Skip to main content


Top teaching in the Top End for Cape York NRM staff

The biannual conference brought together almost 200 extension professionals from across Australia, New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

During the two-day event over 70 leading experts delivered tools and techniques, cutting-edge research, and case studies designed to help extension professionals build knowledge and work more effectively with land managers.

An extension professional provides land managers with access to up-to-date knowledge, support and advice to help them improve their business outcomes.

Cape York NRM’s Oliver McConnachie, Harry James, Abbey Ernst and Joey Dix travelled to Darwin for the event.

Harry James is part of the Agriculture Extension Work placement program funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from the Queensland Government.

Harry said he was thrilled to attend the event.

‘As a recent graduate, the conference was an amazing opportunity to network with professionals in the field from all over Australia and beyond’, he said.

Harry also praised the quality of training provided by industry experts.

‘I learned so much about how to work collaboratively with land managers.

At the core of everything, we need to understand the ‘why’—why someone is doing something one way, and why they may or may not want to change.

We all make decisions based on many factors and past experiences. Good extension starts with us understanding the people we work with and where they are coming from.

When we start with that there’s a solid foundation to do really amazing things that are great for people and great for the land. I’m sure what I’ve learned this week will stick with me for the rest of my career’.

During the conference attendees went on several exciting field trips, including to the Crocodylus Park, the Beatrice Hill buffalo farm and the Darwin Aquaculture Centre where visitors were introduced to sustainable production and conservation programs for barramundi, black jewfish and black lip oysters.

Sustainable Industries Officer Abbey Ernst said the visit to the Centre showcased the opportunity for innovative economic solutions in remote Indigenous communities.

‘It was inspiring to see the innovative collaborations taking place by remote Indigenous communities on the black lip oyster program. Last year the Darwin Aquaculture Centre delivered 90,000 black lip oysters to Warrumi, a remote island community in Arnhem Land, with the outlook to establish a local commercial oyster industry for the region.’

The next APEN conference is expected to be in New Zealand in 2021.

The Agricultural Extension Work Placement Program is facilitated by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, under the support of the Queensland Government