Australia: New Adventure

The past several weeks, nothing really new and interesting. My internship was still focusing on the office works, helping colleagues collect data and creating certificates. But I have a strong feelings about how important of data for a certification organization, no, data should be essential for any business. Ecotourism Australia has a great data system and they are still keeping updating everyday. EA plays an important role to help operators to improve their themselves and improve their management plans. Also, I feel the power of social media cause we have to update our website, Facebook, blogs everyday and bring new information to followers/audience. I am so impressive about my colleagues cause they have a great communication stills, no matter for talking or writing, especially for replying emails, a certain operator should use a certain words, through those words, it shows the attitudes of EA. Tourism is also a service industry. We certificate the products from various operators not means we are their big boss. Those operators are our customers and we play a helpful role.

Back to the weather, past couple days, the temperature was freezing in Brisbane. I heard somewhere in the south of Brisbane, just like one half hours drive, was snowing. †here was a crazy interlude happened in my renting place, also I have taken cold shower more than a month, which pushed me to find a new place. I realized sometimes we are afraid of changing because we are already getting used to our comfortable zones. But sometimes, changing is not a bad thing, it helps us to keep discovering ourselves. It looks like troubles, but once you start to do it, it is not that difficult. Our imaginations and fears sometimes restrict our action. I treat that interlude as a challenge and a lesson, which helps me to grow up better. Our life is a long journey. It feels like taking a train, someone will come, while others will leave. No one will accompany you forever, even for your family. The people or the things you will meet in your trip has a certain reason, no matter they are good things or bad, which teach you some lessons and help you grow up. Once they finish their jobs, they will leave and you will meet someone/something new later.

I feel I was living in a wrong place, which invisibly impacts my satisfaction of my trip. I am so happy I have moved out. That’s probably a turning point of my journey. Also, that interlude helps me to deeply recognize some issues about Airbnb. There are still many invisible gaps or accidents you will meet.

After I moved into the new place, that weekend, I felt free. I went to the South Bank again. There was a celebration of Scottish Australian community in CBD. Also, in South Bank, there was a French Festival. I ate so many French desserts. That Sunday I watched a dancing show, “Dirty Dancing”, in Art center. It’s performed by local dancing artists, the same story as that old movie, but adds many new things and new musics.

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South Bank
South Bank
South Bank
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South Bank
South Bank
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South Bank

I went to Melbourne last Friday to attend the Victoria Tourism Conference that happened this Monday and Tuesday. I am so glad I can come and I learned a lot from passed two days. The details of Victoria Tourism Conference will come to the next blog.

Final Week in Brisbane, Australia

The final week of my project was very productive and I had the opportunity to meet with two organizations that are water management trailblazers in Australia.

I spent two days with Healthy Waterways, a nonprofit that works with government and industry partners to protect and improve the waterways of South East Queensland. The organization was built on research and sound science; that continues to be their focus today. They monitor and report on the condition of their local waterways and provide training, planning, policy reform recommendations, and education programs. They have a strong collaborative model that could be a very useful guide and tool for other nations including the US.


One concept I learned about, that will be incorporated in my research, is a holistic view of watershed management called Living Waterways. It addresses all aspects of sustainability and the triple bottom line (Environment, Economy, Social). This concept is essential for urban areas now and in the future.

The Living Waterways approach has been developed to support implementation of water sensitive urban design by encouraging and incentivising design solutions that embody the natural, historical and cultural elements of a site. They promote interaction with water to inspire, promote adventure and discovery, and to educate visitors about the delicacy of our ecosystems.

The Living Waterways approach is site-driven and aligns traditional stormwater principles with place-making benefits based around the four key themes:

  • Living Water
  • Living Places
  • Living Communities
  • Living Local Economies

While at Healthy Waterways, I attended a few meetings to learn more about their initiatives. They have been providing report cards for their catchment areas in South East Queensland and their new 2015 report card will have additional economic and stewardship indicators included. The meetings I attended discussed these concepts and how they will be incorporated in their report card.


