Twelve years ago at a Vancouver airport lounge, a tall Prussian looking gentleman strode past me, carrying a four piece fly rod tube.  At the time, I was carrying a six piece fly rod tube, so we started talking, as fly fishermen tend to do in out of the way places.

Herbert by then was in his seventies and had been on his annual visit to Spatsizi Wilderness Lodge, 300 km north of Smithers, British Columbia high up on the Spatsizi Plateau. The plateau featured a myriad of interlocking crystal clear river systems, teeming with fat and wild rainbow trout, beautiful arctic grayling and cannibal bull trout. Fly fishing heaven.

Guests could only get to the lakeside lodge by a commercial Otter float plane, which also brought in the weekly supplies of fuel and food. Every day for a week, Herbert had climbed up into one of the lodge’s smaller Piper float planes, scooting at low altitudes between snow-capped mountains before dropping down to a different lake and river, and catching and releasing up to 50 fish a day. He fly fished all around the world and Spatsizi was one of his favourite spots. I put it on the list.

Blog Darting between mountains

Now, 12 years later, I had just left Vancouver airport and was flying north to Smithers on an Air Canada Dash 8. The two men in front of me were speaking Swedish or German and reminded me of the rich cultural diversity of the Canadian west, where European ethnic and religious minorities came to get away from the majority and themselves became the new majority … but a more tolerant version.

Then I noticed many of the passengers wearing lightweight quick drying clothes, fishing caps and then I saw the four piece rod tubes … I breathed a little easier … I was among my own kind.

Part way down the peaks, the glaciers were collapsing under the summer sun, melting like brown and white turkey necks, down into the valleys, taking topsoil and vegetation under them. I took a look out the window …climbing to full height the mountains were black granite spires, with hard edges sharpened by millions of years of glacial drift, the peaks flecked by snow and cradling small fluffy clouds … I felt like one of the winch men on a rescue helicopter, getting lowered down into rough black seas with white caps and fluffs of spray, but still, as if captured in a digital freeze frame.

And there, deep down in the mountain swell, very deep, lay some delicately braided rivers fed by snow melt – magic waters for trout and spawning salmon. At full cruising height of 7500 metres it was bloody beautiful.

Now, at this point, I should tell you a little bit more about the residents of northern British Columbia. They breed em tough up there. Surviving winters at 40 degrees below freezing, surrounded by animals that see you as an ingredient, does tend to toughen you up somewhat.

Counting the wolverines, wolves, cougars and three types of bears, I’d done some research on the sorts of animals that regard humans as finger food and the apex predator is the boar grizzly bear.

They weigh up to 500 kg, stand up to four metres tall and can charge at 65 kph. They have claws as long as a man’s fingers which can rip a plane apart if they sense food inside. If the thought of meeting one of these critters concerns you at all, close your eyes as you arrive in Smithers airport, because there is a very large and very lifelike stuffed grizzly in a glass cage which was shot in 2001, about the same time I met Herbert.

As a marketing ploy, I thought it was up there with having a stuffed white pointer at the Gold Coast Airport, but it was certainly memorable. I won’t forget it.

This Grizzly, called the Hungry Hill Phantom, had chomped his way through 30 head of local cattle over three years and was shot trying to add two conservation officers to his menu.  The officers saw him at 24 metres, trapped in a steel cable leg hold snare which was wrapped around a large tree. He had been chewing on the steel cable and when he saw the two men, he became enraged as only a boar grizzly can, broke the steel cable and charged them. He got within seven metres before the high calibre cross fire stopped him.

Standing by the bear was our welcoming party or ‘expeditor’ a very nice lady who declined offers of assistance and effortlessly threw all our bags into the back of a small bus and whisked us off to the Hudson Bay Lodge.

The night was young, so I checked out the guest directory and counted 12 different mainstream and evangelical churches, and almost as many gun shops. Off to bed then.

Blog Spatsizi Cabins

Next day Thursday, we were finally loaded onto our turbo otter and away we went, with a French Canadian pilot called Wendell, a weeks’ worth of groceries and assorted hardware items and spare parts tied down by cargo nets around us. Everybody apart from me knew somebody on the plane and it was like heading off to summer camp for grownups, but with our very own plane. It was a real blast.

The scenery on the flight into Spatsizi was unforgettable. The lodge is in a saucer shaped valley, ringed by glaciated black granite mountains, flecked with patches of a pure white snow. Below the tree line was a Bristol green ribbon of Douglas fir trees, then more flat, olive green grassland with splashes of purple wildflowers. The lake itself was a pure processed blue and nestled at the far end were Spatsizi’s yellowed brown pine log cabins with their bright ferric red steel roofs. It was prettier than a box of crayons.

