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The Start of 2011

Well the Queensland and Victorian Floods have dominated the last month – and now a cyclone is heading towards my original home town – Ayr!  Quite a start to the year!  I feel for those affected directly and indirectly.  And those landholders who have battled drought and have now lost crops, pastures, stock and infrastructure to floods.

Robyn and I were in Fiji (again! – see my earlier blog on our first visit there) at the time of the Toowoomba Tsunami and what followed!  Then we watched endless replays on BBC which showed the terrifying surge of water through the streets we knew so well.

This trip to Fiji was almost totally holidays – except that we fitted in a trip to Suva to visit SPC and be shown around by Laurie Fooks who has been working there for a few years now.  Laurie was able to show me that the Extension Policy brief that I contributed to was now published and up on line for all to see (Policy Brief 12)

So, apart from my work in PNG, I have managed to have a very small input into the Pacific Islands – and I hope someone finds it useful.  This also ties in with a PhD thesis that I am supervising at the moment – looking at monitoring participation in development projects in the Pacific.  I am still hoping that something further comes up and I may yet get the opportunity to provide some input into places like Tonga, or Samoa or any of the other many islands that comprise the Pacific Island Nations.

Australia after all, is a Pacific Island Nation at the edge of the Pacific!

Anyway, the holiday coincided with Fiji’s wet season – so we didn’t really escape from the rain and floods back at home.  This time I chose the location for our stay – and I didn’t choose very well at all. But we did manage to get out to the coral islands, avoid drinking kava and buy a beautiful souvenir wooden vase (with lots of knots and shape in it!).  We were held up for a couple of days because of the Brisbane floods and finished the time off at Denarau in a very nice resort (although very unsettled because of the devastation back home).

This year starts off with workshops in Southwest Queensland looking at recovery in some of the communities after the floods, more workshops looking at dealing with on-going climate variability issues, the promise of another trip to NZ and Chile and some interesting on-going monitoring and evaluation projects.  I hope your year has some nice things to look forward to as well.