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Good afternoon. The United States

expressed serious concerns about the Good afternoon. The United States has

new climate change deal finalised in

Bali. The agreement had been under

threat, but was saved when the US

agreed to wording, which made no

reference to specific cuts in CO2

emissions. However, a Whitehouse

statement described promises of

carbon cuts from developed countries

alone as inadequate. It insists

developing economies must make cuts

in the same way. Police say they've

busted a child pornography network.

There've been seven people charged

New South Wales and Victoria. It's There've been seven people charged in

alleged the men were involved in the

production and distribution of child

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one man's been charged with using

internet to groom a child under 16. one man's been charged with using the

The Pakistani President, Pervez

Musharaff, has addressed the nation

just hours after lifting the State

emergency he imposed six weeks ago. just hours after lifting the State of

He said emergency rule had saved the

country from destabilisation, and

situation had now improved. A country from destabilisation, and the

man, whose arrest last year led to situation had now improved. A British

increased airport security around

world, has escaped from police increased airport security around the

custody in Pakistan. Rashid Rauf,

arrested last August over a plot to custody in Pakistan. Rashid Rauf, was

blow up airliners on both sides of

the Atlantic. He somehow managed to

escape from police custody after a

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Islamabad. Join us for the main

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of Landline, I'm Pip Courtney. Hello, and welcome to the Best For the next eight weeks,

of the Landline programme we'll be bringing you the highlights over the past year. Australia's first abalone farm, This week, we're looking at Western as the Flying Padre, going out bush with a man known Polocrosse World Cup. and reporting on the from earlier this year First, here's Mark Willacy's report tension on the nation's stock routes. on how the drought is creating there is out on the road, It seems the more stock

beginning to fray. the more tempers are the dust, drought and despair After months trudging through these cattle can smell a big drink. of north-western NSW,

on to be the first to the water. Soon, the race is Plunging in to the Barwon River, the near 40-degree temperatures. the mob also gets some respite from feeling the heat. It's not only the cattle Out on the stock routes, hot under the collar. everyone's getting a little

the more aggro people are. Yeah, the drier it is, they want it, it's theirs. You've got farmers coming out and 'cause it's their area, you know, They feel like they should have it we're not from there. over it. So, you do get a few barnies Everyone's getting a bit antsy. blade of grass that's left. They're all wanting that one So it does make it very difficult.

so far, thank goodness, There's been nothing physical

go that way. and hopefully it doesn't starting to get very tense. But, yeah, it's definitely a few times but I don't worry. I've been abused. right up You sort of brush that off. last decade Steve Dorrstein has spent most of the and Queensland. droving along the stock routes of NSW through the legendary Long Paddock. He has steered this mob for 800km

But the deeper the drought bites, Steve Dorrstein to secure permission the more difficult it becomes for to use the stock routes. the goal posts, you know. Every time they just keep changing You get trapped in here, won't let you in. you come over here and another board to sort of fight and push It's hard when you've got

all the time and bang your head against a wall but, yeah, we seem to get through. and get this van up here Anyway, I gotta get back here or these fellas will crack up on me. Catch you later. I'll get roused on. Steve Dorrstein and his mob Here near the border with Queensland, Moree Rural Lands Protection Board. fall under the jurisdiction of the

administering and safeguarding It's the body charged with the travelling stock routes or TSRs. managing the TSRs, Our role is just that - managing the drovers managing the stock, getting a fair go, and making sure that everyone's they're yarding at night everyone's getting water, and they're on permits, all doing the right thing that they're so that everybody has a fair go. totally irresponsible. I think it's ludicrous, are reducing the numbers Some of the protection boards from 1,000 to 500. Sinclair Hill The former champion polo player is known for taking the mallet

strangling the stock routes. to those he reckons are

in this debate. The grazier has a valuable interest

Steve Dorrstein He's entrusted 1,000 head to drover risk than just his cattle. but he warns that there's more at paddock itself is under threat. He fears that the historic long part of the process - Today, it's still a very important it's a part of our way of life. our very culture - keeping them alive, Maintaining the cattle,

paddock but of late, of course, is very important on the long long paddock, which is very sad. they've been encroaching on the 'They' are the protection boards fellow farmers, and some of Sinclair Hill's but the boards argue devastated by drought that the stock routes are being

and eaten out by travelling mobs.

