desertSMART EcoFair again shone a spotlight on science and sustainability in Central Australia, from the 8th-11th August 2019 as part of National Science Week.
Organised by the Arid Lands Environment Centre, 2019 was desertSMART EcoFair’s 11th year of educating, inspiring and activating the community around science and sustainability. The event featured high profile speakers, presentations, workshops, sustainable living markets and an ABC Alice Springs Outside Broadcast. Special guests at the EcoFair in 2019 included Craig Reucassel of ABC’s War on Waste, EcoFair Ambassador Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia and children’s sustainability entertainers Zucchini Clan.
Thursday 8th - Friday 9th August
Eco-Science Schools Day @ Olive Pink Botanic Gardens
The Eco-Science Schools Day attracted 900 students from local and regional schools, the largest attendance to date. Students participated in hands-on workshops in health, conservation, bicycle safety, bee keeping, water and energy.
The Arid Zone Research Institute captured the children’s attention with a workshop which showcased the diverse foods that can be grown in the desert. Children explored a community beehive with a local beekeeper and discussed the important role bees play in our ecosystem. Olive Pink Botanic Garden ran a workshop exploring different Central Australian plants and their uses. Engineers Without Borders discussed how humanitarian engineering could be used to solve critical issues like climate change and sanitation.
Children learnt about the biodiversity in their backyards with Land For Wildlife Central Australia. Alice Springs Town Council educated children about recycling; what can and can’t be recycled in Alice Springs.
Students learnt from Ekistica about how solar power works and why it’s good for the environment. A team from Central Australian Aboriginal Congress worked with children to introduce them to lifestyles and habits to help them grow up healthy and happy. Students learnt how to take a pulse and listen to heart rates with the National Rural Health Students Network.
Friday 9th August
ABC outside broadcast @ Olive Pink Botanic Gardens
Local ABC radio presenters Alex Barwick and Paul Saratore hosted the outside broadcast from Bean Tree Cafe at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens.
Community members enjoyed afternoon tea while testing their science knowledge in Costa’s Hotseat Quiz. Guest speakers included Craig Reucassel (War on Waste), Brendon Kavanagh (Purple House) and Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia), with live music from Stuart Nugget and The Zucchini Clan.
Friday 9th August
Apmereke Akaltye-irreme @ Olive Pink Botanic Gardens
2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages. As part of National Science Week, Olive Pink Botanic Garden hosted Apmereke Akaltye-irreme (Learning from the Land). Guest speakers included: Therese Ryder and Margaret Smith (NPY Womens Council), Madeleine Napangardi Dixon and Julia Burke (Central Land Council), Therese Ryder, Veronica Dobson and Angela Harrison (Batchelor Institute) and Brendan Kavanagh (Purple House). The event was attended by around 150 enthusiastic audience members.
The event discussed the question: what is technology’s role in the communication of Indigenous languages? The guests shared their digital projects, showcasing how apps are bringing ancient languages into the digital age.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) also launched their climate change video, which has been translated into Warlpiri and Arrernte languages. ALEC aims to use the video to raise climate awareness among Central Australian Aboriginal people.
Stuart Nugget performed live music, and dinner was provided from 6 PM.
Saturday 10th August
Our Bright Solar Future: Learning from the Land @ Desert Knowledge Australia’s Solar Centre
Intyalheme and Arid Lands Environment Centre partnered to host a robust panel discussion on the limitations and restrictions of increasing solar penetration in Alice Springs, with few seats to spare.
Guest speakers Hon. Dale Wakefield, Ray Pratt (DICE Australia), Clare Paytner (Ekistica) answered questions on how our political leaders and industry experts solve challenges to ensure a bright solar future for the Territory.
Guests enjoyed afternoon tea amongst the solar arrays while learning about the collaborative efforts needed to transform the NT’s renewable capacity. This was followed by tours of the Solar Centre by engineers from Ekistica.
Saturday 10th August
Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste @ Montes Lounge
Guest speaker Craig Reucassel (War on Waste) presented a comedic take on Australia’s current sustainability issues to a sold-out house. From Alice Springs Town Council’s glass recycling, to the huge food-waste issues facing Australia, Craig had everyone laughing and thinking with his fast paced wit and intellect. The exciting presentation was followed by Costa’s Science Hotseat Quiz, hosted by Costa Georgiadis and Craig Reucassel. The night wrapped up with music from Madeline Hudson and Jamie Anthony and concluded with DJ Alex Pye.
Sunday 11th August
EcoHub @ Todd Mall Markets
The lawns of Alice Springs Uniting Church hosted the EcoHub with stalls including: AYCC, Seed Mob, The Department of Environment and Resources, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Alice Springs Plastic Free, RePower Alice Springs, Intyhaleme and Central Australian Frack Free Alliance. The market was abuzz with face painting and music for the children, with a surprise visit from Costa the Gnome to entertain the whole family.
Sunday 11th August
Growing Healthy Gardens with Costa Georgiadis @ Alice Springs Community Garden
Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia) is a vibrant change maker, a connector of people and the host of the ABC’s Gardening Australia program. He presented a workshop with a holistic approach to cultivating the soil and the soul. This was followed by the opening of Alice Springs Community Garden's new kitchen and entrance. Later in the afternoon, children and adults alike enjoyed the Garden Tea Party with free-range music favorites Professor EcoCentric and Miss Lily Green of Zucchini Clan.