Asian Correspondent » James Cook University Asian Correspondent Thu, 28 May 2015 01:43:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brisbane still the ultimate study destination Mon, 24 Jan 2011 01:53:56 +0000

In Queensland we have so much to be grateful for. In the aftermath of some of the heaviest rains in decades what has shined through along with the sun is the realisation that we live in a truly amazing city.

Grateful of our State Emergency Services that used many forms of media as well as door to door knocking to ensure all those in low lying areas had plenty of time to get home to lift furniture.  Constant updates on river levels and the expected maximum height of the river had been the saving grace for so many.  Emergency Service people worked tirelessly, some for 70 – 80 hours without sleep or rest to ensure the safety of the Brisbane people.

And for those who unfortunately did not get their belongings out in time the slowly rising Brisbane River crept up into their homes, there was an unprecedented response from the 99 percent of Brisbane residents not affected by the waters.

We are grateful to live in a city where compassion, generosity and friendliness flourish and our sense of humour remains.     The city of Brisbane has been transformed from a thriving modern city to what some have called “one big family”.  Thousands upon thousands of fellow Brisbanites descended upon those who were less fortunate than themselves with mops, buckets, brooms and shovels in hand.  They lined the streets, queued for hours to be bussed to an unknown location, to clean for people also unknown.   Many were turned away as there were too many volunteers for support services to handle.    Everywhere you turn we see an amazing display of random acts of kindness.

Looking forward, our state will need to begin repairing infrastructure, rebuilding homes, assessing and processing insurance claims.  With our employment rate already extremely low, opportunities for both part time employment through to skilled professionals throughout private and government sectors will be in significant demand.

Queensland has the fastest growing state economy in Australia, with an annual economic growth at over 4 per cent.  It has consistently outperformed the national economy, with Brisbane being the engine room of the state’s outstanding economic performance. Queensland’s contribution has boosted Australia’s ranking as the most resilient economy in the world for five of the past six years outperforming many other countries like USA, the UK and Spain.  Well resourced to bounce back economically, all we need now is people power to facilitate is reconstruction.

Brisbane’s key sectors include information and communication technology, creative industries, life sciences, food & beverage, tourism infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics & distribution.

Graduating students from James Cook University Brisbane who have completed any one of our highly regarded Business, IT, Hospitality Management or Tourism degrees will have positioned themselves to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance their career and improve their lifestyle.

So be a part of the Brisbane Success Story and study in a friendly, helpful and caring community that offers outstanding employment opportunities and an educational quality second to none.  Improve your English through conversations with people that are friendly and eager to help you in a community that is multicultural and welcoming.

Visit to find out how.

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From graduate to employee in one day Wed, 15 Dec 2010 00:38:22 +0000 This testimonial is about my experiences with the internship program whilst studying at James Cook University, Brisbane. I was pretty tense regarding my job prospects after graduation. Though I had a fairly good GPA (Grade Point Average) of 6.80, employers in Australia stressed having relevant work experience. Being a recent graduate, gaining experience in the relevant field, in my case, IT, was almost impossible. This is where the Internship program of the University came in. This program places students as Interns in big companies where they work for a semester. This gives us the invaluable experience that is so sought after.

I was selected for the Internship Program and was placed in a company called Urban Executive.  My internship experience was so good, and I learned heaps. As a matter of fact, no matter what, real world work experience cannot be compensated. My mentor at the company was Mr. Steven Asnicar, who was also the CEO of the company. Though he was the CEO, he was always very friendly and supportive and always approachable. This was the part I most liked in him.

During the internship, I worked on managing LMS (Learning Management Systems) and also developing iPhone applications. Hence I was working on so many different technologies. This environment is not available in other companies where each employee is trained on only a specific platform and has to work all the time on that. But here I learned so many different technologies, like Microsoft ASP.NET, Apple iPhone Programming, SQL Server 2008 to name a few.

My employers were happy with my work and offered me full-time employment. It was like a dream come true for me. It was my aim since beginning my Master degree to be employed the straight after graduation.

Thanks to JCU Brisbane I have now achieved this aim of mine. The two years of my stay here at JCU Brisbane and in Australia have given me a new way of life, a new discipline in me; I have learned how to think outside the ‘box’.


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Solution for honeymoon killer stall Thu, 18 Nov 2010 23:35:47 +0000 Australia has housed and fed Gabe Watson, convicted for the killing of his honeymoon bride Tina, for the past 18 months.  He continues to enjoy the hospitality of the Australian people, while he awaits extradition to his homeland where he will face murder charges.