LINDY GOODMAN: We've had policy - drought conditions, we change policy according to the put in a policy and lately we've just where we're restricting the numbers. they have to walk those 5ks a day. We've put people on 5ks a day, and It's basically back to numbers, sustain the big numbers of stock because our watering points can't normally do in good times. like the thousand that we

But the drovers complain that putting up hurdles. it isn't just the boards Steve Dorrstein says many farmers stock routes, are grazing their cattle out on the with electric fences. blocking his path Yeah, it is getting a worse problem, have a look back at it. and I think a lot of people ought to It is a travelling stock route across my footpath at home and say, and, you know, I can't put a fence

"You can't come in here." "That's mine" or adjoining TSRs on my properties. I have a lot of TSR country - By and large, I don't have a lot of problems at all. Kevin Lonergan is not only a farmer but the President of the Moree Protection Board. He acknowledges that the drovers have a tough job but he complains that some of them don't always play by the rules. Drovers also, if a few cows get in, they're not backward in getting that cow out and if it means snipping the fence and not doing it up, well, so be it. That makes it very difficult between the two parties. We monitor where the drovers are and we issue permits and get them to do a certain amount of kilometres per day. Right now it's starting to get a little tight for everyone, so the pinch is starting to kick in. How's it goin'? Good, Arch. Yourself? Oh, yeah. As one of the Moree Protection Board rangers, Gaven Young's job is to enforce the rules out on the stock route. Today, he's issuing drover Arch Reilly a new permit. I'll just get your permit and I'll endorse it and get out of your way, I guess.

For rangers like Gaven Young, the hardest facet of the job is getting the drovers to move on. Yeah, I guess when they get on to a nice piece of feed, they want to get that bit of feed. There could be a mob behind them who's going to come through - well, they want to get a bit of that feed as well. So part of my job is trying to keep them moving them along and sharing it amongst everyone that's here, try and make it as fair as possible. So far this year around Moree there's been a few storms, but not a drop of rain has fallen near this dam built by the Protection Board. Despite the drought, Gaven Young and his bosses have spent $500,000 in the last year on an array of infrastructure projects to improve the stock routes, installing troughs, fixing fences and controlling weeds. But some argue it's not enough

to keep the Long Paddock going in times of drought. Within 20 miles of here they've capped the bores but forgotten to put water down on the stock routes. So you can't walk down a certain road because they haven't put water on the stock routes, which is totally irresponsible. Fences are another bugbear, but drover Steve Dorrstein blames landholders for that problem.

In relation to the stock routes, there's no stock-proof fence. You're fighting with them all day to keep them out of the channel.

They'll get in to the channels and once they have a drink, you know, they're bogged. Then you've gotta drag them out, and this all boils down to the fences, doesn't it?

This is where most of the drovers in northern NSW are headed - over the Barwon River and into Queensland. Here around Goondiwindi there's still a little pasture on the stock routes,

and the rules aren't so tough. Yeah, there's been a good few cattle. They'll be on the road for a long time yet, too, because the properties where they all come from are pretty dry. You know, they're moving about, but most of them are in NSW. There's not a lot up here in Queensland. A former champion horse rider, Terry Hall has been a drover for decades. He's been pushing this mob of 1,000 head from Oberon in NSW for months. In Queensland, the stock routes are administered by shire councils, and the permit fee is set in legislation by the State Government.

Here, Terry Hall is charged 14 cents a head per week, compared with more than $1 a head per week in NSW. So what you're about to hear may come as a surprise. I think they should probably put the rates up a bit. I mean, it's too expensive down there and it's a bit easier here.

I mean, I think these people should come up a bit, because it all helps out. A lot of people - the owners of these cattle, they're real happy with the prices up here, but it's too low and over the border it's too high - far too high. Well, it's probably surprising coming from a drover,

but he's a pretty honest bloke and he's telling it how it is.

Those fellas, they've been everywhere. They know what's well run, they know what's not well run and they know what they're getting for their money. Tom Woods says his shire spends $200,000 a year on maintaining and improving stock routes, but it makes only $10,000 from droving fees. He says it's time that shire councils were given the power

to charge more for their permits. I'd like to see that we actually have that right to set the ceiling. I think it's something we need to take responsibility for ourselves. We look after them, so we should be prepared to put our hand up and make those decisions and then justify why we do it.

And put up with the flack, if there's flack, or put up with what comes with it. The Queensland Government is predicting that traffic on the stock routes is only going to increase, as drought and transport costs continue to bite. We sort of take the view - and industry certainly does as well -

that there's every chance that use could increase by travelling stock. With fuel prices continuing to increase, it just seems logical that people might look for a more economical way to transport stock.

We'll go back there and poke 'em back down there in about eight hours,

and offer them a drink - that should do 'em this afternoon. For Steve Dorrstein, droving has always been a family affair. His father was a drover, and now his son Jason is off working the Long Paddock, while daughter Lou is helping out her father with this mob. Despite the wide open spaces and isolation, it can be a stressful job. Yeah, dad does get a bit stressed, actually. Sometimes it gets annoying because he tells us one thing

and then he changes his mind but he forgets to tell us and then he jumps down our throat. Yeah, he gets stressed out over that, and then he's snapping at us and snapping at everybody else. Even if they're nice people, he gets snappy with them. But, no, I don't know, you get it, I suppose. Everyone gets stressed out. For generations, the Long Paddock has been a refuge

for starving mobs and the drovers who guide them.

