Update from IBD: Australia, Part II

Previous entries: Update 1

We’re the only IBD team with five people. Out of those five people, two have weekend birthdays during the three weeks of IBD. Out of those two people, one of them is me. And out of a scale of one to ten, I’d say our Australia experience has been a solid eleven.

Our previous post discussed our work insights and lessons; now, we turn to our personal adventures!

It all started the week before IBD, when Aisha and I lucked out with early finals and traveled to Australia three days ahead of the group. We immediately started off with our customer interviews, and we got some wonderful insights from up close and personal discussions.

Those pictures and many others are from our visit to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, where we got to meet some pretty awesome animals.

Then it was off to the Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains. It was an impressive sight to see the mountains bearing a slight blue hue from the eucalyptus oil reflecting off the sunlight.

The next day, we decided we needed a bit more beach, so we visited the world famous Bondi and Coogee beaches.

Back in town, our client was so sweet they arranged a fireworks display for us in Darling Harbor*.

The rest of the team joined us on Sunday before work, and we all went on a walking tour around the city. In fact, we were also joined by Jenny and Aaron, two members of the other IBD team working for our client. Their project was based in Africa, but Jenny and Aaron realized we were cooler than their own team, so they joined us for the first week**.

We climbed the pylons of the Harbor Bridge, and uncharacteristically goofed around a bit. When we eventually came back down, we checked out more of the city on foot.

Then it was off to work in the Sydney office for the week.


That first week wrapped up in one of the most important holidays in the Australian calendar – indeed any calendar around the world – my birthday. The client took us to happy hour on Thursday, and then we Haasies went out for more drinks afterwards.

On Friday night, we jetted off to the beautiful city of Melbourne, where we had a few hours to run around the city to take in the sights. So much to do, so little time!

Enough city…. Off to Tasmania! The next day, we took the short hop over to the island of the Tasmanian Devils, rented a car, and were soon in the beautiful Aussie backcountry.

We drove out to Lake St. Clair from the airport, and didn’t get there till 4:45 PM. One thing we hadn’t counted was that in Tasmania, many gas stations actually closed early – around 5 PM, to be exact. And since our car had a tiny fuel tank, we were running on fumes, in the middle of a national park with no cars, people, or kangaroos in sight. As luck would have it, we finally stumbled upon a station that was just closing up, but it was still a bit disconcerting when, after we told the proprietor of our travel plans, she looked at us with a troubled expression and asked, “that’s a long drive… what are you doing here?”

Well, here’s why!

After a 3 hour “self-guided night safari” (i.e., driving in the pitch dark swerving around all sorts of critters hopping around), we found ourselves at our lodge house after midnight. The next day, we headed to Freycinet National Park, where we enjoyed a nice lunch before hiking to Wineglass Bay, rated by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the best beaches in the world.

We flew back to Sydney that night, on the way to the Brisbane office for work on Monday.


No trip to Australia is complete with a jaunt to the Great Barrier Reef, so that’s exactly where we went the next weekend. Leaving after work on Friday, we got in to Cairns, a beachside city, for a late dinner, then drove up to Port Douglas and went  straight to bed to prep for our early departure on our snorkeling adventure on Saturday. The seas were rough on the one and a half hour ride out to the Reef, but we rallied and were treated to incredible views of colorful corals and fishes at the three sites we visited.

After coming back on dry land, we went for a nice stroll along the beach. Inspired by the colorful fish we saw earlier in the day, the group responded with a land-based counterpoint.

It was a relaxing stroll, and we hung out with a group of local old-timers who told us about how they sat out on the beach as a group everyday enjoying wine and playing with their dogs. Tough life.

It was off to the town for some dinner and local nightlife. Music there was an interesting mix of American hip-hop and some local Aussie favorites we didn’t recognize, including a song “Delicious” that had a catchy beat that had all of us bobbing and weaving, that night and days afterwards.

On Sunday, we took a half hour drive to Daintree National Forest for a rainforest hike and some waterhole swimming, before our flight back to Brisbane.


Wednesday night, we flew back to the Sydney office, and concluded our face-to-face work Friday with our final presentation to managers from the client from across the world. That night, we commenced birthday celebrations for Nick’s big day on Saturday with a nice dinner and sangrias, followed by a trip to the new Marquee Sydney, the sister to the club of the same name in Las Vegas upon which Haasies have marked many a night. Samantha Ronson and Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden were running the DJ booth, and Artist Seal was there with his entourage, did a number for the crowds, and went a little crazy.

After more than three weeks of good fortune, the weather finally caught up to us on Saturday; it started off rainy and only got worse from there. Of course, that doesn’t stop a team of bold, adventurous Haasies (“students always”), and we spent time exploring the Fish Market and taking a tour of the inside of the Sydney Opera House. (Fun fact: they used to and still have live animals in performances, and had an unfortunate incident a few years back when a group of unfortunately trained chickens marched the wrong way and fell one after the other onto the cellists in the orchestra pit. Stage animals these days….)

We then went to check out the Aborigine art at the Australia Art Gallery,  and as we always do, continued on our search for food. The night concluded with desserts and drinks by the Opera House, followed by bar hopping in a nearby area known as The Rocks. On Sunday, we finally called our trip complete and flew back home.

One last bit before I let you go, since we just talked about food. Unlike many IBD teams, we were in a decidedly first world country. The experience is no less or no more adventurous or meaningful, but we were grateful for the unimpeachable infrastructure, world-class facilities, and most importantly, mouth-watering FOOD. Sometimes, a blogger needs to shut up and let the pictures do the work. This is one of those times. Please click on the first image below and scroll through the gallery… and let your mind wander:


5 team members.

1 course.

1 semester – 14 weeks.

Over 100 hours of at-Haas work and Wednesday and Sunday night team meetings.

30 days in Australia.

9 flights.

8 cities.

2 birthdays.

1,250 hours of in-country work.

69 meals together as a team.

2,706 pictures (my cameras alone).

1,137 e-mails sent around on the team listserv.

29 choice repartees on our quoteboard.

One team.

Infinite fun.



* It was actually a well-attended, regular weekend celebration put on by the city. The client honored us simply by inviting us to their country.

**Miguel and Emily are fine people; we like them too. Aaron and Jenny were actually in Australia primarily for interviews.

One thought on “Update from IBD: Australia, Part II

  1. Pingback: Update from IBD: Australia, part III/final thoughts | Haas in the World

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