A trip to the Red Centre

During the last week of September and the first of October, ecologists around Australia (and a few from other countries, as well) joined for five days to paticipate in the Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia. This year, organizers chose a remote but incredible place for the meeting: Alice Springs! I was lucky enough to get a talk accepted into one of the open sessions. My first talk in front of a group of experts in my field! This opportunity to share some of my research ideas made me feel extremely excited… and terrified!

After editing my slides once and again, practicing my talk about eleven times and trying to time it (unsuccessfully) to be under ten minutes, I must recognize that by the time Garry Cook, the chair of my session, introduced me to the audience, I was feeling great. I was really looking forward to getting everything out and receiving questions and feedback.

The ESA conference was full of great researchers, people who do their best to figure out how to conserve Australia´s unique natural values. Topics covered during those days ranged from the nature-human dichotomy and conservation conundrums to cutting-edge research on plant and animal ecology, monitoring practices and ecosystem services.The variety of subjects, the high quality of oral presentations and posters, and the fact that it was a small enough conference to feel that you were surrounded by familiar faces after a few days, made me realize that attending the conference was a great decision. Certainly, I will seek to participate in future meetings.

As if the conference itself wasn’t enough, I had arranged to stay in the Northern Territory and explore the surroundings for a few days. Being a newbie to this country, I take every and each opportunity to travel around and become familiar with the various Australian landscapes. After all, the Red Center is not a place that you may just come across on an everyday basis, is it? So, after the conference, I spent some good days hiking in Kings Canyon, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and the MacDonnell Ranges.

During those days, I had the chance to enjoy unique rock formations, learn a little bit about Aboriginal people and their traditions, swim in astonishing waterholes and, of course, be delighted by the local plant and animal diversity. If you´d like to share with me some of the beauties that I saw during my trip, scroll down over the pictures below. I hope you like them as much as I did!

Eremophila macdonnellii - AS botanical gardens (53) Eremophila macdonnellii - Alice Springs botanic garden
King's Canyon (52) Lizard - Kings Canyon, Creek walk
Orminston creek (40) Flower - Ormiston Gorge, Pound walk
Orminston creek (88) Stink bug - Ormiston Gorge, Ghost Gum walk
Orminston creek (91) Flower - Ormiston Gorge, Pound walk
Orminston creek (114) Dragon - Ormiston Gorge, Pound walk
King's Canyon (120) Flower - Kings Canyon, Canyon rim walk
King's Canyon (105) Long-nosed dragon - Kings Canyon, Creek walk
King's Canyon (158) Flower - Kings Canyon, Canyon rim walk

By the way, the photographer was Luis Mata. If you just want to see more of his pictures, check out his flickr photostream here. You will be delighted!

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