DownUnder Blog: travellers' tales from our ex-pat in Australia

18 February 2011

Henry Sell, a regional vice president for Hill International in Australia, is writing a blog to interest UK construction professionals in the idea of relocating to Australia. Follow his posts at

Feb 9th: Last week a colleague and I went up to the Hunter Valley.  It’s an area approximately an hour and half north of Sydney.  It’s famous for two things, wine and coal! I’d been there on a number of occasions for the wine tours and the occasional concert, the last one being Leonard Cohen ( by he way was brilliant).  He is just one many of the big names who has played there.  This year, the Hunter will host Santana, Lionel Richie, Roxy Music and a few others.

Last week’s trip was my first work trip to the valley.  Coal, not wine, was on the radar.  Not quite the same you might say.  And you’d be right, expect that Coal is also somehow quite exciting. 

Now let me tell you why.  

In my last blog I talked a little about the Liquified Natural Gas industry and I gave you a snap shot of the magnitude of the projects.   The mining industry is not far behind and in many ways is more important.  To date it has been one the pillars of the Australian economy and therefore the country’s prosperity and it shall be for the forseeable future.

Between the various port expansion programmes, rail duplication projects and the mine expansion programmes themselves, there is literally billions of dollars of capital works programmes under delivery or on the drawing board.  

The size and diversity of the projects are such that they require specialist input and therefore represent exciting and challenging professional opportunities.  

And after a rewarding day at work, there is still the local wine to enjoy.

I have just come back from a few days away having made the most of Australia Day falling on a Wednesday.  I escaped to New Zealand where I took long walks on Mount Cook before enjoying the great wines of the Central Otago Region

Feb 2nd: So whilst Australia was celebrating its “raison d’etre” [on Australia Day, January 26], I got away from it all and had time to think about the year ahead and for some reason my mind wandered to this year’s Chinese New Year, maybe because both dates are relatively close to each other.  

Now that I am back in the office, I have revisited that thought. Due to geographical proximity, Australia is in fact extremely well positioned and is poised to benefit from Asian Growth.

Economists forecast 3.5% GDP growth for 2011, up from 3.4% in 2010 driven mainly by the export of primary resources to meet the needs of our Asian neighbours. This growth is greater than the growth predictions for Europe and the US and is dwarfed by 7.3% predicted growth of developing Asia (non-Japan Asia).

I have written in a previous blog that Australia has $200Bn of Liquified Natural Gas projects on the drawing board or under development.  Mining is forecast to as be solid as the LNG sector as new iron ore projects commence in Western Australia and Queensland.   This of course also impacts positively on other sectors such as infrastructure.

This is great news as this effectively means that engineering construction is forecast to continue rising as new large energy and resources projects commence.

This seems to be very much in line with the Chinese horoscope which predicts that during the Year of the Rabbit, money can be made without too much labour, that we will have a temperate year ahead and that it may be possible for us to be reasonably carefree and happy. Accordingly we will be busy enjoying ourselves, entertaining others or simply taking it easy.  The year ahead will be smooth and very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger.    

I definitely got a head start in New Zealand.


Hi Henry. This is my first look at your blog, I agree that China are the big players in the market moving forward and Australia is better placed than others to capitalise on this, these must be exciting times looking ahead for growth.

I am very interested in reading more of your blogs with a view to future work as a construction professional.

Phillip Cuddihy, 21 February 2011

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