So why is there so much hesitation in the minds of the Australian Government as to him being returned to his own country?  Rumour has it; it is due to the fact that he may face the death penalty, an excuse which I find quite conflicting considering Australian Officials made a conscious decision to “tip off” the Indonesian Government regarding nine Australian citizens who they had been advised were flying back home to Australian soil carrying a large quantity of drugs.  

So now these nine have been tried and convicted in a foreign country where the death penalty is almost mandatory for drug trafficking.  So on one hand the Australian Government has handed over nine of its citizens to a country that it knows has the death penalty when they could have chosen to apprehend them once they landed in Australia, but balks at sending an American citizen to their homeland when they have been assured that the death penalty will not be sought if convicted for the murder of his wife.

Perhaps a flight back to the US on an A380 may solve the problem.

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The gender debate alive and well Mon, 18 Oct 2010 03:37:39 +0000 Completing a half marathon run on the weekend has given me plenty to think about. There is not much else to be done for the little over two hours of running other than listening to my favourite band on my iPod and to contemplate life’s deeper issues.


The Melbourne event attracted over 27,000 participants and the starting line was a fantastic sea of people, all shapes, sizes, ages and, of course, gender.  


We all ran the same track, in the same conditions and all have the same goal – the finish line. However, that is where equality finishes from mental and physical fitness, preparation, injuries to age and of course gender.  


So with gender again being raised in the media by our newely elected and first woman Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard –  I decided to do some of my own research.


Men are over 30 percent stronger than women, have greater intake and delivery of oxygen due to their larger hearts and lungs, and their higher levels of testosterone cause them to produce greater amounts of red blood cells which all translates into better physical performance.


The disparity between men and women physically can’t be changed, but women still run the race many of them finishing before their fellow male competitors.


The posts don’t move or finish lines are not cut short according to gender, but to reach the goal it is vital to determine how you want to run the race.   


111 people required medical assistance during the race, many not finishing.

The first to cross the line of the 42.2km marathon was Kenyan Japhat Kipkorir in 2:11.04 and the first woman was Ethiopian, Mulu Seboka crossing the line in 2:32.20.


Gender disparity is also reflected in business with recent statistics showing that around half of our university graduates are female, but less than 11 percent of women hold board positions and only 13 percent of senior and executive management roles are those held by women.


Recently at a business lunch Ms Gillard is quoted as saying: “If you believe as I do that merit is equally distributed through the sexes and you look at any organisations and you’re seeing a result of less than 50/50, you got to ask yourself why? Because it must mean there are women of merit that didn’t come through.”


Unfortunately Julia omitted one statistic that may have some bearing on the reality of obtaining a 50/50 split in the boardroom.


100 percent of all babies are carried, delivered and nursed by women.  Women also bear more responsibility of care in the first two years, with a little over half of women returning to full time work after starting a family.  This is predominantly due to the pressures of juggling conflicting commitments of family and work.  


A restriction that we cannot change, but again the posts don’t move or the finish line is not shortened to accommodate gender differences.


Executive and political careers require many hours on the job which most women, while having “merit” to hold, do not want to embark on due to the required sacrifice to family. Instead women are choosing professions in which they can dictate how many hours they work .

In the 1970s, only 10 percent of US doctors were women. Today women account for one-third of the physician workforce. In U.S. medical schools, they make up half the class.  

But women doctors in the US work less — 47 hours per week on average, versus 53 for men. They also see about 10 percent fewer patients and tend to take more time off early in their careers.

So the 50/50 split is seen in the classroom.  It’s just now women are able to dictate their own working conditions.  These highly educated women have found a way to run their own race and succeed.  Education now gives women choices to maintain successful careers while maintaining a balanced family life.

News flash Ms Gillard, you don’t have to be in a boardroom or on a parliamentary bench to be successful.

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Surprise India, your guests are arriving Fri, 01 Oct 2010 21:06:38 +0000 I entertain regularly and enjoy having visitors come over for dinner.  Last night was once such night.  I had arranged for these guests to come over some time, ago but for many reasons, was not as prepared as I would like to have been.  Some of these reasons were in my control, but others were not.

Arriving home later than I would have liked, I had less time to clean and prepare dinner for my guests.  However, after a frantic effort, a meal was prepared, and the living areas and general bathroom of my home were clean and tidy.  And in the end we all had a very enjoyable evening.

In my haste to clean, items were put away hurriedly into cupboards and rooms that I did not expect my visitors to enter  were left as they were.  Needless to say not all of my house was up to visitor standard.  I was relieved to find my visitors respected my privacy and did not go about opening cupboards, or entering bedrooms or closed off rooms.

It got me thinking of how India finds itself host to the world.  They have opened their hearts and home to the world as they host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

They may not be as prepared as they would have liked, for many reasons – some within their control, but others not.

