 4.042 MB) can be accessed and downloaded HERE. A second PDF showing a group of images from the Wenchuan Earthquake can be accessed from the main talk if you download it and keep it in the same directory as the main PDf of the Talk. The second PDF can also be viewed separately. It can be accessed HERE.



Bio Sketch


David Jupp was born in 1943 (属羊) in Perth, WA and moved to Adelaide with his family where he went to secondary school and University studying a little physics and less mathematics. For the last 33 years he has been a Research Scientist with CSIRO, based in Canberra, and has been working on satellite, airborne and ground based remote sensing, GIS and image processing applied to water resources. His salary has always been very modest. He is married to Pam and they have two daughters, Amanda and Lynsey who grew up in Canberra and now (after some years overseas) live in Adelaide and Sydney. He plans to retire in the near future. David’s email address is


In 1984, three Chinese scientists came to CSIRO to work as part of the Four Modernisations (四个现代化). Since 1990 David has had projects with their Institutes in the North China Plain (黄淮海平原) and the Loess Plateau (黄土高原) using remote sensing. In recent years he has been working with the “grandchildren” in Beijing and Shaanxi, Yangling. David Jupp’s Chinese name (some would say “false” name) is Jia Dawei (贾大韦). More recently, David has had a different (but partly similar) project involving remote sensing, GPS and GIS (3S) in China based at the Hanzhong (汉中) Museum in the south of Shaanxi Province. This activity, over recent years, has been funded by the Australia China Council. All of this and more can be found at the web site:



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