The D&O Diary was on assignment last week in Australia, to attend and participate in the annual conference of the Australian Professional Indemnity Group (APIG), in Sydney. As a result of my travels to the conference, I once again experienced the miracle of modern technology. You can leave your home in, say, Cleveland, and less than 24 hours later you can be walking on a beach in Australia. I have made this trip or its equivalent many times now, but it still never ceases to amaze me.
I scheduled my arrival and planned my Australian itinerary so that I could spend a jet-lag day at Bondi Beach (pronounced “Bond-eye”), a Pacific Ocean beach community about five miles from downtown Sydney. The truth is that after the 14-hour overnight flight, more than one day is required to recover from the jet lag, but the Bondi Beach sojourn was otherwise a good plan. Though it was late winter in Australia while I was there, I was fortunate to enjoy a day of sunshine in Bondi. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to walk the length of the 6 km long trail between Bondi and Coogee. As shown below and at the end of the post, the scenery along the pathway is really beautiful. I stayed in a very pleasant small hotel right on the beach front, with balconies overlooking the water. It was quite an experience the next morning to watch the sunrise over the Pacific.
After I reached Coogee, I went down to the beach and walked along the water. I took off my shoes and socks and waded into the waves. Just at the point that I was thinking to myself that the water was actually pretty cold, a group of five teenage girls in bikinis ran past me and dove into the surf. This was one of the many times I observed that there is no consensus in Australia (or at least in Sydney) about what it meant that it was winter. As the same time the young girls were swimming in the ocean, there were others walking along the ocean trail in down coats, scarves, and stocking caps. I thought it was pretty mild during the daytime while I was there, but it did get chilly in the evening, going down into the lower 50s and upper 40s. The most significant practical effect of the fact that was winter was that it got dark very early. It started getting dark before 5 pm and the sun set around 5:30 – which felt very weird after just having left the late summer back in the States.
After my day at the beach in Bondi, I took a taxi to a hotel in downtown Sydney. I had meetings throughout most of the rest of the time I was in Sydney, but during a couple of the afternoons while I was there, I did have a chance to get away and to take a ferry to visit two communities along Sydney Harbor.
First, I took the ferry to Manly, a community located a narrow part of the isthmus that forms North Head, the north side of the entrance to Sydney harbor. The ferry docks at a wharf on the harbor side of the peninsula, but it is only a few minute walk from there (through the pleasant village of Manly, as shown in the first picture below) to the ocean side. Manly Beach itself is about 2 km long (second picture below). At the south end of the beach, there is a walkway heading south along the ocean. The pathway leads to Cabbage Tree Bay, an aquatic reserve, to Shelly Beach, and then eventually to the Sydney Harbor National Park, with spectacular views of the rugged coastline and the ocean beyond.
The following afternoon I took a different ferry to Watsons Bay, located on the peninsula that forms South Head, the southern side of the Sydney Harbor entrance. It is only a few hundred yards from the ferry landing to the ocean side of the peninsula, with spectacular views of the ocean and of North Head (first picture below). From there it is a short walk to the South Head Heritage Trail, with views from Hornby Lighthouse across the harbor entrance (second picture below). After a pleasant lunch of grilled Barramundi back in Watsons Bay at the venerable Doyles Restaurant, which was founded in 1885 and is located adjacent to the ferry landing, I walked along the ocean front following the Coastal Cliffs walking trail to Signal Hill (third picture below). The views from the top of cliffs back toward Sydney were spectacular (fourth picture below). It was a cloudy afternoon and rain threatened the whole time, but the rain held off until there was a short cloudburst while I was on the ferry back to Sydney. It was a sunshiny shower, and there was a spectacular double rainbow behind the ferry.
The APIG conference took place on Thursday, September 1. The conference, which was very well attended, was a great success. In addition to delivering the keynote address, I participated in a workshop on D&O basics. It was a pleasure for me to be able to meet so many industry colleagues and to exchange ideas and observations with them. The attendees came from across Australia, from New Zealand, and from the Asia Pacific region in general. There were even more people at the evening reception, which was held in Sydney’s beautiful and historic Town Hall. It was great during the conference and during the reception to meet so many people who read and follow my blog. I enjoyed being a part of this very successful event and I would like to thank the National Conference Committee for inviting me to participate. I congratulate the Committee for their success in putting together such a great event.
I was struck during my many conversations with industry colleagues that though we work in different geographic regions and though the legal systems and insurance arenas in which we work involve a number of important differences, the reality is that in a general sense we are all struggling with more or less the same issues. I found it incredibly informative to sit through the various sessions during the conference. I don’t think anyone got more out of the conference than I did. I came away with a great deal of respect for the dynamic professional liability insurance community in Australia. I also came away with confirmed view that there are a lot of really talented and really friendly people involved in D&O in Australia.
In this picture I am standing with Jeremy Scott-Mackenzie, the APIG National President, and Crystal Lawton, the conference chair.
Here is the panel that led the D&O workshop: on the left, Jaydon Burke Douglas, of Dual Australia, who was the session’s MC; me; Julie Morgan of Zurich; Ryan Thomas of Berkshire Hathaway; and Rehana Box of the Ashurst Australia law firm.
Here I am talking during the lunch break with Paul Asherton of the AIG Auckland office.
This picture was taken at the Sydney Town Hall, where the evening reception was held. The building’s magnificent pipe organ (once the largest in the world) in the background. I am standing with Penny Taylor of the Kennedys law firm and Lisa Biggar of AIG.
Here’s another picture taken at the reception. Jill Stewart of QBE brought her Tenth Anniversary D&O Diary Frisbee with her to the reception. Jill is on my right in the picture. To my left is Charlotte Adol of the Landers & Rogers law firm. On the far right of the picture is Dominica Stephan, also of the Landers & Rogers law firm.
Here is a final picture with the APIG conference committee. What a great bunch of people. It was a pleasure to meet all of them and an honor to be a part of their excellent annual convention.