ADVENTURE TRAVEL • EVENTS • PEOPLE • ENTERTAINMENT • SPORTS
ISSUE 12 MAY 2014
Australia’s great train journey
Where the steaks are always high
STATE OF ORIGIN
The nine biggest myths debunked
S U L Pidemining
E FOR AZIN RY G A M THE R INDUST O Y U
Meet Top Gear’s Mr May
CHAD’S CAVEMAN TACTICS: FREE SET OF ABS FOR EVERY READER
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Welcome to ROCKS, the in-flight magazine for Alliance Airlines Welcome aboard. We hope you have a great trip with us today. While en route to work, or if you are heading home for a well-earned rest, get into this issue of ROCKS and find some inspiration for your next holiday. Read all about the famous Ghan train journey (a rite of passage for many) from Adelaide to Darwin through Alice Springs and Katherine Gorge. There are so many adventures to be had along the way such as camel riding, kayaking or checking out the many inspiring indigenous art galleries in the red centre. Or if you want to head overseas, we’ve got great stories on two of the world’s top party cities – Amsterdam and Buenos Aires. And right on our doorstep, only an hour’s flight from Darwin, is a country that really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Like Bali in the ’70s, before development took a hold, Timor-Leste is an enchanting, peaceful place where snorkelling, diving, trekking and fishing are just some of the many things to get into, alongside indulging in the great food on offer. If travel is not on the cards this month, fear not, as there are always plenty of great stories in ROCKS to keep you entertained. Author Jesse Fink uncovers 10 things you might not know about AC/DC, we check out some cars that manage to pull luxury, grunt and speed together, and we meet the king of CrossFit training to get the lowdown on a sport that everyone seems to be digging. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, then our interview with James May from Top Gear will. And of course, this time of year in sport means one thing for NSW and Qld – The State of Origin. Check out our lowdown on one of the biggest games on the sporting calendar and get ScottupMcMillan revved for the battle soon to explode on the field. Have fun, and drop us a Managing line sometime Director – we love hearing from you. email@example.com
Michelle Hespe, editor-in-chief
‘The Breakaways’, Flinder’s Ranges
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michelle Hespe DEPUTY EDITOR Ben Smithurst ASSISTANT EDITORS Danielle Chenery, Simone Henderson-Smart SENIOR DESIGNER Guy Pendlebury SUBEDITORS Kris Madden, Tatyana Leonov, Liani Solari CONTRIBUTORS Jesse Fink, Stephen Corby, Steve Kilgallon, Nathan Dyer, Wouter Spanjaart, Oryana Angel, Mitch Brook, Christine Retschlag, Lesley Parker, Jonathan Law, Kevin Lee
ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES 02 8962 2600 firstname.lastname@example.org WA AND NT SALES AGENT Helen Glasson Hogan Media: 08 9381 3991 E: email@example.com PUBLISHER Geoff Campbell CEO Eddie Thomas PRINTER SOS Print & Media
ROCKS is published by Edge 51 Whistler Street, Manly NSW 2095 Phone: 02 8962 2600 edgecustom.com.au ROCKS is published by Business Essentials (Australasia) Pty Limited (ABN 22 062 493 869), trading as Edge. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed are those of the individual contributors and not necessarily those of the Publisher. Information provided was believed to be correct at the time of publication. All reasonable efforts have been made to contact copyright holders. ROCKS cannot accept unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. If such items are sent to the magazine, they will not be returned. A selection of images used in this publication has been sourced from Thinkstock, Getty Images and Corbis.
SHAY GAP KARRATHA ONSLOW
PHOSPHATE HILL TELFER
AYERS ROCK (ULURU)
BALLERA COOBER PEDY MOUNT KEITH LEINSTER
PROMINENT HILL OLYMPIC DAM
LEONORA PORT AUGUSTA
ABOUT US Alliance Airlines was established in 2002, recognising the growing demand from the domestic mining and energy sector for a provider of safe and reliable air transportation services to and from remote site locations. Alliance commenced operations with two Fokker 100 aircraft servicing two FIFO contracts, both of which are still serviced today. Our company has since expanded its fleet and operational capabilities to better service the continuing air transportation needs of the mining and energy sector . Alliance is a leading mining services company specialising in providing: • FIFO services • Ad hoc charter services • ACMI, or wet leasing, services. In December 2011, Alliance successfully listed on the ASX as AQZ.
FLIGHT BOOKINGS For customers wishing to book flights between Perth and Karratha, this must be done online: www.allianceairlines.com.au/home For customers wishing to book flights between Adelaide and Olympic Dam, this can be done online: www.qantas.com
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SEAT BELTS Please observe the ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ signs when illuminated. In the interest of safety, keep your seat belt fastened at all times in case of unexpected turbulence.
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We wish the organisers, competitors and spectators of the 2014 Goldfields Cyclassic a successful and rewarding event
42 Origin myths exposed!
CONTENTS THE PICK
Morgan Evans, truffles, Trav Pastrana and cool apps
10 HILLARY JNR.
It’s Peter, son of Edmund, second-gen adventurer
12 FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK
Most things regret being sliced in two by train tracks. Not the sunburnt country! Come aboard for the tenth anniversary of the nation’s greatest train journey…
42 BUENOS AIRES
Argentina has everything you could want from an overseas jaunt: colour, passion, AC/DC fanatics, sexy dancers and steaks the size of your car
48 DILl DALLYING
Balibo did for Timorese tourism what Wolf Creek did for Oz, but the country that is Australia’s hat is now paradise on Earth
54 48 HOURS IN… AMSTERDAM There’s more to Holland than dodgy coffee shops and ad hoc ovens. Welcome to a city of deeply great Dutch joy
16 INTERVIEW: JAMES MAY
Top Gear‘s Captain Slow on Jeremy Clarkson, near-death by African animal and the great Australian Outback
22 DEBUNKING THE STATE OF ORIGIN The world’s greatest league series has become a Maroons cakewalk. But … why?
Australia’s fittest man, Chad Mackay, whips you into shape
Ten things you didn’t know about the mighty AC/DC
14 MAN + MACHINE
36 THE GHAN
Luxury rides, hard as nails
54 insidemining • news & current affairs • resources sector profiles • finance & technology
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ROCKS has sniffed out the best stuff so you don’t have to. Just sit back, relax and enjoy!
E VENTS + ENTERTAINMENT + TECH + MOTORS + FOOD & DRINK
ON THE DOWNLOAD
Play, create, snap – 3 cool apps Spaceteam
(Free, iOS/Android) A party game – it only works with multiple players – where you save your spaceship by ordering partners to hit buttons (on their screen) via instructions (from yours).
PASTRANA GOES BANANAS
> Freestyle motocrosser Travis Pastrana is the world’s preeminent action sports athlete, and his ramp-heavy live show – the stadium version of his smash Jackassmeets-the-X Games MTV show – is coming back to Oz. The result of five years of development, this is its world debut, with weekend dates in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. “I’m stoked to be riding again,” says Pastrana. The show includes the world’s only triple backflipper, and another guy in a wheelchair. nitrocircuslive.com May 10–June 1.
JAZZ IN MELBOURNE
> The hook-turn capital will echo with hooks of a brassier kind during the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, featuring more than 300 artists from places as diverse as Israel, Finland and Italy. From modern masters such as the GDjango Bates’ Belovèd (above) or the Charles Lloyd Sky Trio, to free jazz in Fed Square, to a host of club shows, there’s something for the aloof, beret-sporting black skivvy fan on every street corner, or in the once smokefilled jazz bars around town. melbournejazz.com May 30–June 8.
(Free, iOS) The curse of alarm clocks is that bleary-eyed minx, the snooze button. This app taps your phone’s accelerometer and won’t stop until you’ve gone at least 10 steps.
($3, iOS/Android) A combo of Candy Crushmatching and maths (stop, come back!), Threes! is quickly addictive, like heroin on speed, but much, much better for you – if not your productivity.
> Western Australia produces more truffles than anywhere except Europe, and 70 per cent of our black truffles are snuffled from the South West forests’ soils. This year’s Manjimup Truffle Kerfuffle festival line-up includes celebrity chefs, truffle hunts, stalls, master classes and gala dinners. Where better to feast on something that looks like petrified bubo but tastes like heaven? trufflekerfuffle.com.au, June 27–29.
Got something to say about ROCKS ? Is there something you’re burning to see covered? Don’t mumble it under your breath – tell us what you think! Send an email to rocks@ edgecustom.com.au and have your say.* *Please be kind – our fragile egos might not be able to take it.
22 May/June 2014
Think long term – secure your career!
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BOOKS THE BURGER BOOK VICTORIA
JIMMY HURLSTON & ETHAN JENKINS $39.95
HOW COUNTRY IS MORGAN EVANS?
e’s toured with US stars (Taylor Swift OMG!!) and played to 50,000 in Nashville. His songs have a US twang and he excels at contemporary rock country. But how clichéd hayseed can a bloke from Newcastle really be? “Well, I wouldn’t say that I am,” he says. Not so fast: it’s test time! Okay Morgan, have you ever… … had a cheating wife who left you and took your dog? “Well I’ve never been married, so that’s easy. And I’ve never had a woman steal my dog. I don’t even own a dog.” Score: 0 … driven a Chevy to a levy, but then when you got there, you discovered that
Australia’s newest international music sensation is following Keith Urban’s lead…
the levy was dry? “Haha! Er, no. Although I did once end up in a paddock – classic falling asleep at the wheel at about 4.30am. It was the scariest experience of my life, which is why I’m now involved with the Be Street Smart charity.” Score: 0 … had an evil city banker foreclose on your farm? “Well, I did grow up at my folks’ place with horses, chickens, ducks, dogs and cats, but there are no longer any horses or ducks or chickens there. So I guess you could say I lost my farm.” Score: 1/2 … punched a tractor? “No. Why … why would you punch a tractor?” Score: 0 … had a moonshine still explode? “That’s never
happened, but I do enjoy a drop of moonshine. Mostly in Nashville, Tennessee – but produced by a guy I know in North Carolina. They have an apple pie flavour, which is spectacular, and then the harder, one-shot-andyou’re-hammered stuff. I trust him, because he’s made it all his life and he hasn’t gone blind.” Score: 1 … had a tailgate party at NASCAR? “I’ve never been. I enjoy watching the car racing here, though. I’d love to go.” Score: 0 Final score: 1.5/6. Verdict: not a country cliché Morgan Evans’ self-titled debut album is out now through Warner Music
Few meals are as satisfying as a truly transcendent burger – or as bitterly disappointing when they miss the mark. But ours are grand times for the burger, and this hardcover celebration of Victoria’s greatest is glorious in its simplicity. Glossy, highend and a perfect gift for foodies who (rightly) despise the word ‘foodie’.
THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS
MAX BROOKS $26.99 The author is comedy legend Mel’s son, but he’s mostly famous for writing World War Z, the kickass literary zombie novel that revived the genre and then became the basis for a Brad Pitt movie that ignored the entire book. This time he’s penned a graphic novel about a real-life black regiment of United States WWI badasses.
WELCOME TO PARADISE, NOW GO TO HELL CHAS SMITH $29.95
Surf scribe turned genuine war correspondent turned surf scribe Chas Smith is an agent provocateur, better at annoying people than he is at writing. And he’s really great at writing. This is a ballsy memoir of Hawaii’s macho North Shore stripped bare: bloody, racially charged, selfconscious, intimidatory and a bit silly.
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fullness, clarity and
Image courtesy of Ralph Lee Hopkins/Lindblad Expeditions
INTO THE WILD WITH His father, Sir Edmund Hillary, conquered Everest – but Peter Hillary’s extraordinary expeditioning life is a boy’s own adventure beyond compare. WORDS: Ben Smithurst
t would have been easy to grow up stunted in the shadow of one of the world’s iconic derring-doers. Sir Edmund Hillary’s list of achievements hardly need repeating. But where the sons of Bradman and Bowie both changed their surnames – and George Bush Junior remained an underachiever (even as president) – Peter Hillary wears his heritage lightly. An adventurer in his own right, at 59 he is a chip off the old block: he’s conquered the highest mountain on each continent, known as ‘The Seven Summits’ (including Everest twice), visited Antarctica 30 times, and among other things, circumnavigated Australia by motorbike. Having just returned from another charity trip to Nepal for the Australian Himalayan Foundation, Peter sits down with ROCKS to talk shop…
What could possibly be left on your to-do list? The exciting part of accomplishing goals is that the more you do, the more you realise there is to do. That’s what you find when you get to the top of a mountain – you look out and there are other mountains and peaks. What was it like growing up with an icon as a father? You’ve just got to put things in perspective and realise that, actually, it’s pretty fantastic being the son of Ed Hillary. He was an extraordinary man. In the end, it’s given me opportunities and it’s helped me to focus on what I really like to do. So I certainly haven’t shied away from it, but I’m not saying it was easy, either. Sir Edmund never seemed ego driven. No, he did retain the common touch. And he was quite remarkable
in the way that he kept reinventing himself. He didn’t live off the laurels of that great climb of Everest with Tenzing Norgay. He went on to chart a new route to the South Pole, he built 42 hospitals, he had various businesses. He became an ambassador. Even when he wasn’t the great athlete anymore, he was still coming up with a new facet of who Ed Hillary was. You’re no slouch on the mountaineering front yourself. You must have come close to disaster once or twice. If you get out and push yourself in any field you’re going to have setbacks, and certainly if you’re an expeditionary or a mountaineer that can happen. On this Australian Himalayan Foundation trek we were just at, I hiked up to 5300 metres to the base of probably one of the Himalayas’ most beautiful peaks,
“THE EXCITING PART OF ACCOMPLISHING GOALS IS THAT THE MORE YOU DO, THE MORE YOU REALISE THERE IS TO DO.”
where I’d had a climb that I narrowly survived. With the great mountain overhead and these huge ice cliffs, it was very nostalgic.
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: PETER HILLARY IN ANTARCTICA; THE KIMBERLEY; LINDBLAD’S NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ORION; PETER WITH AN 18TH CENTURY SHIPWRECK NEAR PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE.
What happened to you before? We were hit by an avalanche and I was very badly injured. I had a badly broken arm and ankle and various other breaks and injuries. And we took three days of abseiling down ropes that we put in, sitting on tiny ledges just wide enough for the three of us to get our backsides on, spending the night trying to stay hydrated and descending in terrible pain and discomfort, to reach safety.
Sweet mercy! I think it’s important to put things into perspective. I survived that horrible situation and I learned a lot of lessons from it, and I think I’m a more cautious person because of it. But that doesn’t mean you want to withdraw into a cocoon. Do you still have heroes? Oh, yes. People absolutely amaze me. There is a new echelon of mountaineers coming up; I don’t mean the people being guided on Mount Everest, I’m talking about the real mountaineers. There’s a young Swiss guy called Ueli Steck, who is doing a new solo line in just over 24 hours in Annapurna, one of the Himalayas’ greatest peaks. It’s not just the technical expertise, it’s not just his fitness, it’s the psychoemotional state of the man! That you’re moving within a hair’s breadth of, if you make a mistake, you die instantly. These are extraordinary alpine athletes. Did you do much adventuring with your father? There were lots of family adventures – for example, we spent one May school holidays driving up the Birdsville Track into central Australia. We got flooded out! You know how they always say that it’s the worst rain in 25 years? They seem to say that every six months, I think. But anyway, this was apparently the worst rain in 25 years. We had the most incredible adventure getting out of the desert and back down to Adelaide. It was a very adventurous upbringing!
lad ic Lindb Lars-Er 994) was a eur 1 (1927 – rican entrepren rism u e -Am red to Swedishrer who pionee ost remote lo m p ’s x and e of the world first tourist to some ns. He led the a in 1966 in a locatio to Antarctic ship, and vy ion x e pedit d Argentine nated his own e r a r e t e r op cha y years dblad for man sel, the MS Lin r. ves Explore
Now you’re heading back to the Kimberley with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. You’ve been there before, haven’t you? Yes – I rode a motorbike around Australia and I absolutely adored it. It really is the Wild West, and in some respects that’s the allure of this trip. It’s wild, not many people have gone there in a strictly tourism sense, and here’s an opportunity to visit some of its more remote harbours and experience its beauty. I’ve been working with National Geographic and Lindblad for many years now, and they’ve recently commenced this program centred around the Kimberley. You can imagine, like many people, I said, ‘Count me in!’ That is one of the last great magical places on this planet.
SIR EDMUND HILLARY
A LECTO QUE PRATE QUAME LAB IUS, AUT
May/June 2014 11 ALIBEA ETUS NONSEQUIAM QUE VOLUPIS
ast New Year’s Eve marked 40 years since AC/DC’s debut live show at Chequers nightclub in Sydney. Times have changed: Chequers is now a massage parlour. But four decades on, having survived the death of front man Bon Scott in 1980, AC/DC is still rockin’. Their last world tour, promoting 2008’s Black Ice, grossed close to $500 million. Recently, lead singer Brian Johnson hinted the band was eyeing off studio time in Canada; and hoped to perform 40 concerts in 40 cities to say thanks to their fans. It came as a surprise, as it’s an open secret one of the band members has been in poor health. But you never write off AC/DC. Here’s 10 things you didn’t know about the band but should.
WORDS: JESSE FINK
ANGUS AND MALCOLM ON STAGE AT ROYAL OAK THEATER, MICHIGAN, 1978
The Young brothers, Angus and Malcolm, came very close to sacking Bon Scott after his alleged heroin overdose in 1975, according to former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans.
The band’s iconic and very lucrative logo was designed by Gerard Huerta, who also designed the logos for Time magazine, Pepsi, HBO and the band Boston. He has not received a cent in royalties for its use in merchandising.
Phil Rudd may not have played drums on their breakthrough Australian hit, ‘High Voltage’. Session drummer Tony Currenti, who played drums on nearly all of the songs on the band’s debut album and was twice asked to join AC/DC, remembers recording the track in the studio. Audience noise in the film clip for the song was borrowed from George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh live album.
Michael Klenfner was the band’s key supporter at Atlantic Records in the 1970s. He is the fat man with the big moustache who bails up Jake and Elwood Blues at the back of the Palace Hotel Ballroom at the end of The Blues Brothers movie and offers them the fat cash recording contract advance they run off with.
According to David Krebs, one half of legendary rock management firm Leber-Krebs, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers manager Peter Mensch was allegedly sacked as manager by the band because they objected to his then girlfriend coming on tour with him to Australia.
Former Easybeats singer and solo artist Stevie Wright claims he was asked to join the band after Bon Scott died in 1980.
Legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant was so jealous of AC/DC’s early success in Florida that he made an impromptu late-night visit to a local radio station
Jesse Fink is the author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. Published by Random House: $34.99 randomhouse.com.au
Krebs’s former partner Steve Leber believes that Malcolm Young was jealous of Angus Young’s fame. The man who signed AC/DC to Atlantic Records, Phil Carson, played bass with them on stage for one song in Belgium in 1981. The song was ‘Lucille’.
W ABOUT O N K T ’ N ID D U 10 THINGS YO
in the middle of the night to check AC/DC’s sales and request data.
ANGUS YOUNG PERFORMING IN NEW YORK CITY, 2008
AC/DC’S FAMOUS AND VERY LUCRATIVE LOGO WAS DESIGNED BY GERARD HUERTA, WHO DESIGNED THE TIME MAGAZINE AND PEPSI LOGOS.
LORDHSE OF T BAR BIKIEEBOX JUK
LOADS OF FUN MAN + MACHINE
There’s no need to forsake luxury if durability, speed and room to move are all on your dream car list. You can have it all if you choose right. WORDS: STEPHEN CORBY
ishing gear, surfboards, camping stuff, a proper Esky and a brace of mates – all life essentials that simply will not fit in the back of a sporty car like a Porsche Cayman, an Audi S3 or even a Toyota 86. Not without expensive surgery, anyway. But the fact that you occasionally like to leave the house with more than a man-bag and a mobile phone doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a car that’s actually exciting to drive. Even if you’re a serious bush-basher, there are options that combine rugged durability, loads of space and ludicrous amounts of fun. Here’s our list of some the best rough, tough and yet still stupidly fun cars on the market.
It’s a well-worn truism that Toyota’s LandCruiser is the go-anywhere, crush-anything, unbreakable offroader. Sadly it’s also about as sexy, inside and out, as a retired rugby prop. Or an elephant. Fortunately, Lexus offers a prettied-up, and pimped out version of this rugged legend in the shape of the LX 570. You get the same durable innards underneath you with an interior that’s all leather and loveliness,
and a frocked-up exterior design to boot. A 5.7-litre V8 offering 270kW and 530Nm completes the package, which is all yours for $140,045. Not much more will get you into the stonking Porsche Cayenne GTS, at $150,400, which goes, steers and rides like a proper Porsche does. A 309kW, 515Nm V8 helps, of course. It’s capable enough off-road, and truly fantastic inside, but this Cayenne is really at its best on sweeping open roads, plus you’d feel awful scratching its pretty paint. The real winner in this category, though, is the absurdly competent, stupidly fast and all-new Range Rover Sport. Built by a company that knows a thing or two about off-roading, the Sport can hit 100km/h in 5.3 seconds if you go for the top of the range Autobiography model, powered by a 5.0-litre V8 huffing 375kW and 625Nm. It can also climb Everest, probably, which goes some way to justifying its $182,400 price tag. Expensive, yes, but worth it.
CAYENNE GTS: HIDES ITS BULK LIKE A TINDER HEADSHOT
THINGGSO THATRP BAA
THE AUDI RS6: CAN TOUCH 305KM/H
So you don’t want greenies to egg your SUV, and you quite like the sporty advantages of a low centre of gravity that come with what some like to call a proper car? But you still want to fit your rods in? The modern super station wagon is the answer for you, and there are some bargains out there, too. Subaru’s Liberty Wagon range starts at $32,990 and offers all-wheel drive, sporty steering and a willing 2.5-litre engine. You’ll want to step up to the GT Premium model, with 195kW, 350Nm and a 0 to 100 dash of just 6.3 seconds – a staggering bargain at just $52,990. Renault’s Megane Sport GT220 wagon is another price winner, at $36,990, with plenty of sporting credibility, but if it’s a proper, ‘bahn-storming’ load carrier you’re after you should look no further than Audi’s stupidly awesome RS6 Avant. Indisputable proof that having
a big boot and a comfortable rear seat doesn’t exclude you from the supercar club, this $250K mega-wagon boasts a slick 4.0-litre V8 with 412kW and 700Nm. It’s good for a staggering 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed that’s limited to 305km/h – provided you tick a $20K ceramic brakes option – or more than three times faster than you’re allowed to drive anywhere in the state of Victoria. For when you really need to get to the beach in a hurry, with no licence left.
mates to walk, loads of room for gear. FPV’s GT-P is a superb, full-sized sports car that will soon go the way of the dinosaurs, but it’s going out with a roar from its 5.0-litre, 335kW, 570Nm V8. You and your mates will hit 100km/h in under 5.5 seconds, laughing all the way, for $82,040. FPV’s $52,990 GS ute is another even more load-friendly option.