And rather than fade into history, the stock routes remain important life lines in this age of diesel and drought.

But the strain on the long paddock and those who rely on it is beginning to show. A lot of the boards, you know, you can't get in to. You can't move around, I don't think, as freely as you should be able to move around.

After all - we're all out here after the same gold, aren't we? There is a lot of conflict out there. I think also attitudes - if a drover's had a bad day and calves are getting bogged in a half-dry dam or something and you hop out of a car and you sort of say, "What are you doing here?" it's not the best time to do it.

You've got to pick your time when you approach the drovers. I hope that I can control it a bit better than letting it get that way. I hope to hell it doesn't get to fisticuffs. That's something that nobody really wants. For a few, there's little romance living life in the long paddock. Oh, no, not really a career for me. I just - you know, you have to do it, the cattle need feeding.

But my little brother, it'll be a career for him. He's right into it. But no, I like the social life. Out on the stock routes life can be lonely but, increasingly, the legendary long paddock is becoming overcrowded as drovers and farmers turn to the stock routes to keep their livestock and livelihoods alive. As the drought takes its toll, many people simply want someone to talk to.

One man who is doing his best is a 6'8" American with the Uniting Church who is often referred to as the Flying Padre. Lauren Harte reports on how the Reverend John Blair, with the help of his trusty Cessna 182, has been delivering hope to those living in remote parts of South Australia.

This is the largest airplane I've flown. Some people may giggle a bit, because it's not hugely big itself. A number of people say, "Oh, how do you get in to the plane?" And I always say, "Carefully." It's a 1974 Cessna 182. It holds four people and their baggage and full fuel,

and has endurance of about 6.5 hours, I think. Don't let the accent fool you. The Reverend John Blair admits to often feeling more Aussie than American. He's now a local in the mining town of Broken Hill in far western NSW, and each week he sees more of the outback and its people

than many born and bred in Australia will see in a lifetime. Our section of the presbytery that I work for - that district - is, I think, about 40 per cent of the State if you include the Cobar road patrol. I would fly on the northern border as far east as Hungerford,

and then straight down south a line west of Louth, but including Tilpa on the Darling, and on down past Ivanhoe and a little further south, and then over to Claire station.

The pastor who hails from the mid-west of the United States has one of the largest parishes in Australia. It stretches more than 161,000 square kilometres - that's roughly the same size of England and Wales combined.

Around 500 working stations fall within its borders, and the work's unique. Well, there are two basic categories, I guess you'd say. There's the pastoral care where, if someone is feeling a bit glum, a bit down, a bit tired, a care giver can come and visit - a spiritual care giver can try to ask how it's going and to share perhaps something from the Bible, something that is meaningful from a spiritual point of view.

And then there's perhaps

the more intensive sort of pastoral counselling category, and that is what I was trained in with my masters degree and with three extra years of training. That's for picking up some of the clues

that they send out almost unconsciously.

I'm not a psychiatrist and I don't think you have to be to realise, that many of these folk are really tired. Some of them are really in debt, some of them are really confused about what they're going to do if the rain doesn't come. It wasn't always smooth flying. John Blair's dream of being a pilot with a commercial airline or the air force was shattered when he was told he was too tall. So he turned to his other passion - the ministry.

But in 2001, while working in Boston, he heard about a vacant mission patrol gig based at Broken Hill.

It was the ultimate job. They brought John over to work as the Flying Padre for the Uniting Church,

and it was sort of a dream job for him - it was always his dream to combine his flying with his profession

of being a minister, and because he's not only a pastor and a pilot

but also a trained counsellor. It's very much like a pastoral position. I don't have a church building I look after -

all of my buildings are out there - we may have home church, we may have shed church, we may have pub church. It's an opportunity to meet the people where they live. John Blair is the seventh Flying Padre for the region. Only a handful of people do similar work in other parts of Australia.

During a long and cruel Australian drought his philosophy is simple. The strategy primarily is listening and without pretentiousness - just be there and listen.

What I'm hearing is certainly that they are giving it their best shot - to continue to work hard every day, to know when to take some time off and have family time. His flock include believers and non-believers - his role, more social worker than preacher. And his message is not only spread by the air - Reverend Blair also takes to the road

to visit the not so remote in his four-wheel drive. His wife Becky is often at his side.

The people from the stations do come to town for events that I can participate in quite frequently, such as the annual horse races. Annually, they have the Pastoralists Association ball. Tonight, for example, we're going to the School of the Air mini-school where the children will be dressing up in medieval costume. Let me know if you see any brumbies around here, Becky, they were out earlier today. When I came out, they were eating right near the edge of the road.