I also met with the Program Manager from the International WaterCentre. The International WaterCentre (IWC) provides education and training, applied research and knowledge services to implement a whole-of-water cycle approach and develop capacity in integrated water resource management. They use an integrated water management approach for sustainable urban communities, healthy river basins, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The IWC Program Manager provided me with an excellent overview of the history of the water industry in Brisbane and the Water Sensitive Cities initiative. This information will help frame my research for how we have managed water in the past and where we need to go in order to transition to a holistic, smart approach for designing urban cities and managing water for resiliency, reducing runoff, and meeting social and economic needs of a community.


After my work was complete, I was able to explore Northeast Queensland before I left the country. I traveled North from Brisbane to Cairns and went diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m glad I got to experience this beautiful ecosystem with the largest coral reef system I’ve ever seen, tropical fish, sharks and sea turtles. It was an experience of a lifetime and I feel grateful for this opportunity. Exploring sustainability efforts in another country has been enlightening and rewarding. It is something I have been looking forward to over the last two years while pursuing my Masters degree at USF!

I would like to add a special thank you to the people that made me feel exceedingly welcome in Australia. Everyone was very kind, helpful, hospitable and willing to share their knowledge with me. Thank you to the professional staff that met with me and gave me research accommodations: International RiverFoundation, Queensland Government, BMT WBM, Seqwater, Healthy Waterways and International WaterCentre. I will be forever grateful and hope to continue sharing ideas and knowledge overseas.

I’ve made it back to the United States and I’m looking forward to starting my new position in the Sustainability field and finishing my research paper before August graduation!


Sara Kane

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Week 2 & Week 3 Changes

After the first week staying in the office, I tried to get used to my internship. Perhaps, that is the differences from school works. But I have to find some interesting for myself to transfer my attention from those offie works. I almost forgot the feeling of travel, to check out this world. My parents encouraged me to visit some places in Australia cause I am already here. So I went to Sydney last weekend. I felt the whole week was full of energy and the time went fast. I flew to Sydney Friday night and came back Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. I walked around the Sydney whole Saturday.

Sydney is so beautiful and I was suddenly attracted by this city. So many tourists around the world. The Sydney Bridge, Sydney Opera House, the whole Sydney Harbor, the Rocks area, combining historic and modern feelings. I found a place to live from Airbnb and my host’s girl friend is from China. She gave me many suggestions to arrange my short trip. I took a boat from Sydney Harbor to Manly Beach. Manly Beach is so beautiful and it is the Heaven of Surfing. I spent several hours walking around the Manly Beach. Many people worked out under the sunny day. I watched a show in Sydney Opera House Saturday night. It might be a great way to check out this amazing architecture. My trip was too short and there are so many places I did visit.

Sydney Harbor
Sydney Harbor
Manly Beach
Manly Beach

But when I came back from Sydney, I suddenly realized it seems like I have fell in love with Brisbane, healthy, quiet and Green. Sydney is great, absolutely, but it has the same characteristics that many metropolises have, lack of something fresh and new. That probably is the reason I am not crazy about it after the short trip.

Hyde Park
Hyde Park
Sydney Tower
Sydney Tower

Go back to my internship. I have helped the Ecotourism Australia finish the design of online application. Last two weeks, I was working on data and other Office works. I have started to write blogs for their websites and replied some of emails.

There was a challenge. In week 3, there were only two people in the office. I started to answer the phone. I’m used to be scared about answering the phone cause I was afraid that I may miss the information. But my colleague encouraged me and helped me a lot. I did many mistakes last week, but I also learned a lot, no matter for the office work, or the certification program.

I have registered the tourism conference in Melbourne next month. Hopefully I can learn more from those speakers. Also, next week, I am going to start my dance class. I have affected by this city and those healthy people. There are so many people work out directly after work.

I will explore more about this city and get more new experience.