The lodge itself was great. In this neck of the woods, a flushing toilet counts as a luxury and six guests shared two of those. Each guest had their own cabin, with private showers, log beds, and wood stoves. Meals were served in the main building that has a lounge area, fly tying bench and a pine dining table which seats up to 20 guests and staff. The chef provides fine cuisine, freshly baked breads, and homemade desserts. And in this neck of the woods, they eat a lot.

After a lunch I had enough food on board to choke a fully grown goanna and I waddled off for an afternoon of fishing with our host, the legendary outfitter and patriarch Ray Collingwood. Ray is a small, wiry man in his seventies and very tough indeed. When he talks, the sentence starts out kind of slow and gravelly, a bit like an avalanche, grinding down a mountain. You tended to listen respectfully. Especially as he carries the bear bangers and pepper spray.

Blog Pix with Bull Trout

That afternoon, I caught about six big rainbow trout, up to five pounds. There were also lots of what the locals call white fish, which were, funnily enough white. And one big, bad bull trout, which was actually an arctic char.

I had run across the bull trout earlier, chasing my rainbow trout after I had hooked them. The bull trout were attracted to the struggling fish and bit savagely at them while the rainbows were otherwise engaged with my hook and line. This began a frantic game of me trying to save the fish I wanted to catch and release, from a real life predator lower down the feed chain, which preferred to catch and eat.

When I finally hooked one of these predatory monsters, it began with a soft nibble, like a white fish, but when I tried to pull it in, dived down and dug in, like a cranky old brown trout. When it decided to run, there was nothing I could do but give it line and trust in my knots. With a lot of side tension, the monster relented and decided to take a breather in some shallow water, where I was waiting. Then it was grip and grin and release and start again.

I got back to the lodge and enjoyed a hot shower and cold beer, long with some comfortable company from the blokes in quick drying gear and a four course meal, accompanied by half a bottle of a very pleasant, understated red, from a nice US winemaker called Jim who brought along a case. See earlier comments about being amongst friends.

Blog land plump rainbow twoAfter that, every day was a new adventure … we climbed aboard the little float planes and zipped in between the mountains, scanning for moose, elk and goats, before swooping down onto one of the 30 different rivers, lakes and streams.

On Saturday, we fished Tatlatui Lake and it was the kind of fishing day you only dream about Australia or New Zealand. When we landed I was buzz bombed by three cm orange stoneflies, so on went an orange stimulator fly and then followed six hours of non-stop hits from some crazy rainbow trout.

Instead of dead drifting dry flies, I was told to hold the line at the end of the drift and let the fly swing in a circle, creating a pointer shaped wake on top of the water. This runs counter to all the theory, but the guide called it the Spatsizi swing and it worked a treat. By the way, the guides also fly the float planes, which keep the costs down to about a grand a day and given our exchange rate this is better value than New Zealand at the moment.

At the end of the day, I’d missed some 60 hits by trout, hooked another 20 and lost them, but caught and landed 41 beautiful big rainbow trout, all over three pounds … it was my best day ever on the water, in terms of numbers … about 120 hits in total over six hours on the water …one hit every three minutes … my life was complete.

Blog Ray Collingwood Perfect HostOn Monday we visited Firesteel camp. Ray had flown in earlier in his little Piper float plane, with his new red dunny door tied to one of the floats and his favourite pooch as his fellow passenger.

Firesteel reminded me of the cabins I love in the Victorian high country …except this one had more mosquitos, no flushing toilets, no solar panels and no electricity. The emergency skis leaning against the cabin were a couple of old sand shoes nailed onto metre long pine planks. Like I said, they breed ’em tough up there.

Ray turned out to be a magnificent host. The moose steaks were delicious … the beds clean and dry and after dinner Ray lit a campfire and rasped out a few yarns about surviving black bear attacks and winters at 40 degrees below freezing point. He even produced a Cuban cigar from his root cellar. It was just like a cubby house for grown-ups. Or men who had never grown up. You can count me in there.

Now I knew why Herbert loved the place. I’d like to have thanked him, but he died a couple of years ago, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Give it a try. It’s nourishment for the soul and we all need more of that.

Copyright John Black 2013.




    ADS, in conjunction with ESRI and Map Data Services, have produced a dashboard and linked interactive maps, to show you the key voting stereotypes for the 2016 Australian election and where you can find them. Click on the icon above for the Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard and Maps. You will find all of the vote and swing stereotypes and related maps for every Australian electorate.

    Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard

    Click on Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard for full screen viewing.


    Pre Election ADS.Elect Dashboard

    Click on Pre Election ADS.Elect Dashboard for full screen viewing.


      Wetting a line in Rugby Territory

      Flyfish Cape Town with Inkwazi Flyfishing, South Africa

      John Black – Fly fishing Cape Town, South Africa

      If Rugby Union is indeed the sport for thugs played by gentlemen, then fly fishing in small streams for nervous trout would have to qualify as the recreational activity for mugs, albeit played by the same gentlemen.