At our international campus located in downtown Brisbane we have a significant population of Indian students.  I decided to ask them how they felt about their home country playing host to the world.

Words like “excited, nervous, proud, disappointed” were mentioned.

Excited – why, I ask.

Because an event of this magnitude has never been hosted wholly by India.  The cricket world cup would be the closest, but was done in conjunction with its neighbors, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Proud of their culture, monuments, traditions, food, and their emerging advancement in the areas of Information Technology, medical breakthrough and Science.

Disappointed and nervous – about what I ask.

“Planning to host a huge world event, you need to consider all aspects” says Deepesh Tamhane one such student who would have liked India to be a little more prepared.  But nonetheless proud and very happy to have the world come visit his home.

Our Indian students are hopeful for medals in weight lifting, boxing and hockey and perhaps badminton although concedes that Australia should do well in the pool. 

This opportunity has been a great one for India, a stepping-stone to help launch this developing nation forward. 

Lets not go looking into their cupboards or private rooms of their home, lets accept their kind invitation to come visit, enjoy the culture, traditions, the foods and of course the games.

India, I wish you well for these 2010 Commonwealth games, both on and off the sporting fields.

If you feel the same… or differently, would love to hear your comments.

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A koala’s big day out Tue, 21 Sep 2010 07:25:22 +0000

Words & Pictures compiled by

 Dennis Guild

It had been a while since I had been at my favourite Auzzie place mentioned in an earlier blog somewhere at the end of a rainbow.

Therefore, I had the need to re-visit, take that dip in doctor pacific’s ocean, to wash away the week’s stress, and get back to nature so to speak.


As usual, the Beach at Byron invited me in for that rejuvenating dip. The wind that howled from the North East creating rips and surging currents did not deter those out to have fun in the sun that hid behind cumulus nimbus clouds most of the day.


Cleansed and refreshed from my swim (the water treatment works every time); I headed once again up the track and en-route for the lighthouse at Australia’s easternmost point.

Not far from the water I noticed a koala sitting in a gum tree (this part is real)



The koala was sitting in a gum tree smoking a cigarette and enjoying a beer (okay, the rest is fantasy)



When a little lizard walked past, looked up and said, ‘Hey Koala! What are you doing?’


The koala said, ‘Smoking cigarette, and having a beer, come up and have some.’ 


 So the little lizard climbed up and sat next to the koala where they enjoyed a few beers.  After a while the little lizard said that his mouth was ‘dry’ from too much grog and that he was going to get a drink from the river.


The little lizard was so drunk that he leaned over too far and fell into the river. A crocodile saw this and swam over to the little lizard and helped him to the side.  Then he asked the little lizard, ‘What’s the matter with you?’


The little lizard explained to the crocodile that he had been sitting with the koala in the tree, drinking a beer, but got too drunk and fell into the river while taking a drink.


The crocodile said that he had to check this out and walked into the rain forest; found the tree where the koala was sitting finishing a beer, and smoking a cigarette. The crocodile looked up and said,


‘Hey you!’

 So the koala looked down at him and said,


‘Hey mate…

How much water did you drink!?’ 

Australian animals are interesting story tellers – as are the Australian people. So, for those of you considering study in Australia, specifically James Cook University Brisbane Campus, you will be in for an interesting time – both in the classroom – and on your days off.


So come on down and enjoy the great Australian Study Experience!


This is my last Asian Correspondent blog for a while… so if you do not hear from me here… drop by when you are in Brisbane –where I will be happy to say:

G’day mate!





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Saudis’ and Aussies’ weekend get-together Thu, 16 Sep 2010 02:44:33 +0000 Nowadays, with so much negative press on this person or that person – on this country or that country – on this religion or that religion – it is nice to see that sometimes a different reality exists from what we are fed by newspapers, or from those in TV land.

Once such example was the Eid Alfeter festival held recently in the Brisbane suburb of Kelvin Grove, where Saudi Arabian nationals and their families, along with their Australian counterparts, enjoyed the celebrations in a relaxed atmosphere under a gorgeous sunny Brisbane spring blue sky.

The Saudi students were proud to invite their teachers, marketing staff and others from their respective universities and elsewhere, to join the 1000 plus crowd that enjoyed  a range of activities that included consumption of Middle Eastern food, consumed in specially pitched Arabian tents adorned with matching furniture to set the theme.

 There are around 1000 Saudi students in Brisbane, studying a variety of degrees and majors from Bachelor to PhD at an array of educational institutions: James Cook University, QUT, University of Queensland, Griffith University, and Central Queensland University, not forgetting language colleges such as Sarina Russo Schools in the CBD.