Week 3: Brisbane Australia

This week I had the opportunity to see a site for sustainable water management and speak to a researcher at the University of Queensland working on water quality for the Great Barrier Reef.

I met with the Water Services Supervisor with the City of Brisbane and South Bank Corporation. He showed me an innovative stormwater harvesting, treatment and reuse project, Rain Bank, which was completed in 2011. It uses underground reservoirs to store, harvest and treat stormwater and can recycle up to 77 megalitres (the equivalent of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools) each year. This is enough to provide 85% of Parkland’s irrigation and non-potable water requirements. Parkland is an urban area in South Bank, near Brisbane City and the Brisbane River. Many residents and visitors use South Bank for picnicking, biking, running, shopping, and eating at a variety of restaurants.

Parkland in South Bank near the Brisbane River

Local governments and private organizations put funding for this project in place when the Brisbane area was going through extreme droughts from 2002-2007. To find space to store rainwater in an urban setting is rare and this project will ensure water resources will be available during periods of long-term drought. The project has won several awards including the Stormwater Industry Association of Queensland’s Excellence in Infrastructure Award and the Healthy Waterway’s Water Sensitive Urban Design Award.

South Bank also has a dedicated Water Efficiency Management Plan which includes installing dual flush toilets, waterless urinals and three second push-style taps in all public toilets at South Bank; installing water tanks in the Parklands and applying wetting agents to turf and gardens in the Parklands to reduce the need for watering. Since introducing these measures, water consumption in the Parklands has reduced by 65%. Other sustainability measures that South Bank have implemented include: waste reduction and recycling, using bio-friendly cleaning products, energy use reduction, using locally sourced materials, utilizing native plants that are drought resistant, green building, CityCycle, and sustainability education for the community.

Recycled water used in South Bank
Recycled water used in South Bank

My next meeting was with a researcher at the University of Queensland (Marine Spatial Ecology Lab) who gave me some good information about work they are doing to track water quality and ecosystem services for the Great Barrier Reef. He also directed me to reports and research done by other researchers and organizations that will help with my paper.

Marine Spatial Ecology Lab that I visited at the University of Queensland
Marine Spatial Ecology Lab that I visited at the University of Queensland

Over the weekend I visited D’Aguilar National Park and Mount Glorious. It was a beautiful hike with striking mountaintop views through eucalypt woodlands and a subtropical rainforest. Throughout the hike, I thought I heard a baby or a cat crying. Turns out, it was a catbird! There are some strange birds in Australia and I could do an entire blog on that.  Most likely it was a Green Catbird which are found in rainforests in Southeast Queensland.

Green Catbird
Green Catbird

I also visited the City Botanic Gardens and explored mangrove forests along the riverfront. Australia has 41 different species of mangroves and you can find most of them in the state of Queensland.

Another highlight was meeting with a fellow Patel School of Global Sustainability student! It’s nice that Xiaomin Liu is also in Brisbane for her project.


Next week I meet with staff from Healthy Waterways and the International Water Centre.


Sara Kane

Brisbane, The City Surprises Me

Just arrived in Brisbane on June 4. Then I started to check out this city next day. My host is so awesome and friendly. His girlfriend is a Korean that makes me feel a kind of belonging (cause both of us are from the Asia).

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Recycle Bins

Brisbane has a very strong transportation system, public buses, trains, and a special one—ships. You can take any of them through one card. The public buses are on time, fast and popular, really convenient to connect many areas around the Brisbane.

The first thing surprised me was when I took the bus this morning, two families took their babies and got on the bus, all of the passengers sat on the priority seats were suddenly standing up and offer their seats to those two families. It looks consistent, fast and natural, which hardly find in China, or even in U.S. (Maybe it has, but I haven’t met yet). Almost passengers said “Thank you” to the drivers no matter for getting on or off the bus. Good behaviors have been shown from many details or small things. It might be a sign for this city has great education and culture that people have been trained so well.

