I’m just returning from a trip to Australia, and I thought I’d share some of what I came across there, even though the content on this blog is largely non-technical, and it doesn’t even really follow the general themes of my previous blogs.

The trip was intended to allow me to get better acquainted with my Australian counterparts, especially Theo Gerritsen, the charismatic leader of our tailings group in Australia. Theo has a quickly growing group in Brisbane because of the capabilities of his talented team, and the empathetic nature of Theo and his team: performing their work through the lens of client focus, and seeing beyond the black and white assignment that shows up in the scope of work he is contracted to perform. I’m not talking about performing additional scope that you aren’t contracted to do or even scope creep. But sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can see things differently, and sometimes a person with different experiences can see things in a different way. In that way, we can advise our clients on services they may not have even considered before.

In Brisbane, I had a wonderful accommodation; it was an easy walk to the Stantec office, with good meals and a soft bed. Plus a small gym, which was good enough to “bridge the gap” between a sedentary business trip and my gym back home. Brisbane also has a very nice river walk so I could go jogging. There were cute little parks, and beautiful gardens all along the river walk (oh, did I mention the Ferris wheel?), and a few pleasant sidewalk café’s to enjoy dinner or just a glass of wine. The first two nights I ate dinner at the hotel, but the third night I dined at one of those cute little sidewalk cafes along the river.

Anyway, I was visiting our Australian offices to become better acquainted with our people and projects so that I can give them better senior oversight and direction and so that I can be in a better position to review their work. I left Denver on a Friday, and arrived in Brisbane mid-day the following Sunday. I spent a few days in Brisbane (among other things, getting caught up on time zones), and then off to Perth, only to get messed up with time zones again. I met with our Matt Todd and his highly capable crew. Matt is our mining lead for Australia. I had a wonderful time meeting Matt’s staff and learning of his team’s capabilities. We visited a couple of Matt’s clients, and a company that Stantec has recently acquired. Two days were up, and it was back to Brisbane, just in time for the weekend. Or a day and a half, anyway.

After meeting Theo at the office on Saturday, and going through the details of one of our projects, Theo was kind enough to drive me to a trailhead where I could get some fresh air and smell the smells of nature, and then walk back into the city. The next day, Sunday, after having a good workout and going for a nice jog, I again met Theo in the office for a brief meeting (does anyone work harder than Theo?), Theo pointed out to me where I could do some Christmas shopping, and where I could put my feet up with a nice glass of wine.

The next day we were off to New South Wales to visit a project, and of course it was in a different time zone. Theo had booked us into the quaintest B&B in Fishing Point. It was right on Lake MacQuarie, where the Aussies used to fly their float planes in and out during WWII. It was picturesque and the matron of the house was very hospitable, cooking wonderful breakfasts (and even a dinner when the local restaurant was closed).

We spent the next day at a power plant, where we have various assignments for their ash dam. It was a very interesting day of touring the site and meeting their staff, getting to know their people and their project. The setting reminded me quite a bit of Ghana, because of the tropical setting, vegetation, and rolling terrain.

And finally, on third day, it was time to drive Sydney. The drive was beautiful, although it was raining most of the way. The traffic was like a parking lot in Sydney, and thank goodness they have tunnels everywhere. I can’t imagine what traffic would be like without all these tunnels! I was so happy that I had left for the airport early. Then that 13 hour flight back to LAX. And it’s here in LAX where I write this blog, being thankful for the trip, and all of the memories, but also thankful for heading home.


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