MUSCLED UP TO BOOT
The other option, at least for now, is the traditional Aussie muscle car, based on a full-sized family sedan – so you get a proper boot, and if you fold the back seats down and tell your FPV GT-P: GTFO
“IF IT’S A ‘BAHN-STORMING’ LOAD CARRIER YOU’RE AFTER, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN AUDI.” HSV GTS: 430kW
King of the Aussie hill though, now and possibly forever, is HSV’s GTS, a car that offers a huge boot and huge bootfulls of power from its old-school 6.2-litre V8. Put your foot down in this 430kW, 740Nm monster and whatever gear you’re carrying will need to be tied down, as will your stomach. The mega HSV rearranges the molecules in your body and blurs the scenery with its savage, unrelenting pace, but it’s more than just a straight-line monster. The choice of drive modes means it can cruise like a limo all day and then eat up a racetrack for dinner. All this in a $94,490–$96,990 vehicle that’s big enough to seat four blokes in business-class comfort, with all their baggage in the boot. Who needs a two-seat sports car when you can live large like this? May/June 2014
INORE Top Gear is the world’s most watched TV show. It’s also a magazine, a ‘live’ event, a colossal website and the marketing thrust behind Stig-shaped shampoo bottles. James May, then, needs no introduction… WORDS: Ben Smithurst
long with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, James May is front and centre on a show that’s ostensibly about cars, but is just as often a parody of masculinity, a daft sketch comedy and a pop-culture juggernaut. Known for his careful driving style – hence his ‘Captain Slow’ nickname – May might be the only person in history who is routinely urged to hurry up, while also having held the world land speed record for a production car (albeit briefly; his 417km/h mark in a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport was shortly thereafter bumped up slightly by the marque’s own engineers). Generous and articulate, May is a counterpoint to Clarkson’s pantomime Thatcherism and Hammond’s enthused naiveté . While the unique chemistry of the three has hamstrung every attempt at a foreign version of the show, its hosts are well travelled, not least for Top Gear Festival. The roadshow has brought May to Australia several times – allowing Rocks, as it happens, to ask
the most clichéd question of all: does he like it? And does he like us? You have been to Australia several times. Obviously what we’re really after here is either obsequious flattery or incredibly insulting vitriol, but what do you think of the place? Well, when I think of Australia the first thing I think of is heat, and the second thing is vastness, because I’ve done a bit of driving around in the middle of it and so on. Australia is a very, very long way away – it’s as far away as you can be from us – but it’s weirdly still a very long way from anywhere else. I mean, isn’t Perth the most remote city in the world? Or something daft like that? It is something like that. I can’t think of anything particularly insulting about Australians, and at any rate I’m not sure they’re that different from us. There are a lot of Australians here in London telling us how brilliant Australia is anyway, so we’re well up to date. Or
“AUSTRALIA IS A VERY, VERY LONG WAY AWAY FROM US, BUT IT’S WEIRDLY STILL A VERY LONG WAY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE.”
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complaining about the bloody weather. What do you want us to do about it? We can’t move our island. It’s because of the weather that we’re so bloody productive. When the weather is crap you stay inside and you invent a steam engine, whereas in Australia when the weather’s good you just stay outside and have barbecues all the time. Driving very fast in supercars is quite dangerous, even if your nickname is Captain Slow. Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes in that clichéd way? The only time it really did, weirdly, wasn’t in a car. It was when we were doing our Botswana special – this is quite a few years ago now. We stopped for the night and had to mend Hammond’s car, ‘Oliver’, the stupid little Opel thing he had, and I was helping him do it. We’d set up a campsite in a big clearing in the woods, and no more than 100 metres away was another clearing where we’d set up a sort of temporary garage where Hammond’s car was and all seven of us were working on it. And the guys who’d set up the clearing for us had said: “When you go from one clearing to another, don’t go through the woods because there could be wild animals in it. Go down to the road” – and I’m talking a gravel track – “and walk along the road and then walk up to the other clearing.” And I’d been doing that, but I kept having to go backward and forward to get a torch or more batteries, and after I’d done it about half a dozen times I thought, ‘Oh, bollocks to this, I’ll just walk through the woods.’ So I set off through the woods and I could see the lights of the other clearing and Hammond was working on the Opel and I was on the way through and something very big and very heavy came towards me in the darkness of this wood. And I mean, I can remember, I have never felt a hit of adrenaline like it – it was like somebody picking me up by the belt of my trousers and throwing me out of this forest. I didn’t know I could run like that! I went past Richard Hammond who was lying on his back
underneath Oliver so fast that I actually went straight past into the woods on the other side before I could stop and turn around and come back. I never saw whatever this thing was, I just heard this doof-doof-doof-doof as it came towards me and I turned into a primitive man fleeing the monster. It was incredible.
ave been There h s. The first ig o three Sty McCarthy whwn r o was Perblack and is kn. ll wore a The Black Stig first as he red on t f the a e p p a He des o 22 episcoh in 2002. relaun
My word! I thought you were going to say it was Jeremy Clarkson. No, it was even bigger and uglier than that in the darkness!
Would you prefer to be trapped, say, in a lift for a day with Jeremy, or in a garden shed for two with Hammond? Oh! What a good question. So it’s a lift for one day with Jeremy or a very small shed with Richard. I think I’d go for the shed. Presumably there would be a few tools and things in the shed if it’s a proper shed, and Hammond is quite resourceful, so I think that we could find a way to entertain ourselves playing ludicrous games while we were
stuck. If you were stuck in a lift with Jeremy he’d start saying, “Oh, I can say all the words from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”; and he’d actually do it, and I’ve seen him do it. There’s only so many times you can go through that particular film. Well, yeah. Not for him. Have you ever used your Captain Slow guise to argue your way out of a speeding fine? Well, no. To be honest, I haven’t been caught for speeding since 1994. And it’s not actually because I necessarily drive slowly all the time. I think, and I know this happens in Australia as well – you were the first to have speed cameras – but a lot of motoring journalists bleat on about speed and how unfair it is and how everybody is out to get them, but if you use your brain a bit you can work out when to go fast and when not to. It’s not that difficult. In 90 per cent of cases if you’re caught speeding it’s your own look out. There are a few devious tricks with mobile cameras and speed cameras at the top of hills where May/June 2014
INORE you’ve got to go fast to go past the lorry, and I accept that that happens, but generally speaking it’s a sort of moral code: you don’t drive fast through the town but you can go like a bastard through the sticks. Is Jeremy’s anger at excessive OH&S genuinely as deeply felt as he expresses it on the show? Well, yes, he does go on about it a bit. I have a slightly more pragmatic view of health and safety, which is that common sense health and safety is a good thing and has been going on for a long time. The problem is that it has been turned into a sort of career in its own right. For the same reason that double-glazing salesmen look for rotten window frames, OH&S people look for things to produce OH&S documentation about. But there is a culture in England where people moan about occupational health and safety while they bravely write a newspaper article about it. You never hear people who are actually doing something dangerous moaning about it. High-rise window washers aren’t complaining
“YOU DON’T DRIVE FAST THROUGH THE TOWN BUT YOU CAN GO LIKE A BASTARD THROUGH THE STICKS.” about it, and nor would I be. I’d want a parachute and 50 ropes and a hard hat and everything. Who wouldn’t? You’re very approachable on the show. Does that come at a price of being constantly approached by anoraks who want to discuss aspect ratios in the pub? People don’t really want to talk about aspect ratios. The worst thing that can happen as the presenter of a motoring show is that you go to the pub and you run into someone who wants to talk about cars. Because, as we know, those sort of people can be very dull [laughs]. But most normal members of the public can be very civil really. They
LEGO HOUSE In 2009, Top Gear presenter James May built the world’s first full-size Lego house that no one wanted. The house had a working toilet, a hot shower and a very uncomfortable bed. It was made using 3.3 million blocks and it took about 1000 volunteers to build the six-metre abode in a vineyard in Surrey, in the UK. The vineyard needed the land back to harvest grapes, and plans for Legoland to move it to its theme park fell through because the transport costs were too high, they said. It was put on ebay but, sadly, no one bought it, so the plastic bricks were donated to charity once the house was, much to May’s dismay, demolished. 20
might want a photograph or want you to sign something or to ask you something about Jeremy or Richard. It’s part of the job, really. I don’t think you can moan about it. I very rarely get cornered by people who want to talk about aspect ratios, but I can spot them and I have several evasion tactics that I can deploy, including screaming and running from the room. What’s the oddest place you’ve been recognised in? Top Gear is after all, one of the world’s most internationally exported and watched programs. It is sometimes odd, because I forget that we’re on telly and that we’re quite well known. But then you have a moment, like when we were driving through Iraq and we were in the middle of nowhere – it was the Iraq equivalent of the Copley Roadhouse up in the Flinders Rangers – and we stopped at what wasn’t even a shop, it was more of a roadside store. Very, very Middle Eastern and very old fashioned. And the bloke behind the counter said, “Oh, you’re the blokes from Top Gear.” How do you know? You haven’t even got a television. But he did. Do you like it out in the Outback? Yes I do. I think it’s great. But it’s quite draining. Why? Do you dislike it? Yes. It’s hot and dusty and flat and full of murderers and the deflated looking corpses of dead cattle. Yes, there is quite a bit of that. But if you live in Hammersmith, which is sort of full of people just doing their gardens and having a curry, then it’s quite exciting to go and see some murderers and some deflated dead cattle. And dust. Top Gear: The Complete Series 20 is out now on DVD (BBC)
INORE ORIGIN DATES
, MAY 28 GAME 1: BRISBANE E 18 N GAME 2: SYDNEY, JU LY 9 , JU GAME 3: BRISBANE
F O H T Y M THE
A L S N E E QU 22
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INORE GREG INGLIS: INFURIATINGLY GOOD AT EVERYTHING
“EVERYONE IS WAITING for us to fall over, and there is going to be a day that happens. But hopefully it’s not this year.’’ So said Queensland State of Origin captain, Cameron Smith. In 2010. You could have reprinted that quote unchanged every year since, as the Maroons continued a now eight-year run of series victories. When they last lost, in 2005, New South Wales halfback Mitchell Pearce was a spotty 15-year-old. And yet the greatest rugby league contest in the world continues to be, well, not a contest. What makes Queensland so good? Here’s one reason – when Rocks contacted the normally loquacious former Maroons prop Steve Price for his thoughts, he declined, saying any insights always ended up as motivation pasted on the wall of [a losing] Blues dressing-room. So while they’re still searching for the answers, Rocks examined nine modern Origin maxims to find out why the Maroons keep giving New South Wales the blues.
MAL DIDN’T WIN ANY TITLES AS COACH OF THE RAIDERS. HE LOST EVERY GAME COACHING PAPUA NEW GUINEA AT THE WORLD CUP.
MYTH 1. ORIGIN MEANS MORE TO QUEENSLAND As The Guardian’s Paul Connolly put it last year: “You would have figured that some time in the past eight years, the seemingly insatiable Queenslanders would have dropped the fork, clutched at their chest, burped long and loud, and excused themselves from the feast in order to call the paramedics.’’ Everyone remembers the moment that gifted immortality to Billy Moore – game two, 1995, bellowing ‘Queenslander!’ as his troops ran out for the second half. It seemed to typify their absolute determination to smash New South Wales at every opportunity. “Gary Larson and I thought we needed something special,’’ he explained to reporters afterwards. And if there is a dash
more passion up north, then the history books would explain why. Before the modern-day Origin rules were introduced in 1982, New South Wales could and did claim all the best Queenslanders who had migrated from the Brisbane premiership to Sydney, leaving a lasting sense of injustice. And even when the playing field was levelled – at the instigation of Maroons administrator Ron McAuliffe – you couldn’t accuse New South Wales of being early-adopters, with their first home games played before half-empty stadia, while legions of shouty Queensland loyalists rammed Lang Park.
MYTH 2. BIG MAL IS A LUCKY IDIOT WHO INHERITED THE CLIPBOARD AT THE RIGHT TIME – ANYONE COULD COACH THE MAROONS Mal Meninga didn’t win any premierships coaching the Raiders. He didn’t win a single game at the World Cup coaching Papua New Guinea. But he’s won a hell of a lot of Origin games coaching Queensland – begging the question whether anyone in a purple tracksuit could have done the same. But that would ignore how Meninga has cleverly connected this generation of players with Origin history; focused on meticulous detail; surrounded himself with good people; and has perfect preparation. And yes, okay, delivered the odd good speech. “He seems to push the right buttons every time,’’ Queensland lock Ashley Harrison explained. “It’s one of the things he’s very, very good at.’’ Or as Sam Thaiday put it: “Everything he says is gold to us.’’ Kiwi coaching legend Graham Lowe remains the only non-Australian to coach a State of Origin team, having beaten lifethreatening blood clots to coach the Maroons from a bath chair to a 2-1 series victory in 1991 (although he did lose the 1992 series 2-1 to a Phil Gould-coached Blues team). He tells Rocks that actually, coaching ability doesn’t matter on this stage – the players are already highly-trained, highly-skilled athletes. “I can’t comment on whether Mal is a good coach or an indifferent one,’’ he explains, “but that’s not what’s needed – what is needed is leadership. And Mal has got that in spades. He is probably the best leader the game has ever seen.’’
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INORE SAM THAIDAY: BORN IN NSW – UNLIKE STERLO
MYTH 3: QUEENSLAND PINCH ALL THE PLAYERS THEY WANT ANYWAY Well, they did field six born-outside-thestate-boundaries in their 2008 team, but the rules actually aren’t about where you first drew breath, but where you played your first football after the age of 16; sort of explaining why Kempsey-raised Greg Inglis can wear maroon, not blue (actually, that one’s still a bit suspect). Not that this has been calmly accepted by frothing former Blues players like Garry Jack (“If Queensland can rort the system they will. It isn’t Queensland – it’s a Rest of the World side’’); Benny Elias (“They are thieves in the night. And they blatantly do it in front of our faces’’); or Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach (“If you go into their air space you are a Queenslander”). All this rather handily ignores that the Blues have fielded such genuine New South Welshmen as James McManus (born Scotland), John Hopoate (Tonga), Elias himself (Lebanon) and the great Peter Sterling (um, Toowoomba, Queensland). Yes, says Lowe, “It’s no excuse, but New South Wales has always done it too.”
VERDICT: TRUE But mitigated by New South Wales (less successfully) doing the same.
MYTH 4: ABORIGINAL PLAYERS GET A BETTER GO UP NORTH
“IT SEEMS AS IF THE MAROONS DO SOMETHING AND NSW TRIES TO BETTER IT – IT’S SO REACTIONARY.”
And anyway, players like Inglis want to play for Queensland. A difficult issue this, but perhaps they simply have a more enlightened attitude to players of colour – helped no doubt by having a coach with South Sea Island antecedents, and senior players such as Thurston (Aboriginal) and Sam Thaiday (Torres Strait Islander). The longstanding dichotomy between Nathan Blacklock’s insatiable appetite for scoring tries and his exclusion from the Blues team, was enough for the admittedly not always rational Anthony Mundine to draw some conclusions. More concretely, there was the ‘Joey’ incident in 2010 when Timana Tahu walked out of camp on the eve of Origin Two after Johns made a racist comment about Inglis. Hard to suggest after that that GI had made the wrong choice.
VERDICT: MAYBE 26
MYTH 5: QUEENSLAND PICKS AND STICKS, NEW SOUTH WALES CONSTANTLY TINKERS Jonathan Thurston has played 27 successive Origin matches. Queensland have used just 30 debutants since game one of the 2005 series, the last time they lost. New South Wales have selected 58 new players in that same time. “Queensland know there is no secret,’’ offers Lowe, “It’s just the right people, the right structure, the right plans. But New South Wales are always trying to reinvent it every year, or even every game. They just need to know what works for them and what doesn’t. It seems as if Queensland does something, and New South Wales tries to better it – it is so reactionary. Queensland just go out and do it their way.’’ If you think Lowe might be wrong, consider the temporary Messianic status attached to Todd Carney, Jarrod Mullen and Mitchell Pearce…
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MYTH 6: UNTIL CAMERON SMITH FINALLY RETIRES, NEW SOUTH WALES IS SCREWED The theory that New South Wales won’t win until Cameron Smith swaps his boots for dress shoes may hold more weight in Sydney than Brisbane. Andrew Johns says he looks like “an air conditioner salesman who you might bump into inside the local TAB.” But Johns also declares him just about the best player he’s seen. Smith, then, doesn’t look like a footballer – club teammates dubbed him ‘the Accountant’, for his physique – but he understands the
BLUES PROP ANDREW FIFITA: LOVES PIES, HATES LOSING
“IT’S A HOAX. IF YOU WANT AN ADVANTAGE OVER YOUR OPPONENT, YOU BLUFF HOWEVER YOU CAN, AND THE BLUES HAVE FALLEN FOR IT.”
game. And as part of the Smith, Cronk, Slater axis, he seems unbeatable. Yet, says Lowe, the focus on Smith is typical. “New South Wales seems to look to one player each year who is supposedly going to be their answer,” says Lowe, “But it’s a team game. Smith is just an important piece in Mal’s puzzle.’’
VERDICT: FALSE MYTH 7. THE BLUES WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT THEIR OPPOSITION “It’s a hoax,’’ sports psychologist Wayne Goldsmith once told The Sydney Morning Herald. “If you want an advantage over your opponent, you bluff however you can… and the Blues, from the selectors down, have fallen for it. Mal Meninga and others are so good at this growing-a-foot-taller thing. But it’s rubbish.’’
VERDICT: TRUE MYTH 8. QUEENSLAND IS DOMINANT, SURE, BUT NEW SOUTH WALES IS UNLUCKY NOT TO HAVE WON THE ODD SERIES New South Wales often gripes about refereeing blunders and awkwardly-bouncing balls. But over time, according to Lowe, if it truly was down to fickle fate, surely the Blues would have had a turn by now? “Maybe one team gets the rub of the green more than others, and some could call it luck, but one thing that cannot be denied is I’ve never come across anyone in the Queensland camp who doesn’t totally and thoroughly believe they will win it.’’
VERDICT: MAYBE MYTH 9. QUEENSLAND JUST KNOWS IT’S GOING TO WIN? By now the Maroons should be under huge pressure to match past deeds, but they never look stressed. Lowe credits Meninga with knowing ‘where the presure valve is.’ “There will be key players who get injured in the lead up and NSW will wet themselves at what great news it is,’’ Lowe snipes, “But it’s like what is bred into the All Blacks in New Zealand – on many occasions, they have won the game before they get on the bus.’’
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rossFit might be a fitness craze – but it’s one that’s worth your attention. From inauspicious beginnings in former gymnast Greg Glassman’s Santa Cruz garage in the 1970s, the high-intensity training program is now worldwide … and for good reason. Take Australian CrossFit champion Chad MacKay’s (above) example. Introduced to the sport (yes, sport) in 2009, within three years Chad went from traditional gym user to international CrossFit competitor. The 1.85-metre, 100-kilogram personal trainer and gym owner is currently Australia’s top ranked CrossFit athlete and 2013’s Fittest Man In The World. Between running the show at his three New South Wales gyms (in North Sydney, Artarmon and Kincumber) Chad sits casually and talks about how to get into his sport, backstage happenings at the World CrossFit games and the importance of trying not to grunt too much. Next summer it could be you! Scoff protein powder! Burn all your shirts! Grate cheese on your midriff!
THE HISTORY OF EXERCISE A slightly whiffy timeline of perspiration 32
May/June March/April 2014 2014
HOW DID YOU START?
I started training CrossFit at the gym where I was working – my boss introduced me to a workout called ‘Cindy’. It’s a 20-minute workout where you do five pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air squats… and he suggested that I do it for 10 minutes and see how many rounds I got. That was my first taste.
HOW MANY ROUNDS DID YOU GET THROUGH?
About four, which I thought was a fairly good score. And then I repeated the workout the next week and I got a better score. From that point on, just from the competitive nature of how the sport is designed, I was hooked.
HOW DOES CROSSFIT WORK AS A SPORT?
The sport has developed over the past 12 years. It started in California at their original CrossFit Games, where anyone could just turn up on the day and do a random workout that was pulled out of a hopper! They threw a whole bunch of workouts in there and they picked out three or four over three days and that’s how it all came about. But now there’s a whole process; it’s a worldwide competition. You have to make the top 50 athletes in your
2500 BC Ancient Greeks invent the job of paidotrobe, similar to a modern fitness trainer, and halteres: semi-circular stone rock dumbells.
region, which is held in 16 different locations in the world. Then you’ve got to come top three in your region to compete in the CrossFit games over in the United States.
DOES COMPETITION STILL FOLLOW THE SAME ‘RANDOM DRAW’ FORMAT?
No. ESPN is involved now, so they’ve got to design the workout so that the athletes take centre stage and the workout doesn’t. They want to showcase what the athletes can do rather than having the event take over.
FOR AVERAGE CROSSFIT CLASSES, WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY?
Every class involves a specific warm-up, activation and mobility. Then we’ll do a strength component, then we’ll do our met-com, which is our conditioning piece, we’ll do some midline or trunk stability work and then finish off with a stretch. So let’s say we might squat on a Monday and a Wednesday, press on a Tuesday and a Friday and then we might do pulling movements on the others days. And the workout each day is different.
65 BC Roman philosopher/linguist/ politician Cicero states, “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” He was later decapitated.
IS THERE MUCH SLEDGING?
I’ve never experienced any sledging. It’s friendly – after the other athletes do their event, they’ll come back and we’ll have a chat about how the workout was; can they suggest anything? Say there is a rope climb/ sled push, they’ll say, “Look, don’t wear your gloves, it was too slippery out there,” or, “When you’re pushing the sled you should have a pair of cleats on.” We’re all in it together. No one’s ever slagged off my tuck shop arms, haha!
HOW DO I PICK A GYM?
Find one that’s close to your home – there might be two or three. Stronger gyms will always stay around, and there are always different levels of class experience and community. You need coaches that are looking at your technique and making sure you’re safe throughout the movements. And you want to have fun while you’re in class. So try a few.
WHAT’S THE CROSSFIT STANCE ON THOSE ‘SHIRTS’ THAT SUPER BODYBUILDERS WEAR THAT ARE LIKE THREE BITS OF STRING?
Haha! If they’re comfortable wearing their string singlet then they should be able to wear their string singlet.
... AND ABOUT GRUNTING AND DROPPING WEIGHTS? Well, everybody’s got their own style. Sometimes when I’m working out I might get a few grunts and take a bit of aggression out on the
Dark and middle ages Almost nobody is fit, except knights, ninjas and assorted tribesmen. Dysentery effective for weight loss.
barbell. But grunting as soon as you start? I think that’s a no-no. Those are noises you don’t want to hear.
HOW MANY PUSH-UPS CAN YOU DO?
About 80 in a row. But it’s taken five years to get to that.
DO YOU IMPRESS LADIES BY LETTING ONE SIT ON YOUR BACK AS YOU DO PUSH-UPS ON A BAR? Not yet.
FINALLY: HOW OFTEN ARE YOU SHIRTLESS?
I am sometimes without a shirt. Although I’m not too sure whether it’s appropriate to cruise around without a shirt on at all times.
1830s The Liverpool Rubber company invents athletic shoes with canvas uppers and rubber soles. Confusingly, they’re nicknamed ‘plimsols’, after the waterline painted on a ship’s hull. May/June 2014
Illustration by Rob Cowan at illustrationroom.com.au.
FIVE STEP CROSSFIT AT-HOME EXERCISE PROGRAM “The real improvements will come when you’re doing all your strength work, but until then, these body weight movements are great,” says Chad. “Aim to do two rounds of this circuit, as fast as you can, but be aware of maintaining proper technique and trying to move as efficiently as possible. It’s easy to pick up bad habits when you’re training on your own; you naturally tend to try to find an easier way, which will often just be poorer technique.” When you’re ready, try training at an affiliated CrossFit gym. Try to do this circuit twice.