The best way to feel and learn a city might be walking around without routines. I past the city center, people were dressed up and fashionable, no matter for males or females. I just feel they are so tell. I visited the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. It was lunch time, many people followed the river to run or work out. That makes me notice people here look almost slim and healthy, from their bodies. Running or exercise is so popular here. Playing soccer, running, lying on the grass, which makes this city energetic.

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Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

I saw the mangroves around the Brisbane River. Big trees cover all most of the garden. Air is fresh. Everything looks peaceful and harmonious, just like my host said, it is a moderate city, no matter for its size or its design. Perhaps, that is the Brisbane’s enchantment.

Then I past the South Bank, a popular tourist attraction in Brisbane. Great design, green, fresh and harmonious between human beings and nature. Restaurants and bars are around this area, probably has great nightlifes here.

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South Bank

I did not meet so many tourists, only couple of Chinese tourists. Most tourists might visit the Golden Coast. I was regarded as Korean that reminds me when I was in U.S., it was common to be regarded as Japanese, which might be a sign that Korean is popular in Brisbane (Another clue is food. Also, many Korean food here).

So many great impressions from this city and, of course, it gives me many surprises. Green, sustainable, healthy…

But it also brings a kind of lonely, lacks of a sense of belongs for me, probably, because I just arrived here for two days. Just felt a little shy, scary and not very confident. Hopefully, it will turn to better after I start my internship next Tuesday. Next Monday is the national holiday, Queen’s birthday. So I have a long weekend to familiar this city.

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The Balance of Nature and Animal
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So Cute !!!

And another thing makes me crazy is KEEP LEFT !!! I always walked on wrong lines and checked out the cars from wrong direction. I was thinking probably I can rent a car to visit some far places. KEEP LEFT makes me give up that idea.

So far it looks ok. Brisbane already surprised me. I believe there will be more surprises coming.


Week 2: Brisbane, Australia

Week 2 in Brisbane has been filled with many new and educational experiences. This week the highlight of my research project was the opportunity to go out in the field to see a water management site and participate in an educational tour with local students. On Thursday, I met with Ellie Pobjoy, the Community Relations Advisor for Engagement at Seqwater.


Some background on Seqwater (this organization could be compared to Tampa Bay Water in Florida):

“Seqwater delivers drinking water to more than 3.1 million people in Southeast Queensland. They ensure a safe, secure and reliable water supply for South East Queensland, as well as providing essential flood mitigation services and managing catchment health. They also provide irrigation services to about 1,200 rural customers and provide recreation facilities to the community.

Seqwater is one of Australia’s largest water businesses with the most geographically spread and diverse asset base of any capital city water authority. Their operations extend from the New South Wales border to the base of the Toowoomba ranges and north to Gympie.

Seqwater manages more than $10 billion of water supply assets and the natural catchments of the region’s major water supply sources. This includes dams, weirs, conventional water treatment plants and climate resilient sources of water through the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme. A 600 kilometer reverse flow pipeline network enables drinking water to be transported to where it is needed most, from the Sunshine Coast to Greater Brisbane, to Redlands and south to the Gold Coast.

Seqwater also manages recreation facilities that provide more than 50% of the green space in SEQ outside of national parks. On average, more than 2.6 million people visit their recreation facilities each year.

Seqwater was formed on 1 January 2013 through a merger of three State-owned water businesses, the SEQ Water Grid Manager, LinkWater and the former Seqwater. They are also now responsible for the long term planning of the region’s future water needs, a function that was formerly undertaken by the Queensland Water Commission.”


The fieldtrip was at North Pine River Dam and Water Treatment Plant. Ellie gave an overview of the area – the North Pine river, catchment, dam, and water treatment. North Pine Dam was built in 1974 and holds 91,000 mega liters of water. The students did water quality testing and a macro invertebrate sampling on site. As you can see from the photos below, it is a very healthy ecosystem with good water quality. Australia has some unique bird species and pictured here are Australian Pelicans that enjoy this area of North Pine.