It'll give me a chance to catch up with some of the mothers there, and I really enjoy chatting with the women especially, and I think that they often need an objective voice - a listening ear. Having been a social worker, I really enjoy talking to people, hearing their stories, and hopefully offering some moral support to them as well. There we go... I feel even more religious right now.

The small town of Silverton, about 20 minutes out of Broken Hill, has a worldwide reputation as a movie set, but this evening it's playing host to a group of 100 bush kids in costume from remote stations throughout NSW. Are you ladies in waiting? They're educated by School of the Air but get together a few times a year to learn, socialise

and forget the drought.

It's also a good opportunity for the Flying Padre to make contact with the younger ones in his parish. Where is it you're from? Where do you say you live when people ask? Well, I live - you know where Louth is? Yes. Well, I live about 60ks from there towards Tilpa. Towards Tilpa? Ah-ha... Yeah. And I'm from Culpaulin in between Wilcannia and Menindee. MAN: John's role here at these mini-schools is that, you know, he works with these families, as we do - he works from his side of things and we work from the education side. So, yeah, it's terrific having him along. He plays a great role with these kids - they just love him - and the families, you know, can really relate to him and talk to him. So, yeah, he attends all of these sorts of functions. The worsening drought is taking its toll on remote communities,

but many people are still reluctant to ask for help. These days, Reverend John Blair visits around six stations a week in his Cessna 182 but says demand for his advice and support is increasing. That can mean more marriage or financial counselling, weddings, funerals, baptisms or just talking people through personal tragedies. Today, John Blair is making a stop-off to a special couple -

Keith and Jenny Treloar - who've had more than their fair share of tragedy. Pastorally, I've been very impressed with their resilience as an older couple - I hope they'll forgive me for calling them that. They have an amazing strength to be able to be pastoralists on the land's own terms.

It's not just drought that's confronted them - I think they typify the strength of the people of the outback. Hi, how are ya? Fine, Keith. Good to see you.

It's been a long time since I caught up with you. The Treloars' 23,000-hectare sheep station

is more than 100 clicks west of Broken Hill, just over the border in South Australia.

I brought you some goodies. Oh, isn't that wonderful! Thank you very much.

Paper from the big city - I'm afraid it's not all good news though. Nah, it never is. And a couple of cakes. Oh, great! And the local paper as well.

Thanks very much. Sweets for the sweet. We'll go down and have a cuppa. And as the tall man of God arrived, so too did something else from the heavens - rain -

the first time this parched earth has received any moisture in six months. Before the current drought, Keith and Jenny Treloar had to deal with flood. Behind you up top is a little plaque that says "Flood Level 1997", and that means the water was in this room at that height. That's right. Which is taller than I am tall.

Yeah, about 8 feet.

And you folks went out the ceiling up there and onto the roof. And grandad - your father was there? And two grandchildren. The family lost everything, including all their stock, horses and household possessions, and it's taken years to get things back in order. It was further heartache that brought Reverend Blair into their lives.

Basically, I'd heard of John Blair beforehand

but, when our little granddaughter died, that's when we really got to know John. He was a great help in our times of  well, I suppose, stress. Yes, moral support. I think everybody in the land has their tough times,

and somebody like John is a wonderful asset to the area. There's no doubt about it - and the children particularly love him.

They really do love him. Some of the children think he's God. (Laughs) Down the road at the local hospital

an ecumenical service is taking place with a familiar theme.

And so we dare to ask for rain and we dare to hope that it comes soon. ALL: Amen. John Blair says the hardy people of the outback, the land and the challenging drought keep him motivated. He also feels it's critical to have a spiritual presence in the bush.

After four years in the post, he's already extended his stay once,

and it looks like that will happen again. The Blairs also recently qualified for Australian citizenship and may even retire here. On the personal side, I guess I'd say to be able to gather an understanding of life on this side of the planet - if I do go back home and don't retire here,

which is a real, appealing option now and again -

to take with me wherever I go a sense of appreciation for the folk who've done the - do you say, "hard yakka", is that the phrase? - who've done the hard work, the hot work. But I also hope to be able to further the notion that people can be ministered to by someone even halfway around the world.

Abalone is an expensive delicacy which is in high demand in many parts of Asia. Over 90% of Australia's abalone exports are harvested from the sea. But Sean Murphy reports from Western Australia on moves to expand shore-based abalone farming. In Asian cuisine there are four treasures of the sea representing health, wisdom, power and survival - and eating abalone is considered a path to good health and good fortune.

For professional abalone diver John Lashmar,

simply harvesting the strictly regulated sea snail has been his own road to good fortune for almost 30 years, but now an abundance of farmed abalone is changing the world market as never before. It's really come home to roost now. Like, a few years ago, when the product started coming in to the market, people were concerned about it, but I think it's really hit home now. In WA, as in all of Australia's southern states, the wild-caught abalone industry is at a crossroads. Abalone's becoming more of a consumer product, like any other consumer product, and less of this highly celebrated and very rare product that would only be consumed every now and then.