      And did I mention gentlemen and their love of red wine?

      You can get all three – Rugby, Fly Fishing and some very companionable reds in Cape Town, South Africa, during the current Super 15 Rugby season because the Rugby season overlaps with the trout fishing season and by the end of March all the grapes have been harvested.

      Now there’s a happy set of coincidences. So it was in the interests of my company’s small but discerning group of social media fans that I undertook this research. Plus of course, my daughter was getting married to a local South African and I had to give her away, along with some of my savings.

      The wine industry began in South Africa, when the first vineyards were planted to take advantage of Cape Town’s Mediterranean climate after 1652 to ward off scurvy amongst sailors travelling the spice route.

      John Black, Flyfishing Cape Town, South AfricaIt was of course my concerns about scurvy on the direct flight back to Sydney that caused me to undertake a rigorous health regime of sampling the local Shiraz and cabernet sauvignon based wines and also a local cross of pinot noir and cinsaut called Pinotage – which is worth a punt.

      Speaking of the punt, the rugby Super 15 season is well under way during the period March to the end of May, which overlaps nicely with the local trout season.

      The Cape Town Rugby team the Stormers play the Canberra Brumbies at Newlands on May 8 and then the Melbourne Rebels on May 22. These should be great games to watch, with the qualifying end of the season approaching.

      So, you can head over to Cape Town at the pointy end of a direct Qantas flight from Sydney to Johannesburg and catch a commuter direct to Cape Town, watch the game at Newlands and then head out to relax with some wine tastings at Paarl and Stellenbosch. After a day or so loafing by the pool I suggest you duck up the mountains to try a spot of fly fishing with local guide Tim Rolston. I think it’s worth a tick on the bucket list.

      I stayed at the Grande Roche Hotel at Paarl, a small luxury hotel at the foot of Paarl Rock, set in working vineyards and overlooking beautifully maintained gardens and with spectacular views of the Cape Fold Belt Ranges.

      Grande Roche Hotel at Paarl, Cape Town, South Africa

      If you do stay there, organise yourself a trip from the airport with the hotel staff, and keep your receipt, as you do not want to be hunting for a cab as a tourist in Cape Town or its airport late at night. Or in the morning, if it comes to that, as there’s a lot of unofficial cabs about the fares tend to be flexible.

      When you are in Cape Town, you should take maximum care of your personal security, especially when it comes to travelling alone, or at night or outside ATMs. Muggings and burglaries are a fact of life and razor wire around private homes bears testament to that.

      And get used to having cigarette smoke blown in public places – my room had a lovely historic thatched rooves which unfortunately conducted cigar smoke from next door through my room at night. Still, they were good quality cigars and I’ve been known to enjoy a Cohiba Esplendido while overseas, from time to time. Cigarettes on the other hand are a bloody nuisance.

      But the food and the service from concierges more than made up for some minor inconvenience. The hotel caters for English and German speakers and the German chef turned out some of the most magnificent meals I have ever enjoyed. I loved it.

       Grande Roche Hotel at Paarl

      The German tourists were an interesting bunch in the culinary stakes, with their breakfast typically starting with oysters natural, splashed with tabasco sauce and accompanied by crisp local champagne and followed by cured hams and sausage. I tried it and it certainly took your mind off any concerns you might have on how you’d be spending the rest of the day.

      I had all my meals on the terrace overlooking a working vineyard, where I did my best to navigate my way through media webpages using the local Wi-Fi service. The champagne helped after a while.

      I had all my meals on the terrace overlooking a working vineyard

      But I really stayed there for the fly fishing and first thing after my oysters and champagne, up rocked local guide and raconteur Tim Rolston of Inkwazi Flyfishing to whisk me up to the Du Toitskloof Mountain Range part of the Cape Fold Mountain Belt. We arrived at the Elandspad River after a quick drive through a toll tunnel and the whole trip took about 45 minutes from the door of the hotel.

      If you go up through the tunnel, I would recommend you return via the old pass route as the views of Cape Town are really something.

      The Elandspad River was more of a stream really and about 300 metres above sea level and located in Elandspad Riverthe
      Limietberg Reserve, a nature reserve under the management of Cape Nature. The height above sea level produces a cool microclimate which enables the local introduced Rainbow trout to flourish since they were stocked in 1897.

      The fishing on the streams is controlled by the Cape
      Piscatorial Society
      in conjunction with Cape Nature and fishing is fly only, barbless hooks only, catch and release.

      The streams are divided into beats and all anglers must secure a booking for a beat for the day prior to fishing. No more than two anglers are permitted to fish a beat on any given day.

      The Elandspad River now has four beats, each averaging approximately 1.5 Km. The lowest beat starts right next to the road, the highest beat is approximately an hour’s walk along the trail to the commencement of the fishing.

