Susannah Cramp is a PhD student at UWA Albany. Her research is part of the ‘Walking Together’ project, which brings together Noongar Traditional Owners and conservation scientists to care for country. Through interviews with Menang Elders on country, mapping and camera trapping reptiles, she is investigating the title ‘Learning from lizard traps: walking together to care for granite country’.
Susannah Cramp Contributor
Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where your home is, and how you ended up in Australia.
I’m a PhD student living in Albany, Western Australia, part of the beautiful Noongar Merningar Country. It may seem like a big shift from my hometown of Plymouth in the UK, but I felt an instant connection here in Australia. From the people I met, to the research I’ve been able to undertake, Australia has quickly become the place I’m proud to call home.
What led you to study overseas, how did it aid your research, and what advice would you give for those following in your path?
When I first came to Albany in 2018 I fell in love with the place. During my first trip I met my soon to be supervisors and their team and was instantly inspired. I already had a strong interest in ecology and was determined to take my studies further and join them in their cross-cultural ecological work. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship with the Northcote Trust, allowing me to study here in Australia. Now, three years into my research, I can’t imagine ever leaving.
For those that might be interested in taking the same path I did, I would encourage you to trust your instincts. If you feel connected to a certain place, trust that that connection is meaningful, just like I did.
And if that happens to take you to Australia, deepen that connection by learning from First Nations cultures and languages in the area you live in. You can do this by going on tours, reading books, watching films, or reaching out to local Aboriginal communities or businesses.
How have you found creating a new network in your new home? Have you still managed to maintain connections in your home country?
Moving to Australia was scary, as moving anywhere would be. I didn’t know exactly how things would turn out, or if I would even be accepted. However, I’m happy to say I’ve created a wonderful network of friends and inspiring colleagues throughout my studies here, not to mention meeting a fantastic man that’s now my husband!
If you are considering moving to Australia, I can assure you that no matter who you are, you’ll find your circle here.
Although COVID made it difficult for me to visit my friends and family back in the UK, I have still managed to maintain contact with many friends and other contacts back home. I would advise those that have moved overseas, or are planning on it, to try and keep these relationships alive, whether it be through a call, an email or even just a DM, it makes it a little easier on those days when you do feel a bit homesick.
What are some of the benefits that have come from researching in Australia?
There are far too many to count! But if I had to narrow it down, I love living in a place with so much sunshine. Things move slower down here, the pace of life means there’s so much more time to enjoy nature and relax. I love working in the bush with inspiring people, learning so much about the nature and culture of this amazing land. I am so grateful to be living here on Merningar Boodjar (land/ country).
Carrying out research in a regional town has a lot of benefits. It’s far easier to integrate research within the community. For example I co-facilitate a Merningar Culture and Language course with Merningar Elder Lynette Knapp and her daughter Shandell Cummings, and so far we’ve had about 40 Albany residents go through the course. This is having wider impacts on the community, as teachers, doctors, council members and other members of the community become more aware of Merningar culture and language. I love working in the bush with inspiring people, learning so much about the nature and culture of this amazing land. I am so grateful to be living here on Merningar Boodjar (land/ country).
Applications for the Northcote Postgraduate Scholarship open in June 2023. The scholarship enables students normally resident in the UK to undertake a higher degree at an Australian university for up to three years. Proposals for PhD and research-based Masters programmes are encouraged, with the scholarships administered on behalf of the Northcote Trust by the Britain-Australia Society.