Archie Bayvel is a freelance business journalist who has reported from almost every part of Australia in the past two years. A large part of his work was commissioned by the peak industry body Shipping Australia Limited. Some of his major features are reproduced here as travel stories and profiles of people he met along the way. In addition to original reporting he is a highly experienced editor and speech-writer, creative director and sub-editor of magazines, business publications and annual reports. He continues to seek local and international assignments from media, business corporations and government departments.

 

 

Adelaide, once known as the City of Churches, is undergoing a transformation

The event most responsible for this is mining. Many new mines are moving towards production and BHP's Olympic Dam operation At Roxby Downs, in the South Australian north, will be the world's biggest mine. It produces uranium, copper, gold and silver.

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The train that never was, on the line to Nowhere

This is about an odd couple who would like to transform rail infrastructure between NSW's southern port of Port Kembla and the rest of the state. It's time, they say, for an unfinished rail link that cost millions to be completed.

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All-electric cars are just around the corner

The first handful of electric vehicles have already slipped into Sydney almost unnoticed. They are being assessed by governments and fleet owners while two companies are setting up recharge points in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and Canberra.

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Two new crops of the century ...

As the American West battles water shortages a remote Australian valley with more fresh water than it can ever use is setting itself up for what may be be the Western world's last land rush ...

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Opportunities are still plentiful
Despite talk of economic doom, opportunities to create wealth still exist

They are so different from what you hear in the media, I feared I'd got it wrong. So I dialed around the nation to hear how things really are at this apparently alarming time in Australia's economy. Here's what I was told; see what you think...

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Bottled rain becomes a world brand
An unusual business that fell clean out of the sky

Among those pursuing wealth, they don't come more man-in-the-street than a Canada-born, Indiana-raised Australian called Duncan McFie ... apart from the fact he plays the tuba.

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The North-West
A true story of massive wealth, dust, chaos, and barmaids in bikinis

What can be more corrupting that the word "billion" when used with $ signs? After one has looked on a $12 billlion project and heard about one on its way worth $50 billion even grand projects worth four, five, even 500 million dollars seem of little account.

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The Top End builds up...

Our Northern Territory is another world and Darwin more "other" than the rest of it put together. Right now - in The Dry - the city has a hint of frontier paradise with warm days and balmy nights when thrilling music from open-air bars and cafes under their banyan and fig trees rocks the pants off their hundreds of after-dark denizens.

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Linda Burney, NSW Minister for Fair Trading
A woman of the Wiradjuri

In a dusty rural schoolroom a 15-year-old girl is telling her careers teacher that she wants to leave school and be like her friends. The teacher advises against it and argues she has greater potential than that: "You could even become a barrister," she says.

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Padraig Crumlin, national secretary of the MUA

All you'll learn at sea is to drink and fight and make trouble, his father warned. So Paddy took a job in a surf shop ... for a while! He's one of our most influential non-parliamentary politicians and becoming increasingly so on the international scene. He's also a strong family man and an armchair philosopher who seems to laugh a lot at himself.

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Exotic duo are top of the crops if water is a worry
These former tax scheme staples can deliver more than impressive returns to the wary investor

Jojoba and walnuts are two comparatively new alternative investments that sidestep concerns about drought. Jojoba bushes require almost no water, live for 200 to 300 years and produce beans that are 50 per cent liquid wax, which is in worldwide demand for massage and skincare. Their return, in the new language of climate change, is between $4000 and $6000 a megalitre of water (that's about a swimming pool). Even the most outrageous prices for mid-drought water rarely exceed $1100 a megalitre - the normal price is $30 to $50!

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Black box traders and their uber-nerds whirr into Australia

Managed future funds have blitzed the local financial scene.

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Gladstone

If you thought the gold rush days are times of the past, think again! The only difference now is it's a gas rush as major liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies scramble to get in on the new coal seam methane industry in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland.

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Darwin

... is also the nerve centre of what is the hijack of the century: a liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal worth $50 billion that its neighboring state of Western Australia thought it had in the bag!

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A delightful home base

The wild magic of the North West's wilderness begins in Burnie, that most business-like of regional cities. It is a gateway, albeit gentrified, to a rugged yet luxurious experience largely out of mobile phone range over on the West Coast.

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Newcastle coal update
New coal port will end ships queue only if everyone else gets their ducks in line

The great ocean gateway that is the Port of Newcastle is now almost certainly home to the world's largest coal export terminal (102 million tonnes this year) - Port Waratah Coal Services.

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Tasmania
Where everything in the garden seems just lovely except for the trains and a thing called the FES

Tasmania is the Monaco of Australia - a small principality with a life of its own that is so different to the rest of Australia that it sometimes resembles an independent country.

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Gillian Adams
How Gillian Adams built her palace of wellbeing

It's a prominent art deco building on the left, near Kissing Point corner, as you drive up the Pacific Highway. Once upon a time it was the Turramurra branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Today it is a sprawling complex best described as Gillian's Palace of Wellbeing.

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Ann Sherry AO, CEO of Carnival Australia
The queen of cruise tells it like it is: There's a lot we can learn from the airlines!

So we find ourselves in the reign of Queen Ann at a time when many other shipping queens are visiting... Mary, Victoria and EII. Even the Queen of the Netherlands is here, albeit in Melbourne and as the world's biggest dredge not likely to receive a reciprocal visit by the first lady of Carnival Australia.

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The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area
On the brink

This is an update on what was once the world's biggest civil engineering project - the fantastically fertile Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and its major towns of Griffith and Leeton - as it moves closer to the unimaginable after seven years without rain.

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Update

Friday, July 1, 2011:

Next week I leave for Mumbai to research some of India's recent growth and the infrastructure supporting it. Particularly I'll be looking at the import: export flow through the vast modern Nhava Sheva port and also the city's traditional Indian Ocean gateway.

I've just completed an in-depth feature on Australia's cotton industry, dramatically revived after almost 10 years without rain and little or no cotton. It's a tale in which cotton is the dream, and an evanescent one at that, with the nervous actuality being the availability of water to grow the stuff. This year's rain-storms harvest is a bonanza, next year's too probably. After that, who knows as the politicians, environmentalists, and pressure groups argue over slashing irrigation rights to the waters of the vast Murray Darling river basin. As usual, when you actually arrive on the cotton fields some things are not at all what might be expected.

WATCH THIS SPACE.