Dwight Peck's personal website

Brisbane, Australia, in 1996

A brief look-in at the beginning of the Howard Era, when things were still going fine

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands held its 6th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP6) in Brisbane, Australia, in March 1996, and a festive occasion it must have been for many people. But nobody I knew. My experience of the 10-day work-bash was . . . good experience!! But not to be repeated! (But, in fact, it was repeated, at COP7 in San José in 1999, COP8 in Valencia in 2002, and COP9 in Kampala in 2005, and COP10 in Changwon, South Korea, in 2008, and Bucharest in 2012. And in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 2015.)

You shuffle onto an airplane in Geneva (this was before the Shameful Era of taking off your shoes and pouring your shampoo down the pan), wake up briefly in London to haul your luggage for a mile or two to Terminal X-Y-Z, wake up again in Dubai or some other God-forsaken Outpost of the Empire and sit in the juice bar for a couple of hours with inferior newspapers, and then wake up again in Sydney, with just time to nod off again before you're in Brisbane on the Queensland coast. Completely befuddled.

And this is what you see. An hotel on Kangaroo Point!

Not all that bad, for an entirely built environment, if you're on an expense account. In the one jet-lag day granted us, we had the opportunity to go for a long run out towards Moreton Bay on the coast, and never saw a natural thing anywhere (except dubious water in the river). Just well-designed artificial stuff, like this.

The hotel at Kangaroo Point was all well and good, but the trajet to the venue at South Bank Parklands was by a half hour's boat ride each morning and evening, and the nearest beer store to the hotel was down near Captain Burke Park under the highway bridge. So, though it wasn't nearly as bad as Mr Bush's Abu Ghraib, there were more than a few discomforts here.

Ramsar COP6 in full blossom. From left: Tim Davis and myowngoodself, rapporteurs; Mike Smart and Delmar Blasco from the Secretariat; Louise Lakos of Hungary; Peter Bridgewater representing the host country [later our Secretary General but not for long :-)], and in the back row, Tim Jones, Montserrat Carbonell, and the late Tom Kabii.

And afterwards! In an utter stupor, we imposed ourself upon our good friends in Surfers' Paradise and slept it off for a week, probably responding to questions from time to time unintelligibly.

All the mod cons

This is John and Alison's house in a marina-sort-of-thing in Surfers' Paradise. The shoreline has been carefully excavated in such a way that all of the homeowners get, not only their own street and parking space, but their own dock and boat canal as well. A sort of maze.

John and Alison have been well known to us for many years. John was our dentist in Leysin, Switzerland, and Alison was our esteemed colleague in the library of the American College of Switzerland, way back when. And here we are, some years later, relaxing on their boat in Moreton Bay, and having lunch withh John's parents near North Stradbroke Island.


On some island near Moreton Bay, from left: Gregor, narrator, Alison, and young Georgia.

Seen from the top of the dunes

Family group: Alison, John, Gregor . . .

. . . Georgia

Gorgeous Georgia

Our hosts in 1996: John, Gregor, Georgia, and Alison. Probably very glad to see the back of us after a week of post-COP drying out.

But . . . now we have good reason to hope, 11 years further on, that we'll have a visit from John and Georgia this summer. So there's still another reason to hang on for a little while longer.

Update: John and Georgia (still beautiful) were here in early July 2007, and paid for the pizza!

Update bis: John, Alison, and Gregor stopped by for lunch in Féchy in August 2008. Another treat.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 26 April 2007, revised 17 October 2008, 2 November 2015.

Recent Events