Sydney Showground’s breadth and variety of venues proved highly effective in managing the more than 6000 delegates who attended the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Parks Congress back in November.

An opening ceremony followed by a welcome reception for 6000, plenary sessions for the same number, concurrent meetings for anywhere up to 1000 delegates, workshops for as little as a dozen people, poster presentations, an exhibition space with enough room for around 50 exhibitors, and food and beverage outlets for morning and afternoon teas and lunches, can’t just happen anywhere.

Which is why Sydney Showground was considered the venue that could deliver it all.

Sydney Showground general manager, Peter Thorpe, has no doubt the venue secured the conference because of the flexibility of its venue space, and also because of its credentials in sustainability.

The Dome, Exhibition Halls 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, The Stables – Clydesdale Room, Howie Complex and Lawn Area, Spotless Stadium hospitality areas including all the corporate suites and RAS Council and the Amphitheatre, were all utilised.

Cathy Freeman Park adjacent to The Dome was also utilised for Planet Fest – an outdoor exhibition of sorts that was open to the general public and aimed to educating families on sustainability and conservation.

“At their request we adopted green power for the event, where possible our produce has been locally sourced, and we purchased sustainable service wear for the duration of the event,” Mr Thorpe explains.

Following the official Opening Ceremony in The Dome delegates spilled out onto the paved area right outside for drinks and canapés in a highly casual environment that screamed `Welcome to Australia’. Hay bales for seats were casually spread around, as were picnic tables as black and white wait staff refreshed glasses and served up tasty morsels which included charred Tasmanian salmon sushi, vegetarian nori rolls with gluten free soya sauce, and mini kale, feta and garlic tarts with carrot and dill relish.

Another clear winner was the Farewell BBQ with pure Australian fare with a culinary twist – sausages of chicken and thyme, lamb and rosemary, and beef and tomato, served with caramelised onions and tomato relish. This was again a highly casual affair, albeit with some hearty food and plenty of quality beverages to wash it all down.