Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

02-Nadia A.

How do Australia’s climate and geography influence its use and acceptance of systems that restrict resource use? This topic reflects the different ways a country can live with less without compromising basic needs. In Australia, I spent the time learning and observing as to what makes this statement truer than if it were said in the USA.

The trip in Australia helped my project by allowing myself to accumulate data from sources such as three different city councils, wastewater treatment plants, water allocation sources, food markets, etc. These places were all essential to understanding why the restrictions are the way they are and why Australians accept this.

Australia was quite the experience. Beautiful in so many different ways with a culture so different than our own, but still similar enough where some things were the same as home and it felt comfortable. The trip taught me about how attitudes towards the environment could be different and there were many alternatives to what I would have thought required one simple answer. For example, Sydney Olympic Park was a sight to see in the sense that it was amazing for the Olympics, but better because of how long it has been able to last and how it’s currently still being used by Australian citizens.

People biking in Olympic Park in Sydney Australia on a sunny day

Our group biking in Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia



Walking the Pinnacle Walk at the Grampians


A large aspect as well that reflects how Australians see their own environment is their amount of tourism for Nature. Tourism is a large part of their country, but it also helps that their own citizens care about keeping their environment clean too, not just for others to view. This was demonstrated several times on our trip and reinforced the idea of how much Australians love nature. In the USA this isn’t unheard of but isn’t quite as popular either or at least shown outwardly. The Grampians, Milla Milla Falls, and a large one being the Great Barrier Reef. One of the best aspects of their love for the environment and desire to sustain it comes with large environmental campaigns paired with restrictions so that the citizens understand why they are placed and for what reasons. An example of this was when we met with someone worked towards preserving the Great Barrier Reef, and she told us how they have certain places for tourists, and how in the past (1980’s or so) the tour groups would walk on the corals, pick of pieces to show others, and then take some home too. She explained now that it is highly discouraged even to stand up straight above the corals so that even while wearing flippers the corals go untouched. This is now prevented by going through pamphlets with tourists on how to properly observe the reefs without interfering with them.

Photo at the Great Barrier Reef during our Passions of Paradise Tour in Cairns, Australia

Photo at the Great Barrier Reef during our Passions of Paradise Tour in Cairns, Australia

Australia’s environment gave me inspiration and hope that the USA could be as efficient or at least a bit more aware of the issues that lie within our country. The USA has been fortunate enough to have lasting resources where it isn’t more than a pressing concern, but it also has the potential to be and that is why I am happy that there are great examples of how to be sustainable it was to be more of an issue. Australians know of their history, how Europeans came and brought invasive species as well as trying to change the landscape giving them more of an appreciation for native life. Even their history with aboriginals and their gold rush what we learned about at Sovereign Hill, gave me perspectives about my own life and our country’s history. I hope to carry with me all that I have learned in Australia and apply it all aspects of my life.

For more about Sydney Olympic Park —> Olympic Park

For more about Milla Milla Falls —> Millaa Millaa

For more about Passions of Paradise Tour at the Great Barrier Reef —> Day 19: Great Barrier Reef

For more about the Grampians Pinnacle Walk —> Grampians

For more about Sovernhill —> Sovereign Hill

My name is Nadia, I am currently a senior studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I’m from Northville MI and have lived in Michigan my entire life. I am excited to visit Australia for many different reasons but to experience a new culture completely and mindset on sustainability is my main reason. I am curious as to how the food systems are able to be as sustainable as they are.

Research Topic

This leads into my research topic. I want to research why and how sustainable systems came to be in Australia and why some methods of this are able to work there but are not applicable to other countries.


  1. What makes Australia a good candidate for sustainable systems?
  2. How much of the Australian population supports sustainability in their food systems? How much of an influence does this have on the way they eat?
  3. What are some sustainable methods that only apply to Australia? Why do these methods not apply to other countries?
Department of the Environment and Energy. “Sustainability Indicators for Australia.” Department of the Environment and Energy. Department of the Environment and Energy, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
O’Shanassy, Kelly. “Everyday Australians, unlike Their Politicians, Care about the Environment.” – Opinion – ABC Environment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). ABC Environment, 04 June 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Wei, Jing, Yongping Wei, and Andrew Western. “Evolution of the Societal Value of Water Resources for Economic Development versus Environmental Sustainability in Australia from 1843 to 2011.” Evolution of the Societal Value of Water Resources for Economic Development versus Environmental Sustainability in Australia from 1843 to 2011. N.p., Jan. 2017. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

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