1892 Charles Atlas born. When a bully kicks sand in the 44kg weakling’s face at the beach, he invents weightlifting (again), and becomes ‘the world’s most perfectly developed man.’ 34
March/April May/June 2014 2014
1960–1970 Americans buy nine million ‘bullworkers’ (chest expanders).
1977 American Jim Fixx popularises jogging with his million-selling book The Complete Book Of Running. Dies seven years later, aged 52, of a heart attack after jogging.
INORE movement, then jump and clap your hands overhead. Your feet have to come off the ground as you clap. It’s like an air squat and a push-up combined in one.
Do: 10 4. NORMAL SIT-UPS Technique: Lay flat on your back with your arms extended overhead laying flat on the floor. Swing your arms through to come up and touch the shoelaces. It doesn’t have to be strict; you can bounce yourself up and use the momentum from the upper body to help out your abs to get to an upright position. If you’re not strong enough to sit up all the way then you can also fix your feet beneath something to help – that’s fine.
Do: 15 2. PUSH-UPS
1. AIR SQUAT
Technique: Standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, squat down to below parallel – that’s where the hip crease goes below the knees – and then standing up back tall to full extension. Focus on keeping the chest nice and vertical, and then when you stand you want to drive from the heels. Your feet stay fixed on the ground the whole time.
Do: 20 1982 Jane Fonda releases her eponymous workout video, which will sell 17 million and lead to countless awkward motherexercising-in-leotard moments.
Technique: Feet together, arms straight out to start with and make sure you get the full range of movement; you want the nipple line to touch the floor. Try and stay rigid through the midline, which means squeezing your butt and squeezing your knees straight and then pressing back up tall. Concentrate on maintaining that solid, straight ‘plank’ body line.
Do: 5 3. BURPEES
Technique: Start in a standing position and then jump your feet back, chest goes to the ground and lay flat on the floor. Then press yourself up onto your feet in one constant
2001 Women take up poledancing for fitness. Feminists everywhere facepalm.
Technique: We don’t have any equipment so to finish the circuit do a 200-metre jog. Concentrate on staying light on your toes, and only strike the ground with the ball of your foot; it shouldn’t be heel-toe. Relax your upper body and try to maintain a relaxed breathing pattern. Chad is available for training at crossfitactive.com.au and chadmackay.com.au
2005 Five years after founding CrossFit, Inc., inventor Greg Glassman licenses his thirteenth franchise. Today there are more than 7200 affiliated gyms worldwide. May/June 2014
HEART WORDS: MICHELLE HESPE
It’s been 10 years since The Ghan made its inaugural journey through the heart of Australia from Adelaide to Darwin. It’s an experience in itself, but you can also pack in loads of adventure en route. AS DEPARTURE time closes in, the
station platform slowly fills with a mass of people; suitcases, cameras and tickets in hand. One by one, the figures disappear, slipping in through the doorways of the 34 stationary carriages. Inside The Ghan, people squeeze by one another to find their allotted cabins, many cracking jokes about feeling like a character in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. It’s a fair call. But this isn’t an Agatha Christie novel – if anything, we’re in Wolf Creek country – and this certainly ain’t the Orient Express. The Ghan’s name comes from the fact that its corridor was once dubbed ‘The Afghan Express’, after the camel trains that made their way through Central Australia. Which is probably not much comfort to the ghosts of superceded Afghan cameleers, but it is a nice nod to our colourful Outback history. There’s a seated section at one end of the train, followed by single berth rooms. Then there’s Gold suites, which sleep two and have their own ensuite; followed by the fancy Platinum abodes that feature larger bathrooms, double beds and a lounge/ sitting room. In between the cabins are three bar and restaurant carriages for dining and indulging in a wide offering of beverages, all included in the ticket price for Gold and Platinum class passengers. Luggage safely stowed and quarters inspected, people trickle in from the cabins to the bars, to chat with fellow travellers and toast The Ghan’s tenth birthday. Wine is poured, beers are cracked and guests sit back to clink glasses of bubbly, while tea, coffee and snacks are prepped. The adventure ahead is spread along a 2,979-kilometre track from the bottom to the top end of Australia. For many, being aboard the train is a rite of passage – a dream come true. One thing’s for sure – everyone’s fired up
THE GHAN’S BIRTHDAY CAKE
UNLEASHED I CAN’T SHAKE THE FEELING I’M BEING FOLLOWED BY CAMELS
JAMES REYNE: WHEN NOT IN SPAIN, PLAYS MAINLY ON THE TRAIN
GREAT SOUTHERN RAIL SHOT SOME EXTRA FUN INTO THE NIGHT, LETTING OFF A SPECTACULAR DISPLAY OF FIREWORKS.
for the experience of a lifetime on the celebratory trip. James Reyne is even aboard, armed with his guitar and an Aussie Crawl request set that’s sure to light up the Outback. After a photo of the 180 passengers and 30 staff, once more gathered on the station platform, the whistle blows and the train lurches into action. There are cheers from the bar and glasses are raised once more. It won’t be the last time on the inspiring 48-hour journey. There’s a service desk on board to plan activities if guests haven’t already locked in their itinerary, and with stops of a few hours in both Katherine and Alice Springs, everyone is keen to fit in some Central Australian adventures. Passengers can check out galleries and famous watering holes, or squeeze in a game of lawn bowls in either town. If they’re after more adventure, depending on the season, they can take a chopper ride over the Simpson Gap near Alice, go for a trek or jump aboard a high-speed boat for a whizz around Katherine Gorge. Or go canoeing. Or ride a camel through the Outback in Alice. After all, The Ghan is your oyster.
FIREWORKS, STORMS & REYNE
RESIDENTS OF PIMBA JOIN THE GHAN TRAVELLERS FOR FIREWORKS
It’s not every day the lead man from Aussie Crawl is on board The Ghan. For the anniversary, organisers arranged an intimate concert in the tiny settlement of Pimba – which, according to the last census, has a grand total of around 50 residents. Passengers disembarked into the red desert, while the township gathered and Reyne hopped off with his guitar. On the back of a truck, beneath a brewing storm, he dished out his classics with
UNLEASHED Darwin Katherine
“DOES SUN CONTRIBUTE TO AGING? ASK ME WHEN I’M 21”
as much passion as ever – from ‘Reckless’ and ‘Downhearted’ to ‘The Boys Light Up’. Behind the singer and his flatbed, the serpentine carriages of The Ghan petered off into a mirage-like postcard of Australia’s Red Centre, the sinking sun shooting muted rays through thick swathes of bruised and blackened clouds. Show over, Great Southern Rail blasted some extra fun into the night, letting off a spectacular display of fireworks. As the sky lit up and the band packed up, the residents of Pimba and The Ghan passengers whooped at the huge expanse of the Milky Way, all the more aweinspiring with the spectacle of lights bursting into and falling from it.
GORGING ON KATHERINE As the train pulled into the next stop – Katherine, one thing was abundantly clear: the rain had made its presence heavily felt and the ‘wet season’ had begun. It served mostly to ramp up the technicolour hues of the landscape, transforming it into a lysergic palette of red dust carpet peppered with the greenest of green swatches – shrubs, trees, and low bushland as bright as a Dulux colour chart. At this time of year, the desert grasses could easily pass for ’70s psychedelic shag pile rugs, and if you hit town at the right time (the weather is the ultimate dictator of activities here) you can fit in a hi-fi speedboat ride around Katherine Gorge. There are 13 gorges in all, but the three main ones can be reached in succession if there is the right amount of rain: just
IT’S CAMEL TOWN. OR ALICE SPRINGS
LUNCHES ON THE GHAN GIVE STATIONARY RESTAURANTS A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY.
enough to fill them up, but not enough to block the roads leading in to them. It’s a small window of opportunity, but if you happen to strike the right deal with Mother Nature, the gorges will be yours for the taking – creating memories as enduring as the Kimberley itself. Their ancient rugged red walls stretch up into an endless blue sky; while waterfalls cascade into the Dreamtime scenes and legends below.
HUMP DAY IN ALICE Back aboard, passengers settle into threecourse lunches that would give many stationary restaurants across the country a run for their money. The fresh, classic dishes such as kangaroo, barramundi or chicken breast, with accompanying salads and side dishes, are all served up with fine wines (a focus on the top ones from South Australia) and then it’s snooze time, or bar time. The fact is that being on a train with 180 other
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UNLEASHED THERE ARE 13 GORGES IN ALL, BUT THE THREE MAIN ONES CAN BE REACHED IN SUCCESSION IF THERE IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF RAIN TO FILL THEM UP, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO BLOCK ACCESS ROADS. people and only a small cabin to relax in, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of sleeping, watching the world go by, eating, drinking, and starting all over. So after a party or a sound sleep, the next stop is Alice Springs. And what better way to celebrate The Ghan and Alice than on a camel? Camels were The Ghan before The Ghan. These big, friendly, hardy humped beasts carted the millions of sleepers that The Ghan now travels along, out into the middle of nowhere to make the train route through the heart of Australia possible. These days, with Pyndan Camel Tracks, passengers can climb aboard a 450–600 kilogram animal, that continually and noisily regurgitates its food, and take a leisurely cruise through the back streets of Alice (read: red dirt valleys, slopes and gorges spotted with eye-achingly bright desert greenery). And here’s a tip: it’s a myth that camels spit and are generally nasty. As they regurgitate their food, they have a problem keeping it all in their mouths, because they’re camels. So it comes out in sprays with affronting snorts and extended, burp-like grunts. But if you keep in the saddle and at a reasonable distance while patting your newfound friend, you can remain relatively free of newly puked flora in your face. Always a bonus, that.
THE LOWDOWN The Ghan
Pyndan Camel Tracks cameltracks.com
FULL MOON IN DARWIN It was 10 years ago that the people of Darwin and outskirts decided it would be a brilliant idea to greet the first trip that The Ghan made. With a conga line of their naked (and often worryingly hairy) bottoms. So what could stand in the way of a revival a decade (and several thickets more hair) later? Just the rain, perhaps. But the residents were undaunted, and all still downed their dacks row-upon-row, to produce a coupe de grace – the final feather in the hat of the mighty Ghan. The passengers loved it. So did news and social media channels. In fact, aboard the train, passengers greeted it with their own version of a bottoms up – from the comfort of the bar carriage.
t’s midnight and the freeway leading from Ezeiza International Airport to downtown Buenos Aires is almost empty. Even so, I’m nervous as hell in the back of my cab. As much as I try, I can’t seem to concentrate on what my driver’s saying. We’ve just changed lanes three times and he’s not even looking at the road. After a quick glance forward, Sebastian, my driver, turns back to me and repeats, louder and slower this time, pausing between the letters: “A. C. D. C. A. C. D. C!” Then, taking both hands off the wheel and clasping them together in prayer, Sebastian looks to the roof and declares, “Thank you, Australia, thank you for AC/DC!” By the time we arrive at the swanky Faena Hotel in the old docklands suburb of Puerto Madero, Sebastian and I have turned the cab into a mobile karaoke bar. After changing a fistful of US dollars into pesos at nearly 40 per cent above the ‘official’ exchange rate, Sebastian bids me farewell and disappears into the traffic with ‘Highway to Hell’ blaring. After checking in, I head for the bright lights. It’s 1am by the time I get to Avenida Corrientes in the downtown suburb of Congreso, but the crowds look more like Sydney on a sunny Saturday afternoon than post-midnight. The restaurants and cafés are full and the footpaths are jammed. The city’s Spanish heritage is alive and well. Grabbing a plateful of empanadas to go from one of the city’s ubiquitous pizza bars, I pound the pavement, blowing on the hot meat-filled pastries. I know I should wait for them to cool, but they’re just too good. Welcome to Buenos Aires, where the restaurants don’t open until 9pm and even the cab drive from the airport turns into a party.
Rock and roll in Buenos Aires and discover a city like no other. WORDS & IMAGES: NATHAN DYER
This image: thinkstockphotos.com.au
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CITY OF EXTREMES Known as ‘the Paris of Latin America’, Buenos Aires is all tree-lined boulevards, sprawling parks and monumental statues. At its peak, around the start of the last century, Argentina was one of the richest countries on the planet. Then came two world wars and half a dozen military coups. The money is now long gone. Home to nearly three million portenõs, as the locals are known, Buenos Aires is a city of extremes. One of the best ways to take in this eclectic city is to jump on a small group tour with the hip young guides from Say Hueque. First stop: Recoleta, home to Buenos Aires’ rich and famous, alive and dead. Wander the leafy boulevards, dodge doggy dos on the pavement, then dive into the sprawling Cementerio de la Recoleta and get lost searching for the elusive tomb of Eva ‘Evita’ Perón (infamously played by Madonna in the biopic). Buried deep among the ‘streets’ of the towering mausoleums of the city’s elite families, the former first lady’s tomb attracts hundreds every day. Few are ardent Madonna fans. Next, head downtown to check out the world’s widest street. More than 100 metres across, Avenida 9 de Julio takes up 20 lanes. On its western side, Teatro Colón is a salute to the city’s halcyon past. After that, get your shopping fix and relieve your wallet of some pesos at the hip bars and designer shops of Palermo. A riot of colourful street art and funky small bars, it’s the place to be seen. After downing a dulce de leche icecream (caramelised sweetened milk flavour) cross the city to grungy La Boca, home of the famous Boca Juniors football club (alma mater of Diego Maradona) and birthplace of the tango. Wandering the edgy, pastel streets, I learn that tango originated as a dance among male emigrants in the 1930s as they lined up outside the city’s bordellos. With all that testosterone there were plenty of brawls. But somehow fighting turned to dancing, because that’s apparently a thing that can happen outside of musicals, and tango was born. The bordello staff soon joined in, and tango evolved into what it is today. Grab a seat at one of La Boca’s lively alfresco cafés and catch a free show.
WINING AND DINING After La Boca, it’s time to do what portenõs do best: revel in eating and drinking. From cheap eats to five-star extravagance, Buenos Aires is a foodie’s delight. To capture a slice of the past and get a caffeine fix, I head to classic Café Tortoni on the grand Avenida de Mayo, where dapper waiters in tuxedos dish out strong coffee, and churros (Spanish doughnuts) and medialunas (croissantstyle pastries) to die for. After that it’s time to find something more substantial. In a word: beef. Along with soccer, eating steak is a national obsession. The average Argentine consumes a colossal 70 kilograms of beef each year. Although traditional parrillas (steakhouses) are all over the joint, I’m keen to try the upper end, so I head for La Cabrera back in Palermo. It’s impossible to go past beef washed down with a bottle of local Malbec – and now I know why the Argentines are so proud of their cows.
CAFÉ TORTONI: FANS OF THE GODFATHER
THE TANGO ORIGINATED AS A DANCE AMONG MALE EMIGRANTS LINED UP OUTSIDE BORDELLOS IN THE 1930S. May/June 2014
With a belly full of beef, it’s time to tango. There are dozens of top-class shows in Buenos Aires, but I choose the up-market Rojo Tango in Puerto Madero, where the women are sizzling and the men are as sharp as razors, and where a dark-haired dancer named Carlos (obviously) steals the show. With a five-piece band filling the room with songs of lost love, the women in the room swoon with his rhythm. I, too, find myself transfixed as Carlos glides across the stage. When the lights finally come on, I stumble out onto the street, happy to be out of Carlos’ trance, and feel a bit odd. This never happens at Acca Dacca. After tango the options are endless in a city that seems never to sleep. There are the milongas (dance halls where the real tango aficionados strut their stuff) or the more contemporary dance floors of Buenos Aires’ famous night clubs. More to my liking, though, is the city’s burgeoning small bar scene. I find a little bar with no apparent name and soon the drinks are flowing and the music throbbing. If a day of eating, drinking and partying hasn’t convinced me of the Argentines’ passion for life, my next taxi drive certainly does. After introducing himself with a humble reference to the country’s great liberator, General San Martin, my driver, Martin, declares his three great loves. “I like football very much,” he says, turning to look at me. “And tango is my passion,” he adds, before pausing. “And women … women I love.” I guffaw as Martin bursts into laughter. But I must admit I’m a little disappointed AC/DC didn’t make the list.
This image: thinkstockphotos.com.au
I CHOOSE THE UP-MARKET ROJO TANGO IN PUERTO MADERO, WHERE THE WOMEN ARE SIZZLING, THE MEN ARE AS SHARP AS RAZORS AND A DARK-HAIRED DANCER STEALS THE SHOW. 46
THE LOWDOWN Home Hotel Palermo Viejo homebuenosaires.com Faena Hotel Puerto Madero faenahotelanduniverse.com
CafĂŠ Tortoni cafetortoni.com.ar La Cabrera parrillalacabrera.com.ar
Rojo Tango rojotango.com Say Hueque tour sayhueque.com
TIMOR-LESTE IS TRYING TO DUMP ITS ‘DANGEROUS WARTORN REP’ AND SHOW THE WORLD ITS TRUE POTENTIAL. WHICH MAKES IT KIND OF LIKE ASIA IN THE ’70S…
COMING OF AGE
Once a war-torn country decimated by an Indonesian invasion and occupation, Timor-Leste is now a peaceful place proudly stepping into a grand new age… WORDS: MICHELLE HESPE
oosters crow, dogs bark, and there are rustles in the thick jungle below. Sunlight spreads across a shoreline dotted with fisherman in ancient but sturdy canoes. Bare feet crush flat the thick island grass above the waterline as a sea breeze ruffles two dozen heads of coal black hair. They move quickly and there’s some hollering and laughing now among the nimble pilgrims intent on reaching this morning’s nirvana – a rusty old swing set – first. Dawn has broken on Atauro Island, Timor-Leste, and the kids have time to play before school. The swing set creaks into action and won’t stop for hours.
CAPTAIN NEYL ‘IMAGINE’
Largely hidden in the dense greenery beneath the Beloi Beach Hotel, the town village is springing to life. Adults head out to pluck corn, wheat and green vegetables from gardens that don’t need fences. Everything, everywhere, just grows in abundance. Eggs are collected, fish is salted and hung to dry, water is pumped or poured from wells and tanks. Atauro Island hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years or so, although some of the houses are now made from tin, bricks or cement rather than thatched. The roads are being flattened in preparation for tarmac, which won’t come anytime soon, but other than that, people are living off the land as they always have, growing their
own food, eating chickens, fish and some red meat – goat or beef – and just taking what they need from the land and sea to feed their family for another day. Neyl, aka ‘Captain Imagine’, owns and runs the Beloi. He was born in Liquica, Timor-Leste, but left his country to study medical science in Australia, and then pathology in New Zealand. He came back 20 years later to work for the Ministry of Health as an advisor to the Vice Minister of Health. But what he really wanted to be doing was hospitality – with a sideline in fishing tours. So Neyl became Captain Imagine (“Anything is possible when you put your mind to it,” he says) and began renovating a dilapidated building constructed for the government during the Indonesian invasion. He now leases the building from the government. The crumbling building already had a pathway and staircase leading up from the beach, and a sweeping road up from the village, a sprawling tiled balcony overlooking Atauro Island and eight rooms. Neyl’s loving refurbishment turned it into a welcoming boutique, hilltop hotel. “This,” he says, waving an arm to take in the sparkling ocean, the thick forest and the acre-upon-acre of wild land bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables, “is paradise”. His guests agree. Neyl’s fishing operation – Fishing Timor Leste – consists of a couple of boats and five staff, meaning he can accommodate the Beloi’s entire guest list
IT’S EASY TO WILLOW AWAY DAYS IN TIMOR-LESTE
CAPTAIN IMAGINE ALSO TAKES GUESTS BACK TO THE DOOR OF THEIR HOTEL, AND THE BEST BIT IS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO EVEN CLIMB OUT OF THE BOAT – HIS BOYS JUST HITCH IT TO THE BACK OF A UTE.
A LOCAL THATCH HOME IN TIMOR-LESTE
KING S TE, H UI
L O TE
K T A I L S A T BELO
on a trip; the hotel can accommodate 16. Heading off from Dili in the dark before the sun has risen, guests can experience a sunrise and see fishing boats coming in or departing, as they leave the dock. In rough seas it can take eight hours to reach Atauro, but when it’s still, you can go from the busy city of Dili to the quiet of Atauro (punctuated by some local music, the odd radio and the sound of chickens) in around an hour. En route, guests can do some deep sea fishing, jump overboard to snorkel in the lukewarm water, or take scuba equipment out to explore some of the deeper chasms. There is no shortage of beautiful underwater vistas in Timor-Leste: the place is teaming with a psychedelic array of fish; dolphins frolic around the boats; and if you’re lucky, you might get to see some elusive round-nosed pilot whales. They look like a dolphin from a distance, but their thicker figure – and pug face – gives them away. When the captain returns guests to the hotel, the best bit is that they needn’t even climb out of the boat. His staff simply hitches it to the back of a ute and off they drive through Dili, guests riding high in a trailered fishing boat like an ad hoc parade float, waving to the locals.
’70s, before western development took a hold. The footpaths are being haphazardly dug up (teenage hopscotch skills are handy during a stroll) as some kind of pot shot infrastructure is established, and store owners giggle, smile and practically hide or run away rather rather than push you to buy anything. Like most Asian cities, however, the roads are a free-for-all and anything goes. You can get plenty of those ‘six family members plus chook, cow and bed on a moped’ photos here. The new era has brought a wide offering of wonderful accommodation in
City-wise, Timor-Leste is still in that awkward teenage state where she’s not yet grown up into a confident Asian metropolis, but is certainly no longer a child. It’s been to hell and back with the Indonesian invasion and occupation, (which started in 1975 and ended in 1999) and since then, has been trying to dump its dangerous war-torn rep to show the world its true potential. Which makes Timor kind of like much of Asia in the
and around Dili. Many smaller hotels are dotted along the beach below the famous Christo Rei statue (like a smaller version of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer), but if you want to be in town, there are three hotels that offer completely different experiences. The Discovery Inn, owned by local businessman and entrepreneur Sakib Awan is a true oasis in the centre of downtown Dili. It boasts lush tropical
AN AERIAL VIEW OF DILI
SIPPING ON A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE IS A FINE WAY TO TAKE IN THINGS TIMOR HAS ALWAYS HAD GOING FOR HER – THE OCEAN, JUNGLE AND THE LOCALS. gardens, a deck bar with slowly rotating wooden fans and one of the finest restaurants in town. It’s where dignitaries, business people and locals with big dreams gather to jawbone over a lot of the ideas for Timor-Leste’s redevelopment. An elegant tiled entrance hallway leads to rooms that are large, stylish and thoughtfully decorated with handmade local artworks and fabrics, and air conditioned rooms with all the mod cons give guests a welcome reprieve from the often-relentless equatorial humidity. The restaurant, called Diya, dishes up wonderful Indian and Timorese cuisine, and if you haven’t had a prawn curry in Timor, this is the place to indulge. And Sakib, who spends half of every year in Paris, is a lover of both red and white, so the wine list is sure to impress. Hotel Timor, which is also in the middle of town but closer to the central business hub, is a grand hotel with a sweeping entrance that is favoured by the Portuguese. Its high-end suites are world-class, with sophisticated, English gentry-style elegance. Guests can choose rooms with a separate lounge and kitchen area, and the hotel has a pool with serene, shaded seating areas – a bonus in a country that often hits 40 degrees. Timor Plaza Hotel is the latest addition to the three prime hotels, and it’s different again; it’s the modern addition that TimorLeste needs as development momentum continues to build. Everything about the hotel is modern, yet with traditional flourishes – artworks and colour palettes – and the large, light-filled rooms would not be out of place in Sydney or Bangkok. The hotel is also above a thriving mall, where the nation’s first takeaway chain has just opened its doors – Burger King. If that’s not your thing, dip into the hotel’s enormous modern restaurant –
that accommodates large conferences and parties – with incredible views panning across all of Dili. Keep an eye on the catch of the day, as you could score freshly hauled-in salmon, beautifully plated alongside local vegetables and salad. On the beach strip beneath Cristo Rei, there’s a string of great bars where you can get to know the locals – many of them expats. Australian expat, Taululi Valley Golf Club owner and local character, Phil Parkes, settled here a decade ago with his Timorese wife, and while they don’t yet boast nine holes, they have a driving range and kid’s mini putt. There’s also a lovely upstairs balcony bar across from the beach, and Harleys for hire if you fancy cruising around Timor. Down the road is another gem owned and operated by an Aussie couple called Dili Beach Hotel. It’s not unusual to find a gathering of people having sundowners here while chilling out and listening to music. Heading further back into Dili is a new restaurant that has the town talking – and rightly so. With tables and chairs on a balcony that’s barely a metre above the lapping waves, the DiZa is the perfect way to wrap up an experience in TimorLeste’s capital. Sitting on the balcony with the sun dropping over Cristo Rei, sipping on a glass of Champagne is a fine way to take in things Timor has always had going for her – the ocean, jungle, and the locals’ smiley savoir faire – but this restaurant also seems to herald the start of a new age for Timor-Leste. One where she leaves her troublesome teenage years behind and really finds herself.