 Pictured: Bader & Majed ( and daughter )

James Cook University Brisbane Chief of Operations Manager Kevin Anderson said that it was heart-warming to see community events that help promote harmony in the community.

“The Middle East market is important for Australia – not just in terms of revenue, but also how it contributes to international student relations and community development, including the general interaction that helps break down stereotypes in the general community.  Subsequently, festivals that promote bi-lateral exchange help build the important relationship we have with the Middle East,” he said. 

“Our JCU Brisbane campus has an increased number of students from the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia is no exception – all of us enjoy the interesting cultural exchange these students bring – and the important contribution they make to international relations and general understanding, Mr Anderson said.”

James Cook University Brisbane Diploma of Business student Majad Almutairi, said he enjoyed celebrating the Eid festivities with the Brisbane community, was happy to see Australians partake in the event – and felt it was very important for all participants to feel accepted. 

 “This event promoted peace and harmony, my daughter, and my wife and the Saudi Brisbane community felt as though we were accepted guests – part of the Australian community,” he said.

“I want to thank the people of Brisbane for allowing this event to occur,” Mr Almutairi said.

Chief organizer of the Eid festival, Mr Bader Alothman, studying a Masters in Project Management in Brisbane, said it was a fantastic day, with people invited from the Queensland capital and elsewhere to attend. 

Mr Alothman said preparation for the festival that marks the end of Ramadan began two months ago, along with generous sponsorship from Banking, Local Government and Higher Education providers.  









“The numerous festival activities included face painting, horse riding, a jumping castle for the children, henna tattoos, and the delicious Arabic food, tea and coffee, kept attendees smiling,” he said. 

 “While some enjoyed the food served to them by Saudi’s wearing national costume in a traditional Arab tent setting, it seemed everybody enjoyed the Saudi customary dance – with people from all cultures interacting in a happy atmosphere.”

“So, naturally, we were all happy with the outcome that exceeded all expectations, and with around 1055 attendees – it was our best festival thus far.”

“Although the size of the venue restricted numbers, we hope that next year we can use larger facilities where we will once again invite the people of Brisbane to join in with us and experience this important cultural event, Mr Alothman said. 



Story & Pictures by Dennis Guild

JCU Brisbane Lecturer

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JCU Brisbane inaugural graduation ceremony Wed, 15 Sep 2010 06:05:04 +0000 James Cook University Brisbane (JCU Brisbane) staged its inaugural graduation ceremony at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane on Friday September 3rd 2010.


Prior to the event graduands travelled up to 1,600 kilometres to graduate at either the Townsville or Cairns campus.


JCU Brisbane Campus Dean Noel Richards declared the historical graduation ceremony a coming of age event – a moment of pride for all who attended.


“To stand with over 100 graduates’ attending this great ceremony at QPAC not only gives graduates a sense of achievement, but gives every JCU Brisbane staff member a great feeling of joy and accomplishment.”


“The student body, family, and friends were ecstatic that they were part of this historic event in the riverfire city, and this JCU graduation in Brisbane signals a coming of age for our campus,” Dean Richards said.





The JCU graduates received degrees from the JCU Faculty of Law, Business and the Creative Arts, presented to them by Chancellor Lt General John Grey AC, and four graduates received JCU university medals for excellence – according to Dean Richards.


“One such recipient for the Bachelor Business degree, Ms Pia Ellendt, delivered the graduate address on behalf of the graduating students, an extraordinary effort by the first student to give such an address at JCU Brisbane,” he said.


German student, Ms Pia Ellendt, declared the inaugural graduation ceremony a great success, and was proud to be a JCU Brisbane graduate.

“It was a great honour to offer the first JCU Brisbane graduate address, and I am glad that I am continuing my studies at JCU Brisbane, a university with a great reputation, with students from diverse cultural backgrounds,” she said.


Despite initial feelings of trepidation and uncertainty of an overseas study experience, Ms Ellendt emerged victorious, thankful of the support she received from JCU Brisbane staff and colleagues.


“Before coming to Australia I was quite nervous, it was a big step for me. I was afraid of going to a different country, speaking another language, and coping with new and unknown situations,” she said.


“When I commenced my studies at JCU Brisbane, I realized that all the other students came from different countries and had to cope with the same challenges.”


“However, JCU Brisbane lecturers and staff, as well as my fellow student mates contributed considerably to the feeling of belonging to a wonderful learning environment.”

“We students were all at JCU Brisbane for a common purpose – to learn – and I am proud to be part of the experience,” Ms Ellendt said.







JCU Chancellor Lt General John Grey said the inaugural graduation at JCU Brisbane was a significant occasion and he was tremendously impressed with the number of countries that had graduates at the ceremony.


“This demonstrates the ability of Australia to provide education to a whole range of countries, in our region and beyond.  – and I think that is very important.”