      To get there, we walked past a group of bare arsed baboons, who were fortunately totally uninterested in us. I hate monkeys of any description and no good ever comes of feeding the buggers.

      At this point I should mention that South Africans tend to be reasonably robust types. It comes with the territory.

      Fishing is normally done without waders. No problem. There are a few snakes around that can kill you -like puff adders and cape cobras – but these critters are coloured brown in Oz and are just as effective at killing you, so I had no difficulty there.

      John climbing mountain goat styleThe problem came when we had assume the mountain goat stance to get into the river from steep sandstone canyons and – whilst your humble scribe was fit enough from swimming and walking – my mountain goat training was sadly deficient. I have been known to fall off cliffs while fly fishing.

      Still, I did it. We got there. The fishing was great.

      The trout were canny little buggers, nervous to the point of being neurotic. But cute to catch on my seven foot six inch three weight sage rod.

      We used tiny size 16 sedge dries, with even tinier size 20 wets hanging underneath, all tied with Tim’s special penny knot. The stream was not unlike my favourite little Bundara River in the Victorian High Country of East Gippsland – shallow, freestone, small pools, but lots of fun with very light gear – which unfortunately I later managed to leave in Tim’s car after enjoying a few beers after the fishing.John's FishEP

      But, being a true gent, Tim sent it back to Oz with my daughter and her new husband when they came home.

      I also still have the flies which we used that day, pushed into a grange cork atop one of my three computer screens, so when my bum gets numb after a 18 hours straight of sitting down, churning out statistical profiles of schools, elections and the labour market, I can cast an eye over the flies – and all the other flies in corks blue-tacked to my computer screens. Then I relive old adventures in faraway places which gladdened my heart.

      And this was one of them.

      So, if you’re a Rugby fan and you’re heading over there to catch a game, I would recommend you give Tim a call and settle into the Grande Roche for a week or so. Break it up with a few winery visits and a day or two of fly fishing. And of course, you can be in Cape Town in an hour and the hotel lay on a shuttle bus to take you there and bring you back.

      And while you are there, make sure you drink some medicinal doses of the local Pinotage to ward off scurvy on the long flight home. Worked for me. No sign of scurvy since.


      The Grande Roche Hotel can be found at

      For full details of the Cape Town Harvest festivals, try

      The Super 15 season fixtures can be seen at

      Relevant contact details for trout fishing and Tim Rolston Inkwazi Flyfishing:




      Tel: +27 (0)83 6260467

      Cape Piscatorial Society:



      Tel: +27 (0)21 4247725

      Downloadable history of the CPS:



        Only about 45 per cent of year 12 students from Government schools in 2015 said they had a Bachelor degree as their main post-school destination, but the equivalent figure from non-Government year 12 completers was about 63 per cent.

        Our company Education Geographics profiles non-Government schools and we currently have about ten per cent of the Australian Independent student market. And what happens in our market affects yours. From our national research and our individual school profiles we are picking up significant changes to the profile of students at all three sectors which can be traced back to long run cultural changes and to the impact of digital disruption to the jobs and incomes of Non-Government school parents.

        Read More of this Article …  >Click Here


        Click to view the full Go8 News Magazine.

        The story has been run with the permission of the Go8 News.




          78,300 full time jobs were lost for Tradesmen and Tradeswomen in the past year, virtually all of them in the private sector.

          65,700 of these full-time jobs lost were formerly held by Tradesmen.

          55,500 full time clerical and admin jobs were lost last year.

          51,400 of these were former full time jobs in the private sector and 43,800 of them were formerly full time jobs held by women.

          A family made up of a Tradesman dad and a mother with a clerical job makes up 22.2 percent of the workforce and 2,669,200 jobs. This is the key middle Australia voting demographic which makes or breaks Government.

          In terms of its percentage of the workforce, this demographic has been declining since the GFC, when it was about 25 percent of the workforce.

          This is why Governments representing the status quo are not getting re-elected.

          Australian Labour Force Regions - Changes November 2008 to 2016

          The private sector over the past year grew by 131,300 part-time workers, but lost 50,100 full time workers, with a net growth of 81,200 workers. This casualisation of jobs is why incomes are flat.

          The public sector grew 28,700 full time jobs and lost 22,600 part-time jobs, with a net growth of 6,100 jobs.

          So, all the growth over the past year in full time jobs has been in the public sector, with the private sector going backwards by 50,100 jobs.

          The big growth in high wage jobs continued among professionals where some 47,300 jobs were created in total and virtually all of them were for women employed in the private sector.

          There have been an extra 102,900 jobs created in past year for semi-skilled and unskilled blue collar workers, with two-thirds of them part time.  Virtually all of these jobs were in the private sector.

          When we look at Industries, we saw a major recent jump in manufacturing jobs in the past year of more than 100,000 workers, with a similar rise for the public-sector trio of public admin, education, and health. These are the industries where the union movement still has strong representation and which support Labor or Green candidates.

