Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Monday, October 29, 2007

Regional Australia's universities- engines for regional development

Interesting short article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Professor Gerard Sutton, VC at Wollongong University, on the role that Regional Australia's universities play in driving regional development. Unfortunately I cannot give the link.

Unlike New Zealand where university development was relatively widely spread, the establishment of universities in Regional Australia really lagged. It would be 1928 before the Armidale Teachers College was established as the first higher educational institution outside the metro centres, 1938 before the New England University College was founded. There was then a very long gap until the creation of Newcastle University first as a University College and then as a full university in 1965.

Professor Sutton makes the point that Regional Australia's universities are working hard to create university cities outside the metros - at places like Wollongong, Newcastle, Armidale, Bathurts, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Townsville, Toowoomba, Ballarat and Geelong, just to mention a few.

These universities have very different roles in their communities as compared to the metros. As an example, they often have to drive the creation of infrastructure, rather than taking what is there as given. In doing so, they greatly enrich their local communities.

They are also major employers, injecting billions of dollars into regional economies directly and through their attraction of students who have to be fed and housed.

Now here Professor Sutton makes the point that regional universities have a responsibility to provide much more by acting as catalysts for development in ways in which metro universities need not and, often, could not match.

He is, of course, correct. Regional Australia's universities have acted as pioneers not just in the development of new teaching and learning approaches, but also through their contributions to regional development.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dogs in Ute

Photo: Dogs in Ute

This photo comes from The Outstation site.

When the kids were young and we were doing a long country drive, each would be given a list of things to spot. The one who filled her list first got a prize.

Dogs in the back of a ute was always one of the staples. We saw all sorts of utes and all sorts of dogs. Still, the strangest sighting was in the middle of Sydney itself. I still don't know what the ute in question was doing there.

As kids, my brother and I loved driving round in the back of utes, especially through the paddocks. Memories!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bunya Mountains National Park

Photo: From Gordon Smith, Grass Tree Forest, Look and See.

Looking slightly surreal, grass trees in State Forest on the edge of the Bunya Mountains National Park, Queensland.

The nuts of the Bunya pine were a traditional food for the Australian Aborigines. When the pine fruited, Aborigines would gather from what is now southern Queensland and Northern New England for ceremonies and to feast.

Today the Bunya Mountains National Park preserves some of this tradition.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Australian Election 2007 - Flynn

Photo: This photo looks a bit like Dante's Inferno, but it is in fact the Alumina Works, Gladstone, Queensland.

Australia is in the midst of a national election campaign. One side effect is that the commentary is drawing out some of the distinctions between Australia's electorates. And they are substantial.

This photo comes from a story in the Sydney Morning Herald about the seat of Flynn in Queensland. Centred on the regional city of Gladstone, Flynn is one of the centres of Australia's resources boom. There are also some rather nice tourist attractions nearby.

Notionally a strong National Party seat, Flynn is a seat to watch in the event of a major swing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Australian Election 2007 - following regional seats

For the benefit of the great diaspora from Regional Australia who want to follow what is happening in the current Federal election, the ABC's Antony Green now has his electoral guide up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Australia's busiest regional airports 2005-2006

Statistical data has always fascinated me. Probably something wrong in my childhood, but I do find numbers interesting. In this context, I spent a little time browsing airport data to find Regional Australia's top regional airports measured by passenger numbers in 2005-2006.

A list of the top (thirty four) follows, using 100,000 revenue passengers as the cut off point. I found the list an interesting reflection of modern Australia.

Without being too scientific about it, seventeen owe their position in whole or part to tourism, seven are mining centres, three are capital cities.

One. Cairns in North Queensland, 3,731,178, up from 2,594,857 in 1995-96. This total includes 855,949 international passengers, up from 694,650 in 1995-1996.

Two. Gold Coast, coastal resort city in South East Queensland, 3,515,021, up from 1,992,862 in 1995-1996. This total includes 210, 495 international passengers, up from zero in 1995-1996.

Three. Canberra, the national capital, 2,550,129, up from 1,749,608 in 1995-1996.

Four. Hobart, Tasmania's capital city, 1,605,978, up from 850,295 in 1995-1996. Hobart used to have a small number of international flights, but these stopped during 1997-98.

Five. Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, 1,219,376, up from 931,578 in 1995-1996. This total includes 116,454 international passengers, down from 141,703 in 1995-1996.

Six. Launceston, city in Northern Tasmania, 925,637, up from 588,262 in 1995-1996.

Seven. Williamtown (Newcastle), major Hunter Valley industrial city and port, 816,651, up from 105,947 in 1995-1996.

Eight. Maroochydore, Queensland Sunshine Coast, 786,168, up from 309,885 in 1995-1996.

Nine. Mackay, service and tourism city in Northern Queensland, 660,632, up from 289,838 in 1995-1996.

Ten. Alice Springs in Central Australia, 605,073, down from 853,274 in 1995-1996. I wonder what the reason was for this fall.

Eleven. Rockhampton, tourism and service city in Central Queensland, 588,028, up from 312,853 in 1995-1996.

Twelve. Hamilton Island, Queensland Barrier Reef resort, 432,051, up from 306,287 in 1995-1966.

