This December along with the ecology group for TERC I went to Melbourne for the Ecological Society of Australia meeting. While much smaller in numbers compared with the ESA (of America), I found this to be a much less stressful conference since I could more easily locate and chat up fellow ecologists. I also found it really helpful that ESA catered all of the lunches here so that you didn’t have to wander off and rush back for the next symposium. I attended a great symposium of Forest declines in Australia and met up with folks from the Centre for Excellence in Climate Change and Forest and Woodland Health to talk about forest declines. I was able to spend a good chunk of time hanging out with the Hochuli Lab and the Insect Ecology group during the week. The trip to Melbourne was complete once we had our fill of dumplings in China town, visited the art galleries, and explored the Zoo.
Next, I went down to New Zealand- a truly majestic set of islands with really distinct fauna and flora (including the ever-so awkward kiwi bird we ran into at dusk while hunting for glow worms). Its not really possible to sum up all of the breathtaking landscapes, but trust me when I say the pictures don’t do them justice. We did finish our tour of the North Island in windy windy Wellington (twice the wind of any city I’ve ever been in), just in time for the World Premiere of the Hobbit. The South Island was filled with train excursions through the alps, sea kayaking around Milford Sound, winery and brewery tours in Greymouth and Otago, and the impressive Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. A whirlwind tour of the islands, but a really great adventure.
More recently I went on a short, but sweet, trip to Copenhagen to present a research proposal I’ve been working on. It was quite refreshing to experience snowfall and icy winters after the driest wet season in Darwin in the past twenty years! I explored as much of the culture and history of Copenhagen as I could fit in, and enjoyed getting to know a few European ecologists during my stay. I did discover that the Morton Salt girl (the one with blonde hair and the umbrella) is actually named Irma and runs her own series of grocery stores in Copenhagen. For those who haven’t been to Copenhagen, the city is delightfully dedicated to cycling and I was impressed to see commuters pressing on to work despite blustering cold winds and fresh snow covering the icy streets.