At Bremer Bay on the south coast of WA, a combination of consistent water quality and temperature led to the State's first abalone farm being established in 2000. Industry sources believe Australia's farmed abalone could outstrip the wild harvest within five years. Retired architect Barry Hall

is hoping his family's near $5 million gamble will pay off before then. Why abalone? Basically, I was a diver most of my life as a sport. And one day my son, who was working down here on a shearing team, just rang up and said, "Dad, there's an opportunity to do some aquaculture down here. Will you have look at it?" I came down to have a look at it, and looked at the usual things like trout and yabbies, marron and so forth, and the only one that seemed to stack up was abalone. Now, nearly $5 million later, has it been worth it?

I'll tell you in about a year's time. That's when our first cheques really start to flow in. At the moment we're on line ball. Bayside hopes to harvest 22 tons of green-lip abalone this year,

and a further 32 tons next year - mostly as frozen and canned product for the Japanese market.

But the company is also developing a range of value-added products to create a point of difference in an increasingly competitive market. We are competing with places like South Africa and particularly Chile, where people work for $1 a day or something like that,

and that makes it very competitive. And live is probably our major point of difference, because green-lip has not been successfully exported live. We've developed a system that we refer to as 'phase change', where we can basically maintain the temperature inside the box all the way from here to when it arrives at, say, Hong Kong.

Barry Hall has developed a prototype for live transport using 'phase change' material used for human organ transport. He'll send his first temperature-controlled live shipment

to Taiwan later this month. We've done a lot of dummy runs to date, so we're fairly competent we've got it right. Next door, the public-company owned West Australian Abalone Limited

has only had its own sheds for two years but is already matching its neighbour's production. We've already had our first harvest. We've got over 13,000 cans of abalone in Hong Kong in a warehouse being sold through our Hong Kong office. We have another crop coming on, as you can see behind us, and they'll be harvested in July, August, September this year, and that will be another 20 tons,

which should be up around 15,000 to 16,000 cans of abalone. The year after that, we have another year class coming through,

and that will be the first of our 50-ton crops. The company used Bayside's facilities to get started and is now expanding its own facility, aiming to be Australia's biggest abalone farm, producing up to 200 tons a year. The fact that the aquaculture industry is producing more and more is probably offset a bit by the fact that the wild industry in other countries is producing less and less. The Australian wild production is pretty stable, but overseas a number of wild fisheries are in trouble. At least two of three proposed new abalone farms in WA will also be public companies. The State's aquaculture council believes investor expectations need to be realistic,

but it's unconcerned about what impact the expansion of farm product is likely to have on world abalone prices. What we've seen traditionally in aquaculture is the more product you produce, the larger the orders come through, the bigger the market you can handle. And the price seems to go up more than down because you become reliable.

About half of all the farmed and wild-caught abalone in WA is processed and canned or prepared for export from this factory in Perth's northern suburbs. DAVID LEITH: I've produced wild products for a long time and we've recently started packing farmed abalone, and I think it's a good product, really. I didn't always think it was a good product but, to their credit,

the farmers have developed a high-quality supply, good texture, good flavour, very consistent size, and it has the properties which will make it appeal to the market. According to exporter David Leith, farmed abalone is unlikely to compete directly with wild green-lip and brown-lip abalone because of the cost of producing large animals but, he says, farm product poses a huge threat

to the smaller, single-serve row-eye variety. Row eye has been a mainstay of the canned restaurant and food services sector but, now that similar sized farm product is available, David Leith has developed a row-eye in oyster sauce to capture new markets. Well, I think it's important because it means that you can sell your products to consumers through the retail system

instead of just being reliant on selling your products only to restaurants and the food service sector. It means you can change the price points for your products, it means you can find new ways to encourage people

who maybe don't eat abalone much and they maybe don't know how to cook it but they can buy it and use it directly. Wild-caught and farmed abalone may be considered different products in the marketplace but there's a growing synergy between the two.

Hatchery-bred abalone in WA is now being used to restock the wild. It's basically known that a lot of wild abalone fisheries have collapsed around the world. I mean there were major fisheries in Mexico, in California, in South Africa, in Canada that haven't been sustained and the basic reason is over-fishing. Anthony Hart heads the WA Fishery Department's

abalone stock enhancement program.

This is what we call an abalone settlement plate. Basically, it is a way of convincing the microscopic larvae

that this is the right habitat for them to settle in and they'll find shelter and food. And when they're about 2mm or 3mm long, they start actually feeding on this algae.