“But the exciting thing for me was to see the look on the faces of the graduates, proud of themselves, proud of their degree, and very proud to be James Cook graduates,” Lt General John Grey said.


Naturally, Townsville based JCU Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding was also pleased to attend the JCU Brisbane inaugural graduation.


Vice Chancellor Harding made special mention of proud parents who had travelled from all around the globe to attend the JCU Brisbane ceremony.


“It has been wonderful today to have a graduation right here in the Queensland state capital of Brisbane.”


“In particular I think it has been wonderful that students who have had the opportunity to study in Brisbane, have been able to bring their parents to Brisbane, so their parents can see where their  loved ones have lived and studied and get a better understanding of the place that their children will always feel very fondly about.”


“I think university study is a very important thing, and it is time in your life that you never forget .  The people and place you studied at become of enduring importance. So when students are studying in Brisbane in particular, it is critical that they have the opportunity to graduate in Brisbane, to have that final stage of their university life right here, right now,” Vice Chancellor Harding said.


 JCU Brisbane Dean Richards agreed declaring “JCU Brisbane is now on the road to many future successful graduation ceremonies, where completing students can quite rightly be proud of the journey and look forward to the next stage in their career aspirations.”


Story – Dennis Guild, JCU Brisbane Lecturer


Photos – Minh Nguyen


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From God’s rainbow waiting room for strolling bones – to the Gold Coast Fri, 10 Sep 2010 05:08:10 +0000 Gold Coast slave bus bound for sandy gold fields
Comin’ from a market known as God’s waiting room
Scarred old pensioner knows he’s doing alright

He’ll get to Surfers just around midnight

Dadadada …tanned sugar daddy… how come you dance so good?

Dadadada…tanned sugar daddy …just like an old man should!

Once upon a time… when casinos and poker machines did not exist in Queensland…regular tsunamis of Banana Benders flooded the clubs and pubs of Tweed Heads… in hope that the one armed bandits (poker machines) delivered that pot of gold.

Tsunami’s of course, like the tide, eventually turn.

Nowadays, cashed up old folk from the New South Wales (NSW) town of Tweed Heads, (affectionately known as God’s waiting room for strolling bones), are more inclined to head for the Queensland (QLD) Gold Coast, where pubs, clubs, casinos and shopping centres abound – and gold lingers somewhere – waiting to be found.

Our journey begins at Rainbow Bay, where the sign lurking under a long green strip of Norfolk Island pines welcomes those heading for NSW’s northern most beach.

Interestingly, below the Rainbow Bay sign, another sign reads: Point Danger.  Point Danger – an eerie place name indeed! I wonder?


A dangerous point inhabited by cutlass wielding pirates, Paul Hogan’s last stand against the tax department, or where sharks of the white pointer variety wait to trip you up as you take that Pacific Ocean dip? We drive to the top of the hill to check things out. No such danger to be seen as I gaze down at the deep blue sea gently lapping the golden sands at the mouth of the Tweed River. In fact the beach is quiet, apart from a suntanned old man throwing a pink frisbee to his big red dog.

I sit quietly on a park bench entertained by big red and his best man friend. Big red misses the frisbee, it sails high, high above my head, caught in a crisp, cool, breeze of southern Antarctic origins. I turn to follow the frisbee’s trajectory, the dog barks “woof”, as the tanned old man curses big red for missing the plastic cylindrical Martian bone.

From this high vantage point, I could now see the Gold Coast in the distance, an elongated string of seaside concrete lego land, 25 kilometres to the north, and about the same amount of minutes by car.

It was time to head for those sandy gold fields, and join the surfer folk among waves that may eventually devour the globally warmed towering bits of concrete. We left the tanned old man and his big red dog on the beach, staring at the pink frisbee, drifting too close to point danger for rescue.

Seconds later, and crossing the state border, we join a long trail of NSW asylum seekers heading for Surfers Paradise (Surfers) and the gold therein. Before long we were driving among cloud catcher buildings, like monsters from outer space, towering above – with Surfers just around the bend.

Surfboard monuments to a liquid religion line the entrance to Cavill Mall – the paradise shop till you drop tourist centre – a place for surfers who need a feed before they return to the brine. The car is parked and the search for gold begins. We search everywhere: the beach, the alley ways – every conceivable hideaway. Nothing – not a glitter here nor there.

Where oh where could the gold be?

A seagull dines on golden French fries left behind by obese humans. I ask the seagull: where can we find this Gold Coast gold?




 He replies:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

Golden french fries…how come you taste so good?

Yum, yum, yum, woo!

Just like a…seagull should!


