The 6th Queensland Coastal Conference, hosted jointly by the Australian Coastal Society (ACS) and Reef Catchments, was held from the 5th to the 7th September 2017 in Airlie Beach. Held every two years, the QCC celebrated its 10th year.
As the Queensland Convenor of ACS, I was involved in the organisation and management of the QCC – not an easy task! But the event went without a hitch, and just under 120 delegates from across Queensland (and a few friends from southern shores escaping the southern Australian winter) descended on Airlie Beach for three days.
The Conference was well attended by a diverse range of scientists, engineers, managers, and policy makers, from government (local, state and commonwealth), the private sector, natural resource management, university and research institutions, and not-for-profits.
We heard emotive keynote presentations from Libby Edge’s EcoBarge volunteer organisation, who are cleaning up the Whitsunday Islands one piece of rubbish at a time; from Mayor Fred Gela, of the Torres Strait Islands Regional Council, talking about the reality of climate change and sea-level rise in the Torres Strait Islands; from Allen Grundy, Chair of Tourism Whitsundays, about the importance of the reef to the tourism industry and the need for scientists and tourism operators to join forces to save our natural assets; and Paul Groves and Donna Audas from GBRMPA talking about the fantastic work they have been doing to understand and address the habitat loss and land use changes in the GBR catchment. Many people commented on how inspiring and motivating the speeches were, that they hadn’t attended such a conference that has inspired and tugged heart string so hard as the QCC had this year.
We also heard from various researchers, consultants, scientists and organisations on the individual projects and programs being implemented across the state, and the results that are starting to come back in.
I was excited to have the opportunity to introduce my PhD topic – impacts of sand bypass systems on the sediment dynamics of tidal estuaries- to the coastal science and management community. The QCC was the first time I had shared my research formally outside of the comfort and security of Griffith University, and I was relieved and humbled that not only did people find my research topic interesting, but that they were actually excited about it and seeing the findings and publications that will hopefully being to come out of it in the next few months. This response has given me a renewed energy and motivated me to keep working hard at my PhD, which can be hard to manage sometimes with work and life commitments, and I hope to be able to present some findings and a completed (or near enough) sediment budget at the Estuarine and Coastal Science Association (ECSA) 57 Symposium in Perth next year.
The Queensland Coastal Conference was a fantastic opportunity to connect and reconnect with colleagues, establish new networks, catch up with friends, and to hear about all the great work going on in the coastal zone around the state. I am excited about what comes out of the QCC, and what I’m able to achieve in my PhD now I have more reassurance and validation that my research is valuable.