Pulse up, waste down.

In a novel approach to fitness, a group of like minded locals are hot-footing it for health and the environment.

As the day draws to a close, these beaches attract the usual suspects: surfers hoping to catch the last wave, romantics meandering along the foreshore, and a special group
of runners and walkers who keep stopping – not to enjoy the view – but to pick up rubbish.

Meet the Responsible Runners, everyday folk who meet on the beach in running shorts and rubber gloves, who strive to keep pulses up and environmental waste down.

Founded in 2012 by Bondi Beach local, Justin Bonsey, Responsible Runners is an environmental initiative operating in 17 locations around Australia that encourages people to improve their country’s health as well as their own.

Each week, runners and walkers from the community meet at their local beach for a 30-minute, fast-paced clean up, to lift their heart rates, build new friendships and embrace the outdoors.

In just four years, Responsible Runners have collected over 21 tonnes of rubbish, including over 200,000 cigarette butts and tens of thousands of recyclable drink containers, plastic straws and other disposable items


Australians buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year.

90% of rubbish on Sydney’s beaches is plastic: mostly bottles, caps and straws.

Each week Responsible Runners pick up an average of 50 plastic bottles on each of the beaches they tend to.

By collecting and recycling these items, they hope to raise awareness about the environmental dangers of single-use disposable waste like shopping bags and water bottles, which comprise a large part of the six billion tonnes of debris that enter our oceans each year.

After filling their bags with cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic lids and broken glass, the haul is sorted and recorded, then delivered as data to
the Tangaroa Blue Foundation – an organisation formed to protect and preserve Australia’s marine and coastal environment.

By collating information from beach clean-ups, Tangaroa Blue is creating an overview of the quantity and types of rubbish on our coastline, with a goal to prevent the scourge of marine debris occurring in the first place.


Plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it does not disappear over time – it simply breaks into tinier and tinier pieces, known as microplastics.

Whether on the sand or online (each Responsible Runners group has their own Facebook page), the Responsible Runners also raise awareness about harm caused by products not usually associated with pollution – such as plastic microbeads in facial scrubs – and provide tips on how to reduce waste at home.

By uniting locals in their common love of the ocean and their community, people of all ages and fitness levels are getting outdoors, improving their health and doing their bit.

Responsible Runners provides a great opportunity for friends, families, neighbours and colleagues to catch up and enjoy some of Australia’s most beautiful natural assets: the sand and sea.

As Tangaroa, the great ocean god of Maori and Polynesian mythology, said “If you look after me, I will look after you.”

One rubbish bag at a time, that’s exactly what Responsible Runners are out to do.

Visit www.responsiblerunners.org to find or begin a Responsible Runners club near you.

More research, less risk.

Dr. Fiona Simpson and her team make world-class discovery in fight against cancer.

In a world first, Dr Fiona Simpson – supported by the PA Research Foundation and the Zarraffa’s Foundation – and her research team at the University of Queensland have discovered a way for doctors to predict whether therapy for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) will work or not and a potential way to improve it. They’ve done this using a drug that some people pack in their carry-on luggage.

Her team found that Stemetil, a motion sickness drug, might help non- responding patients become responders.

When doctors diagnose head and neck cancers, they must decide which treatment they will use to fight it. This might mean chemo-radiation therapy, surgery or combinations of both. There can be harmful side-effects – worth the risk if the patient responds to the treatment, but distressing if they don’t.

“With cancer treatment, we can’t always tell who it’s going to work for, which means some patients spend lots of money for side-effects and no benefits,” Dr Simpson explains. “With our discovery we hope to eliminate the guess-work and improve outcomes for cancer patients.

“It is important to note that we still don’t know everything about cancer, and we don’t know the exact impact of this discovery.”

“But we have hope.”

Every year, more than 4,000 Australians are diagnosed with HNSCC. Prognosis is poor, and even after the development of an antibody that increased HNSCC survival rates, it was unclear which patients would survive.

Dr Fiona Simpson, an expert in cell trafficking, studied responsive patients’ tumours and identified an important pattern that demanded more investigation.

