Africa, Europe, Middle East, West & South Asia

This region is called Wodonga—an Australian place name that evokes our conference theme scale:

What is Wodonga?

diagram comparing rail gauges

Albury/Wodonga is at the border of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (VIC) and was a significant location for one of the strangest tales of scale in Australian colonial history. This is the break in gauge of Australian train lines. Prior to Federation in 1901 when the Australian colonies became a commonwealth, Britain passed down a directive for all train lines to be built with the British Standard gauge. However, in the chaos of disputes among engineers, missed and delayed messages (which, in those days before a telegraph line existed, could take up to 7 months to reach Australia from Britain), and intercolony politics, VIC rail was constructed with a broad gauge.

For nearly 150 years, trains from NSW to VIC had to stop at Albury/Wodonga, unload, and change trains to continue their journey. During this time, hundreds of inventions were submitted to solve the gauge problem, but none were accepted. It wasn’t until 2008 that Australia finally replaced the remaining broad-gauge lines, but not before spending hundreds of millions of dollars on inefficiencies and conversion of tracks.

This story of rail scale is an almost comical conflation of inefficiency and invention. Conformity and technological simplicity are imagined; chaos ensues. How do we navigate the scaling of norms and standards across market, social, and cultural forces? Whose interests are being served, whose are stifled, and how do we foretell the difference?

Regional Schedule

Oct 19–24: Learning & Networking
Oct 25–28: Main Program

The Geelong schedule shows programming designed for this region, but you’re welcome to attend any program in the global schedule.

See also: detailed Tutorial Program & Program Overview