THE ECLECTIC AND COLOURFUL DESIGN SCHEME AT DIZA
THE LOWDOWN Beloi Beach Hotel Atauro Island beloibeachhoteltimorleste.com
The Discovery Inn Dili
Hotel Timor Dili
Timor Plaza Hotel Dili
Dili Beach Hotel Dili
Diya , The Discovery Inn
Panorama, Timor Plaza timorplaza.com
DiZa +670 78 089 877
Fishing Timor Leste fishingtimorleste.com
Taululi Valley Golf Club +670 77 32 4 752
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The Dutch capital offers more than a clichéd dash into the nearest coffee shop just to stagger back out. Buckle up for a weekend clogged with non-stop (non-chemical) highs.
IN AMSTERDAM WORDS: WOUTER SPANJAART
I TAKE ONE last look at the schedule
on my phone, wondering again if I’ve bitten off slightly more than I can chew. It’s the sort of 48-hour ‘must-do’ list that would test a jetpack-clad Jack Bauer, and I’m already up against it, without a single jetpack or “Dammit, Chloe!” to help me out. I want to do as much as possible, so I stride out of Amsterdam’s Centraal station, camera ready and game face on. A Japanese gentleman walks towards me. “Oh no,” I think, “why did I take my camera out here?” I glance about. The sun is out and every tourist in the world is trying to get his or her picture taken in front of the pretty station, which opened in 1889. It services 250,000 passengers a day. About half of whom are now eyeing me hopefully. “Sir, excuse me, could you take our
photo?” I should have kept my head down. “Sure,” I say, and I take a snap for the Japanese pair. And then an American couple. And then some Brits. And a Turk. It’s one of the first days that feel like spring, and everyone in the city is outside. Nearly half of those people are riding a
A LITTLE LESS EMAILS A LITTLE MORE EXERCISE What will you do a little less & a little more? Tell us at littlelesslittlemore.com.au
HANNEKE’S BOOM: BEER FOR THE HIP
AMSTERDAM IS KNOWN AS THE MOST BIKE-FRIENDLY CITY IN THE WORLD
DON’T CYCLE OVER TRAM TRACKS – I SAW ONE AMERICAN BREAK HIS NOSE. “DUDE, THIS BUS CORNERS LIKE IT’S ON RAILS!”
In 2009, Amsterdam police reported a new craze called ‘Smart Smijten’, or ‘Smart Tipping’, whereby drunk groups of men would hurl tiny Smart Fortwo cars into the canals. “Yobs apparently derive fun from tipping over these types of vehicles,” chided police.
bicycle. The Dutch love their bicycles; over 60 per cent of all trips in its cities are made on one. Cyclists swarm across the street, occasionally passed by a scooter, all lapping up the new sunshine. Spring and summer are the best times to visit this city. Sure, European winters can be charming – if not a bit wet, but outside is where you’ll want to be, so plan your trip accordingly.
GRAB A DRINK
As I want to enjoy my two days, I might as well start it off by grabbing a drink. Hanneke’s Boom (hannekesboom.nl) is a
charming little, well … hut, that’s within walking distance from central station and serves excellent drinks and food. It’s all a bit hipster’s paradise, but the prices are very reasonable (€10–20 for a decent plate of food; about €2.50 a beer) and it’s completely surrounded by water, which adds to the serenity. If all you want is coffee, try out Moods Coffee Corner (themoods.nl). It’s a tiny joint (no, not that kind!) in the gallery-chocked Jordaan, one of the prettiest parts of the city, boasting quality service and even better coffee.
TRAINS, TRAMS & BIKES
Amsterdam has a great network of public transport and one of the quickest ways to get around is by using the tram. In every tram they sell 24-hour (€7,50) or 48-hour cards (€12) that give you unlimited access to buses, trams and metros, and there are stops everywhere – almost literally. But you want to travel like a true Dutchman, rent yourself a bike from one of the several places (expect to pay around €15 for 24 hours). Be sure to ride with a sense of purpose, or to feign one, as Dutch cyclists show no mercy. It’s a good idea to get some insurance too. And, just a tip, don’t cycle across the tram tracks. One American tourist broke his nose right in front of me.
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IT SAYS IN PULP FICTION THAT THE DUTCH DROWN THEIR FRIES IN MAYO. WELL, THAT’S TRUE.
DROWN IN MAYO
In the movie Pulp Fiction, the character of John Travolta, Vincent Vega, tells Samuel L. Jackson that the Dutch drown their fries in mayonnaise. Well, that’s true. So, if you’re feeling brave, grab Belgian fries at Vleminckx (vleminckxdesausmeester.nl), as those fries are some of the best in town. If mayo isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of more diverse food on offer. Amsterdam is an enormous melting pot of cultures, so you can basically eat whatever you want. An especially nice – and slightly hipster – place is Mondo Mediterraneo (mondomediterraneo.com) that sells really cheap and tasty Italian food. They change the menu around a lot, but you’re always sure to find something you’ll like. It’s cheap too. A three-course meal will set you back around €25.
Eventually even Jack Bauer needs his sleep (his bed is made of terrorists’ limbs). You’ll want something nicer though, so try The Conservatorium Hotel (conservatoriumhotel.com), a clean, classy and modern place (with a Neo-Gothic facade) that’s been open for just over two years, just across the street from the Van Gogh Museum. Make sure you get a room on one of the top floors, as the views are spectacular, and do order a cocktail at the bar. I stopped in for a nightcap and was pleasantly surprised by the bartender who made the most brilliant Old Fashioned I’ve ever had. If you’re not into that sort of thing, the gin and tonics are quite good as well. But their Old Fashioneds are to die for.
OR NOT TO SLEEP?
VAN GOGH PAINTED THIS COFFEESHOP YEARS AGO. REALLY...
You’re only in town for 48 hours (“Dammit Chloe, we’re running out of time!”) and there’s so much to do, so it’s time for some music. Start off at Paradiso (paradiso.nl). From the outside it looks like you’re going to a classical concert, but first impressions can be deceptive. You’ll find every kind of music here; just make sure to check who is playing, because you could end up listening to unlistenable German folk or a four-hour Mongolian throat-singing aria. That’s a slight exaggeration, but the acts are really
Photos by Michael Lawrence & Duncan Macfarlane
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diverse. On the weekend, Paradiso hosts enormous parties that last the entire night. If you are determined to get as little sleep as possible, visit Trouw (trouwamsterdam. nl). Getting in will cost you around €20, but you won’t be leaving until the sun is up and most Dutch people are almost leaving for work, so it’s money well spent. It’s open from Thursday to Sunday and is one of the best party spots in a town big on revelry.
FULL OF HISTORY
Amsterdam has a rich and interesting history. The city was captured by the Germans in World War II, and it was at that time that Anne Frank wrote her famous diary. You can still visit the house where she used to live (annefrank.org), as selfobsessed pre-pubicist Justin Bieber did last year, only to write in the guestbook that he hoped “she would have been a Belieber” – y’know, if she hadn’t died in the BergenBelsen concentration camp. Do go early, as the lines to enter the iconic and inspiring teenage diarist’s house tend become incredibly long by the afternoon. Amsterdam is also famous for its canals, so if you’ve got time to spare, make sure you get on a canal boat. It’s a very relaxing way to see the city (and rest from the day before). For a change of pace, it’s worth spending a few hours taking in the Van Gogh Museum (vangoghmuseum.nl). Even though it’s named after (and features lots of work by) the famously earless Dutch painter, they also exhibit the work of other painters. Some of whom he may not always have gotten along with. Historians now claim that, rather than removing it himself, Van Gogh’s ear may have been sliced off by fellow art legend (and nominal ‘friend’) Paul Gaugin during a row.
Amsterdam’s busy Kalverstraat has pretty much every shop you’ll ever need, whether you’re after traditional souvenirs like wooden clogs or a windmill (try to spot a tourist walking on clogs; hilariously,
IT’S NOW THOUGHT VAN GOGH’S EAR MAY HAVE BEEN SLICED OFF BY PAUL GAUGIN DURING A ROW. they’re the world’s least practical shoes). If you’ve still got a bit of budget left, visit ‘De Bijenkorf’, right across from Madame Tussauds and the ‘Paleis op de dam’ (Royal Palace) – a department store with enough high-end brands to fill a Kardashian’s walk-in wardrobe. If you want to spend even more, take a tram to the Pieter Corneliszoon Hooftstraat. It has everything from little – very expensive – boutique stores to a Tesla showroom.
After that, it’s time to head back to the airport. A quick tram-and-train ride to Schiphol Airport (around 30–40 mins) later, you can dash through security and then bide your time with a Café Chocolat before your flight. Your two days in the Dutch capital can fly by – even if you never see the red light district. Guess I’ll just have to go back.
4 Pines Brewing Company Drink Responsibly
1. To be alert is to be ‘bright-eyed and what’? 2. What was the first name of famed designer of Canberra, Burley Griffin? 3. The Virgin Mary is always depicted wearing which colour in Italian art? 4. What is another name for 40-40 in tennis? 5. What type of food is Mahi-mahi? 6. Dance graduate Cressida Bonas is dating which eligible bachelor? 7. Which German figure started a religious reformation with The Ninety-Five Theses? 8. Which country is set to host the next Winter Olympics, in 2018?
Greet Save Goals
Sheepdog Lentil dish
Hurdle Cupid Scents City, -- Paulo Changes
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9. Which country produces 50 per cent of
Vampire beast Bias
the world’s cork?
10. The old AD or Anno Domini has been replaced by the initials CE. What does CE stand for?
11. Paris’ abduction of which Greek beauty
triggered the Trojan War?
12. Which attraction was originally called Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens?
13. The White, Black, Indian, Javan and
Gyp Hangs © Lovatts Puzzles
Sumatran are all species of which mammal?
Moderate 3603 © Lovatts Puzzles
14. Which weapon do you associate with Damocles?
Fill the grid so that every column, every row and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 to 9.
15. John Keats wrote an ode to which bird? 16. Out of the fourteen countries that share
their border with China, which one stretches the longest?
17. What do the national anthems of Spain,
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9 6 3 2 4 1 8 4 9 3 5 8 2 3 7 4 3 7 8 6 6 8 1 7 9 7 6 1 A O
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ICPC until 1956?
5 7 3 9 4 8 2 1 6
20. Which organisation was known as the
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performance in Blue Jasmine?
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Actress Golden Globe and BAFTA for her
7 2 9 4 8 1 5 6 3
Australia’s first-ever TV police drama? 19. Which Australian actress won the Best
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common? 18. Airing between 1964 and 1977, what was
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and The Republic of Kosovo have in
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M S I
QUIZZED UP SOLUTIONS: 1. Bushy-tailed 2. Walter 3. Blue 4. Deuce 5. Fish 6. Prince Harry 7. Martin Luther 8. South Korea 9. Portugal 10. Common Era 11. Helen 12. Sea World 13. Rhinoceros 14. Sword 15. A nightingale 16. Mongolia 17. They have no official lyrics 18. Homicide 19. Cate Blanchett 20. INTERPOL
Perfectly pointless amusement at altitude “THE FIRST GUY WHO PERSUADED A BLIND MAN THAT THEY NEEDED SUNGLASSES, HE MUST HAVE BEEN A HELL OF A SALESMAN.” “I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH BUYING TAMPONS. I AM A FAIRLY MODERN MAN. BUT APPARENTLY THEY’RE NOT A ‘PROPER’ PRESENT.” “THEY SAY THE CAMERA ADDS 10 POUNDS. STOP EATING CAMERAS.” “SCIENTISTS HAVE DEMONSTRATED THAT CIGARETTES CAN HARM YOUR CHILDREN. FAIR ENOUGH. USE AN ASHTRAY.”
OLD SEA TALES A sailor is having a drink at a bar when a gnarled old pirate sits down beside him. The pirate has a hook for a hand, a peg leg and an eye patch, and eventually the sailor bucks up the courage to ask him what happened. “Yar!” says the pirate. “I was swept off the deck by a giant wave in a storm, and before I could be hauled in, a shark bit off my leg!” “What a story,” said the sailor. “What about the hook?” “I was in the middle of a swordfight on the high seas, and a scurvy dog chopped off me hand with a sword!” “Wow!” says the sailor. “Another great yarn! And what about the eye patch?” “T’was a balmy day, and while I was gazing up at the clouds, a seagull pooped right into my eye.” “You lost your eye to bird poo?” splutters the sailor. “Well,” says the pirate, “it was the first day with my hook…”
“I LIKE TO GO INTO THE BODY SHOP AND SHOUT OUT REALLY LOUD, ‘I’VE ALREADY GOT ONE!’”
ENGLISH STAND-UP COMEDIAN JIMMY CARR
“MY GIRLFRIEND RECENTLY HAD A PHANTOM PREGNANCY AND NOW WE HAVE A LITTLE BABY GHOST.”
Social analysis It’s Saturday night and a man goes up to the check out at a supermarket carrying a six-pack of beer, barbecue shapes, a frozen pizza-for-one and some toilet paper. The cashier says, “Single, eh?” The man laughs and says, “Yeah, how can you tell?” The cashier says, “Because you’re ugly.”
WHAT DO YOU CALL A FRENCHMAN WHO’S BEEN ATTACKED BY A BEAR? CLAUDE. 64
“I got a call from the bank and a woman on the phone said ‘Mr Barron, your bills are outstanding’. I said ‘Thankyou!’” CARL BARON, AUSSIE COMEDIAN
SKIP AND A JUMP
DOING IT REMOTE
HIDEAWAYS IN NT & WA
Known for its quokkas and pristine beaches and coves, this island paradise off the coast of Perth is a place that locals love to try and keep to themselves.
Get off the beaten track and into farflung Australia with our wrap-up of remote camping and chilling out spots in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
CONTRIBUTORS: Fleur Bainger, Stephen Corby, Gregor Stronach.
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TEL: 08 9185 4446 E: email@example.com www.ecmportservices.com DAMPIER
Words: Fleur Bainger
Mention romance and most blokes run for the hills. But you don’t have to buy into all that lovey-dovey stuff – seclusion and spoiling are all a girl needs. uys, now that Valentine’s Day is over, the pressure is off for you to write poetry, buy long-stemmed roses and chill French Champagne. It also means that anything remotely charming you do will score you double points – particularly if you haven’t seen your other half for a few weeks and you haven’t said “I miss you” enough lately. The key is to make your grand gesture fun for the two of you, right? So how about taking a light plane to a remote resort on the tip of a sand dune … where barra
jump in the surrounding waters? Or shacking up in a safari tent facing the ocean … where there just happens to be an epic surf break? Or getting away to a heritage spa cottage … overlooking vineyards and a winery with reasonably priced drops? All of these too-good-tobe-true-sounding escapes are on offer in Western Australia, just a drive or flight away.
QUOBBA STATION & RED BLUFF The adventurous glint in your eye will shine bright with a trip to this wilderness retreat on the ocean-facing edge of
a working station in the huge Western Australian Outback, 130 kilometres north of Carnarvon. The boundaries of Quobba Station wrap around Red Bluff, a massive peak that slopes down to the sparkling southern waters of Ningaloo Marine Park. Luxury safari tents – complete with double bed and ensuite – overlook the ocean, which is also home to a curling surf break known as the ‘Bluff barrel’. Those same waters are home to plenty of good eating fish, so throw in a line and try your luck – but expect a white-knuckle fight with some of the game species. While you’re being action man, she
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MELBOURNE | SYDNEY | BRISBANE | ADELAIDE | PERTH
UNLEASHEDWA/NT can go for beach walks along the sugary sand, keeping an eye out for tracks left by visiting marine turtles or watching the horizon for breaching whales, depending on the time of the year. Better still, book her in for a pamper session at the eco spa, where massages, facials and body wraps are all on the menu. For easy ocean access stay in a seascape bungalow. For the ultimate romantic escape, book into one of the oceanview retreats high on an escarpment with stunning 360-degree views of the coast. By night, you could be the only couple in the universe blanketed by a thousand twinkling stars. PS: Don’t forget the wine!
THE BERKELEY RIVER LODGE Here’s what to love: you can get here only by chartered plane, chopper or boat – there’s no road. Plus, it’s perched on an East Kimberley
dune, so this fancy-pants getaway is about as off the beaten track as you can get. After zooming over a never-ending landscape of ochre rock carved by snaking rivers, dotted with bulbous boab trees and edged by the ocean (excited yet?) you spy 20 diamond-shaped villas facing the water. Every one scores 180-degree views of the long, pale beach, the native bush and the deep-red cliffs that brood in the distance. Creature comforts are about as rare as other people in these parts, but here you have air conditioning, a king-size bed, cotton sheets and a Nespresso machine, while an outdoor enclosure hides an egg-shaped bath where long soaks can be taken with zero guilt, thanks to the abundance of fresh water. This year, the deluxe lodge is introducing new Romancing the Berkeley packages, which sees you met with a bottle of Verve, wined and dined on your deck with a private meal,
GO PEARL SAILING ON CYGNET BAY
CYGNET BAY PEARL FARM IS HOLDING FULL-MOON DINNERS ON ITS VIEWING PLATFORM.
and whisked away on a sunset chopper ride – all lapped up over four nights in the resort’s best villa. Tours are also thrown in, so you can cruise the river, jump in a 4WD and go bush, and fish to your heart’s content. Ripper!
CYGNET BAY PEARL FARM
BERKELEY RIVER ESTUARY
GET ROMANTIC AT THE BERKELEY RIVER LODGE
Picture this: you’re perched on a deck overlooking the Dampier Peninsula’s saturated flats, which are perfectly reflecting the full moon as it rises above the heavens. The Staircase to the Moon light phenomenon isn’t only seen at Broome – certain other spots share the magic. And together with a chef-cooked dinner, you and your special ‘plus one’ get it all to yourselves. For the first time this year, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm is holding full moon dinners on its viewing platform from July to October. “It’s all about taking in the spectacle of the bay as it changes from day to night,” says owner and third-generation pearl farmer James Brown. “It’s the real deal. An out-in-the-open,
under-the-stars experience. And it only happens a few days a month.” Australia’s oldest operating pearl farm has a number of safari tents ideal for loved-up couples wanting to immerse themselves in the pearl farm experience over a few days, take boat tours out to the pearl beds or explore remote islands. A highlight is the sunset cruise aboard the 12-metre luxury catamaran Escapade. Out on the open water enjoying music, canapés and drinks, you then return via the red, mottled, billions-ofyears-old Kimberley coastline. If you time your trip right, you could step off the boat and into a fresh pearl meat degustation dinner. When the pearl harvest is on – usually June to September, nature depending – the farm’s restaurant does multi-course dinners with pearl meat. It’s an experience not to be sneezed at.
THERE’S ONLY ONE COTTAGE, SO YOU GET THE EIGHT-HECTARE VINEYARD TO YOURSELVES.
UPPER REACH VINEYARD RETREAT The Swan Valley on Perth’s outskirts is the oldest wine region in Western Australia – it celebrates 180 years of winemaking this year – but it has only one on-vineyard retreat. The Spa Cottage at Upper Reach Wines (pictured left) claims that title. Built in 1907, it has just been upgraded, making the queen-size bed with 1000-thread-count sheets, the spa, the log fire, the deck and barbecue even more fun. Given there’s only one cottage, you get the entire eighthectare vineyard to yourself. Owner Laura Pearse says some sneaky blokes have ambushed their partners with a weekend retreat in the cottage. “A few people have done it recently as a surprise gift,” she says. “It’s great for that because it’s so close. So you could just be driving somewhere in Perth and suddenly you’re here.” By day, wander over to the winery’s cellar door –
DID YOU KNOW?
Research from 2010 in Florence, Italy, indicates that women who drink one or two glasses of red wine each day have stronger libidos than those who choose alcoholic drinks other than red wine or are teetotal.
The u lt i m at e romantiC advenTure
make C rowds a thing of the Past and get romantiC “B erkele y-style”
all iNclusive romaNce packaGe iNcluDes:
• Private C harter tr ansfer s to Berkel e y r iver lo dg e • 4 nights in o ur P rivate ho ne y mo o n o C ean v ie w v il l a • h is & her s ro manC e PaC k and a Bottle o f v erve C hamPagne in v il l a o n arrival • Private villa BalC o ny dinner o n night o f yo ur Cho iC e d u ring yo u r stay • s unset h eliCoPter e xCur sio n with wine & C hees e P l atter • tour s in C lude stun n ing river Cruise, 4wd B ush and Coastal to ur s, guid ed trek s , B eaCh o r B oat fish in g a n d heaPs mo re! ( inC lud es B e ver ages and meals d uring to u r s /aC tivities ) • inC lud es all go urmet meals and B e ver ages at the d unes r estau r ant waterfalls Best during marCh/aPril . *heli-tours suBjeCt to availaBility
The Berkeley river is BesT accessed via kununurr a . www.berkeleyriver .com. au p: 08 9169 1330 e: stay @ berkeleyriver .com. au
they released a cellared Petit Verdot in March that is worth savouring for its big, meaty flavours – then treat your amour to a fancy lunch at the on-site restaurant, Broads. Pearse tips the chef’s platter as an excellent all-rounder. “It’s heaps and heaps of food and it changes seasonally,” she says. Later, do some stargazing from the cottage porch, Pearse suggests: “You can watch the sun set from the deck, then see the moon rise on the other side. It’s really quiet out here so you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.”