So, earlier this year, she teamed up with UQ’s Dr Nicholas Saunders and UQDI’s Dr James Wells, an immunology researcher, to study the behaviour of these tumour cells.

The antibody used to kill cancer only works when it hits the tumour’s proteins, which in some people are hidden inside the tumour. In this case, patients will not respond to cancer medication but will experience its nasty side-effects.

Together the scientists identified a new role for motion sickness medication. Using Stemetil, they created a treatment that forces these hidden proteins to the surface of the tumour so that the antibody can target it more accurately.

“We were using an inhibitor of a protein called dynamin to move the proteins to the surface of the tumour and cluster them. But we were told we’d never be able to put dynamin into a human body,” Dr Simpson says.

“Then we discovered that Stemetil has a side-effect that makes it a really good dynamin inhibitor. Stemetil has been doing exactly what our treatment needs it to do for 30 years, at quite high doses. Suddenly, we had the key ingredient.”

They also observed an immune response to the antibody. Whereas cancer cells usually send out a signal that stops them from being detected, Dr Simpson’s treatment was causing the therapy antibodies to act as a bridge between the immune cells and the tumour cells.

So far the results are promising, and clinical trials on patients are now being held at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane where the PA Research Foundation is working hard to raise funds to continue these trials.

Although this is great news, Dr. Simpson is concerned for the future of such discoveries because a lack of funding of funding is closing many cancer research labs around the country.

“A lot of people have the wrong idea about cancer research. It’s not a highly paid, glamorous job. Because there isn’t enough funding, some of the world’s best scientists go unemployed.”

“At the moment, we are relying on charity donations and government grants. When I arrived in Australia the chances of receiving a grant was one in four. Now, it’s less than one in ten.”

Dr Simpson’s research lab has received financial support from a number of NGOs and businesses, including the PA Research Foundation and $25,000 from Zarraffa’s Coffee in 2015.

“You wouldn’t realise how huge that is for us – it’s a year’s budget!”

Financial hardship isn’t new for the fiery Scottish doctor. She left school at 17, worked in an Edinburgh pub at night as a “broke and starving” student before going on to graduate from the University of Cambridge, and receiving a Wellcome Trust International Postdoctoral Fellowship before running of her own lab.

But her commitment to beating cancer and improving paitients’ lives comes as much from her mother’s death as her passion for science.

“I’ve lost my mum to cancer. The experience was horrible, and it made me want to reduce the risk of it happening to other people.”

“My partner Craig also lost his mum to leukaemia. Our lab motto is: ‘We’re not fighting against cancer, we’re getting revenge,” she says.

“We scientists are passionate about what we do, as if we were born to be scientists. However, without the funding, we can’t continue, which means less medical progression and higher risk for cancer patients.”

While the Australian Government provided nearly two thirds of the $1 billion spent on research projects between 2006 and 2011, including the Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS) introduced in 2013, cancer is still the major cause of death in Australia.

The role of research in saving cancer patients is indisputable. The rate of surviving five years after diagnosis, for example, increased from 47 percent to 66 per cent between 1982- 1987 and 2006-2010.

However, funding isn’t allocated to drug research alone; it also goes towards detection, diagnosis and monitoring methods, understanding lifestyle risks like diet and weight, support programs and rehabilitation, along with money invested in unsuccessful projects.

Dr Simpson says the misconception of what researchers do with government money might affect whether people and organisations are willing to put their hands in their pockets as well.

“People might think we’re the faceless ‘evil scientists’ in it for the money, but in reality, we’re normal people trying to save lives.”

“Along with discoveries like this one, we’re doing everything we can. And when we finally have more people walking out of hospital, I’ll be happily retired on a beach somewhere, because I’ll have done what I set out to do.”

“But until then, I am doing all this for my mum.”

Two Heads are Better Than one – Black Giraffe® Lager

When coffee and beer unite, there are two reactions. Aficionados of the respective drinks might wrinkle their nose or think the idea outlandish. On the other hand, adventurist lager fans will rejoice at something exciting to toss back at a barbeque.

