A little over 14 years ago, I returned home after living in Sydney, Australia for 6 months. It was an incredible experience. I made several lifelong friends. And I would return in a heartbeat.
While there, I was fortunate to have lived very near Sydney Harbor where I went sailing one afternoon with my new “mates” and at another time climbed its iconic bridge. During my stay, I was invited to spend a weekend in the Blue Mountains where I rode horseback and saw king kangaroos in the wild. A quick plane ride landed me in Melbourne where I celebrated Australia Day. Throughout my time in AUS, I was awakened each morning by the squawks and screeches of kookaburras.
The Aussies that I met were active, outdoors-loving individuals. They love their team sports – rugby, cricket, Australian rules football, and of course real football (soccer, to us Americans). They cheer on their individual sports athletes – you may recall Evonne Goolagong, Ken Rosewall, Greg Norman, Cathy Freeman, and “the Thorpedo”, Ian Thorpe. It seems each city or town has its own “pitch” or playing field; many have public swimming pools.
Australia is known for its unique wildlife, gorgeous harbors, and the Great Barrier Reef. Surrounded by water, you would never imagine that the island continent has water concerns. But, Australia is considered to be one of the driest continents on earth. Although there are hundreds of rivers, they are mostly along the coastline where the vast majority of people live, work, and play. The dense populations in these coastal areas is growing and creating a rising demand for water. The dry climate and over-allocation of water are resulting in a strain on the supply.
The Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has been created to establish policies and initiatives to protect this beautiful environment and intriguing heritage, and to promote a sustainable way of life. To those ends, the Australian government has adopted a Water for the Future initiative and set of priorities. The island continent is facing significant challenges for ensuring a sustainable water supply. Water for the Future is providing a platform and direction for water conservation. The four key priorities — taking action on climate change; using water wisely; securing water supplies; and, supporting healthy rivers – will be delivered through a ten-year investment in various programs, improved water management, and a renewed commitment to enact and deliver water policy reforms in both rural and urban areas. It is a broad, national approach to water conservancy.
The government of this great country has realized they have a precious commodity to protect. Steps are being taken to do just that. I applaud the actions being taken, and raise a pint of J. Boag’s in honor of my adopted second home.
Johnny Appleseed Inspired is written by our contributing editor, Terri Grover-Miller