          So, during the past year, Green voters have been travelling well in the inner cities, Labor voters (and the unions) have been doing ok in the outer industrial suburbs, but working family jobs continue to be hollowed out in the middle-class suburbs.





            Owen River Lodge - South Island, New Zealand

            Owen River Lodge Fishing, South Island, New Zealand

            Running a fishing lodge can be a complex thing. There are so many variables to take into account, without doubt, the weather has a significant impact on the trout fishery and therefore the fishing.

            In our early season the weather cooperated brilliantly. November & December saw clear rivers, sunny days and little wind. The results speak for themselves…….

            14lb_wild_brown_trout_owen_river_odge, south island, new zealand

            Andrew from Sydney’s first trip to ORL was for his honeymoon in 2010. He’s subsequently stayed with us a further 3 times including a quick 4 day trip in early November.
            He landed 11 wild brown’s in his 3 days fishing including a sensational 11 lb monster and 2 x 8lb, 2 x 6lb 3 x 5lb and a 4lb wild brown !

            In early December, 3 anglers landed 3 wild New Zealand browns and each of them set apersonal record. The 3 browns weighed in at 9lb, 12 lb and new lodge record of 14lb.
            There was no expensive helicopter required, as all these browns were caught in our local, drive to rivers!

            fly_fishing_dry_fly_NZ, Owen River Lodge, South Island, New Zealand

            To be honest during our summer (January > March) the weather was rubbish. It was unusually windy and wet. This made the fishing, at times, challenging, however with the help of the wonderful fishing guides that work with us our guests still caught fish and had some memorable moments on the river.

            Vaughan and Bess are regular Australian guests @ Owen River Lodge. Whilst Bess went horse riding, Vaughan had some sensational fishing over 4 days of angling adventure. In a 2 day period he landed over 25 wild browns in the 3 > 5 lb range !

            fly_fishing_Owen River Lodge, South Island, New Zealand

            Robin & Andrew, from the UK, stayed and fished with us in February. They had some unbelievable fishing, landing 20 browns averaging 4lbs in one day and landing over 50 browns in 6 days

            Howard, one of our most regular guests, had four sensational days fishing with his guide David in late March. In his 4 days fishing he landed 24 wild browns including an 8lb & a 9lb caught on consecutive days in the Owen River !

            _Owen River Lodge, South Island, New Zealand_Fishing_Owen_River_November_2015_Rene_Vaz


              Photo Essay From Kiwi Guide Zane Mirfin


              This summer – apart from a brief early season trip to Owen River Lodge – I haven’t had a chance to fish for trophy trout in New Zealand’s famous South Island waters.

              So here are some (painful) reminders for me of what could have been my summer from Nelson guide Zane Mirfin, who actually gets paid for having this sort of fun.

              If only I could persuade him to swap jobs for just one summer. I’m sure he’d enjoy the statistics. Oh well.

              Here is Zane’s photo report from Brown Trout Heaven, New Zealand.

              Wilderness Magic: Master angler Skip Herman, IL, USA, enjoys success with Zane in March 2016. Skip & Zane must have been fishing together for close on thirty years.

              It’s been another action-packed fishing season and that’s why you haven’t heard from us for awhile! We really enjoyed the company of our anglers, and as usual, had plenty of great fishing action and adventures.

              We were everywhere January – May with too many success photos to ever put in one newsletter. So we’re doing Part I now (January – March) and Part II (April – May) later in the month. We hope you enjoy the images.

              Next year is looking like being another big season too, with world tourism on the up and up, assisted by a favourable exchange rate. We’re a year-round guiding operation, with year-round opportunities throughout New Zealand: October, November, and December are always the best trout catching months, with January, February, and March being the most popular months with our northern Hemisphere anglers. April – September we have plenty of wonderful saltwater fishing action in Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds, plus great alpine hunting & waterfowling on public wild lands, and private properties alike.

              Making a booking with us has always been easy. We just do direct bookings these days and can advise on all logistics and arrangements. As a result we can craft special experiences for each and every customer and ensure that you get to the best fishing, at the best times. You’re always our number one priority, and we’ll put you on the best water every day.


                SA 1973 to 1977

                Project One – The South Australian Research

                south-australian flagThis is the original research carried out by John Black while working on state and federal ALP campaigns in eastern Adelaide between 1971 and 1977. During the early part of this period, Black was a politics student at Flinders University under Neal Blewett and Dean Jaensch, who co-wrote Playford to Dunstan.

                Black then became an adviser to the ALP Deputy Premier Des Corcoran and ALP Premier Don Dunstan. During this period Black profiled the 1973 and 1975 SA state elections and devised the original version of elaborate, drawing from the work of Blewett and Jaensch and UK work by Butler and Stokes.

