Koala up in a tree.
Photo courtesy of Gay Jackson.
The Unflappable Australians
By Kris Polly
This issue of Irrigation Leader magazine is dedicated to our third international Irrigation Education Tour and our second trip to Australia. Many thanks are due to the wonderful participants who took time from their professional lives to join us and to our sponsors, Rubicon, Alligare, and International Water Screens, for making the tour possible. This was my second trip to Australia and while I have not met and spoken with every Australian, I have met and spoken with a substantial number. All the Australians I have had a conversation with have a wonderful can-do attitude that is completely devoid of any negativity. Australians are not complainers. They will undergo some unfortunate event or bit of bad luck and immediately turn it into a humorous story. It seems to be an ongoing national competition to make each other laugh.
Tony Oakes, one of the founders of Rubicon and simply a brilliant individual, told the story about how a rental car once broke down on him and left him marooned for 6 or 7 hours somewhere in the New Zealand countryside. Rather than express any kind of frustration with the rental car company for its rather slow response to rescue him, he told his story by saying, “Thanks to the rental car company, I got to spend a lovely afternoon and evening enjoying the New Zealand countryside with my carked-it [broken-down] rental while I waited for a tow truck.”
While touring Goulburn-Murray Water, we met Gay Jackson, who is the water delivery systems control for the district. Gay mentioned that she lives in the country and has a 2-hour drive to get to work every day. That is a substantial commute. When I asked her whether the drive bothered her, she seemed a bit surprised at the question and said, “I love my job and I love where I live, so I don’t mind the drive at all.” She then told the very best story. Sometimes during her early morning drive, she will come across a koala bear sitting in the middle of the road. “That koala will just sit there staring into my headlights, so I have to get out of my car and shoo him off the road.” She really laughed when she told her story and promised to send me a photo the next time it happened. I didn’t have to wait long.
When Australia had its millennium drought, beginning in the late ‘90s and throughout most of the 2000s, the country did not buckle or expect other people or another country to solve its problems, it figured it out for itself. Rubicon played a huge role in saving agriculture in Australia. Rubicon worked the problem and developed technology that transforms traditional irrigation delivery canals into an electronically connected water storage system. The result is improved water delivery time for farmers and a constantly full canal that doesn’t waste a drop.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Irrigation Leader and learning a bit more about Australia. Go there if you can and consider joining us on our Irrigation Education Tour next year to Chile.
Thank you for your continued support of Irrigation Leader magazine.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.
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