I decide that the seagull is mad – and perhaps I’m mad too for thinking a seagull would really tell me where the gold is. But then…I had already found that gold… in an earlier blog… somewhere at the end of a rainbow.


Words & Pictures

Dennis Guild – Lecturer

James Cook University Brisbane

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The Queensland end of the Rainbow Thu, 02 Sep 2010 00:02:30 +0000 Follow the Bruce highway for three hours north of Brisbane, hang a right at Gympie, drive for another hour or so, and you will have arrived at the Queensland end of the Rainbow.


The sign at the entrance of the town reads “ Rainbow Beach, with so many natural attractions, you’ll never want to leave”.


It is easy to understand why, as the slow and relaxed pace of life reflects on the smiling faces of those in nirvana, gateway to the world heritage listed Great Sandy Region, that includes Fraser Island and the Cooloola National Park.


Rainbow beach, a colourful place to hang out for international student backpackers, a sanctuary for those seeking peace from the touristy hubs of Noosa and Surfers Paradise, and a transit point for Fraser Island-bound mainland Australia escapees – out to catch a big tailor or hang out with dingoes around the perched lakes behind the sand dunes.



Of course you can catch that tailor at Rainbow Beach – and you will not have to compete with dingoes, or pay the $90 car ferry trip to Fraser Island! 


Rainbow Beach was named after the coloured sands that lie on the southern end of the beach, and in honour of Aboriginal dream time legend – the beautiful maiden Murrawar.


Murrawar lived on the banks of the Noosa River, and was in love with the rainbow who came to visit her every evening in the sky.  She would clap her hands and sing to this lovely rainbow.


One day Burwilla a very bad man from a distant tribe stole Murrawar to be his slave wife.


He often beat her, treated her cruelly, and made her do all his work, while he sat in the shade and admired his deadly killer boomerang.


The boomerang was bigger than the biggest tree – and full of evil spirits.


Living a life in constant fear, Murrawar decided to flee persecution and Burwilla’s weapon of mass destruction.


As she ran along the beach she looked back and saw Burwilla’s boomerang coming to kill her.


Calling out for help she fell to the ground – too frightened to run anymore.


She heard a loud noise in the sky, and saw her faithful rainbow racing towards her across the sea.


The evil boomerang attacked the brave rainbow, they clashed with a thunderous roar that killed the boomerang instantly, and splattered the rainbow into a long stream of coloured dust.


The shattered rainbow lay on the beach to die – and can still be seen today in the form of the coloured sands.


The coloured sands are easily accessible from Rainbow Beach, about a 40 minute walk –  or five minute trip in four wheel drive – at the Queensland end of the rainbow.






This Rainbow blog series has taken us on three journeys, all within easy reach of Brisbane.


I am sure there are more locations worth writing about – and when I find them I might share them with you!


Written by Dennis Guild


BA, BJ, Grad Cert TESOL, Master of International and Community Development (MICD) 

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Some ways that research commercialization can go wrong (continued…) Tue, 24 Aug 2010 22:40:16 +0000 Written by Dr Paul Darwen

Senior Lecturer

B.Sc., Ph.D. Computer Science


For research to be viable for commercialization, it actually has to work. It can’t be fraudulent or misleading, or otherwise incorrect. This happens surprisingly often, sometimes accidentally and sometimes deliberately.


Not viable by accident


A colleague of mine was once involved in an effort to find a better way to distribute towers for mobile phone coverage. You’d want as few towers as possible (because the cost of each tower was around a million dollars), to offer complete coverage for your city. You can browse your local mobile phone coverage with maps like this:


So my colleague’s idea was to simulate in software many possible tower placements, to find which one minimized cost but still gave complete coverage. A good idea, yes?


To carry this out first involved six months of meetings – with mobile phone companies in New York, manufacturers in Boston and regulators in Washington D.C., to talk about marketing, legal issues, and contracts.


Then came another six months of writing the software, using some phone tower coverage simulator software that the phone companies said was accurate.


Only after the software was written, did it turn out that the simulator was not, in fact, accurate enough. Real mobile phone engineers actually climbed up to sites and used hand-held measuring devices, they didn’t rely on software simulators!


So the whole project was scrapped, a whole year wasted. As my colleague says, “Your best work may never see the light of day”.


In hindsight, this failure was caused by upper-level executives losing touch with the technical realities on the ground. But at least nobody was trying to be fraudulent.


Not viable by design


When I lived in Boston in the late 1990s, the lab I worked at was trying to simulate thousands of robot bodies (and their robot controller programs) in software, which was much cheaper than building thousands of different robot bodies. We had a physical simulation program from Ford, and all the software we needed. But with a physically realistic simulator, we couldn’t make much headway in automatically improving robot learning.


