July 2010

Alluvium masterchef - round 3 & 4 wrap up

19.07.2010 - Posted by Clare Ferguson
Today saw the last of the preliminary rounds of Alluvium Master Chef before the final round next week determines who is the best cook at Alluvium. It was the toughest round of competition yet, with two kinds of muffins, a hazelnut torte and a plate of bambousa making judging a difficult task. But it was Elisa’s sticky date pudding that was the favourite for the round. Last week was a far healthier round, with entries including rice paper rolls and pitta chips with hommos. However delicious these were, they could not compete with Vicki’s French apple tart before a judging panel with a sweet tooth like that of the Alluvium staff. Congratulations to Elisa and Vicki, who will now compete alongside Amanda and me in the final round next week.

To add an extra challenge for the finalists, each entry must contain a main ingredient selected by Simon before his departure. And the chosen ingredient is...water chestnuts.

Round 4 entries - muffins, stick date pudding, basbousa, muffins again and a hazelnut torte

Off to Hanoi

16.07.2010 - Posted by
Today is my last day at Alluvium - well, at least for a year. I am heading to Vietnam to work in the Vietnamese Government’s Institute of Water Resources Planning (IWARP) as a Water Research Officer. The position is funded as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program.

The IWARP is an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam. Acting as a research institute and an advisory body to MARD, IWARP formulates water resources development planning throughout Vietnam. Vietnam is facing serious water resources competition and degradation. In its water resources planning and management activities IWARP works on optimisation models for various water uses in river basins. This will become more important in the context of climate change in Vietnam.

My position has a few key tasks to complete in my year at IWARP:
  • Collect and review literature on optimal mathermatical modelling of water resources
  • Conduct training on optimal mathermatical modelling
  • Provide support for the development of optimal mathematical modelling for a Northern Vietnam river system
  • Participate in scenario analysis of modelling of a Northern Vietnam river system.
So although it is sad to be leaving Alluvium for a year I am looking forward to the challenge of working in a government organisation in a developing country, living in such a different culture and most of all to eating in a country known for its delicious and cheap food.

Alluvium masterchef

9.07.2010 - Posted by Clare Ferguson
We are now half way through preliminary rounds of our new Masterchef competition, which commenced at the end of June. Entries have been to a high standard, with even those who claim they can’t cook presenting some impressive dishes. The office has revealed its sweet tooth, with sweet entries generally faring better at judging time than savouries. Round 1 was taken out by Amanda with her Portuguese custard tarts and Round 2 was won by me with some little cheesecakes. We’ve also been treated to some delicious brownies, slices, savouries and damper. The competition has demonstrated that not only are we a bunch of talented engineers and scientists, but we are also quite skilled in the culinary domain!

Preliminary rounds are taking place over 4 weeks and the winners from each round will compete for the ultimate title of Alluvium Masterchef in the last week of July.

Round 1 entries

Round 1 tasting

Dialogues on Country

7.07.2010 - Posted by
Over the weekend, Misko, Clare and I from Alluvium attended cross cultural training in Barmah, Yorta-Yorta country. This weekend was part of our preparations for the “Dialogues on Country” initiative that Alluvium staff are developing together with Engineers Without Borders and a few other individuals from the engineering, arts and research disciplines. Yorta-Yorta member, Neville Atkinson, spoke to us about the history of the Yorta-Yorta people, the importance and value of “country” and a range of issues and values of his people. Standing on the banks of the Murray River, we learnt about Indigenous knowledge and values in relation to land and water, and we discussed the current frameworks of river management and the future of the region, in particular changes with the recent announcement of the Barmah-Millewa National Park. Neville gave generously his time and knowledge, and helped us to achieve a much richer and deeper understanding of his people’s culture than we started with.

On the banks of the Murray River

The “Dialogues on Country” tour that we are developing seeks to create positive change in the engineering profession, with particular focus on water and land management, through a dialogue between professionals in the water industry and the Indigenous Nations within the Murray Darling Basin. Through participating in this educational trip, professionals will develop their capacity to engage with Indigenous Australians and will better understand Indigenous Australians’ relationship to water and country. We anticipate that participants will then work within their sphere of influence to ensure the knowledge they gain from Indigenous Australians is embedded in land and water practices, management and policy.

The group of 8 of us developing the tour, including 3 from Alluvium, will depart in August to meet with representatives from Indigenous Nations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia, to discuss the proposed tour and develop relationships that we hope will form the basis of future tours.