Kate Burndred

A childhood where my Barbie dream holiday pool became an engineered ‘wetland’ to house bugs I collected from the pool filter… well, maybe I hoarded them in there and then harvested them…?

Lazing the days away camped on the Murray, trying to rehabilitate undersized bycatch in little slackwater microcosms… all the while the voice of David Attenborough narrating my playtime.

Fast forward to uni where I was singled out by the late and great Keith Walker – he genuinely re-ignited my curiosity for all things freshwater. He was an incredible mentor, providing consistent support, thought provoking guidance… and an endless string of classic tips for day-to-day ‘scholarly success’. I stuck with him, and ended up with honours in freshwater fish ecology.

I ran away OS for a while, and then scored a job back home with MDFRC. I worked at the local pub as well… so maybe my employment was a strategic choice…

The MDFRC crew further inspired my fascination for native fish, particularly, the teeny tinyness of larvae. More importantly, they taught me that fieldwork could be fun beyond uni, sometimes dangerously so!

Alas, after growing up, studying and working alongside the MDB for what felt like an eternity my spirit was waning. The millennium drought was dire: the darling was dry, the old cod were carking it, an old bloke cradled his gun whilst discussing the generational impacts of poor water management decisions… aaaand I bailed.

I wanted to see if the tropical grass was greener… what was this clear, flowing water that people spoke of? Where fish could frolic freely?! So I landed myself a sweet job as an Aquatic Ecologist in sunny Mackay. Ten years and tens of thousands of kilometres of fieldwork later, the novelty of studying cool stuff in clear, flowing coastal catchments has yet to wear off.

BUT my love for native fish in the bush country still reigns. That’s where my heart is. One day I hope to be out there teaching folk that little fish aren’t just baby big ones, and trying to spark a reason for them to care.