                Black provided demographic advice to the Cabinet Campaign Committee for 1977 on demographic and spatial targeting and the refinement of local campaign techniques, such as swinging voter campaigns and voter enrolment drives. These techniques involved the first amalgamation of printed street order electoral rolls, the telephone white pages and the Australian census, to locate and target key groups both centrally and down to the local street level.

                This work laid the foundation for the early versions of campaign software, which has since evolved into the more individually focused product used by all major parties. In the early days this was all done with paper and pen, craft glue, scissors and hand held calculators. Data was stored on punch cards in shoe boxes and super computers for the major number crunching programs had to run overnight to complete calculations which now take seconds on a home computer.

                Black delivered a series of papers on these profiling and campaign techniques to the ALP Federal campaign committee between 1974 and 1977 and prepared the demographic research component of the ALP submission to South Australia’s first one vote value electoral redistribution.

                The late John Lockwood assisted with the statistical analysis and data preparation for this work and Kevin Harris advised on the geographical implications.

                Read more…PROJECT 1 – SA 1973 to 1977


                  EDUCATION SECTOR CHANGES 2008-2015


                  The Australian economy has been hit by a series of economic upheavals and mixed economic responses from Governments since the GFC of 2008.

                  These factors have totally transformed the nature of the Australian Education Market as shown by the interractive ESRI Australia maps which can be seen by clicking on the above picture.

                  The maps are based on school SA4 campus location and enrolment data collected from the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, via the My School website. The reader should note some schools on the edges of an SA4 will draw in students from adjoining SA4 labour force regions.

                  The maps show Independent market share for 2008 in the map on the left, Independent market share for 2015 in the centre map and Independent market share changes between 2008 and 2015 in the map at right. All three maps can be zoomed and moved in unison via the left hand map, enabling the reader to make easy comparisons for identical regions.

                  The reader can see that the regions with the highest Independent market share in 2008 (typically wealthier, inner urban areas) have been the areas where the sector has lost most market share between 2008 and 2015. This loss of market share has gone overwhelmingly to the state school sector, via high SES or semi-independent State schools. In the lower income, outer urban areas, the trend has been in the reverse direction, with the state school sector losing students to low fee Independent schools.


                    A big one that didn’t get away


                    I’m standing in the front of a small wooden dinghy which is floating on a remote loch in the central highlands of Scotland, and I’m rhythmically, but aimlessly flicking out a fly line armed with an old fashioned Aussie blue bottle dry fly

                    HeatherIt’s a warm afternoon in late autumn and in the background, the low hills of Rannoch Moor are covered in purple flowering heather and bog-myrtle and their sweet lilac and honey scents carry to me on a soft breeze which is chopping the surface of the loch, making the fly difficult to see for both me and the trout. The dinghy starts to drift off and so do I.

                    Away to the west over towards the famous Glencoe, we hear the grumble of distant thunder and within five minutes we see red deer scurrying for shelter as the high, dark storm clouds move in. The air now becomes still and we sense the barometric pressure drop before the storm cell is sucked in. As the pressure drops, the peaty waters of the loch come alive with billions of tiny midge larvae or chironomids, which begin to hatch, and then float up to the now totally calm and clear surface film of the loch.

                    scotlandThe hatch is a dinner gong to the loch’s giant steelhead trout and now we can see three of them, feeding in the top metre of the water column, cruising back and forth at right angles to the drift of our dinghy.

                    I tie a tiny epoxy midge fly onto about a metre of four kilo line, trailing behind the blue bottle, so that it can sink a half a metre down and hopefully attract the monster steelhead. This is the moment.

                    From 30 metres away, I see a patrolling steelhead feeding half a metre below the surface. I cast too short, but the monster still spots the tiny midge fly from five metres away, then turns at right angles and dives to intercept the sunken fly. In an instant, the steelhead strikes, my indicator disappears below the surface, my heart leaps to my throat and I set the hook.

                    Yikes! I was on!

                    Do you remember the scene from The Hunt for Red October, when the 7000 ton Dallas burst out of the water at 25 knots, its giant black snout clearing the surface and crashing down in a shower of spray?

                    Well, the steelhead trout I’d hooked was just as impressive as the Dallas – to me at least. It was heading in a dead straight line for the near bank of the loch, first diving to about three metres and then careening into the air, as it whipped out my 30 metres of fly line, and then tore into 100 metres of bright pink backing braid.

