Stakeholder workshop for Darwin Harbour report card

Bill Dennison ·
17 April 2020



In preparation for a stakeholder workshop to develop a Darwin Harbour report card, our local host, Dr. Karen Gibb, Charles Darwin University, organized a wonderful evening cruise of Darwin Harbour on 16 Mar 2020. The cruise was provided by Jim Smith, seadarwin.com, a knowledgeable and passionate eco-tourism operator. Jim took us out to Darwin Harbour from Stokes Hill Wharf, which I learned was named by Captain John Wickham to honor a former captain of the HMS Beagle, Captain Pringle Stokes. The sad fate of Pringle Stokes was that he committed suicide while in command of the Beagle in the Straits of Magellan. Stokes' successor was Captain Robert Fitzroy who commanded the Beagle on the famous voyage with naturalist Charles Darwin aboard. Jim showed us Fannie Bay and we passed by the Central Business District of Darwin and some of the port facilities. I was able to see the Australian Institute of Marine Science research vessel, R/V Solander, named after the botanist Daniel Solander, who sailed with Captain Cook on his voyage of discovery aboard the HMS Endeavour in 1770. The highlight of the cruise was when Jim took us into the mangroves where we watched a beautiful sunset among the birds, anchored yachts, and crocodile traps.

Beautiful Darwin Harbour sunset.



On the following day (17 Mar 2020), Simon and I traveled to Belyuen for a workshop with the Larrakia indigenous traditional owners, discussed in a recent blog. On 18 Mar 2020, Simon and I traveled to Palmerston, the location of the Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Julia Fortune, the driving force behind the annual Darwin Harbour water quality report card produced by the Aquatic Health Unit annually since 2009, was our host. I presented an overview of the development of integrated report cards that included social, economic and environmental indicators and then we discussed the evolution of the Darwin Harbour report card.

Caption: Conceptual mapping of Darwin Harbour.



On 19-20 Mar, we held a two day workshop in Darwin with a suite of stakeholders, selected to cover social, economic and ecological values. We used a double sized conference room in the Novotel hotel to account for social distancing, even though there were no reports of COVID in the Northern Territory as yet. Donna Jackson provided a nice welcome to country that included a rendition of the Lord's Prayer to connote the impending COVID-19 pandemic. Karen Gibb provided an overview, Julia Fortune briefed us on her monitoring program and report cards, and Lorraine Williams summarized the results from our workshop with the traditional owners earlier in the week. Simon led us in a round of SNAP to establish environmental indicators, followed by breakout groups to explore the indicators, thresholds and potential data sources. We also had groups of workshop participants develop conceptual maps of the region. At the end of the first day, we had a nice social event outdoors by the hotel swimming pool.

Identifying Darwin Harbour values using SNAP exercise.



On the second day of the workshop, we did rounds of SNAP to prioritize social and economic indicators, followed by breakouts to explore the indicators, thresholds and potential data sources. We brainstormed the environmental literacy principles for Darwin Harbour and did a storyboard session to mock up the workshop newsletter.

At the end of the workshop, we ended with a song that Simon and I composed, and Kat Parsons sang and recorded. The song was based on Bernie Taupin and Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" and we called it "Crocodile Card", an homage to the notable large saltwater reptile inhabiting Darwin Harbour. The lyrics were as follows:

Crocodile Card
20 Mar 2020
William C. Dennison & Simon Costanzo

I remember when we were young
Me and Simon had so much fun
Coming back to the very top end
Have had a really nice workshop with some great new friends
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was makin' a thing called the Crocodile Card
While the other kids were hard at work
We were hopping and bopping making a Crocodile Card

Well Crocodile Carding is something shocking
When your feet just can't keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh Lawdy mama these Friday nights
When Simon kept us thinking right
And the Crocodile Carding was out of sight

La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la

Well the years went by and the card survived
And now you've partnered up with some foreign guys
Long days by the Darwin Airport
Dreaming up indicators and desired thresholds
But they'll never kill the thrills we've got
Building up to the Crocodile Card
Learning fast as the days went past
We really think the Crocodile Card will last

Well Crocodile Carding is something shocking
When your feet just can't keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh Lawdy mama these Friday nights
When Simon kept us thinking right
And the Crocodile Carding was out of sight

La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la
La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la

Group photo from Darwin Harbour stakeholder workshop. Photo credit, Nicholas Gouldhurst

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.



Next Post > Engaging with the Belyuen people and Larrakia people, Traditional Owners of Darwin Harbour, Australia

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