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Over the weekend, I visited Stradbroke Island. It is off the coast of Brisbane in Moreton Bay. I was on a mission to see a humpback whale. I’ve never seen any species of whale and it’s migrating season for humpbacks here on the coast now until November. I have many things on my list to see and do while in Australia but the most important is sighting specific species of wildlife. So far I’ve accomplished my goals (koalas, kangaroos, whales, weird birds) and I still have 19 days. While on the beach at Stradbroke Island I saw a massive humpback jump completely out of the water! We also saw a kangaroo in the wild and he was having a nice snack of grass while we were walking the path around the coast. I couldn’t ask for more!

This week I also had a meeting with another International RiverFoundation (IRF) partner – BMT WBM, a consulting firm that hosts the IRF offices where I’m working at downtown. BMT WBM leads engineering and environmental consulting projects in Australia and throughout the world. Some of their environmental projects include: environmental assessment and management, flooding, coastal modeling and management, water quality and water cycle management, and climate change. I am focusing on their water quality and water cycle management expertise. I met with Tony Webber who is the National Practice leader for Water Quality. We discussed Water Sensitive Urban Design practices, management and framework. He gave me some good sources for my research and I hope to see some of these projects in person next week.

The rest of the time, I’ve been in the office working on gathering data for my paper. In regards to sustainability, I have enjoyed taking public transportation into work every day. There is a train station near where I am staying and it takes about 15 minutes to get into the city. You can take the train, bus or water taxi (ferry) just about anywhere. We took all three to get out to the coast and Stradbroke Island. It goes well with the “no worries” attitude of Australia. You never have to worry about driving or parking if you are traveling around the City.


My office mates treated me with authentic Aussie food! These tasty treats included anzac bisquits, pavlova, lamingtons, meat pies, tim tams and vegemite cheese rolls.

Aussie Food
Aussie Food

You’re probably wondering what everything is so I’ll leave you with some history.

Anzac Biscuits

Associated with Anzac Day on April 25, the biscuit is a crunchy commemoration of the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in World War I. The Anzac biscuit was made by wives during the war and sent to soldiers, because the basic ingredients (rolled oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup, butter, bicarbonate of soda and water) were able to keep for a long time, even on long boat journeys.



Pavlova (pronounced pav-low-vah) is made of a sweet meringue-like crust stuffed full of whipped cream and finished with fresh fruits such as kiwis, strawberries and other colourful berries.



The lamington is often referred to as the “National Cake of Australia.” The National Trust of Queensland even named the lamington one of Australia’s favorite icons. This square-shaped sponge cake is coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. It sometimes comes in two halves with a layer of cream or jam in the middle. Found commonly throughout cafes as a perfect accompaniment to tea and coffee.


Tim Tam

Yet another biscuit! Arnott’s (which produces Tim Tams) say that around 35 million packs are sold each year. That’s 400 million biscuits at an average of 1.7 packs per Australian. The much-loved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate. No wonder you can now find them in supermarkets around the world.


Happy little vegemites enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and tea, so goes the much-played anthem. This is as Australian food as it gets. Although it looks like Britain’s Marmite, locals will tell you Vegemite is very different. And substantially better, more savory than sweet. Although the ingredients are much debated, the dark brown food paste is made from yeast extract (as opposed to Marmite’s vegetable extract). Instructions are simple: spread the toast as soon as possible and apply an even spread of vege.

Vegemite Rolls
Vegemite Rolls

Monday, June 8 is an Australian Holiday – the Queens Birthday. I will gladly join a Birthday celebration with a day off! I should be able to check some more wildlife sightings off my list while sailing in Moreton Bay. I might even catch a glimpse of a pirate. Johnny Depp is here filming for Pirates of the Caribbean 5.