                    At this point, the front of the dinghy where I was standing was being slowly pulled towards the giant steelhead and I realised we were actually being towed by this piscatorial demon toward the opposite bank, as my reel continued to whine. I only had a few metres of backing left by this stage and when that went something would go snap – most likely me, as I dove into the freezing loch to rescue my disappearing line. This bugger wasn’t getting away.
                    The only thing that saved me was the small size of the loch. The demon steelhead ran out of water, did a quick right hand turn and began jumping and twisting, trying to rip my tiny size 14 midge fly from the corner of its jaws.  The guide books tell you that at this point you’re supposed to drop the tip of the rod, to loosen the line, so that fish can’t get any direct purchase and snap the lightweight tippet on the end of the fly line. Fat chance of that, with 200 metres of line on the water.
                    The fishing gods smiled on me that day and my four kilo fluorocarbon line held and I was able to work this monster slowly back to the boat, where my ghillie Ian Nelson slipped a net under him. This was a big fish and my big adventure of our Scottish trip. It weighed five kilos or over ten pound in the old scale. And it was definitely harmed in the production of this story because we ate it.
                    We normally catch and release but the loch was a put and take fishery and these big cannibal fish had to be removed before the loch could be re-stocked, so it just wasn’t his day, really.

                    The next day we went fishing further out on Rannoch Moor, a spectacularly wild and desolate watershed of peat and bog covering 20 square miles of central Scotland, where rivers start their journeys towards the Atlantic in the west and to the North Sea in the east. It’s such a harsh and inhospitable spot in bad weather that the Defence Department use it for training SAS recruits and pilots and we were regularly over flown by Tornadoes bombers and Hercules heavy transports at what seemed like zero feet. We tried to get pictures, but it’s hard when you’re face down in the mud.

                    The moor is so boggy there’s no road across it, although there is a railway line over to the west coast at Fort William. The line took 5000 navvies five years to build. The peat had to be overlaid with brushwood, tree roots, and ash, and this fill is all that prevents it from sinking into the bog. At midnight in summer, when it’s finally dark, you walk home on the railway line, as the risk of colliding with the well-lit evening train is far outweighed by the risk of ending up in the bog, like one of the pit ponies from that awful scene in the Hound of the Baskervilles.
                    IMG_4383We were heading for the Loch of the Sword – so called because a couple of local tough guys in kilts had been going to have a fight over it, but were seized by the beauty of the place and perhaps a flask of the local whiskey, and decided to throw a sword into the loch instead. What can I say? You need to bear in mind there that these were men who used to prepare for a big fight by getting plastered on hallucinogenic liquor and painting their tattooed bodies blue and then they would charge screaming into battle wearing nothing but a big sword, or claymore and a shield to cover the bits that were too difficult to paint or too painful to tattoo. The local heavies had just wanted the day off from this sort of thing and who can blame them?

                    So, there I was, wife and son on the bank of the loch, with Ian furtively rolling a cigarette (it’s the national pastime in Scotland – I think to keep away the midges) and out of nowhere rolls this little passenger train, trundling along the Moor of Rannoch railway track, which ran along the other side of the Loch.

                    When I commented on the beauty of the loch, the bloody history of the moor and the incongruity of a modern train meandering through the scene, Ian recounted a fishing trip there at the same loch a year ago, when the original Hogwarts Express materialised out of the mists, and ran along the same line alongside the loch, with Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron and scores of other would be wizards, hanging out the windows, laughing, shouting and waving their wands. The train was followed by the helicopters and film crews, capturing another scene from the latest Harry Potter film.  Pure magic.

                    JK Rowling, you see, lives nearby at Killiechassie House, a 19th century estate house on the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, which is also just down the road from Pitlochry where we headed to the next day.IMG_4901

                    That day we enjoyed a spot of salmon fishing on the famous River Tay until early afternoon, then we adjourned to Pitlochry to order a kilt at MacNaughtons, followed by one of the nicest curries I’d had in ages over the road at the Prince of India restaurant and later we saw an eerie night performance of the local Scottish drum and pipe band, while enjoying a wee dram from the new hipflasks, before retiring for the night to our castle gatehouse by the banks of our private stretch of the famous River Tummel for supper of single malt and some smoked trout. Seemed like a good day to me.


                    I had come to Scotland trying to find the parents of my great great great great grandfather, Rev James Black, who had been born in 1754 in Scotland, soon after the 1745 uprising of the Stuarts.

                    The Blacks had been a sept, or sub-clan of the local MacGregor clan, meaning they were under the protection of the MacGregors. And, until 1603, the MacGregors were good guys to be under the protection of, although they did acquire a certain reputation for their Marxist attitudes towards private property and a tendency to keep the heads of their opponents as souvenirs of battle.  This latter habit tended to discourage negative comments from passers-by about the former habit.

                    After some misunderstandings about cattle and sheep rustling and the odd spot of looting, which ended in a bit of marauding, the Privy Council, in 1603, legislated that anyone called MacGregor was: “compelled, on pain of death, to adopt another surname, and all who had been engaged at the battle of Glenfruin, and other marauding expeditions detailed in the act, were prohibited, also under pain of death, from carrying any weapon but a knife without a point to cut their victuals. They were also forbidden, under the same penalty of death, to meet in greater numbers than four at a time.”

