I have just returned home to Australia from the US where I was lucky enough to be one of five Australian contractors that attended Pondemonium 2018.
Pondemonium is the largest gathering of Pond and waterscape professionals in the world where you get in depth training , create contacts with the best in the industry and get a tour of some of the most incredible ponds/waterfalls and water features in the world.
Our first visit whilst in St Charles was to see some of the local retailer displays , this was a fantastic tour to see how retailers were using the amazing installs to show what could be done with the products .
Next if was off to Aqualand for a tour of Aquascape Inc's Factory, retail outlet and the most incredible man made pond I have ever witnessed !
The pond at Aqualand was built a few years ago with the help of many Certified Aquascape contractors from around the world, it has amazing waterfalls including a grotto , a jumping rock as well as multiple wetland filtration systems to help keep the pond clear and the many fish species happy including some awesome koi fish.
It was awe inspiring to see something so large and natural that was all man made and really opened my eyes to the possibilities that the aquascape products allow.
Of course it was pretty warm over there being in the middle of summer so I also took the once in a lifetime opportunity to jump off the large rock for a quick swim! Amazing!
We then headed to our accommodation at the Q centre , it was a fantastic conference centre that had beautiful lush lawns and landscapes and when we arrived I was met with another incredible pondless waterfall that was built at the event 2 years ago, and even better I had a prime viewing of it from my room.
Once we arrived the learning really started ! There was round table discussions every morning which was amazing, getting to listen to the best contractors in the world speak so open and honestly just reaffirmed my absolute passion for the tribe I have become a part of.
The keynotes were also fantastic , with talks from the best pond ecology , fish , sales and service people in the world my head was flooded with information that would have taken me years and years to even scratch the surface of.
There were talks about business, passion , artistry and relationships that I found so informative and also a moving but heartbreaking talk that almost brought me to tears about the appreciation of the loved ones around us and being thankful for all that we have.
Meeting Greg Wittstock, The Pond Guy at Aqualand was great. He is such a huge personality with a huge amount of passion not just for the products they make , but more for the industry itself and a genuine want to help people and the industry grow as much as possible .
Check him out on youtube to see the incredible personality and passion that he brings to every situation! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChwbBgVz_gF8ID6C31it0Bw
Next up was the Waterfall building contest , which was 18 teams of 5 that competed to build a small pondless waterfall with a small amount of rock, some aquascape pondless waterfall products and the creativity of the group.
Our team really pulled together and we decided to use the materials we had to make a smaller but more natural waterfall utilising multiple waterfall types to create interest in the different sounds and looks formed in nature .
We were judged on the creativity used with the limited materials as well as a disqualification if your water feature leaked when they came back to check it the next day.
The final 3 out of 18 were then brought up onto a screen during the artist of the year judging (Congrats Dan Harp) where the hundreds of Certified contractors voted on their favourite.
Our team was selected the winners! It was a fantastic feeling to be voted the winner by a group of artists I have looked upto and admired, and as well as winning a cash prize we were invited to spend a day in Florida with aYoutube sensation called Deer meat for dinner, who would take us for his ultimate fun day out! Wow !
There were more incredible pond tours that followed the next day , with busses taking loads of excited water feature artists around to some of the mind blowing jobs the Aquascape team had done around the St Charles area.
We also got to check out the new installation from the Advanced CAC build that was happening while we were building waterfalls.This is going to be the newest addition to the Q centres incredible landscape.
To top it all off , Aquascape put on a pretty amazing blow out bash for all the people that attended worldwide. I wrote this blog to share with you all what an epic 10 day adventure this was but I honestly cant put into words how much I learnt , the incredible ponds and water features I saw and above all else , the absolutely fantastic people that I met and gained friendships with.
Until next year! I Love My Job!
To keep up to date on what Naturebuild is upto please follow our Facebook page : www.facebook.com/naturebuildau