Last week Sally Mitchell, Team Leader – GIS (Victoria), celebrated 25 years with the business.
Sally has some great stories and fond memories of her time here that we wanted to share.
When I started at Biosis, the office was in Bay St. I was the sole GIS operator for the company. There were a few botanists, a few zoologists and the company had just acquired du Cro and Associates to expand into archaeology. The du Cro team had already been sharing the office space, so everyone was fairly familiar to each other. The Sydney office was only a few people back then and that was it for regional offices!
My position was advertised as Draftsperson, so when I arrived I was half expecting to have to get my drafting pens out again and start making maps on drafting film. I was relieved when I found MapInfo GIS on my desktop computer.
One of my first tasks was to develop templates and source some base data to make the Biosis mapping products more professional, accurate and consistent.
In those days, while we had internal email, we had a single external email address for the whole company. So my tasks also included doing regular email checks and sending out electronic reports to clients, in addition to being the sole GIS operator for the company.
I also remember introducing the consultants to the many advantages of handheld GPS, and set about purchasing a few for them to try. Now they don’t go out in the field without one. The Cultural Heritage staff also have to use DGPS for even better accuracy.
As familiarity with software improved, so did my ability to do more, in less time.
As the company got bigger, so did the need for mapping, and it wasn't long before we recruited more GIS staff and I was promoted to Senior GIS operator.
When we were awarded the biodiversity assessments job for the GAA, I had to expand my skills again to learn how to use ArcMap and also hone my air photo interpretation skills to be able to accurately map hundreds of grassland patches.
I'm still learning new ways to do things every day.
In the days when Sid Larwill still worked for Biosis, his wife, Sam, would be given the task of organising the work Christmas party. It was always a surprise at a quirky location, usually with a theme that required dressing up and participating in games that matched the theme, and often with a visit from some performers to make the night even more special.
There was a Japanese theme one year, including a pair if thongs and socks to take home! Another year was white Christmas, so there are photos of staff in all white posing as Charlie's Angels!
What I enjoy most about working for Biosis is fabulous diversity of projects we work on, and the equally diverse people who work on them with me.
A project that gave me great satisfaction was mapping Cool Temperate Rainforest in the Strzelecki Ranges for Hancock Victorian Plantations. I got to go out in the field, to ground truth my mapping, and also assist Chris Timewell, a zoologist with his survey work, which involved setting mist nets, and doing call playback after dark. The follow on results of our mapping and report was a series of recommendations aimed at protecting Cool Temperate Rainforest from logging impacts.
Sally Koehler and I also spent a summer doing SLL recovery at the Cairnlea estate. I remember, one day, we took a record 10 lizards to the zoo at the end of the day. It was a great feeling to know that we'd rescued that many. I also remember helping out with the archaeological surveys on this site.
Other big projects I've contributed to, over time, include Aurora, Caroline Springs, Deer Park Bypass, various GAA projects, (biodiversity mapping, time stamping).