Monday, August 20, 2007

Medinfo Day 1

Monday morning in Brisbane started early - waking up on UK time. Despite the heavy rain, I mooched around the city a bit and visited the Queensland Maritime Museum (most of the pictures & text on the linked wikipedia page are mine) before going to the Brisbane Convention Centre and sorting out my conference registration.

A quick afternoon sleep fortified me for the opening session which opened with a digeredoo player and Aboriginal dancers providing a traditional welcome, which dated from BC (Before Cook). A massive (police) lineup of committee members etc was then introduced and paraded before the opening speeches by Nancy Lorenzi (IMIA President) and Evelyn Hovenga who thanked everybody for their involvement in the conference.

Delegates were welcomed on behalf of the Prime Minister by Karen Struthers MP (Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Health) who makes jokes about the rain and commented about the importance of the topics likely to be discussed in the programme in relation to the Queensland Health Action Plan. She was followed by the South Brisbane Federal Band.

The first of the keynote speakers was Paul Guilding (CEO Ecos Corporation) who described his history in social and environmental issues and current role in consulting on sustainability in the corporate sector.

The second speaker was Max Bennett (Scientific Director, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney Australia) who provided a historical approach to the study of the brain describing in some depth Neuro Anatomy and Physiology. At this point the jet lag kicked in & I had to wander outside to stop myself from falling asleep. I met several interesting delegates and partners at the reception and ended having dinner at an Italian restaurant with Scott Turley and his wife and peter Murray's wife Liz.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Arrival in Brisbane

The journey to Australia for the Medinfo conference was long, but not too eventful apart from a bomb scare at Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station, major queues to pass through security to transfer at Dubai, and delays in Singapore due to the planes late arrival and missing it's take off slot.

It was nice to bump into Ian Herbert (BCSHIF Vice Chair) and his wife at Brisbane airport, where he'd got his walking boots cleaned to get through the quarantine requirements! and I then got the Airtrain into the city centre. Arriving early on Sunday morning meant that the city was very quiet as I walked (initially in the wrong direction) from the station to the Marque Hotel which is in the central business district, close to the botanical gardens, parliament building and just over the river from the conference centre.
Mangrove swamp in Brisbane Botanical Gardens
The hotel reception was already occupied by several delegates from the UK (including Ian Herbert and Carol Bond) and while we waited for our rooms to be ready Paul McCullogh and I wandered around the botanical gardens and along by the riverside to find the conference venue (who unfortunately don't start registration until tomorrow). Once back at the hotel I was able to get access to my room and a welcome shower and sleep, before venturing out again to find something to eat.

Minor niggles so far have been getting another "universal" power supply adapter to plug in my computer for Internet access, as the one I had brought doesn't fit Australian plugs, and not being able to use my cashcard in the first ATM I tried - but thankful it worked in the second.

My first impressions of the city is a clean and welcoming place - but having arrived on the first day of rain here for months means that the views etc are a bit limited.

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