A STAY AT THE LUXE EMPIRE RETREAT (ABOVE) INCLUDES LUNCH AT VASSE FELIX WINERY
POINT SCORERS Quobba Station & Red Bluff Off Gnaraloo Road, Macleod 08 9948 5001 quobba.com.au
The Berkeley River Lodge Kimberley Coast 08 9169 1330 berkeleyriver.com.au
Cygnet Bay Pearls Cape Leveque Road, Dampier Peninsula 08 9192 4283
EMPIRE RETREAT This is one to really woo your partner with. Surrounded by leafy forest, visited by cool breezes and featuring 10 glamorous architecturally designed suites, Empire Retreat is a dream destination in the Margaret River region. Its spa is a massive drawcard, and if you choose the threenight Indulgent Rendezvous Package, you and your partner will spend 90 minutes each inside the relaxation haven, being massaged until your body feels like butter. You’ll also be served a gourmet cooked breakfast
Upper Reach Wines 77 Memorial Avenue, Baskerville 08 9296 0078 upperreach.com.au
each morning while you look out onto the retreat’s vineyard. It goes without saying they’ll provide you with a bottle of their Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Merlot as part of the deal. Rev up the romance with plenty of quiet downtime, or ramp things up with the clincher for foodies: an included lunch at Vasse Felix winery.
Empire Retreat 1958 Caves Road, Yallingup 08 9755 2065 empireretreat.com
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Strike Gold with a Weekend Cycling Adventure in the Outback Two days, 150 cyclists and a very unique experience!
Mining is the main game, but once a year Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Menzies and Leonora swap road trains for bike chains and host the Goldfields Cyclassic. Six hundred kilometers east of Perth on the June long weekend, the golden region hosts Australia’s richest handicap cycle race. It is open to everyone, and anyone can win a share of the $40,000 prize money. What’s more, it is surprisingly easy to get there with a discounted $220 charter flight and bikes transported for free. But the money is just a bonus, because the real drawcard is the opportunity to cycle through the unique and theatrical landscapes of the Australia’s Golden Outback. On this two-day cycling adventure along the Goldfields Highway you will pedal past kangaroos, dodge the odd wedge tailed eagle and hold on tight as a triple road train motors by. It’s all part of the exclusive experience that is the Goldfields Cyclassic. After flying in on the exclusive Alliance Airlines charter flight, day one begins in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, home to one of the world’s biggest open cut gold mines, the Super Pit. Then the challenge commences, 132km along the sealed road to the small yet very welcoming town of Menzies, home to the famous Anthony Gormley statues at Lake Ballard. Once rested the riders have the opportunity to explore
the town and watch the local children take part in their own special cycling race on the main street. The local Shire puts on a dinner for all race participants before they head to bed, many at the nearby Morapoi Indigenous Station Stay, another rare outback experience. It’s up with the birds on day two for a fantastic race breakfast before the final 103km to Leonora. Heading down the hill out of Menzies, riders follow the road across the flat plains, past the historic mining town of Gwalia, complete with original 1900s miners cottages, and on to Leonora. The final sprint laps the town before finishing on the main drag, crowds cheering each and every rider who crosses the line. As the riders recover, foot athletes take centre stage as part of famous Leonora Golden Gift running race along the main street. Then it’s prizes, entertainment and a well-earned beverage before flying back to Perth. Two days of challenge, camaraderie and friendship are over in a flash, but the memories will last a lifetime, or at least until next year’s race. 2014 Goldfields Cyclassic May 31 – June 1 www.cyclassic.com.au Charter Flight: $220 return Bikes Transported Free!
It’s an island infested with cute marsupials and girt by sharks. Welcome to Rottnest Island: the best part of Perth isn’t in Perth.
Words: Stephen Corby
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PRE-HISTORY LESSON ropical islands are fabulous, obviously – sand whiter than Scarlett Johansson’s teeth, water greener than Mila Kunis’ eyes, beaches kissed by palm trees and washed by cool breezes. It’s just the access that’s a problem. They’re fiendishly expensive to buy for a start, which means they’re out of the question as holiday homes unless you’re Richard Branson, or someone really rich, like Justin Bieber. This means most of them have been bought up by expensive resort companies, that charge you a fortune to stay, and seem to collude with airlines to make flights to their exotic locales stupidly pricey as well. This is why Rottnest Island comes as such a surprise and delight to people who don’t live in Perth. And why people who do have been trying to keep the place a kind of locals’ secret for years. You can get to Rottnest from Fremantle by ferry in 25 minutes, which is less time than it takes to get from Manly to Circular Quay in Sydney. The other option for nonlocals is a non-arduous 45-minute boat trip from Hillarys Boat Harbour in northern Perth. Rotto, as the locals call it – as in ‘let’s get blotto on Rotto’ – is so accessible that many boat owners just pop over for the day. An incredibly huge 70 per cent of all visitors to this spectacular island don’t stay overnight. For those who do, however, the unusually unspoilt nature of the place means it provides basic – and reasonable – accommodation that’s the antithesis of the Dunk, Hamilton or Lizard islands of Whitsundays fame. Despite being so close to the familiarly coastal feel of Perth – which is basically one long, giant beach with houses on it – Rottnest
feels entirely different, with a dazzling, sun-kissed selection of 63 beaches, coral outcrops and water that mixes deep blues with Midori greens in spectacular fashion. Even in January, when 20 per cent of all visitors for the year arrive, there are so many quiet and secluded areas on the island that it’s not hard to stake out a spot that will make you feel like you’ve been happily shipwrecked. Just standing in the shallows can be like a being amidst a giant aquarium, as giant stingrays peacefully glide past and colourful fish flit around your ankles; but don a snorkel and a world of colour and movement opens up to you beneath the waves. Bottlenose dolphins are also common, and migrating humpback whales pass by at the right time of year (aim for September to late November if you’re hoping to get some whale watching in). There’s even a cute colony of New Zealand fur seals in residence at Cathedral Rocks.
Rottnest Island features in Noongar Aboriginal mythology as Wadjemup, meaning ‘Place across the water’. Recent evidence suggests human occupation as early as 60,000 years ago, up until about 7000 years ago, when rising sea levels separated it from the mainland. It was uninhabited when European exploration began in the seventeenth century.
While the snorkelling is great, diving can be an eye-boggling experience, with limestone reefs to explore and the temptation of grabbing some Western rock lobster also very popular in the summer months. The crayfish season runs from mid November to the end of June each year, and they can be caught in pots or by using a ‘loop’, which is a spring-loaded cable attached to a long pole. You’re limited to six lobsters per day, by law, but they’re so big that you’d be lucky to eat that many. Those who don’t fancy going fishing for lobsters will occasionally find some spectacular, tasty
THE MANY SHELTERED BAYS ON ROTTNEST DRAW BOATIES IN DROVES, BUT THERE’S PLENTY OF ROOM FOR EVERYONE
QUOKKAS: MUCH LUCKIER THAN RATS
THE ISLAND IS ALMOST ALARMINGLY HEALTHY – BIKES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO GET AROUND.
PERFECT SPOT FOR A CHAMPAGNE? LONGREACH BAY
examples being sold for cash on the ferry home. On land, Rottnest is famous for its quokkas, which look like tiny, chubby little kangaroos and hop around the island like they own the place, entirely unbothered by the swathes of humans wanting to take their photos or pat them. Quokkas aren’t actually unique to the island, but it’s one of the few places in the world where you’ll find them in large numbers, protected as they are here from any unnatural predators. They’re also responsible for giving the island its name. Dutch sailor Willem de Vlamingh spent six days exploring here in 1696 and, being a little bit on the dim side, mistook the quokkas for giant rats. Hence the name ‘Rotte nest’, which translates as ‘rat nest’. The need to protect what feels like a colony of millions of quokkas from human harm means visitors certainly can’t bring any pets, but they also probably appreciate the fact that all private, or hired, motor vehicles are banned on the island. This makes Rottnest an almost alarmingly healthy place to visit, as the only way to get around is by bicycle (there are more than 1000 of them available for hire, so there’s no need to pack one). There are more than 50 kilometres of car-free roads to explore, and while the coastal rides are popular – you can see the reefs and even the rays from the cliff tops
– there’s plenty to explore inland as well, with a series of interlinked saltwater lakes forming a haven for all kinds of bird life. The diversity of landscapes on offer in such a small space – Rottnest is just 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres at its widest point – is startling. The paradisiacal look and feel of the island’s edges is wildly contrasted by the scarified, acid-washed Martian surfaces of some of the interior. It’s a great place to go for a long bicycle ride, and fortunately all that worthy exercise can easily be traded off at the famous, and fabulous, Hotel Rottnest, with its brilliant, sand-kissed beer garden, live bands and rowdy nights. Rottnest is famed in Western Australia as the place to go for school leavers’ celebrations, and this pub is the epicentre of all that fun and frivolity. While the hotel offers excellent food – with particularly tasty pizzas – there are also several top restaurants in the village area as well. Eating out isn’t the only option, though, unlike many resorts, because self-catered accommodation is the norm here. The Rottnest Island Authority offers close to 300 villas, units and cottages, which sleep four, six or eight people. They all offer kitchen facilities and, more importantly, there are barbecues in every yard. While these places really are undeniably basic – there’s an air of caravan-park style about them –
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UNLEASHEDWA/NT they’re also quite homely and they add to the unspoilt feel of a stay at Rottnest. Added to that, many of them offer beachfront views, and none of them is more than a short stroll from the sand. This option is so popular in summer that ballots are held annually – so travellers can win the chance to stay in them. Other accommodation options include the slightly more salubrious Hotel Rottnest, the Rottnest Lodge and a 40-site camping ground. There’s long been talk of building a luxurious resort-style facility on the island, but it’s somehow more charming for not having one. While a day visit to Rottnest is pleasant, you can’t beat staying the night, watching the pearlescent white sand turning auburn and then gold as the sun sets, and settling back at the pub for a frosty cold one ... or seven. There’s something about Rottnest that makes it feel friendlier, more real somehow, than any other tropical island in Australia, or anywhere else. It’s more than just accessible and affordable to get to; it’s the kind of holiday destination every major city should have parked on its doorstep.
ROTTNEST ISLAND: MORE FRIENDLY AND REAL THAN SOME
THE LOWDOWN Hotel Rottnest 08 9292 5011
Self-contained accommodation Choose from a variety of premium units, heritage cottages and budget cabins. Prices are dependent on water views, but you’re never far from the ocean no matter what you decide to pay. rottnestisland.com/ accommodation
Hotel Rottnest 08 9292 5011
Aristos Waterfront 08 9292 5171
Rottnest Bakery 08 9292 5023 Take a scenic flight from Rottnest Airport and see the island from the air. Flights also take in Perth City, Fremantle and the Swan River. 08 9292 5027 Get on your bike and explore 50km of scenic trails. Rottnest Island Pedal and Flipper has all your hire needs covered, and if you don’t fancy pedalling there are electric bikes for hire. You can also pick up your snorkelling gear here before hitting the water. 08 9292 5105
IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE COURTESY OF TOURISM WA & TOURISM NT
Got a hankering for getting really lost? No worries. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have heaps of remote spots where you can get away from it all. WORDS: DANIELLE CHENERY
Conto Campground at Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, WA
Seriously old forests, jaw-dropping coastlines, caves ripe for exploring and freshwater rivers – nature really turns it on out here. Conto Campground is within the 20,000-hectare LeeuwinNaturaliste National Park, which is chockers with karri forests and awash with surf beaches. Mother Nature has gone nuts here with yellow, blue, rich green and pearly white hues. There are 12 camp sites to choose from and camping is a bargain at $10 a night per adult.
You’re 18 kilometres south-west of Margaret River and just 1.5 kilometres from Conto Beach, and you’re in the right spot to challenge yourself on the 135-kilometre Cape to Cape Track between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin, where Australia’s most southwestern lighthouse is located. The track skirts along sandy beaches and snakes deeply through woodlands. If you’re up for it, do the walk in one go – five to seven days – or conquer shorter sections via the multiple access points. There’s a lookout on top of Conto cliff (a 550-metre walk from the
camp site), which is awe-inspiring at sunset. The limestone cliff turns a light-pink, which (no matter how far removed you are from your feminine side) you gotta admit is pretty spectacular. Leave the booze at home, as it’s an alcohol-free camping ground. Camp fires are prohibited, but there are wood barbecues, so you can cook up some bush tucker or your own freshly caught fat salmon.
Getting there: Conto Campground is halfway between Margaret River and Augusta. There’s signposted access 1.7 kilometres along Conto Road.
THIS IMAGE AND MAIN LEFT: LEEUWWIN-NATURALISTE NATIONAL PARK
Drysdale River National Park, WA
Bush camping in Drysdale River National Park is not for the fainthearted. This is one remote destination – only for the most experienced (or craziest) of campers. The national park is the Kimberley’s largest and least accessible – a whopping 448,260 hectares in Western Australia’s far north. This is saltwater croc territory, so swimming is not recommended and neither is camping close to the water’s edge. On land there are no walking trails and access is through private property, so you need permits. There are no visitor facilities or public access roads either. So what is there, you might ask? Wilderness. In all its glory. The major waterfalls are Morgan Falls and Solea Falls. There’s the Drysdale River itself, of course, along with rugged cliffs, gorges, pools and creeks. This place is so remote that it’s a hotspot for rare and unusual plant species. There are pockets of rainforest and almost 600 plant species in the park, including aquatic and swamp plants with charming names like bladderwort and trigger plants. There are plenty of frogs and reptiles, too – some found only here. It’s possible to camp on Theda Station after you get permission from the owners. Otherwise, try Bulldust Yards on Carson River Station by obtaining permission through Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation. Camping fees apply.
Getting there: Drysdale River National Park is 150 kilometres west of Wyndham and 100 kilometres south of Kalumburu. Access is tricky via station tracks on Carson River Station from Kalumburu Road. You need permission before using these tracks. For access contact Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation on 08 9161 4300 and supply the details of your visit. Then call in at the Kalumburu community to purchase a permit before entering Carson River Station. Contact the Department of Environment and Conservation’s regional office in Kununurra on 08 9168 4200 to register your visit.
Image courtesy of Drysdale River National Park
UNLEASHEDWA/NT THIS IS SALTWATER CROC TERRITORY, SO SWIMMING IS NOT RECOMMENDED AND NEITHER IS CAMPING CLOSE TO THE WATER’S EDGE.
Broome’s northern beaches, WA
Broome’s population swells from June to July – it’s the perfect time to visit the historical pearling town that’s the southern gateway to the Kimberley. But if your plan is to get away from it all, check out Broome’s northern beaches along the Dampier Peninsula, which isn’t as busy but is just as amazing if you come equipped with a 4WD. The main camping grounds are Willie Creek, Barred Creek, Quondong Point and Prices Point. Swimming isn’t recommended in Willie Creek, thanks to the crocs, but you can go fishing or mud crabbing or simply check out the local birds (the ones that fly). Experience Aboriginal culture with remote communities along the way. Feast your eyes on breathtaking
rock formations and sand dunes, which are the beaches’ most prominent features. The camping spots are best for self-sufficient campers, so bring your own drinking water and firewood. Sometimes in the warmer months fire bans apply, so bring a gas/fuel stove too, just in case.
Getting there: The camp sites are north of Broome along Manari Road (the turn-off is 14 kilometres along the road from Broome to Cape Leveque) and a 4WD is essential. For more information go to visitbroome.com.au or call Broome Visitor Centre on 08 9195 2200.
DAMPIER PENINSULA OFFERS SOME AMAZING COASTAL FORMATIONS
IMAGE COURTESY OF BRENDAN HEYWOOD
JUST ONE OF MANY AMAZING WATERFALLS IN NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK
Nitmiluk National Park, NT
Nitmiluk National Park is Top End territory and now is the perfect time to camp. The most comfortable months are May to September – the dry season – because during the wet, access roads can become cut off for short periods. Depending on how remote an experience you’re after, there are two types of camping available. There are permanent camping grounds at the Gorge or Leliyn (Edith Falls). That’s the easy option, with lots of car parking and tent and caravan sites. The Gorge is even powered for those who like to stay on the grid. Otherwise, bush
camping areas are available, too. Check at the Nitmiluk Centre to suss out where to access water. The Jawoyn Aboriginal people own the 292,800-hectare national park, which is jointly managed with the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission. Its main attraction is the ancient, deep sandstone gorge carved by the Katherine River. The park is something of a hidden treasure with amazing places to swim, including waterfalls, and few tourists. There are also plenty of significant cultural sites dotted with Aboriginal art. For something different, hop on a boat. Nitmiluk Tours operates cruises in the gorge system that range from two hours to half a day. You can also hire a canoe and explore the gorge under your own steam, if you’d prefer. If you really want to take it all in, get walking. And if you’re serious about it, opt for a five-day walk from Nitmiluk to Leliyn along the 60-kilometre Jatbula Trail. Register with the Parks and Wildlife Commission at the Nitmiluk Centre first.
Getting there: The main entrance is 30 kilometres northeast of Katherine via a sealed road. Or there’s access from the western side of the park at Leliyn; turn off the Stuart Highway, 42 kilometres north of Katherine, and follow a sealed road for another 19 kilometres. For road conditions check ntlis.nt.gov.au/roadreport or call 1800 246 199.
GETTING TO LITCHFIELD IS HALF THE FUN
KEEP RIVER, FORGET ABOUT YOUR CANOE
Keep River National Park, NT/WA border
Can’t decide between the Northern Territory and Western Australia? Keep River National Park is officially in the Northern Territory but just three kilometres east of the border. This national park located 468 kilometres west of Katherine is famous for its incredible landforms and evidence of geological events – think volcanic activity, marine deposits and glaciation. It’s a living museum, really. Don’t forget your camera and hiking shoes. Aboriginal rock art enthusiasts will get their fix along the Jinumum and Lang-gerrbi (Nigli Gap) Walk. Keep an eye out for short-eared rock wallabies, white-quilled rock pigeons and sandstone shrikethrushes as you explore the region. Camp at Gurrandalng, which is 18 kilometres from the park entrance, or Jarnem, 31 kilometres from the entrance. You can use a generator at the Gurrandalng camping ground but it must be turned off by 8.30pm.
Getting there: Three kilometres east of the NT/WA border, Keep River National Park has gravel roads suitable for 2WD vehicles leading to the main attractions. Whatever your vehicle, you’re restricted to the formed roads in the park.
Do property issues effect you ur bottom line e? Litchfield National Park, NT
TERMITE MOUNDS: THE PLACE TO BE IN LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
Litchfield National Park is way better than Kakadu, the locals reckon. There are amazing waterfalls, like the renowned Wangi Falls, walking tracks, historical sites, caves and even some rainforest. The magnetic termite fields are a highlight. Built by an army of termites, the mounds face north-south to create temperature-controlled abodes. The Lost City is another famous site. The journey is rough and rocky, so it will test your 4WD skills, but once you’re through, check out the rock formations that make up the ‘city’. They were actually formed by years of erosion of the sandstone cap of the tabletop range. For bushwalking, the 39-kilometre Tabletop Track circuit is accessible at Florence Falls, Greenant Creek, Wangi Falls and Walker Creek. It’s a crocodile zone, but you can swim at Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Wangi Falls, Walker Creek, Cascades, Tjaynera Falls and Surprise Creek. If you’re camping with a caravan, there are non-powered sites at Wangi Falls. There are more options if you’re camping with a 4WD, especially during the dry season. Check out Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek), Surprise Creek Falls and downstream from Florence Falls. Walker Creek has walk-in camping sites if that’s more your style. Camping fees apply in the park and generators are not permitted.
Getting there: The park is a 120-kilometre drive (sealed road) south of Darwin via Batchelor. In the dry season you can also get there via Cox Peninsula Road (some unsealed sections) and Daly River Road if you’re armed with a 4WD. Planning to check out the Lost City? Check road conditions at ntlis.nt.gov.au/ roadreport before you set off.
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BUSINESS LOVE YOUR BEER? LOOKING FOR SOMETHING NEW TO TRY? HERE ARE THE BEST CRAFT BREWERIES TO EXPLORE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. WORDS: GREGOR STRONACH
estern Australia might seem like a faraway place to the rest of the country, but it’s got a special place in the hearts and minds of every Aussie bloke who loves good beer. It’s where the craft beer movement kicked off in Australia, and it’s home to some of the best beers, and brewers, in the world. Here’s a rundown on the cream of the crop in Western Australia, with something on offer to suit just about every taste in that beautiful, yeasty brew we call beer. May/June 2014
INE COUNTR Y
FERAL BREWING COMPANY
Deep in the heart of wine country, where the landed gentry sip their Chardonnay and admire the rumps of their polo ponies, lies a gem of a brewery called Bootleg. Tom Reynolds is the man behind this oasis of beer among the grapevines, and they punch out some really stunning beers. Pick of the crop is the Raging Bull,
which has collected six gold medals at the Australian International Beer Awards. It’s not a beer to be trifled with, tipping the scales at 7.1 per cent Alcohol By Volume (ABV) – but it’s worth the drive to get one. Kick back at the restaurant and get stuck into beautifully paired food and beer.
RAGING BULL IS NOT A BEER TO BE TRIFLED WITH, TIPPING THE SCALES AT 7.1 PER CENT ALCOHOL BY VOLUME (ABV)
Puzey Rd, Wilyabrup 08 9755 6300, bootlegbrewery.com.au
FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS, FERAL BREWING COMPANY’S HOP HOG HAS TOPPED ALMOST EVERY ‘BEST CRAFT BEER’ LIST
In the heart of the Swan Valley lurks the Feral Brewing Company, makers of some very special beers. Topping the list is their beer that has topped just about every ‘Best Craft Beer’ list for the past 12 months – the Hop Hog. It’s a monster of a beer, with more hop flavours and aromas than you could reasonably expect to be able to fit into a bottle. It’s a cracker of a brew for a hot day. Or a cold day. Or night time ... yeah, you get the picture. You can visit Feral and get stuck into some brilliant food at the restaurant as well.
152 Haddrill Rd, Baskerville 08 9296 4657, feralbrewing.com.au
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THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONK’S BEER LIST INCLUDE THE CHIEF AND THE RAUCH
THE MONK BREWERY AND KITCHEN When it comes to experiencing great beer and equally good food, The Monk Brewery and Kitchen is pretty hard to pass up. New head brewer Craig Eulenstein spent the past four years honing his skills at craft beer gurus Mountain Goat Beer in Victoria, so the quality hasn’t dipped. The highlights of The Monk’s beer list include the Chief – a whopper of a beer that will stand up to just about anything, and the Rauch – a smoky, fruity concoction that deserves a medal. Drop into the Fremantle premises to have these beers (and more) matched perfectly to the food on your plate.
33 South Terrace, Fremantle 08 9336 7666, themonk.com.au
NAIL’S RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT HAS BROUGHT GROWN MEN TO THEIR KNEES
NAIL BREWING AUSTRALIA
301 Collier Rd, Bassendean 0413 872 337, nailbrewing.com.au
When it comes to winning awards for making beer, John Stallwood is the Grand Champion of Western Australia – largely because everything he touches turns into magnificent beers. Nail only brews three beers – the Nail Ale; an easy-drink, session Pale Ale, Nail Stout; an oatmeal stout with overtones of coffee and chocolate, and the barnstorming Clout Stout; a Russian Imperial Stout that has brought grown men to their knees. John’s brews are rated among the best in the world. For the trivia buffs – John has brewed the world’s most expensive beer, using water brought from Antarctica by the Sea Shepherd crew.
