The 15th Coast to Coast biennial conference organised by the Australian Coastal Society (ACS Ltd) in Cairns, 26-29 July, was potentially attractive to many delegates from southern states keen to escape winter. However, in the 2 weeks prior to the conference QLD closed its borders to VIC, SA and NSW due to Covid-19. In addition, WA imposed its own self-isolation restrictions for WA residents returning from QLD which prevented the ACS Chair and conference co-convenor, Jo Ludbrook from attending the conference onsite in Cairns.
For the first time the Coast to Coast conference had to be delivered in a hybrid format to cater for both onsite and online delegates. There was a total of 285 conference delegates but only 99 of these were able to be onsite at the Cairns conference venue, the Pullman International Hotel. The border restrictions meant that the majority of the 99 conference delegates in Cairns came from QLD.
Two well-attended pre-conference workshops were held at the start of the week. The conference itself was a success notwithstanding Covid problems. Half of the eight plenary speakers came to Cairns and the others delivered their keynote talks via Zoom. The conference had 6 main themes encompassing ~90 papers split between 5 parallel sessions. Given the large number of delegates online, many of the talks were delivered as pre-recorded video talks interspersed among the live talks. Each session allowed for follow up Q&A sessions which included comments from online applicants via the conference App.
The 90 or so delegates who managed to get to Cairns enjoyed networking at the welcome reception, the half-day field trips and the convivial conference dinner. It was a stroke of luck that delegates could return home just before Cairns became locked down due to a Covid case at the end of July.
We look forward to seeing you and the next Coast to Coast Conference.
Professor Nick Harvey & Jo Ludbrook