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In planning DevDays (and FogBugz World Tours, for that matter), I've always wanted to go to Australia, but since the cost of travelling there is so high, it's very hard to make it work (financially) for the number of attendees that we might get.

What are some of the biggest developer conferences down under? How many people go? Are there any conference organizers in Australia or even New Zealand who are great at drawing a huge crowd? How much do conferences typically cost (to attend)? Is Melbourne or Sydney a better bet?

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Sydney vs Melbourne is flamebait. Go! –  random Apr 10 '11 at 3:52
    
PayPal Dev read like it was big, it was about $0. There's also Open Source Dev –  random Apr 10 '11 at 3:57
    
What I'm looking for is names of some big developer conferences that happen on a regular basis, and attract a large audience (500-1000 attendees at least) reliably. –  Joel Spolsky Apr 10 '11 at 4:00
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@random: What is Melbourne, a town or something? Do people live somewhere else in Australia besides Sydney? –  Michael Petrotta Apr 10 '11 at 4:13
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@Michael Petrotta: I think Sydney and Melbourne have about 20% and 18% of Australia's population respectively, other centers drop off rather quickly after that with Brisbane at almost 9%. –  Brian Reichle Apr 10 '11 at 4:28
    
WebDirections is the biggest web design and dev conference in Australia - WebDiretions. –  vanderwal Apr 10 '11 at 23:13
    
Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane doesn't really matter. Wherever you choose people will travel to get to a conference. –  Cameron MacFarland Apr 10 '11 at 23:53
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Well you have a great selection of options for speakers from Oz with for example both Google & Atlassian based in Sydney (and many others) along with your very own Sam Affron... so the only speakers you'd need to travel here would be maybe yourself and Jeff... You could always do what Jeff did in NZ and turn it into a holiday around the conf and then the cost doesn't look so bad... Caveat though, with all your dithering the exchange rate is not moving in your favour... –  MadMurf Apr 11 '11 at 0:36
    
YOW Australia attracted around 200 participants last year in Melbourne. –  rvasa Apr 11 '11 at 1:52
16  
Shouldn't this be on Programmers? –  Time Traveling Bobby Apr 11 '11 at 8:26

12 Answers 12

up vote 15 down vote accepted

YOW has been a conference I've attended the last 2 years, and they are normally in 2 out of three of Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne each year. It's been around for 3 years now.

The conference is multi-disciplinary and covers tech as well as process, inviting speakers from the Java, .NET, Ruby, Erlang and anything else communities.

It's pretty big and backed by Dave Thomas and has some fantastic speakers every year.

They also run YOW nights throughout the year, which are just small one or two person talks which usually coincide with that speaker's travels.

[Edited]

I forgot to add that the YOW conference is the Australian version of the JAOO conference which is held in Europe.

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Example prices for YOW! yowconference.com.au/brisbane/registration/index.html –  Brian McKenna Apr 10 '11 at 23:41
    
I couldn't figure out what YOW means. Is it an Australian idiom? Is it an acronym? –  Gabe Apr 11 '11 at 4:32
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I phonetic of the original conference name, JA00, which is pronounced YOW. Australians were saying it as Jay-Ay-Oh-Oh, so the name was changed. –  Thomas James Apr 11 '11 at 5:37
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Awesome my first answer to be edited by a grammar nazi. –  Thomas James Apr 12 '11 at 20:55

MS Tech Ed is a biggie: Tech ED

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come down to oz! Sydney is great for conferences, however in terms of cost and "benefits" I would recommend the Gold Coast in Queensland. There is plenty of hotels, great conference facilities, not to mention being the tourist hub of Queensland.

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+1 for advocating the Gold Coast. –  Andrew Shepherd Apr 10 '11 at 23:00
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Gold Coast does seem to be the most cost-effective of locations in Australia for conferences (convention center costs significantly lower). Lower prices in general to attract tourists. –  Nick Josevski Apr 10 '11 at 23:27
    
+1 for Gold Coast because it is a drivable distance from me :) –  alex Apr 12 '11 at 6:55
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Ugh, the Gold Coast is so tacky and gross. I'd strongly suggest driving for an extra hour and hitting up Noosa. Much nicer :) –  Mark Henderson Apr 12 '11 at 12:21
    
@Farseeker - good call there mate :) Noosa is a win. Plus it has an airport near by for those who want to travel there quickly. And it's the prettiest place on the gold coast near BrisVegas. –  Pure.Krome Apr 26 '11 at 23:43
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I'm trying to work out just how much pain Krome is trying to inflict on farseeker there. Noosa doesn't have the big conference facilities that the goldie has. If we can just start a trend of big software conferences in QLD then my job is done! –  Spence Apr 27 '11 at 8:37

Webstock is a pretty big New Zealand conference (held in Wellington). I've never been, but Wikipedia says the attendance is about 500. That might be about as big as developer events get in NZ.