So we were surprised when a colleague from MIT came up with eye-popping videos of robots created in this way, using a physical simulator to try out many different trial robot bodies. These simulated robots hopped, jumped, and otherwise moved in smooth, graceful ways that used little energy.

The folks from the U.S. Department of Defence were also impressed: perhaps this approach could come up with robot soldiers? At the time, it seemed like a breakthrough.

It was only months later that the truth came out: the MIT people also made no progress if the physical simulator software was actually physically realistic. So they changed it, so that it wasn’t realistic.

For example, friction was changed so that the sideways force was proportional to how far into the surface the robot’s limb went. This is, of course, hopelessly unrealistic for any real surface.

But with enough unrealistic changes to the physical simulator, to make it easier for the robot, they could come up with those eye-popping videos of simulated robots that could never work in the real world.

So apart from possible uses in TV or the movies, this research was specifically created to have no real-world uses. It was pure marketing. And it worked – in that the Department of Defense were misrepresented into believing that they might get robot soldiers out of it.

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Nimbin – elsewhere at the end of the rainbow Tue, 17 Aug 2010 00:47:49 +0000 Written by Dennis Guild


BA, BJ, Grad Cert TESOL, Master of International & Community Development (MICD)

Multi coloured Nimbin bound buses transport an international cargo of day – tripping backpackers and students, along with anyone else keen on the one and a half hour journey from Byron – to this Nimbinite emerald jewel – elsewhere at the end of the rainbow.


Like all journeys, ‘getting there’, is half the fun. The road from Byron climbs high, snaking through green pasture speckled with macadamia farms before passing through Bangalow, an interesting town that is worth a visit on market day or breakfast if you missed it at the bay.


From Bangalow there are a variety of ways to reach Nimbin. But if you choose the Lismore route, you can check out Nimbin Rocks – a mysterious grand entrance that hints you have arrived somewhere remarkable indeed.


Reminiscent of the Guilin pinnacles in China – or the volcanic ‘pimples’ around Luang Prabang in Laos, Nimbin Rocks are volcanic extrusions of rhyolite left over from the Wollumbin Volcano (Mount Warning) that erupted around 20 million years ago. Part of an eroded dyke of the volcano, the rocks are situated just outside the present day caldera wall, about 20 km from Wollumbin (aboriginal for cloud-catcher) and three kilometres from Nimbin village.


Beautiful landscape aside, Nimbin is perhaps more famously known for the 1973 Aquarius hippy festival.


Nicknamed the ‘alternative’ capital of Australia, Nimbin has a population of around 400 – not including those residing on the multitude of communes in the surrounding hills of the happy hippy rainbow region.


During the first weekend in May, the traffic swells to thousands for those who have come to enjoy the annual Mardi Gras festival, where well organised cheerful performers strut down the main street, declaring their love for all things green and educating the public on climate change.



One such participant, the Rainbow Power Company, is renowned as one of the largest and most experienced Renewable Energy companies in Australia.


With its headquarters in Nimbin, the Rainbow Power Company is dedicated to turning the tide from environmental destruction – towards environmental harmony, a major protagonist of the increased use of renewable energy both in Australia and overseas with the implementation of projects such as: solar power for medical clinics in Rabaul and village water pumps elsewhere in PNG, emergency communications solar power supply for Somalia, hydro generation for village and community electrification in Equador, solar power for giant clam farms in the Solomon Islands and solar electric fences for France.


An industry elsewhere at the end of the rainbow – that brings a pot of gold for the good folk of Nimbin.



Rainbow Power Company staff joining in the fun.

The next blog will visit somewhere on the Queensland side of the border… 

….. as they say …beautiful one day … perfect the next … see you there.

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How I got my job… Tue, 10 Aug 2010 05:49:08 +0000

Gan Jitao (Eric)

Master of Information Technology Graduate

Database Administrator at Electrical Contractors Association 


It was the best of time, it was the worst of time. This was my internship experience, which could be yours. 

The Internship is no longer a subject within traditional university environment, it is real and it is crucial. I say the best of time is because, finally after some years of uni study, we can enter into the real world and face the real challenge. The industry related experience will not only give you the insight of the Australian workplace, but also the confidence that you can gain from the actual projects. 

The Internship is a bridge which will connect your theoretical knowledge to daily practices and it’s the best chance to examine what you have learned and what are useful to learn. Also, during the internship, your personality will be examined as well as your work ability. Human relations in the workplace could be far more complicated than in school. Communication becomes so important because jobs can only be done through team work and the way to accomplish the task is wholly lay on the effectiveness and efficiency of the communication with other team mates. English, English, English is the king and it is the only tool that you can use to share your ideas with others.