It's basically a way of attracting the animal. It's taken quite a lot of work to work out the specific chemical cues that will attract the abalone. The stock enhancement program has been going for about three years and already divers can see a difference. JOHN LASHMAR: I've swam over it

since we've put some down two years ago, and, yeah, you can see there's a lot more numbers on the bottom.

It definitely helps because some of these reefs around Augusta and places like Bremer Bay have been heavily poached over the years. Like five years ago we had heavy poaching here, and some of the big abalone bottomed. Some of the fastest, biggest green-lip grow around the area, and those reefs were totally depleted. Dr Hart says strict quarantine ensures the laboratory-reared abalone

do not introduce any disease risk to the wild abalone fishery.

Obviously, you have to have some idea of how to repair the stocks in the advent of a disastrous situation.

Currently, there is an abalone virus in Victoria that is basically knocking out the stocks, and at present they don't have any knowledge of what the virus is. They're trying to find out but, with knowledge of enhancement techniques, I think you can kickstart populations a lot quicker than otherwise natural processes would. WA's professional abalone divers are also involved in a unique video stocktaking program with fisheries researchers.

Using carefully calibrated digital cameras and waterhousing, they're helping measure growth and recruitment rates. We look at the stock as a whole on the site rather than individual animals, so we get a feel of how the abundance has changed in the site or perhaps remained the same, changes in population, the different sizes of abalone that are coming through, just looking at the recruitment that comes into that site, look at the size of larger animals - it gives us an idea of density as well. We put all those data sets together from all of the sites from the fishermen, complementing our Fisheries independent survey material and commercial log book material,

and we get a good picture of what's happening in the fishery. Back at Bremer Bay, marine biologist Trevor Harris has been hard at his own breeding programme. He's developed a hybrid of the green-lipped and brown-lipped abalone, which the company hopes to grow commercially.

In the eastern states, they cross a black-lip abalone with a green-lip abalone and that's quite an easy cross.

They have no difficulty there. It's like crossing a straight green-lip or a straight black-lip abalone. Ours is far more difficult and it's taken us quite a fair bit of time

experimenting in the hatchery to bring it up to a sort of commercially viable thing.

What we've got here is we've got some hybrid abalone and a straight green-lip abalone. They were all spawned at the same time and have been reared exactly the same. It's pretty easy to see the benefit in growth that we're getting there. We're hopeful that the market acceptance of the hybrid will be a lot better. There's a frill around the outside that is much more acceptable to Asian markets, and the taste is quite different as well - it's a lot sweeter - and the texture of the meat's a lot smoother. The farm has about 350,000 hybrids now in production, and early indications are that they grow about 30 per cent faster than green-lips or brown-lips.

The neighbouring WA Abalone Limited farm is taking an active interest, conducting its own trials on the hybrids.

JIM MORRISSON: It shows a bit of promise in terms of the amount of meat you get back for an animal of the same length

and, in terms of canning abalone, it's all about how many grams of meat you get, not how big the overall animal is. And also some signs of hybrid vigour in terms of just their overall growth rate, so that will be very interesting to watch.

Of more immediate interest to Australia's abalone industries will be how they respond to a market where consumers now have greater choice than ever before. They don't see it as being a product that's going to be scarce anymore. There is no scarcity of abalone, so they don't feel in a particular rush to pay high prices.

There's many, many more choices for them. It's changing everybody's ideas about what they ought to pay for abalone and many products in the market now didn't exist five years ago. I can see that this is going to continue and probably intensify.

Four years ago, the Queensland country town of Warwick hosted the first-ever Polocrosse World Cup. The event was a huge success, and since then, the horse sport has boomed both here and overseas. Last May, the world's best polocrosse players and horses fought for the coveted trophy, with the Australians showing, yet again, they are the best in the world. Yeah, righto. Righto.

You wanna go right around the top. Les Fraser is the king of Morgan Park, the best polocrosse facility in the world. It's in Warwick on Queensland's Darling Downs. Morgan Park was part of Les Fraser's dream to stage the first polocrosse World Cup four years ago.

Now, he's doing it all again, bigger and better. Mr Fraser says the massive exposure polocrosse received four years ago cleared up any confusion about the sport.

We said "polocrosse" and they said, "Polo who?" But, now, everybody knows about polocrosse and we have now got 17 nations in the world that are playing polocrosse

and it showed all the rest of Australia that yes, we are an amateur sport, but we can run it professionally. The World Cup generated a lot of interest in polocrosse, with the country's 200 clubs reporting a big jump in player numbers. We've had an 18 per cent increase in polocrosse numbers in Australia since the last World Cup. The World Cup didn't just encourage more people to play -

it lifted standards, too. I don't know whether our top players have improved remarkably, but there's a lot more depth in our sport now. And that's just because of the added numbers, more people playing,

more people working harder to strive to be better players. Kent Wells says polocrosse's growing popularity isn't just because it's fast and exciting. He says it's family-friendly, too. That's the uniqueness in our sport.

