It is an 80-minute flight from where he grew up in Sydney to where he now lives on the Gold Coast, but Cameron Del Moro took a far more circuitous route. He played on sporting fields in the UK, France and Italy, and travelled through the Americas. But love would eventually bring him to the Gold Coast, where he swapped his sporting world for academia. By his own admission it was a tough transition but he now holds a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) degree from Griffith University and a newfound confidence in his ability to effect positive change in the world’s efforts in sustainability. Cameron is now well entrenched as a local, he’s a volunteer lifesaver with North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club and recently Cameron and his wife Jacquelyn became parents with the arrival of daughter Ellie.  

Q. Can you tell us about the journey that brought you to the Gold Coast? 

I was a garbo in Sydney for a couple of years before I initially went overseas. I went first to play semi-professional rugby league in France, came home for three years and worked as a garbo again. Then I met my now wife, Jacquelyn, who was a teacher and we travelled overseas together. She taught and I picked up a rugby contract in England, then picked up another rugby contract in Sicily in 2017 which wrapped up in 2018 and then we went travelling through America and Central South America. We flew home late 2018 and I started uni the following year.  

Q. Why did you choose to settle and study on the Coast? 

Jacquelyn had grown up on the Goldie for 20 years of her life. I did a bridging course with the University of Southern Queensland during my travels, and I enrolled at Griffith on the Gold Coast and they took me straight away.  

Q. Is it correct that it was when you were working as a garbo that you decided to pursue academia?

Yes. I was working for a council in Sydney and every second bin was just contaminated – wrong recycling, that sort of thing. I kept records and it was weeks and months and nothing was getting done about it, which was frustrating. It fell on deaf ears. No one wants to listen to a garbo. That was when I decided I needed to study to follow my passion for environmental sustainability and resource recovery, and to make a difference. I am now a technical officer with Gold Coast City Council and I’m slowly trying to implement better practices. 

Q. How hard was it to return to being a student?

There were some challenging times. I hadn’t come from an academic background. I was a very sporty child, so I didn’t actually take academia that seriously. I was more interested in representing my school in the region and the state. The actual experience of uni I found not daunting but more challenging. My peers and the people I hung out with at uni came from academic backgrounds and they were getting high distinctions. It was good in a way because I was trying to mirror what they were doing. I was still getting decent marks but not as good as them. There were definitely some tough subjects there where I had to really knuckle down. 

Q. Who else helped you?

As a mentor, Dr Clare Morrison was awesome. She facilitated a work integrated learning experience for me with Gold Coast City Council and she marked one of my assignments for urban ecology and gave me my first and only high distinction! I was pretty stoked about that one, especially coming from a background of just getting “participation awards” at school. 

Q. What is the main drawcard to studying on the Gold Coast?

Lifestyle is the big one. You’ve got the mountains, the beach, the nightlife. There are plenty of hubs – whether it be medical, tourism or construction – which means there are a lot of possibilities here on the Gold Coast that you can dig your teeth into. If you’ve really got a passion, go for it.