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Queensland YWPs set out on an amazing race

The 6th annual AWA Queensland Young Water Professionals (YWP) Amazing Race brought together enthusiastic teams, guests from the local Indigenous community Nunukul Yuggera, and friends within the Queensland water industry for a very special event focusing on local Indigenous history as teams raced around the ‘Maiwar’ (Brisbane River).

With a turn out of 16 well-prepared teams, including many familiar faces eager to move up the ladder from previous years’ results, and – best of all – many new faces having a crack at the title, this race was set to be one of the best ever held.

Teams dressed up and ready to go

The Amazing Race took place around the ‘Maiwar’, what we know today as the Brisbane River. The organising committee set themselves a goal of bringing to life an event that would be remembered as more than a race around the city, but rather an event that connected participants from the Queensland water industry to their homeland, their original waterways and a water story central to us all.

But the first-time ‘theme’ of the race wasn’t all that was new. The organising committee recognised over the years that the Amazing Race shouldn’t just be for the athletically inclined and worked hard to create a balanced and inclusive environment. With that in mind, the 2019 race consisted of two streams of challenges that contestants tore open in their question packs at the outset.

Stream 1 was geared towards those who enjoy the fast-paced event style. Following the map, teams were able to strategise the quickest route to reach a maximum number of ‘zones’ (the further the zone, the greater the points).

For those who preferred to put their minds to the test – an equally important form of exercise mind you – the ‘thinking’ stream was their best bet. The purpose of this was to encourage teams to take their time absorbing the surroundings along the Maiwar and offered high points for difficult problem-solving questions.

Aaron and Maddy from the Nunukul Yuggera group

Stream 2 naturally required a collaborative approach where a diversely skilled team would come in handy. The strategy here was that challenge questions were worth significantly more points, so teams were encouraged to consider the best bang for their buck.

For best success, the event was advertised with the following suggestion: “Teams should look at diversifying, i.e. an ideal team would have a mix of tech nerds, social media lovers, math whizzes, physical champions and cheerleaders.”

One aspect of the 2019 race that set it apart from others was the opening Welcome to Country and mid-race ‘storytelling’ given by special guests, Aaron and Maddy from the Nunukul Yuggera group. Their vibrant, intricate and fascinating story about the value of water to their people made everyone the wiser.

On the question sheet, teams had the option to gain bonus points by engaging in the storytelling led by Aaron and Maddy. This encouraged us all to pause, reflect and understand what water really means to us – from the Maiwar and beyond.

Teams using the social media tag #AR2019 to upload photos for points

The YWP Amazing Race took a step towards a completely paper-free race this year, by introducing a number of high scoring photo and video challenge questions. This gave way to contestants more efficiently answering questions, uploading photos at checkpoints (with a fancy hashtag of course) and streamlined the way the judges marked the questions.

Moreover, contestants uploading media to a common platform allowed for greater sharing capability among peers and friends, and the memories (hilarious or otherwise) could all be saved on the official Instagram account for the event. Check it out here.

All the competitors made it to the finish line at Barbossa Bar, South Brisbane (our wonderful hosts for two years now) to be greeted by a crowd of water industry professionals networking, a spread of food platters, and – probably most desired at this point – a cold beer.

The winners of the 2019 Amazing Race were ‘The Unsinkables’ from the University of Queensland with a staggering 1130 points (possibly the highest points we have ever seen). The runner up prize was awarded to WSP’s ‘Yurong’ team, who also won the best-dressed prize. And Engeny, our defending champions, finished in third place. This year we also awarded the highest-scoring photo challenge questions to Plati(pi) from WSP team #2.

2019 winners: The Unsinkables from the University of Queensland

Highest-scoring photo questions winners: WSP’s Plati(pi)

Credit must be given to the dedicated Queensland YWP committee members for organising the event including Alice Connell, Sandrika Ryan, Johanna Johnson, Rita Castro De Lemos, Courtney Brown and Sharon James (Queensland Branch Manager). Last but certainly not least, the day could not have been possible without the generous support from Stantec, who have exclusively sponsored the event since 2015.

The AWA Queensland YWP sub-committee members and organising team

If you are interested in diving into the next competition, be on the lookout this time next year for the next Amazing Race!

Sandrika Ryan is Chair of the AWA Queensland Editorial Committee and Communications Coordinator of the Queensland YWP Sub-Committee.