What a rich journey I have had!  It really pays to be an economic developer, and to know others in this field because economic developers are a remarkable resource, one that has perspective on the whole of an economy and the unique character of a region. Further, they can personally connect you to the best resources available given your specific interests. This is how the second half of my time in Australia went.

Arriving in Townsville, my economic development host, Simon Millcock, who had visited Towson University previously and is active with the International Economic Development Council, had arranged several ‘behind the scenes’ meetings for me, targeting my interest in Edu-Tourism/Economic Development and sustainability as it relates to Towson’s partnership with the town of Port Deposit and our research of the Northern Map Turtle.

Billabong Sanctuary

My adventure began with a stop at the Billabong Sanctuary, where I was hosted by director Bob Flemming. This sanctuary and educational place hosts nearly 600 school groups a year to learn about Australia’s natural habitat and the life of some of the very special species of Australia to include, birds, kangaroo, koala, wombats, dingos, and yes, some crocodiles. Importantly, The Billabong is home to many turtles who coexist in this sustainable environment.  The sanctuary has a wonderful function room where discussions and presentations can take place, and exceptional staff work with the student groups to give them a close up wildlife educational experience.

Missing photo caption: Bob, Simon, and I at the Billabong. If you look closely on the ground there is a rope in an oblong circle that designates the track for their daily turtle races.

Reef HQ, Great Barrier Reef Aquarium

This phenomenal facility is first an education and research facility, and also a tourist and community attraction.  Fred Nucifora, whose enthusiasm is infectious, was my host at Reef HQ.  As it turns out Reef HQ is working with faculty from around the globe, supporting customized curriculum for student exchange and research in marine life.  Their educational tools and technology are cutting edge and have given me many ideas to support the education/research/information center development planned for Port Deposit. Additionally, Reef HQ has a focus on turtles, has a turtle hospital, and supports sustainability research in the maintenance of habitat. Our interests are clearly aligned.

Missing photo caption: The Reef HQ is an incredible facility for education.

Missing photo caption: The Reef HQ has a unique focus on turtles.

Museum of Tropical Queensland

The Museum displays the story of the HMS Pandora and hosts other exhibits both traveling and permanent.  Importantly, their outreach efforts into the community are excellent, giving the museum an educational and local appeal through its changing exhibits that reflect the community’s culture and character.  Tye was my host, and by the time we finished the tour, I was thinking anthropology could be a second career.

My last day in Australia ended with an evening in Brisbane which was celebrating the many cultures of the G20, as Brisbane is host to the G20 Summit that will begin there in the coming week. Using the theme, Colour Me Brisbane, the city was alive with colors, music, art and entertainment of all kinds.  What an auspicious time to be there, and a rich way to top my journey to the Down Under.

Today with a new smile, I turn my attention toward arriving at BWI; and in the American tradition, wish all my new friends who helped me learn and discover Australia, Happy Trails