Finishing up in Brissy

My last week in Brisbane was my most productive.  After making some good contacts at the end of the previous week at a carbon management seminar (and subsequent happy hour), I was able to set up some meetings with some folks from DERM, including the Acting Director of the Environment and Resource Science section.  We had a good discussion about some of the water management plans and ecological monitoring programs at the State level and it was very interesting to see the parallels between many of their plan objectives and the issues they are dealing with, and the water quality and ecological targets, indicators, etc. in Tampa Bay.  It makes for a productive conversation when I can convey ideas and discuss similar resource goals rather than just sitting there scribbling notes and drinking all their coffee.  I also got the chance to talk to one of the social scientists working for DERM about the challenge of bridging the communication gap between science and policy.  Long story short, it all comes down to personal networks and relationships. 

Speaking of the importance of building strong networks, I finished up the week at a two day workshop on assessing the ecological health of the catchments in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB).  Considering that a focus of my internship is the ecological health and response to water policies in the MDB, I was very excited to be invited to attend the workshop.  The group was made up of senior scientists, professors and research advisers from CSIRO, Griffith U., U. of New South Wales, Monash U. and a handful of other institutions that are doing natural resource work in Australia.  It was really good to get some insight on the colaboration on such a large scale and complex project and to get to know some of the movers and shakers over here.  It was also good to see that a poor sense of fashion and high tolerance for alcohol are universal traits of good scientists throughout the world.  I’d like to think I fit right in… 

On Saturday I went with my friend Brett (who I’ve been staying with) to a little town about 200 Km west of Brisbane to check out some classic car time trial races.  Though racing classic cars isn’t the most sustainable past time, being that I’m coming off a broken ankle I got riding my dirt bike, I’m not about to cast the first stone.  Not to mention the fact that had someone given me the keys, I guarantee I would have put the hammer down and tried to take home a trophy.  Life is a balance….  Anyway, the trip did have some significance to my project as we drove over/through the great dividing range and through the headlands of the MDB.  As we were coming out of the range I got a sense of how extensive the flatlands are in that area.  This was also another area that was greatly impacted by the January floods and you could still see downed trees and debris lines in the now dry creek beds.  The flatness of the area and the high overland flows are what contributed to the impacts from the floods and is also why water management here is difficult.

OK, so I had to post this picture. One of the cool things about driving in the coutry here is that you see kangaroos and wallabies like you would see deer in the States.  Unfortuneatly, like deer in the States, you see just about as many as road kill too.  We didn’t see any Koalas (live or dead) but we saw these signs and I couldn’t stop laughing every time we passed one.  I kept expecting to see an adjacent sign that said “Thanks for visiting Queensland.  Now $#&^ off!!”

These signs alternate with the kangaroo crossing signs. However, the kangaroos aren't nearly as angry as the Koalas (note the Koala's "finger"...).

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