This weekend, you'll see people from all families. There'll be mothers, fathers, children and grandfathers all playing in the same weekend. There's not many sports that can offer that, and that's what makes our sport so passionate and so family orientated.

Nearly 200 horses were needed for competitors

from eight countries for the World Cup. In May last year, Kent Wells began travelling Australia searching for horses, putting the bite on owners

to lend their precious friends.

It was the country's second largest peace-time horse recruitment drive. The bill to insure, transport, feed and return 200 horses? Nearly $200,000. How big is it for an owner to say, "Yes, Kent, you can have one of my horses "to be ridden by a complete stranger for two weeks"? Yeah, it's a big gesture.

It's the hardest thing you probably do with your horse. Because we love them. They're part of the family, our horses, but, gee, it's a great honour to watch your horses play. Hopefully, you know, we can see some happy owners watching their horses in the World Cup. How do you think the quality compares to last time?

Oh, much better. Much better. You've only got to watch the teams practise. The quality of the horses here are just fantastic. Yeah, they're much higher standard.

The standards of accommodation too

for both two and four-legged competitors bowled over players and spectators alike. Morgan Park became a mini-city for the World Cup. It had everything, from powered camp sites, feed sheds, washing bays, covered yards and bus stops, to shower blocks and vet and farrier services. Overseas and Australian polocrosse fans volunteered to look after the World Cup horses. I've come all this way from America to be a horse handler volunteer, and I did that because I wanted to be part, be part of the World Cup, rather than just a spectator. Victorian Jeffrey Kyne lent horses for the event

and figured he'd stay on to help. It's the best call I've made. I've had the benefit of meeting the UK team

and I'm treated like I'm one of them. And it's truly great. With the drought knocking the district around, the World Cup was something Warwick was looking forward to. Hundreds of locals volunteered to help Les Fraser put on the greatest showcase of the sport yet. The Governor-General Michael Jeffrey opened the World Cup and acknowledged the sport's growth here and overseas. Demonstration matches for polocrosse are also in demand in countries as far afield as China. Heaven help us when 1.3 billion Chinese really get cracking on polocrosse. The Governor-General stayed on to watch the first match between Ireland and New Zealand. The Irish team surprising many with their improvement.

Oh, well, it's got stronger

because when all our supporters come over here and the rest of the players come over and seeing the sport, how strong it is here, they just went home and said, "Come on, we have to improve a bit." Australia is acknowledged as the world's strongest polocrosse nation. Other countries struggle to keep up. Everyone was backing them to win.

They are just a very well-oiled machine and if anybody can get within 10 goals of them, I congratulate them.

I think they'll be very hard it beat. Australia, their standard of play

is much higher than anybody else here right now. The US met Australia for their first match. They placed fifth at the last world cup and were determined to do better this time. We've imported coaches with, you know,

a lot of experience and we've also started a development team back home to where we've got juniors all the way through men's and ladies, mens and womens, and just trying to get better in that kind of a sense. How long do you think it will be before the Americans can play against the Australians and maybe knock them off every now and then? Every now and then! (Chuckles) Well, you have a pool of 4,000. (Laughs) We have a pool of about 500 players. It's um - we're just gonna keep trying. The Australians gave the Americans a free polocrosse lesson, outplaying them 33-7. The Americans aim of finishing better than fifth didn't eventuate. At the end of the week, they were seventh out of eight but they weren't disappointed. So, I think Robbie and I are gonna take a lot home this time

and really start with our younger generation, and bring them up to say, "You guys...(Clicks fingers), "we gotta speed this game up, because we're gettin' left behind."

Eighty-five polocrosse clubs sent teams to Warwick to play in the club carnival. Players from their teens to their 60s competed in grades from A all the way down to G. In between games, club players could watch the best in the world. Three overseas countries not good enough to play in the World Cup sent teams to play in the Australian club carnival. And I think that if they go home and they have the will to play polocrosse and go ahead, I think that there's no doubt that they'll go home and the polocrosse in those countries will improve. Go, Zambia! Come on, Zambia! Zambia has only 150 registered players. It played in F grade.

The whole country was excited about the team's first trip overseas. The Netherlands played in G grade. How many people play polocrosse in the Netherlands? About 20, 25, more-or-less, yeah. How do you think the sport's gonna grow? Ah, tremendously! Tremendously. I hope within four years from now, probably have 100, 150 players, yeah.

Send a team out to the UK, yeah.

So, you think you might be there for the World Cup? Might be? The next one? We will be. France played in G grade too. Altogether there have been about 50 or 60 people who've tried with a racquet and just fooling around, but really, really playing, training hard, and trying to get a good game together, only about 10, 15.

