USA meets Oz

On a very windy afternoon students from the University of Georgia in the USA visited Noosa as part of their Spring Semester in Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, and New Zealand. In Australia, the students go to Sydney, Lady Elliot, Carnarvon Gorge, and Noosa, focusing on issues related to the relationship of humans and their environments. The students were mostly studying business and finance modules, however show a great interest in many things. I have been very fortunate to be able to tag along, and discuss scenarios that would affect Noosa.

A scenario proposed on these visits is ‘How would a Marina development at Noosa Spit impact on the Noosa community?’ Led by Michael Tarrant, the students are given information about the benefits and issues related to such a development. Michael challenges the students with background on Noosa and its journey into what we see today.

The talk and walk takes about five hours, and starts at the River mouth at the Spit. Here we look at the site, and explain how Noosa has resisted high rise development and preserved its environmental values over the years. I talk a bit about geology, indigenous history, and European settlement to give the students some perspective on the pace of change. It is interesting to note that the University of Georgia was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly on January 27, 1785, Georgia became the first state to charter a state-supported university. In 1784 the General Assembly had set aside 40,000 acres of land to endow a college or seminary of learning. The university was established in 1801, with first students enrolled in 1804.

Perspective – Matthew Flinders sailed around Moreton Bay in July 1799, but it was not until 1823 that John Oxley discovered the Brisbane River.

From here we walk along the beach and move up onto Hasting’s Street, where the discussion goes into the economy of Noosa.

From here we walk out to the Noosa National Park, the most visited National Park in Australia. Here we stop at the Amphitheatre, and pose some further ethical questions at the students…such as ‘Should an entrance fee be charged into the National Park?’

The walk from here takes us to Hells Gates, amid magnificent scenery, and yesterday, many surfers! The serene nature of the ocean protected by the Noosa Headland soon gave way to a very rough sea, and strong winds. I think the students were very impressed with the walk.

I have been privileged to do a few of their tours. I enjoy them very much. The students are all very interested, and pose some really unique questions. This mob were no different. A great group of young, enthusiastic people. I came away with a renewed optimism for the world….This is a great initiative by the University of Georgia, and it is really good that Noosa is on the agenda.