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS – AN INSIDE LOOK AT NAIL BREWING AUSTRALIA’S BREWERY
MATSO’S BROOME BREWERY Here’s the rule – if you love beer, and you go to Broome, you have to go to Matso’s Broome Brewery. It’s one of Australia’s premiere brewing companies, pushing out beers that both reflect the tropical surrounds, and go perfectly well with the weather as well. Wet your whistle with the Pearler’s Pale Ale, or give their award-winning Mango Beer a crack. Both are solid, session-able beers that deserve a place in any beer-lover’s heart. The restaurant is geared towards local produce, matched with the beer and cider list.
60 Hamersley St, Broome 08 9193 5811, matsos.com.au
THE RESTAURANT IS GEARED TOWARDS LOCAL PRODUCE, MATCHED WITH BEER AND CIDER
COLONIAL BREWING CO’S BELGIAN STYLE WITBIER IS A FAVOURITE
TRY MATSO’S AWARD-WINNING MANGO BEER
COLONIAL BREWING CO. Another of Margaret River’s hidden treasures, the crew at Colonial Brewing Co have been turning out some very special beers in recent years. Head brewer, Justin Fox, and assistant brewer, Paul Wyman (a mountain of a man – six foot six tall, much of it beard), are making real waves with their Indian Pale Ale and Kolsch. But the pick of the brews on offer is their Belgian-style Witbier – a summer favourite. There’s a great menu on offer at the brewery, skewed towards the flavours that go so well with a cold beer: salt and smoke.
Osmington Rd, Margaret River 08 9758 8177, colonialbrewingco.com.au
LITTLE CREATURES IS SO BIG THEY’VE HAD TO OPEN A NEW BREWERY IN GEELONG
LITTLE CREATURES BREWING
scale. The operation is so big that they’ve had to open up a new brewery in Geelong to satisfy the East Coast desire for their beers. The restaurant attached to the Fremantle brewery is a corker, and well worth a visit. Don’t miss this one.
40 Mews Rd, Fremantle 08 62151000, littlecreatures.com.au
All the way back in 2001, Little Creatures poured its first batch of Pale Ale, and kicked off the craft beer revolution that Australia is still enjoying to this day. Little Creatures is pretty much the Godfather of Australian craft brewing, and the team is still producing top quality brews – just on a massive
GAGE ROADS BREWING CO. For a proper Western Australian beer it’s hard to go past the brews produced by the team at Gage Roads. It’s not a small operation – Gage Roads can pump out 1.2 million cases of beer every year, and often brew other people’s beers for them as well as making their own brilliant range. The pick of the Gage Roads brews is the Sleeping Giant Indian Pale Ale (IPA) – a mouthkickingly bitter beer that is just about the best thing ever to drink with an explosively hot curry. Marvellous stuff. MAKING BEER – BILL HOEDEMAKER ADDS KETTLE HOPS
14 Absolon St, Palmyra 08 9331 2300, gageroads.com.au
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YARA PILBARA CHOOSES FAMILIES OVER FIFO Yara Pilbara has announced a new recruitment drive aimed at attracting workers and their families to WA’s north-west with sweeteners that include free housing, international training and a family-friendly roster. In direct contrast to the fly-in fly-out phenomena, Yara Pilbara is constructing 60 homes in Karratha for new employees and their families. Chief Executive of Yara Pilbara, Mark Loquan says the practice of “living local” is better for workers as well as the company. “We believe having our people here in Karratha, in close proximity to our plants, makes sense for us. It promotes continuity in our operations, and for those of our team members with families it means they can be together and share in being part of a larger community,” Mr Loquan said. Yara Pilbara is the operator of one of the world’s largest ammonia production facilities. The company is also currently building an $800 million technical ammonium nitrate (TAN) plant on the neighbouring site south of Karratha. In addition to providing housing, the Norwegian-owned company will be offering overseas training opportunities to some of the new hires in countries including Spain, Chile and Sweden. Twenty-nine year old father of three, Jonathan Luck moved his family to Karratha from Western Sydney to work on Yara Pilbara’s ammonia plant about 12 months ago. “I couldn’t do fly-in fly-out. Working for Yara, I’m 15 minutes from home. I’m home every night and home on the weekends. You just can’t beat the lifestyle”, said Mr Luck. Anyone interested in finding out more information or applying for a position can visit yara.com
their vision for Queensland, and coal doesn’t get a mention. Instead, the top priorities and goals of the respondents include protecting the environment and investing in and adopting sustainable and renewable energy solutions.
THE FUTURE OF LNG
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COAL IS NOT THE GOAL Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was famously quoted as saying, “We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat, we all need to understand that.” He was responding to the United Nations’ report on threats from port expansion to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its status as a World Heritage site.
It was certainly true at the time – coal, Australia’s second-biggest export earner, brought in $41 billion in 2012 – but it seems Queenslanders have a different vision for the future of their state. The Queensland Government has been collecting information from the state’s population as part of The Queensland Plan: a 30-year vision for Queensland. Almost 80,000 residents have already had their say about
At the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) conference in Perth last month, chairman Rob Cole was very positive about the growth of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in Australia, saying: “Our industry is increasingly being acknowledged as one of the Australian economy’s shining lights. “Deloitte Access Economics recently identified the gas industry as one of Australia’s top five growth sectors. According to Deloitte, the oil and gas industry will soon make up more than three per cent of Australia’s economy.” In 2011–12, the LNG industry generated $12 billion in export revenue and contributed $29.4 billion to the Australian economy. Given there is $200 billion worth of new projects currently under construction, the future of LNG is looking very bright, with Deloitte modelling showing that, by 2025, building and operating these projects will have added more than $260 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP). “But we all know that if this is to occur, Australia must first improve its productivity and competitiveness,” Cole said. “There are many LNG projects on the world’s drawing boards. Indeed, the number planned is more than twice what is needed to meet the next decade’s forecast demand growth.” Cole hopes the government will come to the table and do its bit to ensure LNG’s future in Australia, saying: “Our international competitiveness is under the microscope. And high labour costs and low productivity are an unsustainable mix.” The other hope is that government will 3
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address issues around the effective sciencebased regulation of the sector, as well as workplace relations issues.
THE DRONES ARE COMING Australian mining is embracing new drone and robotic technology in the hope of increasing productivity and global competitiveness. “Drones will be able to shorten supply chains and will change your ability to monitor, track and manage the key aspects of your mining business that are time-critical in remote places,” says Nigel Court, Perthbased natural resources industry leader for the Asia-Pacific at Accenture, which provides mining consulting services. “One of the great things we’ll see with drones is immediate spare parts delivery, literally within hours, where now it can take days.” The annual spend in Australia on research and development for the mining industry is about $4 billion. Mining giant Rio Tinto leads the way, spending $370 million on its technology and innovation unit last year, which employs 730 people. In fact, Rio Tinto funds one of the largest non-military robotics programs in the world and will soon add drones to its armoury of unmanned trucks and trains. “Come and see me in about October,” says John McGagh, head of innovation at Rio Tinto in Australia. “You’ll see drones flying around. That’s not so long off.”
BHP SEEKS APPROVAL FOR NEW COALMINE
PALMER’S PARTY GAINS IN WA ELECTION At the time of going to press, the winner of the Western Australian Senate’s sixth seat had
not been announced, but initial numbers showed a strong swing towards The Greens and Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party. On April 7, political correspondent Sabra Lane said on ABC’s 7.30: “For the ALP and its relatively new leader, Bill Shorten, the result’s a shocker. Mr Shorten urged voters to send the government a message about planned cuts to health and education. Instead, voters have sent him and the ALP a strong and unmissable missive: They don’t like what they see and hear. “The Palmer United Party attracted nearly 12.5 per cent of the vote, with a big swing towards the party of nearly 7.5 per cent.
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BHP Billiton has sought approval to build a 30-year underground coalmine in northern New South Wales. The mining company lodged its application with the state government’s Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel in early April. The Caroona mine, which would be located about 40 kilometres south-east of Gunnedah in the Liverpool Plains, is expected to produce as much as 10 million tonnes of saleable thermal coal per year. BHP says it would employ up to 400 staff at the time of peak production and 600 during peak construction. It would be an underground mine, rather than open-cut, with the company claiming underground mining is better for the environment than open-cut mining.
While prices of thermal as well as metallurgical coal are weak, BHP plans to remain competitive by pushing for higher productivity and deeper cost cuts, rather than reduce production. Next, BHP Billiton needs to issue an environmental impact statement, however the Department of Planning says the project is in the very early stages of its environmental assessment process.
The Greens, too, recorded more than 15 per cent, and not far ahead of them, Labor on 21 per cent of the first preference vote. It will probably win just one seat,” she said. ABC election analyst Antony Green agreed the result was terrible news for Labor. “The main story out of the Western Australian Senate election is the disastrous result for Labor. It’s the lowest Labor vote in an election – a Senate election since 1903. Their vote went substantially down. The loss of vote for the Liberal Party’s what you’d expect at a by-election,” he said on ABC’s 7.30.
SURAT EXPO CONNECTS INDUSTRY IN A BOOMING REGION South West Queensland is leading the way in Australia with enormous growth and diversity across a range of industries. With major infrastructure projects already under way and a raft of others about to start the whole region is in ‘fast forward’.
The annual Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo is one of the best industry events in Australia with hundreds of companies already booked in for the June Mega-Show. Organiser, Bob Carroll from Australian Events, said the event is easily accessible from Brisbane and is held in Toowoomba which is the gateway to the Surat Basin. “The fly-by-nighters and the half-baked businesses have fallen away. The businesses and sponsors who are locked in for this year are the companies who have done their homework, have sourced the world’s best products and have stepped up every area of their business to ensure that they can supply and sustain a high level of service. This will be a top shelf event and one that business and industry should not miss.” The Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo opens on the June 18 with details for exhibitors and delegates available online at suratbasinexpo.com.au or by phoning FREE call 1800 671 588.
“The fly-by-nighters and the half-baked businesses have fallen away. The businesses and sponsors who are locked in for this year are the companies who have done their homework.”
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New-age Queensland QUEENSLAND IS ENTERING A NEW ERA AS STALWART COAL MAKES ROOM FOR EMERGING RESOURCES INDUSTRIES AND GOVERNMENT PUSHES ITS AGENDA TO REMOVE REGULATION AT AN INCREASINGLY COMPETITIVE TIME. WORDS: ORYANA ANGEL
THE PAST 12 months has seen vast change in the Queensland resources sector as the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry comes to fruition, coal prices fall and once-controversial uranium mining is again permitted in the Sunshine State. With coal being the backbone of the Queensland mining sector, global oversupply and softening of demand for coal has taken a heavy toll on the industry. “It’s led to inevitable cost-cutting programs, with all producers taking prudent steps to get costs under control,” says David Rynne, Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) director of economic and infrastructure policy. This has meant that in the past 12 to 18 months, big players such as British-based Anglo American and mining joint venture BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), have actually reduced their management and operational headcount to stay financially viable through the downturn. While over the past two years about 8000 Queensland coal workers have lost their jobs, with
a percentage re-employed in the oil and gas industry, the timing is ironic. In December last year, the Queensland coal industry and supporting communities celebrated a coup, getting regulatory approval from Canberra after several years of battling for the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal. This will create export infrastructure to support the development of mines in the Bowen and Galilee Basins. The regulatory approval allowing dredging paves the way for three additional terminals to be constructed. Once the T0, T1 and T3 terminals at Abbot Point are completed, it will mean the world’s largest coal port is 25 kilometres north of Bowen on the central Queensland coast. Greenpeace and other conservationists around the country strongly oppose the project. “The expansion at Abbot Point will have a direct effect on the Great Barrier Reef through dredging. Even more serious are the effects it will have on the global climate through greenhouse emissions when all that coal is burned,” says Greenpeace
Image courtesy of Bechtel
Above: Construction on Curtis Island, Queensland.
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“The Queensland resources sector exports approximately $40 billion per year in commodities.”
campaigner Louise Matthiesson. “Opening up the Galilee Basin’s untapped coal reserve is unleashing a new carbon bomb on the climate.” Almost at the same time as the long-awaited tick of approval was given, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American decided to keep their options open and pull out of the tender process. However, Indianbased miners GVK Hancock and Adani are pressing ahead with plans to build terminals at the port. With the opening up of the Galilee Basin potentially still a number of years away, the real opportunities in Queensland at the moment lie upstream in LNG, according to Rynne. “At present the Queensland resources sector exports approximately $40 billion per year in commodities – be that coal, base and precious metals, alumina, bauxite and so on. The LNG industry, in full production a couple of years from now, is anticipated to add in excess of $10 billion per annum to the mix. That’s a very significant increase on what Queensland produces,” Rynne says. “What’s happening in Queensland is profound. The LNG industry is currently in its infancy but each project can have a 30- to 40-year life span. Tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created to feed that activity.”
Currently, there are three LNG projects under way in Queensland, which combined are worth about $70 billion. And the industry is about to come into fruition, with Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) set to be the world’s first project to turn gas from coal seams into LNG. The first LNG tankers are expected to leave Queensland later this year. There’s plenty of gas under the ground in Queensland; it’s a case of looking for that gas at a time when exploration costs are increasing. “Analysts indicate the costs of recovering coal seam gas in Queensland is somewhere near $5 a gigajoule. That’s a significant increase from only a couple of years ago,” says Rynne. “The story is the same for all the resources that Queensland exports. It’s a case of getting costs under control and staying globally competitive. Government can play a role here in terms of taxes and royalties and streamlining red and green tape. In short, regulatory burdens significantly increase cost and create uncertainty – two things we need to address in Queensland.” The QRC’s agenda is to look to government to keep costs under control. “We encourage policy reform,” says Rynne. “The state and federal governments can do more to create an attractive environment for companies to invest in growth 11
“Protecting the environment in the long run is also protecting the economy.”
Image courtesy of North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
Above: Conservationists say expansion of Abbot Point will have a direct impact on the Great Barrier Reef through dredging.
DID YOU KNOW? • Almost $38 billion was spent by Queensland resources sector companies in 2012–13: $7 billion in wages to workers directly employed in Queensland and $31 billion in goods and services from Queensland-based businesses. • Queensland Curtis LNG is among Australia’s largest capital infrastructure projects with US$20.4 billion of investment from 2010-2014. 12
projects. There’s a lot [government can do], such as streamlining the approvals process, and encouraging steps have been taken to establish the so-called one-stop shop where the state and federal governments work together to streamline environmental approval processes for new resources projects.” With the Newman government’s affirmed commitment to reducing red tape in exploration applications, it’s possible Queensland will see conflict-ridden uranium mining start as early as 2015, in light of a recovery in global uranium prices. The policy banning uranium mining was lifted in Queensland at the end of 2012, some 30 years after the state’s last mine closed. In March this year, the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, released two controversial discussion papers, which will ‘cut red tape’ and restrict who can object to mining applications. Currently, any group or person can object to applications, potentially sending the decision to the Land Court. In a media statement Cripps said that the proposed reforms would result in fewer delays and
supercharge the economy. Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) solicitor Evan Hamman says he has concerns about the impact this could have: “The biggest concern we have is the balance between rushing through decisions and engaging properly with the community about to be affected by the decision. “We believe that balance is pushed in this discussion paper perhaps too far away from the communities, as it’s limiting the types of people who can raise issues or objections to a mine. It’s stripping back more of those opportunities and ways of helping the community to be involved in the process and, in some instances, shutting them out all together.” Greenpeace’s Matthiesson says: “I’m sure there are some points where legislation can be improved to make it more efficient, but often that’s used as a smokescreen in weakening the laws and taking away important safeguards. “These laws are put in place for a good reason; to protect the environment. Protecting the environment in the long run is also protecting the economy.”
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THE AUSTRALIAN MINING INDUSTRY RELIES HEAVILY ON ITS BIG EQUIPMENT – THE CRUSHERS, TRENCHERS AND EARTHMOVERS. WE EXAMINE THE STATE OF THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT INDUSTRY AND ITS IMPACT ON MINING INTO THE FUTURE. WORDS: CHRISTINE RETSCHLAG
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trucks in the world at 360 tonnes. “Demand is currently at a level experienced in the early 2000s, which is well off the boom times experienced over the past three years,” Pichanick says. “But this is still not bad, it allows companies like ours to catch up and we are actually spending a lot on infrastructure, such as new facilities and expansion of existing facilities to ensure our valued customers are supported long term.” Pichanick refuses to be drawn on future technology in the heavy machinery sector – saying it’s confidential. “But going on our past experience, Liebherr is an innovative company with all our own in-house technology, so all our existing customers know when Liebherr offers new products they are very advanced and will go to work reliably and compete at all levels,” he says. In 2008, Rio Tinto launched the Rio Tinto Mine of the Future in a bid to change the face of mining productivity and efficiency. Three key themes are: • Autonomy – to achieve massive efficiency in surface bulk mining; • Recovery – to increase efficiency by sorting waste before it gets to the process plants; • Tunnelling – to access deep ore bodies even faster.
Image by Aldous Massie at The Illustration Room
preparing for a major gear change as mining equipment expands from the more traditional to the technical. While there will always be a place for the big rigs on site, the landscape is shifting into an innovative new era that some players, such as Austmine CEO Robert Trzebski, are hailing as the ‘technology age’. Trzebski, who represents the leading industry association for the mining supply sector, told Inside Mining that companies like Rio Tinto are paving the way in terms of technology using completely autonomous equipment run from Perth on some of their Pilbara operations. But that’s not to suggest industry players are slamming on the brakes on the big rigs just yet. Liebherr-Australia sales and marketing general manager, Dave Pichanick, told Inside Mining that Liebherr excavators from 250 tonnes and above are strong market leaders in their class in numerous parts of the world. But in Australia, the new generation 400-tonne and 800-tonne excavators are “performing at a level never experienced”. The German-based company – which has been operating in Australia for 20 years – has 55 per cent of the market share in its machinery classes of main mining excavators and ultra-class trucks. Liebherr manufactures the biggest ultra-class
Liebherr excavators from 250 tonnes and above are strong market leaders in their class in numerous parts of the world. But in Australia, the new generation 400-tonne and 800-tonne excavators are “performing at a level never experienced”.
“There is definitely a place for big rigs, large mining excavators and dump trucks, as we are moving into an era of autonomous equipment in certain applications.”
equipment, including both AC drive (electric drive) mining trucks and hydraulic mining excavators. “Our EX Series mining hydraulic excavators are renowned, and we’ve built a reputation as the market leaders in the industry for these powerful, reliable and productive machines,” Green says. “Revolutionising the global mining landscape, the Hitachi EX5600 excavator, with 34-cubic metre bucket, would be considered our most popular mining excavator. It incorporates the latest innovations and is designed for superior production capabilities. “The EX5600 excavator is also matched to suit our EH4000 AC Drive Dump Truck in order to maximise production in mining operations.” Green says they are looking for steady growth in the market by the end of 2014 and into 2015. “Hitachi is very well placed for the technological age. As we are part of the Global Hitachi Group of companies, we have access to the latest technologies and innovations. We see this as an improvement to our business – access to a diverse range of Hitachi products from different industries,” he says. “Our latest machinery incorporates cutting-edge technologies – our AC Drive mining trucks feature onboard computers and data transfer capabilities. “There is definitely a place for big rigs, large mining excavators and dump trucks, as we are moving into an era of autonomous equipment in certain applications.”
Rio Tinto’s Technology and Innovation group now employs around 700 people, but competitors are unlikely to learn any key secrets soon. “While Rio Tinto takes a partnership approach to innovation, our advances are tightly guarded,” a statement on the major miner’s website claims. Rio Tinto head of innovation, John McGagh, said in a recent presentation, that mining has not been known as the “greatest technological” business but “that’s changed over the past six to seven years”. “All of these things make your life better, operations better, and they make more money,” he says. But again, this is not to say the days of the big rigs are dead. Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia general manager mining, Eric Green, told Inside Mining that since its parent company HCM was established in 1949, it has evolved into a leading global manufacturer of Hitachi mining
FAST FACTS • The Australian Mining and Industrial Machinery Wholesaling industry has fetched a revenue of $27.5 billion in the five years to 2013/14.
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UNEARTHING NEW SOURCES OF FUNDING The global mining landscape has changed dramatically. Not just on the ground, but also in the air-conditioned offices of those who finance the projects. We look at the new paradigm in the mining finance industry. WRITES: CHRISTINE RETSCHLAG
ining companies are returning to more unconventional ways of seeking finance in a sector that has seen high debt, less deals, and juniors battling for survival, according to respected industry commentators. According to Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2014 report, the fourth biggest issue mining faces in 2014 is funding. Reuben Saayman, Deloitte mining leader – East Coast, partner assurance and advisory, told Inside Mining that the sharp reduction in equity capital and bank loan markets has seen the re-emergence of unconventional funding options, like forward sales agreements, convertible and high-yield debt issues, and metal streaming/royalty deals. “This has traditionally been the preserve of the juniors operating in emerging markets, but increasingly mid-tier miners and major producers are embracing these alternative forms of finance as they seek to refinance facilities in a much tighter credit market,” says Saayman. “Mining companies are looking at innovative ways of funding, as traditional bank funding on the back of capital raising is drying up. These
include areas such as equipment leasing, which, due to the original equipment suppliers’ volumes being under pressure with the mining downturn, are eager to offer financebacked deals for large equipment orders. “We have seen an increased participation for private equity in mining projects. This is a big potential source of funding for distressed miners. “Traditionally a sector ignored by private equity, the past year has seen increasing private equity involvement in mining projects, attracted by the low valuations, cash-flow opportunities and the ability to hedge.” But it’s not all doom and gloom as those seeking capital think smarter and harder for funding solutions. “Those companies that embrace this ‘new normal’ of having to fight harder for funding and look at innovative ways and non-traditional and unconventional sources, while getting their costs under control, will survive this worrying trend,” Saayman says. “We believe this is part of the new way mining should be approaching business. Those that can innovate, address these challenges and get costs under
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control will be able to show returns in Inside Mining that funding is “extremely this industry and will be able to secure tight,” debt is “virtually unattainable,” future funding.” and equity is “very expensive.” Chris Hinde, director of reports “A lot of companies are having to at SNL Metals and Mining, says raise extra funds in this climate because dealmakers are suggesting 2014 has all they left it too late and they are finding the ingredients to be a ‘vintage year’ it virtually impossible or very expensive,” with low interest rates; macroeconomic says Treadgold. stability; high levels of cash on “A lot of banks have disappeared corporate balance sheets; and a banking from the equation due to the GFC, and sector eager to lend. because their head offices in Europe and “Confidence is clearly returning to the United States no longer want to be the general market. The first two weeks involved in the mining sector. of January saw US$120 billion worth “We are now in the production of deals unveiled, more than twice the boom. Our terms of trade are about value in the same period of 2013,” to look the best they’ve been since Hinde says. the wool boom of the 1950s. We are “With excess capacity for the supply moving into a trade surplus. There is of many metals, the mining industry a lot more coal going out of Queensland, might not benefit to the same extent iron ore out of Western Australia and as the general economy. However, we haven’t even really started on the the sector’s turn will come and, in the LNG boom. That’s going to pump an meantime, there is significant value to enormous amount of cash into the be had from the acquisition of Australian economy.” development properties. Treadgold describes the situation as “Mounting optimism a “straw hats in winter” scenario, where about the prospects for the there are bargains to be had, but they are global economy has helped difficult to find. push equity prices higher in “If you are an investor you are doing the first few weeks of 2014.” very nicely. If you are at the bottom Tim Treadgold from of the market it is still one minute to snezod ,yllaretiL .rerutcafunam cirbaf RF eht gnisolcsid tuohtiw yadot stnemrag RF gnilles era seinapmoc ynaM Global Mining midnight,” he says. laecziotid rC,y”ll.aLrAeU QE.r“erTuO Nafeurnaaymehctirdbnaaf R,yFltneehct egrneiscoallcpsFinance, te krta m e hLondont ynai ddoetgsretnmeemeravg a“Mark h sFcg iTwain rbialle f Rdefined Fr”a2s1e/a8 8“pnmoasoitcaa thole imai M fo mine aiw ssn t i L t c i d u o h t nezod ,yllaretiL .rerutcafunam cirbaf RF eht gnisolcsid tuohtiw yadot stnemrag R RF gn nilless e era seiin na apmoc yyn naM That was ,gniredla nuiatilrC ot ytilAibUaQ rud“ RTFO,Nefeil rraaeyw tnenmara,ygltn,leocrtenroecce gate kbased n irahm spublisher ,trhotfm cg ,gnm itar in cervathe ekground il sircbia tswith irReFtca”aliar rah/on c8top. ecno amtrio friefp k ii od h 2 lac citirC ””..L LAUQE E“ TON era ye eh htt d dna ,yltnecer eca allp pteof krrspecialist am e eht n ntrade de egrre eme e 100 eva ayears h ssc ciago. rbaffWhat RF ”often 21 1/8 8happens 8““ n noiitta aintim m i fo o these tna,gtsnisireerdenm a fl f o D N A R B e h t n o t n e d n e p e d y l i r a m i r p e r a e r o m d n a s d r a d n a t s l a n o i t a n r e t n i d n a l a n o i t a n o t e c n a i l p m op c ua all o ott yyttiilliib ba arru ud dR RF F ,,e effiill rra ae ew w ttn ne em mrra ag g ,,llo orrttn no oc ce eg ga ak kpublications, niirrh hss ,,ttrro offm mtold oc c ,,g gn niitta arr funding crra ae ek kiillsituations sc ciittssiirre ettisc ca athe ra ah hpendulum ce ec cn na am mrro offrre e ,gnirednu n o c s r c p ®
“We are in a production boom. Our terms of trade are about to look the best they’ve been since the wool boom of the 1950s.”
