One month in – Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific

For the second instalment in our series of updates from Andrew Fielding on a 2-month secondment with JBPacific, Andrew tells us about his first site visit and stakeholder engagement event – and visiting a town which was devastated by flooding only 8 months ago.

Week 3

It was pretty wet and miserable here in Brisbane last week. This article provides a nice overview of what’s happened so far here in Queensland. I got my head down and stuck into work, which turned out to be incredibly productive and perfectly set up our stakeholder engagement trip down to Kempsey Shire, NSW.

I optimistically got my first swim in the office pool mid-week during a gap in the weather. Perhaps unsurprisingly the pool was empty and as soon as my toe hit the water it was clear why!

Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific_Week 3
E-scooter ride in rainy Brisbane

We did manage to get out and about in the city over the weekend. Being cooped up in the apartment waiting for a break in the rain got a bit tiresome, so we put our coats on and braved it outside – with a tour of Brisbane’s city hall, museums, art galleries and a wet eScooter ride.

Week 4

Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific_Week 3
A tour of ‘Big Things’

After an early start on Monday morning and a 7-hour road trip south, it was nice to see life outside of the city. To break up the lengthy car journey Dan Rodger provided an interesting tour of ‘Big Things’. When he said you’ll see a ‘Big Prawn’ I wasn’t quite expecting this to appear on the horizon just next to the highway in Ballina. Apparently, it was part of a seafood outlet/factory that no longer stands but the local residents wanted to keep it. A fishy decision if you ask me!

February 2022 flooding

On a more serious note, the journey to Kempsey Shire took us through Lismore, a town devastated by flooding earlier this year. To say big again would be an understatement. It was pretty overwhelming walking down the local streets only to realise that 8 months earlier flood water would have been around 1m above my head. The town had been devastated but it was good to see how resilient the community has been and that things appeared to be getting back on track. We chatted with a couple of locals about the flooding while walking by the river, and it was really interesting to get a firsthand insight into the magnitude of what occurred and how it impacted their life.

Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific_Week 3
The river was again out of bank at the time of our visit

During the February 2022 event, this river gauge reached 14.4m at peak which is a stark indicator of the event severity. The sheer volume of floodwater is almost incomprehensible.

For more insight check out this article and video taken from a second-floor window on the high street during the floods:

Site walkovers

After making our way down to our accommodation at South West Rocks it was time to do some site walkovers. As always with this job, it’s a great feeling to get out on site – however, it did feel a little surreal wandering around picturesque ICOLLs (Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes and Lagoons) on the NSW coastline in beaming sunshine. The aim of this was to identify risks and issues that may require management consideration and action(s) in the coming years as part of the Kempsey Shire Coastal Management Plan (CMP).

One month in - Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific
South Smokey beach

Stakeholder engagement

Next up was a stakeholder meeting with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in South West Rocks to see what their key risks and actions were for the coming years. The meeting was located in a beach shelter overlooking Trial Bay which was certainly a first from my perspective – and a massive contrast to sitting in an office meeting room. As the week went by, we had a few more meetings and saw more of the Macleay River Estuary and flood infrastructure before heading back north back to Brisbane.

Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific_Week 3
Macleay River out of bank at Kempsey

Office social event

To end a busy week it was time for an office social. Fortunately for me, rain had delayed the JBP team from holding the event earlier in the year, so I was able to tag along go-karting. It was great to bond a little more with the team and there was a bit of friendly competition too.Andrew Fielding on secondment with JBPacific_Week 3

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