“Or with hot apple pie”, says Brennan Fielding, founder and brewmaster of Burleigh Brewing Company. “If you can imagine your grandmother’s freshly baked apple pie, that’s the perfect flavour match.”

Black Giraffe® is the gustatory invention of Zarraffa’s Coffee and the Burleigh Brewing Company on the Gold Coast. Sold in 650ml bottles and on tap by selected outlets from time to time, Black Giraffe® combines dark-roasted, organic Mexican Arabica beans, malted barley and American hops.

The result is an unusual, yet flavourful sensation. Burleigh Brewing describes its ‘black coffee lager’ as perfectly- balanced espresso-bitter and lager-smoothness, with undercurrents of chocolate and toffee, rounded out with mocha.

“It’s really about intensity. Intense chocolate and cacao notes with the dry, crisp taste of lager,” Brennan says. “What’s distinct about Black Giraffe® is that we add a crazy, stupid amount of coffee, about a shot per beer.” This is ten times more than usual.

Each sip of Black Giraffe® is like drinking an espresso while being enticed into a pub. Its malt, tang and smoky finish captures how a vanilla bean cigar might taste before a long black. It’s an exciting fusion of two brews.

In contrast to the honey-coloured liquid and snow- the two hit the lab, trying nearly 40 different coffee white heads found in a regular schooner of ale, Black beans, roasts and grinds to find the right brew. Giraffe® pours cola-dark, tinged ruby by light, topped with an ochre head that leaves clouds of opaque bubbles down the glass.

Brennan explains that it’s not just the volume of coffee added, but when in the brewing process that its added that makes a difference. “The reaction between the coffee and lager at this moment creates a unique flavour, one very different from coffee ale,” he says.

Lager yeast eats more of the available sugars in the brew and results in a less sweet, crisper taste. Black Giraffe®, to Brennan’s knowledge, is the only coffee lager on the Australian market, as most brewers prefer using ale.

Three Gold Medals from the World Beer Championships suggest Black Giraffe® is worth a sip. Online reviews recommend the same, calling the lager an ideal after- dinner brew and a tasty mix-up from the usual.

“I love hearing consumers’ responses to Black Giraffe®. It’s turned some non-dark beer drinkers into dark beer fanatics. Others have told me they drive across town for it, and we practically sell all the stock before it’s on the shelves.”

“We are changing people’s perceptions and breaking down barriers in the craft beer market,” he says.

One of Black Giraffe®’s most distinct qualities is the team who created it. Soon after Zarraffa’s won ‘Gold Coast Business of the Year’ in 2007, Brennan’s wife (CEO of Burleigh Brewing) Peta arranged a meeting with Kenton. Over the next few years, a business friendship formed that even saw Brennan and Peta attend Kenton’s 40th birthday.

By winter 2010, to complement his growing series of limited release beers, Brennan decided it was time for a coffee lager. Soon after proposing the idea to Kenton.

The niche that welcomes coffee lager is relatively new. In the last four to five years, Australia has experienced an overwhelming increase in independent breweries, despite a national decline in beer drinking.

Traditionally, craft beer reflects innovative flavours, quality and a personal touch or story from its brewers. These are often a family business rather than a corporately-owned label. And nowadays craft beer is treated with similar respect as wine, even being paired with food dishes. Apple pie, perhaps?

But as the craft movement grows and vies with industrial brands for a piece of the same market, debate has arisen around its definition. Brennan keeps it simple.

“Craft beer should be flavourful, independently-owned and authentic,” he says. This is a widely approved definition, especially by craft-hunting hipsters.

This niche has helped spur Burleigh Brewing Company’s growth. The company’s core beers have increased from three to seven since 2006, alongside limited releases like Black Giraffe®, FIGJAM IPA and Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer.

Brennan and Peta are moving to bigger premises to meet the demand, employ more locals and hopefully create more quirky, limited releases.

Black Giraffe® embodies this creativity and local cooperation. It’s nurtured, made and sold by the names on the label. And as for getting it out there, Brennan has let the beer do the talking.

“When you create a high quality, interesting beer, you don’t need to convince people to try it. They’ll come looking on their own,” he says.

Grab the apple pie – we’ll cheers to that.