                    So, whenever a Campbell, the local enforcers for the Redcoats, saw five or more MacGregors, around Rannoch, or even one MacGregor with a sharp knife, they were for the chop, if you’ll excuse the pun. The locals called this “untopping”. If you were a convicted crook yourself, and you collected enough untopped MacGregor heads, you could even buy a Royal pardon.

                    To keep their heads, the MacGregors had two choices: they could go respectable, adopt one of their sept surnames such as Black and move house, possibly to the lowlands, where Rev James surfaced, or they could keep nicking cows for a living, which meant they had to regularly hide out on a fortified island in the middle of Loch Rannoch.

                    This island was accessed via a secret path of large stones, just under the surface of the loch, known only to the MacGregors, who would dance across the loch on their secret stones, leaving their pursuers waving their claymores at them from the far bank. What the MacGregors would wave back at them is not recorded, but it could have been a blunt knife, your Worship.

                    The ruins of the fort are still to be seen, but the stone path and most of the island of Eilean nam Faoleag (Isle of Seagulls) has now been submerged under a few metres of water, thanks to the new weir at the end of the loch, probably built by descendants of frustrated pursuing redcoats.Dunalister-Estate-Lodge

                    After our last afternoon, as we drove back to our nineteenth century stone gatehouse for some baked trout, we passed by the fort at Eilean nam Faoleag and it was framed with a picture perfect rainbow, rising from the other side of Loch Rannoch.

                    Loch Rannoch may not have been the original pot of gold, but it was close enough for me.

                    Break out story…

                    Within an hour’s drive of Loch Rannoch, you can find the following attractions:

                    Magic? Visit the Hogwarts Express scenes from Harry Potter near Rannoch Station. Or the Enchanted Forest by night at Faskally Woods. Or the Beatrix Potter Garden at Dunkeld. Or the mystic Mountain of Schiehallion. Or the Sleeping Giant mountain.

                    Adventure? Head off on the moors with Ian Nelson to chase a giant steelhead and make sure you don’t fall in trudging back across the moor at night. Or try white water rafting on the River Tay through the UK Olympic Kayaking training centre.

                    History? Head for the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Medieval Cathedral in Dunkeld near Birnam Wood (remember Macbeth?) and discover the burial site of the infamous Wolf of Badenoch. Or take one of the clan walks around Loch Rannoch, through the wreckage of Dunalastair Lodge, or the Black Wood of Rannoch. Creepy.

                    A Kilt? You can get these at McNaughton’s in Pitlochry … they’ll post it out to you. Have a curry at the Prince of India opposite while you wait to be measured.

                    Whiskey? We lost count of the number of distilleries around Rannoch- Famous Grouse, Dewars, Glenturret, Edradour, Dalwhinnie. Hic!

                    Golf? This place invented the game and there’s courses everywhere. We wandered over the eighteenth century General Wade stone bridge to the beautiful little Aberfeldy Golf Course. They were lovely people.

                    Local Culture? Head for Pitlochry, where the autumn cultural festival features Ghost Tours, Halloween Marquee with mulled wine, Celtic storytelling, street festivals and the famous Pitlochry Festival Theatre which runs six different plays from Monday through to Sunday. And every little highland town has their own highland games, usually in August.

                    Souvenirs and Kitsch? Head for the house of Bruar at Bruar Falls and get some ridgy didge Scottish tucker, including their famous haggis, neeps and tatties …. And some authentic highland tweed, with accompanying deerstalker and deer antler topped walking staffs. You will really look the part, but I’m not sure which part.



                      LABOUR MARKET – NOV QUARTER 2015

                      The labour market entered a period of recovery in the 12 months leading up to the November Quarter 2015, when we compare it to the 12 months leading up to the August Quarter 2015.

                      The jobs national labour market absorbed all new potential workforce entrants and also found jobs for some existing unemployed and hidden unemployed.

                      This appears to have a political component with consumers driving up retail jobs.

                      State Governments also continued hiring large numbers of health and education workers.

                      Tourism regions gained jobs even though the industry itself grew by only 10,000 jobs.

                      Demographically older, female Australians in traditional sea change retirement regions like Richmond Tweed or Wide Bay have seen big job gains and unemployment rate falls. Some Tasmanian regions also made an overdue recovery.

                      For online map go to:

                      Online Map







                      Mining lost only 5,000 jobs but also seems to have exercised considerable negative leverage on jobs in mining regions in Western Australia and Northern Queensland.

                      The big losers demographically were middle aged men in jobs at high risk of being replaced by computerisation.

                      A serious gender imbalance is emerging with the labour market with a declining participation rate for men existing alongside record high participation rates for women.


                      Read full report:  ADS Jobs Profile Nov Qtr 2015 final.pdf