Kiwi PyCon has brought together about 100 for the last couple of years, but that's smaller than what you are looking for.

I'm sure there are more, those are just the ones that pop to mind at the moment.

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Everyone knows New Zealand is just Australia's Hawaii –  random Apr 10 '11 at 20:23
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No no, New Zealand is Australia's Canada. The lesser populated neighbour that whenever something good comes from it Australians always claim it as their own. –  Cameron MacFarland Apr 10 '11 at 23:50
    
And no snakes in New Zealand...Something we wish we could claim! –  davidsleeps Apr 11 '11 at 1:23
    
@davidsleeps Snakes are our friends :) –  alex Apr 12 '11 at 6:56

Probably the largest australian web developer/designer conference would be Web Directions South, which happens annually around the start or middle of october. http://webdirections.org

There's also webdu, which is in about 3 days time, although I don't think it's reaching the 1000 or 500 attendees. http://www.webdu.com.au/

I can vouch that Web Directions South generally has more than about 700 attendees.

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Odd. I go to a few confs, but I have never heard of these! –  OJ. Apr 10 '11 at 23:40

linux.conf.au (LCA) has been running 10 years now and draws over 500 attendees.

This is the pricing table from the last LCA:

Professional / Hobbyist / Student
$795.00 / $375.00 / $125.00

Open Source Developers Conference (OSDC) has been running 6 years and draws closer to the 300 mark. From memory tickets were $325 aud.

Web Directions South has attracted over 500 attendees since 2008. Pricing info here.

I should note that LCA's numbers are high because many attendees fly into the country for it.

Sydney vs Melbourne is tough. Both have ample facilities to hold a conference. Sydney's population is 4.5M vs 4M for Melbourne.

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LCA is also community-run, which is pretty cool. OSDC seems to have dissolved a bit into individual language/project events, e.g. PyCon, PHP, Wordpress, Drupal etc. –  pfctdayelise May 4 '11 at 7:21

It might be cheaper (looking at the Aussie Dollar) of flying your Australian attendees to the states and just have them come to you...lol

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There's a new New Zealand conference called WDCNZ (disclaimer I'm the organiser) which is on in July this year. We're aiming for a crowd of around 250-300 people so a good sized audience.

We've just launched the main site http://wdcnz.com and ticket sales have been very strong so far.

WebStock is also a fantastic conference based here in Wellington, and attracts a big crowd and great speakers.

We're aiming to be a more technical conference (WebStock is aimed a broader market than just Web Developers which is what we're aiming for)

While I appreciate this is possibly a smaller number than you're aiming to get in front of, the other conferences are largely driven by vendors and as such become sales pitches rather than valuable conferences.

Perhaps tagging a NZ venue onto an Australian venue would be a good value for money proposition?

Conference prices in NZ for 500+ delegate style conferences are usually around about NZ$1500-$2000

WDCNZ is NZ$269

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The 2 biggest I know of are:

Yow - http://www.yowconference.com.au/

Microsoft Tech Ed - http://australia.msteched.com/

Even though I am from Melbourne and have bias there, I would have to say that Sydney is the right place to go to a conference if you can only do one. If you can do two, Melbourne would be your next best.

If the cost of travel to Australia is big, then make the most of it while here, and do at least Sydney and Melbourne!

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InSync is a conference that combines a few Oracle based user groups and last year attracted 700+ people. This year it's in Sydney http://insync-conference.com.au

AUSOUG Oracle with 20:20 Foresight is held in Perth, usually around November attracting 200+ http://www.ausoug.org.au/2020/

Scott

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Agile Australia in Sydney has been running for 3 years, in 2010 had 450 attendees. 2011 registration is $900. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually attended it.)

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Edge of the Web, in Perth: http://eotw.com.au/

Web Directions, in Sydney: http://south11.webdirections.org/

Web Directions would be the bigger of the two, and has been running for a few years. EotW is in its second (or third?) year. Perth is obviously a little more isolated and thus EotW doesn't draw the same size of crowd as WD.

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Edge of the Web also attracts a fairly large crowd. –  user160158 Apr 10 '11 at 18:03
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Also, Web Directions is now in something like it's 6th or 7th year. –  user160158 Apr 10 '11 at 18:06

It does seem expensive for conferences here both in terms of venue costs and travel costs for international and even interstate visitors and speakers.

Vendor run ones seem large (eg TechEd) as I am sure they offset a lot of the cost (obviously worth it). Perhaps some soul selling corp sponsorship is needed?

Souls have a kind of bitter aftertaste, so don't worry too much, you can probably buy it back cheap.

I am sure that there is enough demand for it here.

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