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Source: Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2014 report.
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“The big contractors have large fleets that are under-utilised, driving downward pressure on their equipment prices.”
swings too far, and I suspect the bottom was reached in the middle of last year. “Companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Anglo American are making more money – their profits are rising because they slashed their workers. Twelve thousand workers across the coal industry alone have lost their jobs. “But dividends are increasing, so where’s the gloom?” GE Capital Australia and New Zealand’s head of capital markets, Denis Rayel, told Inside Mining there is an “air of caution” in relation to the provision of debt facilities to mid-tier mining service providers. “Particularly those with dry hire operations to fringe mine operators. Production volumes are being maintained, if not increasing, but at the same time large-scale producers are reducing their cost base (including service providers, CAPEX and maintenance) on their sites as they face volatile commodity markets. This is particularly the case in coal,” Rayel says. “Mine service operators are finding, particularly in the wet hire space, that they are simultaneously bidding for contracts they’ve not had historically, while having to re-bid for historical contracts – providing either demonstrated cost-out, or reducing
their margins in the process. “From a dry hire perspective, challenges are around utilisation. Mines are increasingly insourcing operations. The easiest cost line to hit is hire on equipment, so if they’re maintaining equipment in the mine they’re under cost pressure, and because there is now more gear available in the market, they’re under price pressure.” Rayel says lenders such as GE Capital are increasingly attending meetings with mine operators who want to bring their operations in-house. “The big contractors have large fleets that are under-utilised, driving downward pressure on equipment prices. Suppliers that can demonstrate value-add, and further efficiencies within the mine, will win contracts. Procurement used to be with mine managers, now it’s a commodity at company level, through a procurement team,” he says. “Change is constant in such a cyclical industry and it depends greatly on where a company may be positioned. Companies exposed purely to speculative exploration are out of favour at this point in the cycle. “Australia will continue to be a large miner to Asia and the rest of the world – the structure of the industry may just be different.”
Fast fact The top five issues miners face in 2014 are: the cost of contraction; matching supply to demand; exploring the innovation imperative; finding funding; and project pipeline stutters. Source: Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2014 report.
HEAD HONCHOS Where there are companies, there are CEOs. What are the contemporary challenges for top-level management professionals in the resources sector? We meet three CEOs to find out. WORDS: MITCH BROOK
bviously chief executive officers are at the apex of the management pyramid – they’re simultaneously the flag bearer and the navigator of a company, and they’re ultimately accountable for that company’s success or failure. Every company has a chief executive officer or similar upper level manager whose responsibilities are strategy and leadership. But what qualities make these career managers? How do they manage accountability when they can’t afford to micro-manage every aspect of a company? Three CEOs tell Inside Mining of the challenges of corporate leadership.
economy, and the resource industry. “Companies can no longer just send a representative along to address these [stakeholder] issues; it’s expected that the CEO will front and interact with those stakeholders,” says Davies. It’s a prevalent issue in the resources industry, itself having been affected by numerous policy changes in the past few years, and with environmental groups always making their presence felt with public comment about the mining and energy industries. “We’ve identified the need to increase our action with those groups,” says George Bauk, CEO of Northern
Tough at the top “It’s never been a more difficult time to be a CEO,” says Evan Davies, Queensland CEO of The CEO Institute, a peer-to-peer membership and networking organisation for chief executives. “Corporate leaders are probably facing the most challenging times of their careers.” Davies believes that scrutiny from outside parties and stakeholders – from governments and regulatory bodies to activists and interest groups such as environmentalists – is a significant challenge to companies in many industries in the Australian
Evan Davies, Queensland CEO of The CEO Institute.
Minerals, a company focused on rare earth minerals exploration in the Northern Territory. “We’ve got a very strong, deliberate strategy of engagement with governments, environmental groups and so on. It’s a bit of a two-way street.” This allows Northern Minerals to be on the front foot when it comes to external stakeholders and interested parties, and proactively address potential issues. “They have become more active but we’ve also tried to engage them,” he says. “You need to build respect, confidence and trust so they can see that you deliver on your promises.”
Martin Nix, CEO of Position Partners.
Leadership material There’s no denying that management professionals require some degree of charisma and self-assuredness. What other qualities make a CEO? “The ability to macro-manage and not be too involved in everything and be bogged down is important,” says Davies. “A CEO also needs to have vision, to be able to see where the company is going and the consequences of decisions. Experience is also vital for upper management.”
Martin Nix, CEO of Position Partners, which supplies technology solutions to resource companies, says there’s a fine line between the structural management of projects, action plans, procedures and practices, along with managing what he calls the ‘emotional drivers’ of employees in a company. “From the 1950s through the 1960s, corporate leadership tended to be more ‘command and control’, what we might today call management rather than
“From the 1950s through the 1960s, corporate leadership tended to be more ‘command and control’ ... today it’s more about engaging people.”
leadership,” he says of the changing leadership styles required by CEOs. “Today it’s more about engaging people. Employees want to know why they’re working [at a company] rather than just what to do and how to do it.”
Accountability and delegation Avoiding micro-management means delegation of responsibility, and also holding those responsible accountable for their areas. All of the professionals Inside Mining interviewed for this feature stated that accountability and delegation are vital elements of senior management roles, and that they link strongly with each other. “You’ve got to be a participant, but if you become to much of the ‘doer’ and delegation isn’t effective, then you’re not creating the leverage to keep the pace of your strategy up,” 27
George Bauk, CEO of Northern Minerals.
“There’s this need to achieve a balance between making a mark ... but also working behind the scenes to deliver results.”
says Position Partners’ Nix. “This is not just for your management team, but making sure your managers roll that down as well and delegate to their teams.” Rather than think about it in terms of who is accountable for mistakes, Nix says he prefers to use the term ‘creating responsibility’. “You can do that if the outcomes are agreed,” he says. “Having a good sense of purpose, a good vision, and linking everything that you talk to your employee or manager about to that, and agreeing to the outcomes – this is all helping them keep up the momentum and helping them eliminate the roadblocks.” Bauk similarly believes the key to both of these aspects lies in all employees knowing their roles and responsibilities. “We have an authority matrix that’s approved by the board to get clear delegation,” he says. “Each of my four direct reports clearly understand their deliverables and it’s my responsibility to have a very close relationship so that we focus on variances ... and problems.”
Industry standard Interaction with like-minded management professionals in similar positions is vital to the CEO role. “When you become a CEO of a
company, big or small, there are times when you need to interact with your peers and make sure you’re attuned to the way other people are doing things,” says Bauk. “You’re facing similar issues ... you can find out what they see as the macro issues, what they see as the opportunities, and what they see works well.” The cross-pollination of ideas and management techniques enables CEOs to keep up-to-date and have some fellowship in a position that has no peer on the same level within that company; the board is above, and the employees are below on the chain of authority. It’s never an easy job, and it’s hard, or impossible, to switch off. “In my opinion as a CEO you need to breathe the business every day,” says Bauk. “Some people talk about work-life balance. I don’t think that really exists ... it’s 24/7.” On the other hand these roles can sometimes be the ultimate in corporate achievement. “It’s an incredible challenge, but it’s also incredibly rewarding,” says Evans of The CEO Institute. “There’s this need to achieve a balance between making a mark, or leaving a legacy, on the company but also working behind the scenes to deliver results. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
FAST FACTS • Women are still under-represented in CEO positions in Australia, with the split currently around 83 per cent men to 17 per cent women. • Most CEOs are qualified to a bachelor degree level (47 per cent) followed by masters-level or higher qualifications (30 per cent) and then diploma level (17 per cent). Source: The CEO Institute’s CEO Profile Survey 2013.
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Olympic Dam LOCATED approximately 550 kilometres from Adelaide, South Australia, Olympic Dam is the home of an extremely rich iron oxide, copper and gold deposit. The site consists of Australia’s largest underground mine and an integrated metallurgical processing plant. BHP Billiton owns the site, which produces copper, uranium, gold and silver. Indeed, it contains the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world – although uranium only makes up a small part of the mine’s total revenue. It also boasts the world’s fourth largest copper deposit. In 2011, plans to expand the mine were met with protests from anti-uranium activists, and even though it had parliamentry approval the expansion has been postponed indefinitely, as BHP Billiton pursues a “new and cheaper design”. In December 2013, after news General Motors Holden would no longer be producing cars in South Australia from 2017, the federal government said it would support expansion of the mine, but South Australia’s business community said it wants a more diverse economy.
It contains the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world – although uranium only makes up a small part of the mine’s total revenue.
Image courtesy of BHP Billiton
T E L E H A N D L E R S
The Nuclear Reaction
In the search for alternative energy solutions, Australia is putting nuclear energy back on the table. Oryana Angel reports. DURING the 1980s and 1990s public sentiment in Australia was anti-nuclear. Leading the charge was Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett with his antiuranium mining lyrics, and his first shot at politics was a run for the Senate with the Nuclear Disarmament Party. Some two decades later, then as Labor’s Minister for the Environment, the once outspoken singer gave the go-ahead for new uranium mines in Australia. Australia has 31 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves – the largest amount of any one country – and exports uranium to China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and the United States. While it seems we’re happy to sell our uranium abroad, the idea of
nuclear reactors being built here to provide energy still doesn’t sit well with many Australians. “It’s madness [pursuing nuclear energy] compared with other sources of energy we could use,” says The Wilderness Society’s Queensland campaign manager, Tim Seelig. “The more we allow uranium mining in the country, the greater the pressure that we should have nuclear power, too – both are deeply problematic. Uranium mining and nuclear power, individually and together, raise a series of health, transport and community safety issues.” The meltdown of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami
slammed the east coast of Japan in 2011 has greatly influenced public fear of nuclear energy. “Japan has taught us that even with a reasonably sophisticated approach to nuclear power, stuff happens to these plants, whether foreseen or not. Risk analysis has to take that in, but when you do, there is nowhere safe to do it,” says Seelig. Following the Fukushima disaster, Germany shut down eight nuclear reactors and said it would close the remaining nine by 2022, promising to fill the gap with renewable energy. So far, though, non-renewable coal and natural gas have won out, and CO2 emissions in Germany increased by
Australia has 31 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves – the largest amount of any one country – and exports uranium to China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and the US. 33
FAST FACT • In France, 78 per cent of electricity comes from nuclear and 12 per cent from hydro. The grid average emissions level from electricity generation is 85 grams per kilowatt hour – one-tenth of the grid average emissions in Australia.
“Prohibiting nuclear is like fighting the climate change challenge with one arm tied behind your back.” more than one per cent last year while they were reduced in the United States and most of Western Europe. Daniel Zavattiero, executive director of uranium at the Minerals Council of Australia, says cost is a major benefit of producing nuclear energy: “While the capital expenditure can be large, ongoing operating costs are low and underpin very stable energy pricing for a long time. “Australia is very fortunate – we are a large country with lots of energy options. It’s important to develop a cost-
competitive energy supply. We have a lot of alternatives – nuclear could potentially play a role as it has done in many other countries,” he adds. Professor Ken Baldwin, director of the Energy Change Institute at the Australian National University, says we need to look at all energy sources that are carbon free, including nuclear: “Climate change is the big challenge facing humanity. To address this challenge we need every tool at our disposal to replace fossil fuel energy generation with energy generation that doesn’t produce carbon.
“Prohibiting nuclear is like fighting the climate change challenge with one arm tied behind your back. It’s essential to advance all carbon-free forms of energy simultaneously. “There are scenarios that have been studied, as in the 100 per cent Renewables Study by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which look at the possible generation of all electricity via renewable power and, indeed, the report shows it’s feasible. But it requires large amounts of extra capacity to allow for when the sun is not shining
or there’s no wind, for example. “Having the ability to complement this with nuclear might be attractive, and a combination of renewables and nuclear might offer a more effective and possibly lower cost solution.” Amid widely varied public sentiment, the Abbott government has indicated interest in possibly introducing nuclear power to Australia. Currently, Australia has operating uranium mines in South Australia (Olympic Dam, an underground and predominantly copper
mine; and Beverley, an in situ recovery uranium operation) and the Northern Territory (Ranger, formerly an open-cut uranium mine). Queensland recently lifted its ban on uranium mining some 30 years after its last mine closed. Western Australia also has several uranium mines under development. Friends of the Earth national (anti-) nuclear campaigner Jim Green says the biggest problem with uranium is slack export policies and inadequate safeguards: “For example, Australia sells
Queensland lifted its ban on uranium mining 30 years after its last mine closed. Western Australia also has uranium mines under development.
uranium to nuclear weapons states, to dictatorships, to countries with a history of covert nuclear weapons programs, to countries blocking the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and so on.” He lists “all sorts of trouble” in our three operating mines, including inadequate management and dozens of radioactive blunders. “Management and regulation of Australia’s uranium mines is grossly inadequate,” he says. “The Olympic Dam mine produces 10 million tonnes of radioactive
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tailings waste each year. The waste is stored above ground and will pose an environmental and public health threat for thousands of years to come. “At the Ranger uranium mine, a recent tank burst led to the spillage of more than one million litres of radioactive slurry,” he adds. “There are problems with mining uranium – it’s akin to asbestos,” says
“The waste is stored above ground and will pose a ... threat for thousands of years.”
FAST FACTS • A small amount of uranium is used in Australia’s research reactor at Lucas Heights, Sydney, to conduct advanced scientific research and produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment and medical diagnosis. • Uranium energy density is so great that nuclear fuel the size of a pencil eraser provides the same amount of energy of one tonne of coal or 17,000 cubic feet (equivalent to 481 cubic metres) of natural gas.
Seelig. “You’re dealing with very toxic substances that provide immediate risks to the miners and the people who work with and transport them. “Then you need to work out what to do with the substances afterwards. Spent uranium fuel has to be looked after for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years.” Baldwin says the mining of uranium and the storage of nuclear power by-products must be addressed in an appropriate and risk-managed approach using the best scientific knowledge at our disposal. “This can be done at both a small economic cost and a small cost to the environment. “The know-how and skills are well understood,” he says. Scandinavian countries Finland and Sweden, for example, are developing underground geological repositories for storing their nuclear waste. Summing up, Zavattiero says: “Until the federal legislative ban on nuclear energy instated in the 1990s is removed, it’s hard to have a proper debate. “It’s difficult to see anyone spending money engaging potential host communities, exploring various reactortype options and fully evaluating the economics until that happens.”
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Make every resident feel like a legend with Foxtel. Foxtel brings its Mining & Workforce Accommodation Platinum package to life at Homeground Accommodation Village in Gladstone, Queensland.
esidents at the Homeground Accommodation Village and the local community were abuzz when five former Rugby League superstars came for a visit. And Mat Rogers, Michael Crocker, Alfie Langer, Scott Prince and Kevin Walters didn’t just meet with workers and locals – they even challenged them to a game of touch footy. The event celebrated Foxtel offering a home-away-from-home entertainment experience for the 1392 workers at the village, with the recent installation of Foxtel’s Mining & Workforce Accommodation Platinum package in every room. As Matt Jones from Homeground Villages explains: “The concept for Homeground Gladstone was to set a new standard in workforce accommodation. To achieve this we needed to not only provide guests with exactly what they require, but also give them what they want and Foxtel was at the top of the list. Our slogan – If you can’t be at home, be at Homeground – is the cornerstone to everything we do. It was impossible to create the environment we wanted to give our guests without Foxtel.” With more than 80 channels of quality entertainment it’s clear to see how Foxtel’s Mining & Workforce Accommodation
Platinum package aligns with Homeground’s vision. There are channels dedicated to drama, comedy, lifestyle, documentaries, history, music, news and, of course, sport. The standard package is similarly diverse, with 30 channels for residents to enjoy. Both packages give residents full control over their viewing, with a Foxtel iQHD or MyStar HD box in every room. This means every worker has the ability to pause, record and rewind live TV – ensuring they never miss their favourite programs. Head of Business Sales at Foxtel, Raelene Smethurst, is passionate about upgrading residents’ entertainment. She says: “This is a welcomed luxury for workers living away from home here at Gladstone, one of Australia’s major remote working communities. The days are long and the conditions are tough, so having a comprehensive Foxtel line-up gives them
“Industry research has shown entertained workers are retained workers.*” something to look forward to at the end of a hard day’s work and helps to keep them connected with the programmes they enjoy’ As Smethurst goes on to explain, when you look after your workers, you’re also looking after your bottom line: “Industry research has shown entertained workers are retained workers.* Foxtel can therefore create a strong competitive point of difference for workforce accommodation providers; enhancing workers’ experience and acting as an important retention tool for associated industries.” To give your workers’ accommodation a competitive edge, call 03 8325 3159 to speak with a Foxtel Business Specialist.
*The Impact of Isolation in Mining Report 2013. Foxtel and some services not available in all buildings/premises. Equipment will vary based on location: MyStar HD provided in Foxtel areas serviced by Austar. Foxtel marks are used under license by Foxtel Management Pty Ltd. FOX4450_IM
Sandvik delivers new life for old bolter miners Sandvik’s MB series is designed to be completely re-built to OEM standards.
olter miners used in underground coal mining have a tough life in the harsh conditions in which they operate. After just four to five years of life underground, they can look almost worn out – but in the case of Sandvik’s MB series of bolter miners, these machines have the inherent durability and strength that allows them to be completely rebuilt to as-new condition. Sandvik’s MB series of bolter miners are the leading machines in underground coal mine longwall development applications – with more than 50 of these machines operating in mines in NSW and Queensland, said Troy Robertson, Sandvik’s Project Manager Overhauls – Mechanical Cutting, Underground Coal. “An important element of the economics of running bolter miners is their ability to be completely rebuilt from the ground up a number of times during their working lives,” he said. “A key part of Sandivk’s service and support offerings for our MB series machines is our capability of carrying out these rebuilds to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) standards, and with full factory warranty.” Manufactured by Sandvik in Austria, its original ABM series dates back to the early 1990s, and the range has undergone continuous upgrading and improvements since then. “The main models we sell in Australia are our MB650 and MB670 bolter miners – and they are regarded as the preferred option for longwall mines looking for bolter miners in their operations,” said Robertson. 42
This image: A fully-reconditioned bolter miner. Below: A before shot of the bolter miner ready to be rebuilt.
“It’s a market segment that’s unique to Sandvik; as a result of our ongoing engineering design, performance, safety and ergonomics, no other supplier has been able to deliver the required combination of production, safety and ease of operation.” “The rule of thumb is that after three rebuilds – with four to six years between rebuilds – the technology in our MB series has developed to the extent that the price to upgrade to the latest specifications ceases to become economical,” he said. “In addition, compliance requirements are ever-changing – and bolter miners have to comply with all the latest safety standards before they can go back underground.” Today, all MB series bolter miner rebuilds in Australia take place in Sandvik’s Heatherbrae facility, north of Newcastle, NSW. The rebuild process includes initial mechanical stripdown, engineering, electrical systems, gearboxes, components, bolting systems, and
upgrades, followed by re-assembly, function testing, commissioning, painting and detailing. Robertson said that Sandvik offered MB series machine owners the only option to ensure fully OEM-compliant, factory-certified rebuilds, to the latest standards and safety innovations. “In addition, the only way to access the latest technology upgrades is through our OEM upgrades, which are then backed by full six-month factory warranties,” he said. For more information visit sandvik.com
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Innovation steals the show at APPEA At the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) conference in Perth last month, Murphy Pipe and Civil’s Spiderplough turned heads.
GLOBAL DELEGATES who gathered for Perth’s APPEA Annual Conference last month had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the latest technical innovations servicing the Oil and Gas sector. Creating intense interest during the three-day energy conference was Murphy Pipe and Civil’s Spiderplough – an innovative ploughing machine fastchanging the landscape of Australia’s HDPE pipeline installation industry. On show throughout the expo, the Spiderplough was able to demonstrate to the thousands of visitors the major advances that have been made in HDPE plough installation technology. Only last year, the Spiderplough created a world first, when it successfully installed 630mm HDPE pipeline – further reinforcing the machine’s ability to provide a viable alternative to conventional trench and bury pipeline installation methods. Murphy Pipe and Civil’s Tony O’Sullivan said, in 2010 the company first introduced Spiderplough technology to accommodate the HDPE pipeline needs of Australia’s growing coal seam gas sector. “Our company saw the need for a superior method of installing largediameter HDPE pipelines for the development of CSG gathering networks, so we modified our Spiderplough fleet to meet this need,” Mr O’Sullivan said. “Since then, Spiderploughs have now become a common sight across the Surat Basin CSG fields and have been readily adopted by CSG companies seeking that valuable balance between
Innovation in action – Murphy Pipe and Civil’s Spiderplough attracted extensive industry interest while on show in Perth at last month’s APPEA Annual Conference.