Thirteen. Ayers Rock (Uluru) in Central Australia, 377, 812, slightly up from 325,131 in 1995-1996.

Fourteen. Coffs Harbour, seaside resort on the New England/NSW Mid North Coast, 322,206, up from 168,626 in 1995-1996.

Fifteen. Broome, Kimberley region Western Australia, 302,061, up from 216,996 in 1995-1996. Broome used to have a small number of scheduled international flights, but these ended in 2001-2002.

Sixteen. Ballina, a seaside service centre and resort town on the New England/NSW North Coast, 269,886, well up from 79,277 in 1995-1996.

Seventeen. Karratha, mining service centre in WA's Pilbara region, 261,825, up from 162,072 in 1995-1996.

Eighteen. Proserpine, service centre for Queensland's Whitsunday Coast, 222,592, up from 96,805 in 1995-1996.

Nineteen. Townsville, major North Queensland city, 215,959, up from 143,548 in 1995-1996. Townsville was also a small international airport, but this stopped during 2001-2002.

Twenty. Albury, 198,020, up from 149,698 in 1995-1996. Albury is an inland city in NSW on the Murray River.

Twenty one. Kalgoorlie, WA mining town, 192,891, up from 187,793 in 1995-1996.

Twenty two. Wagga Wagga, major service city in the Riverina region of NSW, 171,677, up from 123,538 in 1995-1996.

Twenty three. Gladstone, industrial city and service centre on the Central Queensland coast, 159,950, up from 104,379 in 1995-1996.

Twenty four. Dubbo, inland city in the central west of NSW, 155,805 passengers, up from 109,837 in 1995-1996.

Twenty five. Mildura, Victorian Murray River town, 154,654, up from 86,260 in 1995-1996.

Twenty six. Hervey Bay, coastal resort and retirement city in South East Queensland, 140,863, well up from 40,348 in 1995-1996.

Twenty seven. Port Lincoln, South Australian fishing centre, 138,547, up from 89,290 in 1995-1996.

Twenty eight. Mount Isa, Queensland mining city, 132,475, up from 101,468 in 1995-1996.

Twenty nine. Port Hedland, port and service centre in WA's Pilbara region, 120,931, down from 128,739 in 1995-1996. Port Hedland used to have a small number of international flights, but these ceased in 1999-2000.

Thirty. Port Macquarie, resort centre, New England/NSW Mid North Coast, 108,969, up from 75,899 in 1995-1996.

Thirty one. Gove, mining town on the edge of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, 108,427, down from 131,427 in 1995-19956.

Thirty two. Mount Gambier, South Australia, 102,121, up from 61,205 in 1995-1996.

Thirty three. Armidale, 100,984, up from 66,384 in 1995-1995. Armidale is an educational centre in Australia's New England.

Thirty four. Newman, mining town in WA's Pilbara region, 100,518, up from 68,267 in 1995-96.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Regional Australia wine - James Halliday's Wine Companion now on-line

James Halliday's Wine Companion is one of Australia's best know wine guides. I was pleased to discover that it now has an on-line edition adding to the ever growing volume of information on the wines of Regional Australia.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Baz Lurhmann's Australia

Photo: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman filming Australa

I must say that I am looking forward to seeing Baz Lurhmann's Australia. It's been a little while since we saw a major film set in the Australian outback.

Australia is Baz Luhrmann's first feature film since the 2001 musical success Moulin Rouge, still a favourite with my daughters.

The film centres on an English aristocrat in the 1930s, played by Nicole Kidman, who comes to northern Australia to sell a cattle property the size of Belgium. After an epic journey across the country with a rough-hewn drover, Hugh Jackman, they are caught in the bombing of Darwin during World War II. Filming began late April 2007 and is scheduled to finish approximately November 2007, with a November 2008 target release date.

In the meantime, the film's web site has a great photo gallery that is well worth a browse.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Regional Living Australia - end month review September 2007

Another month, another review. I said in the August review that I was getting back to regular posting again, with September traffic up from August, with August up in turn from the July low point. One pleasing point (chart below) was the number of visitors who looked at more than one page.

So what did people look at?

The most popular page after the front page itself was again the post Australia's Regional Differences - Melbourne vs Sydney, although its lead did decline. Then came Regional Australia's Universities - student satisfaction rankings. Looking back, I see that this page was in the top group back at the start of August. As I said then, good to see.

Australia's Indigenous Heritage - Big Sky Country retained its place in the top group, followed by the re-appearance of Kimberley Region WA 2 - the romance of pearls and pearling. On equal place came Judith Wright's The Hawthorn Hedge - Regional Australia writers. All my Judith Wright posts on several blogs (entry page here) have been popular, in part I think because a fair number of students are studying her poems for the year 12 exams.

When I look at the source of the last 100 visitors, twenty came direct, seven from the Regional Living Australia web site, seven from my other blogs, two from olives101, my favourite olives site. So if my my maths is correct, that leaves 65 from search engines.

If we look at country of origin as set out in the chart below, Australia dominates traffic at 52 per cent, followed by the US on 10 per cent.