Country to City: Austral Academy kicks off for 2024!

Country to City: Austral Academy kicks off for 2024!
May 15, 2024

The Austral Academy team are back on the road for 2024, kicking off with some seriously big events!  

  • Ash and Karen spent 3 days at Tasmania’s biggest agricultural field day, attracting up to 60,000 attendees and over 700 exhibitors from across Australia.
  • Ash headed back to Sacred Heart College and St Mark’s Anglican Community School joint careers expo with Oli, a highly successful event attracting 1600 students and parents/ guardians.


AgFest 2024

After a stop at the Australian Maritime College to present to students about Marine Engineering opportunities at Austral Fisheries and discussions lecturers about our operations and offerings, Ash and Karen got set up for AgFest 2024. Run by the Rural Youth Organisation of Tasmania, AgFest attracts a crowd so large that it is nearly 10% of Tasmania’s population, of which approximately 80% of attendees are farmers or members of the agriculture industry. The field days are relied upon by many businesses to underpin additional business profitability every year.

Why an agriculture festival? Like farming, commercial fishing is a primary industry that requires similar skills and qualities- passion for sustainable practices, hardworking, familiar with the challenges and benefits of living and working in rural/ remote areas, preference for hands-on tasks etc. In addition, Tasmania is paradise for those who enjoy all things outdoors- fishing, camping, hiking, and more!

The team had a lot of interest from people interested in hearing more about our fishing operations and sustainability efforts, sharing stories from their time at sea, and the transferability of their skills to a potential career in the industry.

“I found a lot of interest about the Austral Academy came from people who were or have been working in the industry. They were keen to learn about the Academy, sustainable fishing, and our carbon neutral program. The time spent speaking with people who already had connections to the industry was invaluable for forming networks with young people they knew who might be interested, word of mouth can be a powerful tool. Overall, I found the people at AgFest engaging and interested in what Austral was doing and our sustainable fishing practices,” said Karen, Office Manager.

Most common questions of the weekend:

  • How big are our vessels? 24 – 65m depending on the fishery
  • How long are the boats at sea for? 10-14 days in the Northern Finfish (Darwin), 60-90 days in the Northern Prawn Fishery (Cairns) and approx. 100 days in the Hear and McDonald Island Fishery (Mauritius).

Best question of the weekend:

  • What is Austral doing to ensure the sustainability and future proofing of their operations? We are always on the lookout for ways we can change our packaging to reduce plastic usage, utilise alternative fuel sources to power our vessels, and invest in alternative ways to offset our carbon emissions etc. For example, our fresh fish tub liners are home compostable and break down in ~180 days, the Cape Arkona is a hybrid electric vessel, and we have invested in Canopy Blue’s Kelp Reforestation Credits to offset some of our carbon emissions.

As usual, the VR prawn fishing experience was a hit with the kids- allowing them to experience life onboard a commercial fishing vessel and learn about the importance of bycatch reduction practices for ensuring the sustainability of prawns for generations to come.

We also gave away 3x 3kg boxes of Skull Island Prawns to 3 lucky visitors to our stand. Congratulations to Matt, Josh, and Angela- enjoy your Skullies!


Sacred Heart College and St Mark’s Anglican Community School Careers Expo

Returning for the second time to this annual event, Ash and Oli ventured to Sacred Heart College in WA whose turn it was to host the joint careers expo.

Last year, discussions were focused on establishing a rapport with the community and introducing a nontraditional career and pathways. This year some students and parents knew who we were and focused more on conversations about opportunities available through the Austral Academy, training and qualifications, and career pathways.

“Students and parents at the Sacred Heart Careers Expo expressed a lot of interest in a career in the fishing industry and the Austral Academy program. I would say that we had the most interest from students so far about Marine Engineering pathways, which was fantastic. It was also a pleasure to catch up with students and parents we met last year. We spoke with a particular student who was not sure about what career pathway they were interested in last year but is now motivated to pursue a career pathway as a Marine Engineer and his grades have improved,” said Ashley.

We may have even convinced the older siblings of some students to join us at sea for an adventure during their gap year!

In a reminder of how small the commercial fishing community is, a former Deckhand on the Newfish 2 stopped by our stand with his son not knowing the former KFV Fisheries/ Newfishing he worked for had been renamed to what we are known as today, Austral Fisheries, and amazed to learn that his old vessel was still busy at work in the Northern Prawn Fishery. It brought back many positive memories for him which we are sure his son heard about on the ride home!


As part of National Careers Week 2024, we will be sharing insights into life at sea, career pathways, curriculum aligned lesson plan for educators about prawn trawling, stories from our crew and more! For more information about the Austral Academy or how you can jump onboard, contact [email protected].