“Spiderploughs can efficiently install HDPE pipelines from 110mm up to 630mm...” increased efficiency, reduced costs and enhanced safety. “Spiderploughs can efficiently install HDPE pipelines from gauges as small as 110mm right up to 630mm at an average lay rate of 10 kilometres per day, and all without the need for an open trench, which significantly reduces injury risks,” he said. Mr O’Sullivan said while the company’s fleet of Spiderploughs are helping develop Queensland’s CSG gathering networks, he believed there
was also scope for the innovative machines to deliver similar benefits to Western Australia. “Spiderploughs are very versatile and are robust enough to work in all manner of terrains and ground conditions and deliver a very feasible and cost effective alternative to traditional pipeline installation,” he said. For more information about Spiderplough technology visit mpcgroup.com.au 45
SAVE ME SOMETIMES it seems all we ever talk about is putting money away for retirement: super, super, and super. What about other goals that may not be so far away? A recent survey found Gen Y’s savings goals are more immediate, with the top five being: a car, a gift for someone, a holiday, a new computer and/or a new phone. Some of those are manageable; others might involve the dreaded B-word – budget. Depending on your age and aspirations, you might want to save for a wedding, home deposit, school fees or even to set up your own business. Let’s say you have a target of saving $36,000 over the next three years. That’s $1000 per month, or roughly $250 a week – possibly as much as you spend on groceries (apart from a mortgage, the biggest expense for most people). How can you budget for a sum like that? Decide where you want to spend your money. You don’t have to wear a hair shirt to save but do be sure you’re spending your money on the things that matter to you. Do the housework yourself if $75 a week for a cleaner would be better in your pocket. Wrangle your bills. Irregular expenses can be to blame for 46
SAVING FOR SOMETHING BIG? HOLIDAYS, CARS AND HOME DEPOSITS DON’T JUST FALL OUT OF THE SKY. YOU NEED TO MAKE A PLAN.
blowing the best-laid plans. A winter electricity bill of $500 could eat up months of savings. One way to avoid this is to ask service providers for ‘bill smoothing’, where you pay a regular, monthly amount. Don’t pay high interest. Interest on a credit card with bells and whistles – such as ‘rewards’ – can top 20 per cent. At that rate an outstanding balance of $5000
A savings account at 4.5 per cent would pay $230. Keep separate accounts. Once you’ve found a high-interest account, don’t mix all your money together. Keep your savings in a separate account so you can easily monitor your progress towards your goal. What you don’t see you don’t miss. Set up an automatic transfer of the amount you want to save into
Don’t pay high interest. Interest on a credit card with bells and whistles – such as ‘rewards’ – can top 20 per cent. At that rate an outstanding balance of $5000 would cost you $100 in interest the next month. would cost you $100 in interest the next month. Earn good interest. Review your bank accounts to make sure you’re getting the best rate you can on your savings. A typical transaction account pays just 0.1 per cent, and at that rate you’d earn just $1 over a year on a balance of $5000.
that high-interest account, so you save like clockwork every payday. If you don’t see it, you won’t be tempted to spend it. Enjoy yourself. A budget is a bit like a diet or exercise regime: if it’s too strict you won’t stick to it. Set aside 10 per cent of your disposable income for ... whatever.
LESLEY PARKER IS A PERSONAL FINANCE JOURNALIST AND WRITER FOR THE AGE AND THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.
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Satellite communications THEY MAY BE A FEW THOUSAND KILOMETRES AWAY, BUT THEY HAVE AN ASTRONOMICAL EFFECT ON WHAT’S HAPPENING ON EARTH AND BELOW GROUND. INSIDE MINING INVESTIGATES HOW SATELLITES ARE IMPROVING COMMUNICATIONS ON MINE SITES. WORDS: KYLE SOYER
WHEN THE SITE is remote, the environment is harsh, and mobile phone and internet coverage is as sparse as the vegetation, a mine can potentially be in trouble. Both on-site and long-distance communications can be choppy, which can mean delays in conveying information or instructions – possibly at the cost of safety, time and money. So where can a miner go when successful communications seem beyond any earthly means? To the stars. Satellite communications are quickly changing the way mines operate on a global scale, greatly increasing the efficiency and productivity of remote sites. Australian companies such as SatComms Australia, SpeedCast and NewSat are already providing satellite services for mobile and landline communications for miners and
resources development companies, both in Australia and overseas. NewSat supports more than 4000 satellite services to provide internet, voice, data and video communications to 75 per cent of the globe. The company is currently working to launch its own fleet of satellites, all designed to keep up with the increasing worldwide demand for satellite communications. In addition to its two teleports in Adelaide and Perth, NewSat has been a key player in several resources development sites, including the $29 billion Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project in the Pilbara. Working with Wheatstone engineers and designers, NewSat created a meshed satellite network of VSAT (two-way) services to overcome the communications challenges presented by the varied and harsh
on-site weather conditions and the large variety of users. SatComms owns and operates an Earth Station in Henderson, Western Australia. It has the only Australianowned and operated Inmarsat PSA (Point of Service Activation) and is an Inmarsat ISP (Inmarsat Service Provider). The company claims its state-of-the-art infrastructure assists clients to communicate from anywhere to anywhere. Among other international companies making leaps in satellite communications is ITC Global, the world’s largest privately owned satellite communications provider. In November last year, the company launched the first internet satellite service for oil, gas and mining clients. It delivers high-speed internet performance of 20Mbps or greater to customers in remote,
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NOT SO LONG AGO MINES HAD AN US-AND-THEM APPROACH TO THE CATERING STAFF. TODAY, HOWEVER, THE HOSPITALITY WORKERS ON REMOTE SITES ARE FIRMLY ENTRENCHED AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE MINE OPERATION. WORDS: CHRISTINE RETSCHLAG
Just as an
army marches on its stomach, so too does a mine. And the more remote the location, the more crucial the issues of accommodation, catering and hospitality become. Christine Charlton, general manager of eastern operations at the Cater Care Group, knows this better than most. Charlton, who came to the mine catering business from a fourand five-star hotel background, now works with mines in Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria. It’s “extremely important” to get the balance right between the work site and accommodation, to make life as “normal as possible”, Charlton says. “We know it makes a difference if they don’t go to work with a good breakfast and a great lunch. If you can send them to work happy they come home happy. “I came into the industry six years ago and back then there was less diversity. It was very
much a guys’ industry. Over the past five years this has significantly changed and, with that, expectations have changed. “People are now more focused on health/life balance. It used to be chips with every meal, but that’s certainly not the case now. We have sites where they’re offered steamed chicken, broccoli and brown rice. Five years ago those wouldn’t have got touched. Things like quinoa salad are now being put out with crib [aka lunch].” Cater Care has also started offering greater lifestyle options for workers, recognising a leap from about 10 per cent gym-goers on-site to about 50 per cent. However, each site differs vastly, with some requesting hot curries, for instance, while others won’t touch anything with spices. “It’s about being adaptable,” Charlton says. “I have certain sites where if you don’t put chips on the menu every day they won’t eat. It’s not one size fits all.
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“As mines move away from construction to production it’s a very different style of person and you need to adjust. Within construction they’re generally there for a fixed period of time, while production people realise this is going to be their home for the next two to three years, so they are looking for more stability and options for a healthier lifestyle.” Charlton says there are certain challenges when working with remote sites. During the wet season, for example, they need to keep double the amount of stock and have four to six weeks of food supplies in case a truck delivery is delayed. “It’s all about understanding your client’s requirements and then delivering and adjusting,” Charlton says. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes.” Action Industrial Catering’s (AIC) group executive corporate services, Kim
Fast Fact In one year a Queensland mine site made 784,300 meals and 74,698 beds, emptied 127,000 bins, managed 21,000 check-in arrivals and 2000 gym inductions, maintained four kilometres of garden hedge and spread 400 cubic metres of mulch. Source: Cater Care Group
Irvine, says that in addition to the standard catering, cleaning and accommodation services, her company provides a wide range of support services. These ‘soft services’ include gardening, maintenance, aerodrome management, specialised catering, bus driving and kitchen design. “AIC’s market is predominantly in Western Australia, however, we are actively looking at business in Brisbane, having just opened an office there, and the Northern Territory, as we have a great company philosophy and product that we want to expand,” Irvine says. “The supply chain is crucial and plays a fundamental part in the provision of a quality service. If the products are not available, attainable and high quality, it undermines the values of our service offer. “In our industry, you’re only as good as your last meal served, the last room you cleaned or the
“In our industry, you’re only as good as your last meal served, the last room you cleaned, or the last welcome you gave someone to the site.”
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“It’s very competitive. Large companies are now tendering for very small contracts, knocking out the mid-size player.” last welcome you gave someone on arrival to site. Reputation is paramount between mine sites.” Irvine says unusual requests include having kangaroo on the menu each week and special theme nights such as a New Zealand hangi (a Maori feast where food is cooked in an earth oven). One site even ordered mini crème eggs for every staff member so the ‘Easter Bunny’ could hide them under their pillows.
Fast Fact A housekeeper at a Brisbane hotel earns about $35,000; a housekeeper onsite (working two weeks on, one week off) earns about $60,000. A cook in Brisbane earns about $45,000; a cook on-site earns about $65,000. Source: Cater Care Group
The challenge for mine sites, Irvine says, is tighter budgets since the cooling of the boom, forcing a more “conscious and conservative” approach to services. “The challenge for us is gaining new business. Previously, mining companies would change service provider if they were unhappy, however, due to the cost of changeout, many are remaining with their initial provider. “It’s very competitive. Large companies are now tendering for very small contracts, knocking out the mid-size player. There’s also potential for the global companies to basically ‘buy the contract’, looking at the bigger picture of future business or securing [further] contracts through a loss leader. “Speaking with all the key players in the industry, the most interesting challenge is when you have, say, an inexperienced husband-andwife catering team who tender for projects
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at a lower rate against the main, recognised companies. The main issue is they’re not experienced, so they don’t have the correct support procedures for safety, quality and environment.” Irvine says working in catering in the mining industry is about recognising the “swings and roundabouts”, depending on which commodity There can be only one true forerunner. In mining automation, it is it hot at the time: “There is always demand, as undoubtedly luckily enough, Sandvik everyone AutoMine™. has to eat. It’s justSandvik AutoMine™ product family covers fleet automation, drilling, loader where and when. The best optionsingle is to try to mix automation, block cave draw control and process management systems. your portfolio – such as between gold, nickelIt provides for increased fleet utilization
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THE NECESSITY FOR CHANGE IS UPON US FOR AUSTRALIA TO COMBAT DECLINING MINING PRODUCTIVITY, MINERS, RESEARCHERS AND TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICE COMPANIES NEED TO DEVELOP NEW TECHNOLOGIES TOGETHER – ALLOWING FOR BETTER MANAGEMENT OF THE COUNTRY’S NATURAL RESOURCES. WORDS: JONATHAN LAW
AS WE GRAPPLE with challenges relating to grade, quality, depth and safety, it is clear we have reached, or are about to reach, the limits of traditional technologies deployed in the mining industry. Australia’s mining productivity is declining and the reasons for this are complex. However, one truth we cannot escape is that many of the next generation of deposits are lower in grade, more complex and more challenging to mine than ever before. Fortunately, there is a new wave of technologies born out of the global digital revolution that are bringing together the real and virtual worlds in ways we haven’t seen before. These technologies will enable the mining industry to manage inputs and outputs in a more structured way as realtime information becomes available throughout the mining process via new sensing technologies, cheap and efficient computer systems and an ability to deal with interconnecting, complicated datasets. This real-time data allows us to think about the flow of materials, from resource to product, in much the same way as manufacturers think about their process from raw material to manufactured product.
The mining industry hasn’t been able to make full use of these digital technologies because they, and the integration platforms, are only now being developed and commercialised. Those that already exist have to be adapted to be resilient enough to withstand the harsh mine environment. They also need to be better integrated, rather than be ‘point solutions’ for specific issues; this means shared data standards and control systems. This will dramatically change the way we mine in terms of optimising the performance of individual unit operations and, more importantly, the whole system, from the ore body through to mining strategies, process control and environmental outcomes. Miners will increasingly take a holistic view of resources and the downstream implications. This will
drive an iterative mine planning process that will assess the triple-bottom-line benefits to provide better productivity, better long-term outcomes and new opportunities to manage evolving risk profiles through the life of an operation. Areas where these sensors will be most crucial are process productivity, rapid resource characterisation, and intelligent mining and ore management. The issue of resourcefulness focuses on each of these three areas. Of course, these are all sequential parts of the value chain, but the real opportunity is integration across all three. Once we have this whole-of-life, real-time view of a mine, we can start questioning the fundamental technologies we currently use. This may mean moving towards new mining technologies, more sophisticated processing techniques or alternative
Many of the next generation of deposits are lower in grade, more complex and more challenging to mine than ever before. 59
sorting strategies that, in turn, allow different transport and waste strategies. So what does this mean for Australian productivity? In the short term, a ‘forensic’ approach to system optimisation will have a positive impact on productivity. In the longer term, it could drive a whole new approach to mining that is lower in impact and more productive and, most importantly, allows us to mine resources that can’t be mined today. Australian companies are already the largest supplier of mining-related software in the world and organisations such as Deep Exploration Technologies CRC, CRC Ore, CRC Mining and CSIRO are leading the way in developing the necessary tools, sensors, data systems and process understanding. The momentum for change is unstoppable – all of the enabling pieces are there, but they need to be brought together and applied. To do this we need collaboration at every level. Necessity will compel the industry to work together in the development of technology, which it has traditionally done in competition. Real competitiveness lies in the use of these technologies to drive optimal outcomes rather than in a multitude of protected, poorly integrated solutions. One thing is certain: The necessity for change is here today and Australia is well placed to lead the revolution. 60
Necessity will compel the industry to work together in the development of technology, which it has traditionally done in competition.
Jonathan Law currently leads CSIRO’s mineral exploration, mining, processing and sustainability research program as director of the Minerals Down Under Flagship. The flagship brings together CSIRO research with global partners in industry, goverment and academia to tackle short- and longer term challenges to the sustainability of the Australian minerals industry. csiro.au/mdu
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Name: Silver Element category: Transition metal Electron configuration: [Kr]4d105s1 Atomic number: 47 Atomic mass: 107.8682 Discovered: Pre 5000 BC Name origin: From the Latin argentum Melting point: 961.78 °C Boiling point: 2162 °C
Silver facts • Silver is the best conductor of heat and electricity of any metal. Because of this it is used a lot in the electronics industry and also in the rear-window defrosters in cars. • In Australia, silver is mainly found with galena, which is a lead mineral, but can also be found as a gold-silver alloy called electrum. • Because silver is so reflective – in fact it is the best reflector known – it is used in mirrors. • Australia actually has the largest share of the world’s economic silver resources. • Silver has been used since the 4th century BC for coins, ornaments and utensils. In Australia, the 1966 fifty cent piece was the last coin in general use to contain silver and contained 80% silver and 20% copper. • Silver is sometimes incorporated into the yarn used to make socks, as it is known to reduce fungal and bacterial growth.
• A single grain of silver, weighing just 0.065 grams, can be pressed into a sheet 150 times thinner than a piece of paper.
• Within three years of discovering silver in Broken Hill, BHP were producing onethird of the world’s silver. • In the early 1900s, a silver mine in Canada contained a lump of ore 30 metres long and 20 metres deep, yielding 658,000 ounces of silver – they called it ‘the silver sidewalk’.
• The Cannington silver mine in northwest Queensland is the world’s largest silver producer, providing six per cent of the world’s total output.
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Gladstone continues to attract large industry to the region and is home to the world’s largest alumina refinery; Australia’s largest aluminum smelter; largest cement operation; Queensland largest power station and Queensland’s largest multi-commodity port. These, combined with a growing list of planned projects at an estimated $98 billion, will see the population double by 2031. With developed infrastructure and services, including a regional airport, the Gladstone region truly is a region of choice offering residents a great place to live, work, play and invest.
Mackay is recognized as the gateway to the Bowen Basin, the largest coal reserve in Australia, currently representing 83% of Queensland’s coal production. Mackay is also a popular tourism destination, being close to the Whitsunday Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and Eungella National Park, receiving a multitude of visitors yearly boosting the local economy. According to Heron Todd White, the Mackay property market is currently in the Bottom of Market And Rising phase, poising the region into a position towards future growth.
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Check out some of the latest hot properties on the market in our regional towns and cities.
EXPERTS ARE SAYING BRISBANE IS THE NEXT MARKET TO MOVE
So how do you find a good location? Here are some tips:
Avoid getting caught up in the hotspot hype. Look for areas that will deliver sound and safe returns over the long term, we recommend a ‘buy and hold’ strategy.
Keep your options open. At all times in the property cycle there will be areas that may be better suited to different investors. Question your thoughts on where you’re considering buying and base your decision on factors such as cash flow needs, risk threshold, ability to add value through renovation. If you’re already a Brisbane resident, a property close to where you live might seem logical but formulating a strategy is a better first step.
Look for buyer demand. How long are properties on the market? What’s the capital growth trend in the suburb? Can you see signs of owners investing in their properties? Demographics of Brisbane suburbs move in cycles. Are young families replacing mature-aged couples that no longer require a family-size home?
Consider factors that will attract good long-term tenants. What’s happening in the area? Buying on the Brisbane city fringe is certainly desirable however there are many areas with business hubs that create employment opportunities. Planned infrastructure projects means area growth. People like to live within a reasonable commute to work and have good access to public transport. Close proximity to schools is another big tick. BUYER’S AGENT
You’re able to do some of this legwork yourself although it’s recommended to also obtain the views and advice of Brisbanebased professionals working within the industry. The internet can provide copious amounts of research and information but is it the information you need, and is it correct, accurate and up-to-date? It’s difficult to beat information gathered from people with their feet on the ground. A lot of serious investors use buyers’ agents because they act solely on their behalf. Hot Property Specialist Buyers Agency is Brisbane-based, which allows us to provide comprehensive analysis of a spread of Brisbane locations. We value being put to the test, answering questions to ensure your investment matches your buying criteria. We can’t afford dissatisfied customers because our business relies on referrals. If you’re in the market please call or email us, first contact is obligation-free. We can discuss what you’re looking for in a property. We may already have a location that’s right for you. Zoran Solano Buyers’ agent, Hot Property Specialists Buyers Agency VENDOR ADVOCACY
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FINANCIAL LITERACY – WHAT’S YOUR FUTURE LOOKING LIKE?
The country is facing a crisis of financial literacy, with most unaware of the difference between general and financial intelligence. KEVIN LEE
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LISTEN UP people. We have a very big crisis in Australia, and it has nothing to do with employment or income. Our crisis is one of financial literacy. Many of us don’t know the difference between general intelligence and financial intelligence and that’s a huge mistake – but it’s not your fault. We’ve been raised with the belief (misconception really) that a respectable occupation, six-figure salary and a university degree implies a person has above average intelligence. None of that is true. Here’s a simple fact: the income generated by a person with general education will never outweigh the income generated by someone with
a financial education. Financial intelligence, financial education and financial literacy go hand in hand. These three ‘realities’ are 110 per cent about what we do with the money we make. By design, financial education is no longer a part of the curriculum in our schools and universities – resulting in the negative decisions you make about money. People who are financially illiterate find it hard to understand the basics of money and struggle to grow their net worth without resorting to working longer and harder. Generally speaking, these people consider gambling as a way to multiply their money.
Sadly, they don’t realise that there’s a huge difference between gambling and making smart financial decisions. However, people with financial intelligence understand the difference between ‘good debt’ and ‘bad debt’, they know what leveraging is – and they know negative gearing isn’t the best decision when it comes to investing in property. In my Two Day Intensive Program (smartpropertyadviser. com.au), I explain how and why financial literacy was removed from the education system at around the same the industrial revolution started in earnest. The reason is clear – they needed more people to work in factories.
Financial literacy was removed from the education system around the same time the industrial revolution started in earnest – they needed more people to work in factories. 67
“Many people leave it until later in life to seek a financial education ... With the right education and some simple financial strategies, almost anyone in Australia can retire financially free.”
Unfortunately though, when the technological revolution began about 25 years ago, we didn’t think to improve financial literacy – we still have the same flawed education system as we had well over 100 years ago. In 2008, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) produced a focus report based on the results of an ANZ National Survey. ASIC reported that due to the increase in financial products and services on offer to consumers, a high importance has been placed on increasing the financial literacy levels in Australia. ASIC also identified that (understandably) the lowest financial literacy levels were among people aged 70 years or more. But the real eye opener, and something we should all be concerned about, was that in 2013, just five years later, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed only 68
four per cent of Australians aged 65 years and over were selffunded retirees. What the? That means 96 per cent of people over the age of 65 were either reliant on a tax-payer funded pension, still working, or deceased. These statistics clearly prove financial literacy plays a vital role in how we plan to fund our retirement. But the same 2008 ANZ survey also revealed that people aged between 18–24 (Gen Y) are among those with the lowest levels of financial literacy. These are today’s 24–30 years olds and it’s this age group who are preparing to buy their first home, start their own business or invest in property. David Deegan of Smart Financial Advice (smartfinancialadvice.com.au) said in a recent interview, often people “don’t know, what they don’t know”, when it comes to the financial options they have available.
“There are so many financial strategies and products available that without the right financial education it can be difficult to successfully make smart financial decisions.” “Unfortunately many people leave it until later in life to seek the financial education they need, and often look back and wish they had this knowledge much earlier in life. With the right education and some simple financial strategies, almost anyone in Australia can retire financially free,” says David. Right now we’re seeing an increasing number of people who have sought out an advisor, coach or mentor and are actively investing both time and effort into improving their financial education – boosting their financial intelligence at the same time. And this is fantastic. I know those people who take the time to invest in their financial education, will see better results
than those who don’t. However – as a nation – Australia needs to improve the financial education across all age groups, so we’re all equipped to make intelligent decisions about our money. Do the maths: the total wages bill is approximately $1.34 trillion dollars. Last year we raised the compulsory superannuation contribution rate to 9.25 per cent in Australia. But what if we’d invested this extra quarter of one per cent (which works out to be a nottoo-shabby $3.34 billion dollars) into cutting edge financial literacy and financial education programs for our people instead? Even if we did that for just the most ‘at risk’ groups I believe we’d be seeing many more entrepreneurs, business owners, successful investors and financially intelligent people in the Australia ahead of us. What do you think? I’d love to hear your views about this subject. Please email me your thoughts at: info@ smartpropertyadviser.com.au For information about Kevin’s FREE No Secrets Workshop, please visit smartpropertyadviser.com.au
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HELLO OR GOODBYE? Devil Facial Tumour Disease was discovered in Tasmanian devils in 1996. It’s a contagious cancer spread through biting, and it is always fatal.
Photo credit: Mike Calder Photography.
The devil population has suffered immensely and, more than 80% have been lost. The ‘Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’ supports the survival of the devil in its natural habitat, the Tasmanian wilderness. Funding is vital, and we need your help. To make sure it’s not goodbye, the Tasmanian devils need your help!
Log onto www.tassiedevil.com.au for more info and ideas. STDA1894rj
AN INITIATIVE OF THE SAVE THE TASMANIAN DEVIL PROGRAM COORDINATED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA FOUNDATION
CASH POSITIVE INVESTMENT PROPERTY AUSTRALIA’S NEXT PROPERTY HOTSPOT there has never been a better time to invest in Miles, with an average annual growth rate of 16.1% over the past 10 years. Miles is strategically located in the heart of Australia’s leading energy precent the region is not reliant on one particular industry (unlike other areas), meaning SECURITY for investors. The major industries driving the boom are gas, coal, power, solar, coal seam gas, water, liquefied natural gas (LNG), agriculture, manufacturing and rail.
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© 2014 Bose Corporation. All rights reserved. 21 day risk-free trial and free shipping refers to purchases made by phoning 1800 663 004, via www.bose.com.au or from a Bose store. 21 day risk-free trial and free shipping is not available when purchasing from other authorised Bose resellers. Quote reproduced with permission: Tech Guide, 30 August 2013.