Why I describe the internship as the worst of time? Because it’s so real and was beyond my imagination. From the first day, you are not a student any more and must act as a well armoured workforce. Managers don’t ask if you can do it, they want you to perform as that’s what they expect. No excuses when you fail a task so you must put in 200% effort while doing the internship. It’s not like an assignment in the uni, you get 80% of the marks and then you will be safe in the exams. But in the internship, the result will be only two, pass or fail. There are no 60 marks or 80 marks, the only way you can survive is to get 100 marks and fulfil the job requirement. Do not be terrified because when you get a positive result, you will be more confident when you face another challenge. And when you think you can deal with the daily job smoothly, you will be proud of yourself because you are work-ready and a beautiful job offer may be ready for you to sign.

The advice I would like to share is, the study and the knowledge you gained from school will always ensure that you have the ability to deal with tough works, the only thing you need is experience. So that’s why I took the internship and that’s the main purpose of the professional internship. So why hesitate, get ready for yourself and enter the pathway to your career.


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Somewhere at the end of the rainbow Mon, 09 Aug 2010 01:01:18 +0000 You do not have to drive far from Brisbane to reach the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly town with a population of around 5000, lies just across the border in Northern NSW – a mere two hour drive from the Queensland capital.


Byron, a weekend getaway for those in the know, an escape from the books for international students, a magnet for hippies attracted by the golden glow at Australia’s eastern edge and home for the bronzed surfers that choose wave land over broadband.


Call it what you like, but Byron for me is somewhere to soak my old bones in Dr Pacific Ocean – and emerge cleansed, refreshed and energised – energised – for the five kilometre trek to the Byron lighthouse and back.


The walk begins at Clarke’s beach, where dolphins compete with surfers for the best waves, as the sand squeaks between my toes on my way to the track that meanders up and then down to Wategos beach.


From Wategos the track climbs again offering panoramic views over Julian Rocks – and on to Mt Warning – the largest extinct volcano in the southern hemisphere.


The steep climb has me gasping for breath as I arrive at Australia’s most easterly point – with the lighthouse seemingly standing guard over whales and dolphins that frolic in the sea below.


Every year from May through to December, thousands of Humpback whales leave the plankton rich waters of Antarctica, and head north towards their winter breeding grounds in the tropical waters off Cairns.


This east coast migratory journey brings the frolicking Humpbacks within a few hundred meters of Cape Byron.


“Look over there – a whale,” declares one of the many whale watchers perched at the edge of a cliff, kept safe by a white fence that prevents onlookers from a baptism of no return.


My head swings in unison with the crowd, just in time to see to see a large whale tail sink slowly below the surface.


The humpback disappears, and is soon replaced by kaleidoscopic streams of colour, that only the heavens can produce – a magical golden moment indeed – somewhere at the end of the rainbow.


The next blog will follow the Nimbin bus to the high country, a journey into the Byron hinterland – you just never know where you might end up!



   Follow the Nimbin bus, to somewhere at the other end of the rainbow. 


Dennis Guild


BA, BJ, Grad Cert Tesol, Master of International & Community Development (MICD)


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Some ways that research commercialization can go wrong Mon, 02 Aug 2010 06:05:32 +0000 The famous financier J. P. Morgan once quipped, “Money equals business which equals power, all of which come from character and trust.”  Talk to any venture capitalist today, and they will similarly say that they invest in people, and trust that the technology can work.  It’s rare for a technology-based start-up company to fail because of the technology, it’s usually something else that goes wrong.


For example, remember the video tape format war between Betamax and VHS?  Beta had certain advantages: Beta was available in 1975 (a year earlier than VHS), the Beta tape was more compact, and Beta had a better image quality.


Unfortunately, Sony made some marketing decisions that spoiled those technical advantages.  For one thing, the first version of Beta tapes were only a single hour long, but VHS could play for two hours.   


The starkest difference was that Sony did not allow adult movies on Beta.  This was a decision of the two founders of Sony, Masaru Ibuka (1908-1997) and Akio Morita (1921-1999).  They felt that making adult movies widely available would be bad for culture and the wider society. The folks over at Matsushita had no such hesitation, and so if you wanted to sell or watch adult movies on video tape, you had no choice but to go with VHS. 


These and other non-technical issues were what pushed VHS to be more popular than Betamax in the United States, and after that Metcalfe’s Law came in:  people would choose the format that gave them the biggest choice, and the most popular format was VHS.  By 1985, Beta’s market share in the U.S. was down to only 10% and well on its way to extinction. 


In the next few entries, I’ll talk about some issues in commercialization of research, and what a researcher should keep in mind when thinking of research topics.  


Dr Paul Darwen

Senior Lecturer

Ph.D. Computer Science






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