Of the countries trying to make it to international level, France believes it can get there first. We have a huge pool of people who play another sport on horseback, which is called horse boule, which is very rough -

much rougher than polocrosse - and, already, people who are interested in doing a team sport on horseback, but who don't want to play such a rough game, have shown an interest in polocrosse.

And the horse of choice for polocrosse is the Australian stock horse. It's number 1...Oh!

Overseas riders showed strong interest in getting their hands on Australian stock-horse genetics, while they were in Warwick, and that's good news for the country's breeders. There was a feeling that the World Cup wouldn't offer too many surprises. Canada would come last,

and despite big improvements from teams like the UK, South Africa and Ireland, the final would be a repeat of four years ago, with New Zealand playing Australia. In the first semifinal, when the UK played New Zealand for a spot in the final, it was clear the Brits hadn't read the script. It wasn't just the rain that caught everyone by surprise, the UK took it right up to the Kiwis beating them by six goals. It was the boil-over of the tournament. That is full-time. The UK side have put themselves right into the Polocrosse World Cup! What about it?! They absolutely played out of their skins! The UK side! I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. We were definitely the underdogs coming into this. All we wanted to do was sort of get into the top four, that was our goal. So now we're in the final, you know, underdogs again. They play the winner of the second semi - either the brilliant Australians or the formidable South Africans. The South Africans impressed in every match, beating Canada and Ireland comfortably and, then, New Zealand by one goal. Any team that could beat the Kiwis had to be taken seriously.

No-one expected Australia to lose to South Africa, but they came heart-stoppingly close to going under in slippery conditions. It is 17 plays 16! For a while, it was goal to goal. The crowd couldn't quite believe what was unfolding before it. ...and the whistle is on. It wasn't until the final chukka, the Australian men -

through brilliant goal thrower Troy Henry - nudged ahead to beat South Africa by five: 24-19. Brilliant pick-up by Henry! And the crowd love it! They love him! Troy Henry! Oh, it was great! I thought we'd left it a bit late, but, um, no, it was really good. Our boys just came through with the goods in the end.

How often does a game get that close for Australia? Oh, not very often. (Chuckles)

The South African players were too upset to talk.

But the coach was happy to issue a warning to Australia for 2011 when the World Cup will be played in the UK. We've got a 15-year-old playing in our side and she held her end up terrifically and yeah, I think next time, I think Australia - if I can say - are getting a bit long in the tooth there.

They've still very, very good,

but I think they need to look for some youngsters. We've got them, they need to get them. Well, they said that last time too. They're very confident. So are we. But, yeah, at the right times, when it counts, we deliver.

So, ah, we did that today. Les Fraser says it's great for the sport the results didn't go as expected. There's been some upsets.

That's probably just proved how much the overseas countries have improved in the four years since the last cup, and the amount of work they've put into coming here. Like, the first one they thought was going to be a hit and a giggle, they went home and found out how serious polocrosse was, they've came back here very competitive. We're relieved that New Zealand aren't there, but the new team that we don't know much about is a bit daunting. Do you think you'll beat the Australians tomorrow? Oh, you've got to believe that you can beat them

otherwise there's no point in going to play. So, definitely we can beat them. Over the course of this competition, I think they've improved greatly, and I think the final's a bit of an unknown quantity. The World Cup final was between the UK and Australia. The two teams had eyeballed each other on Day 2 when Australia beat the UK 20 goals to 7. Ten thousand spectators crammed onto the main field for the final.

Up there in the red zone, that's the area you've got to be in to throw the goal. Western Australian ag teacher Kylie Dowling had a stunning start, goaling freely. The UK women were excellent horsewomen and not afraid to shepherd and bump. ...Comes back at her... Is that a goal? Yes, it is! Unfortunately, for the crowd, the

UK couldn't stay with the Aussie riders. The difference in standard was painfully obvious and made for a one-sided match. But the Australian players and spectators were happy

for a win any way it came. Unbelievable. Yeah. To come back and do that again, that's, yeah... That's about the best thing there is, really. I'm obviously disappointed, but I think to finish second in the world is pretty impressive, so, yeah, we're all really pleased. I think it was an excellent performance. When the pressure was on, they just showed how good they were.

For the King of Morgan Park, Les Fraser, the second World Cup was a huge success. The standard of horses and riders was up and spectator numbers had doubled. LES FRASER: I think this is the biggest crowd we've ever seen at a polocrosse carnival ever. It just gives us that much exposure, it lifts us to a new level, and we're, obviously, getting people through the gate that have never seen the sport before. With the World Cup decided, it was time to head to the bar to talk the week through. Horsey war stories go well with rum and beer. That's almost it for this week's programme. Transcripts of today's stories and streaming video

can be found on our website at: Next week we're looking at a rabbit revival in South Australia, and wild dogs in Queensland. I'm Pip Courtney. Until then, it's goodbye from the Best of Landline.

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