Five traveler’s from around the world have settled in and successfully completed our first week in Perth on our Smarter Cities Challenge assignment. We met with the Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, on Day 1 and it has been a whirlwind of activity ever since. I (Deb Bolk) arrived from Colorado USA on Saturday and my teammates, Li Jun Sun from Beijing China, Ian Watson-Jones from San Francisco, USA, Luciano Dallolio from Sao Paulo Brazil, and Jeff Wells from Melbourne, Australia followed close behind on Sunday.
Our IBM in country host, Liz Hampton from New Zealand was here to meet us with open arms and she and Camile Smetana have looked after our every need to help get us settled in and started on our work. The team at the City of Perth headed by Martin Mileham and Liz Handley have been outstanding and so helpful. They even brought in a new espresso coffee machine for us and Dillon has taken care of every detail to provide us with our every want and desire when it comes to lunches and snacks. We are being thoroughly spoiled!
We attended a lovely Kickoff Reception and tea hosted by the Lord Mayor on Tuesday and were introduced to the stakeholders and the press.
The team has been heads-down in interviews at The City of Perth’s Council House since then and has already gathered some great information on the city and some of the issues we need to address in our recommendations. We also took a tour of some major development sites at Elizabeth Quay, Riverside, and the Perth Link. In the evenings, we have experienced some really excellent restaurants. Jeff has taken us on the “scenic route” several times so we’ve gotten a few great mini-tours of the city. Several of us have made the climb up Jacob’s Ladder, which is right behind our apartments. The 242 steps take you up to Kings Park which is just beautiful and the sunrise over the City of Perth is just breathtaking.
To celebrate our first successful week, we loaded up in our big white van, which we have affectionately named the Waga Waga Wagon, and headed out for the train station right after work. We attended an Australian League Football (AFL) game and although we all got completely drenched through by a huge winter rainstorm, we still had a fantastic time. It was the first AFL game for many of us, so we kept Jeff very busy explaining all the rules when he wasn’t searching for rain ponchos for all of us. The Aussie’s are very serious about their football and it was fascinating to experience the fast-paced game, even if the home town West Coast Eagles were soundly defeated by their rivals the Richmond Tigers from Melbourne. It was a blast!
Tomorrow holds a chance for us to do some more exploring! It will be great to take a short break from the interviews and see some of the sights around the area! The Lord Mayor promised me at the receptions that I would get to see a kangaroo during my visit, so I’m really counting on getting a chance to pet one and maybe cuddle a koala!!