Brisbane, Australia: Week 1

I arrived in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday, May 20 after traveling for 25 hours. The first two days I spent getting oriented to the city and waiting for my luggage to arrive. On Friday, May 22 I traveled into the city to meet with Dr. Nick Schofield, the CEO of the International RiverFoundation. I became familiar with the office space and staff that I will be in for the next four weeks.

About the International RiverFoundation (IRF):

IRF works in partnerships around the world to fund and promote the sustainable restoration and management of river basins. As an international dynamic public benefit organization, we have a life-changing impact on individuals and communities. By helping restore and sustainably manage rivers we have achieved improved health, ecological, economic, and social outcomes for people and the environment.

IRF logo

IRF rewards and champions best practice in river basin management through the International, Australian and European Riverprizes. From the Danube River in Europe, to the Mekong River in South-East Asia, and the St Johns River in the United States, the IRF has a far reaching network. IRF acts as a catalyst for replication of effective river system management around the world and promotes long term relationships between developed and developing countries around sustainable river system management.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which has been a highlight of my trip so far. It was an amazing experience to see animals that I would never see anywhere else – koalas, kangaroos, platypus, and wombats. I made a new friend, Sheldon the koala.

I also got a chance to explore the Brisbane Riverfront area. I was impressed with the smart urban planning and use of green open spaces in the city and along the river. There were many people enjoying the outdoor space biking, running, hiking, kayaking, sailing and rock climbing. I really enjoyed seeing a community garden in the downtown area where anyone can go and pick fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to take home with them.

My first full day at IRF was Monday, May 25 and I began by assisting the organization with a US contact database and writing a section about my work for their newsletter. While at IRF, I am working primarily with Melanie Ryan, International Programs Manager and Trish Dalby, Marketing and Communications Manager. Currently, they are busy preparing for their annual  International RiverSymposium  which will be held here in Brisbane in September.

Here is the IRF newsletter post about my project:

Introducing Sara KaneBlue Line


Sara Kane is a visiting student from the United States and will be working for four weeks with IRF. Sara is completing her master’s degree at the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability in Tampa, Florida studying Global Sustainability with a concentration in water. The Patel College of Global Sustainability fosters sustainable urban communities and environments through collaborative research, education and community involvement. Its research generates innovations and new knowledge that will help cities around the world, including those in developing countries; reduce their ecological footprint while improving their form and function to make them healthier, more livable and resilient.

For the next few weeks, Sara will be working on her research paper and meeting with IRF partners. Sara’s research will focus on watershed management practices and policies in urban environments. She will be looking at best practices for river management and comparing U.S. case studies to Australia. She will be focusing on water quality improvement efforts in urban environments. Sara chose to work in Brisbane because of their water management efforts in a vibrant urban waterfront city. She hopes to gain knowledge about the similarities that Australia has to the Southwest Florida coast where she lives. She will also research IRF’s Riverprize award recipients from around the world to capture lessons that can be transferred to other watershed and river basin catchment organizations that are trying to improve habitat and water quality in rapidly growing cities.

“I am excited to make international connections with IRF and other organizations in Australia,” Sara says. “Brisbane is a well designed sustainable urban environment that values natural resources and its waterfront areas. I look forward to learning many best practices that I can share with my colleagues in the United States.”

Sara will be based with the IRF for the duration of her research. Additionally, she will be consulting extensively with different organizations in the region, including Healthy Waterways, the International WaterCentre, Queensland Government – Department of Environment & Heritage Protection, SeqWater and BMT WBM who are all sharing their local and global expertise and innovation with Sara.

In the afternoon, I was able to meet with two staff members from the Queensland Government -Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Matthew Fullerton is the Manager for Reef Coordination and Partnerships in the Office of the Great Barrier Reef. He was able to give me information about water quality monitoring, modeling and recent report cards for the Great Barrier Reef catchment systems. At this stage, I am gathering information from others here for my comparison study of watershed management and policies in Southeast Queensland and Southwest Florida.


Sara Kane