David McWilliams: This exodus of our women is a disturbing new trend
Port Hedland in the Pilbara mining region of Western Australia is a godforsaken place. Beside the pool tables in the local bar there are mug-shots pasted, like in an American Western, of locals who are barred from the pub for fighting. They are mainly Aboriginals but there are fair few who look like they wouldn't be out of place here and the surnames suggest this is where they came from way back.
Today, the next wave of Irish -- the new emigrants -- work in the open cast mines of the Pilbara, driving the enormous diggers that gouge out the iron ore. The ore is then sent to the Chinese port of Ningbo, where it is smelted into steel for China's once-booming export industry.
The Irish lads working there now are but a small part of the enormous Irish community in Australia. If you find yourself, as I did two years ago, on Bondi Beach, you hear the accent of the Irish exodus. The beach area and Bondi Junction a little further inland were full of young Irish workers. The stories were typical: young professionals, who had been working in Ireland and had been laid off in the boom, were starting over in Australia. They worked in the waterfront bars and cafes of Bondi, getting back on their feet in the hope of rebuilding careers Down Under. Since then the numbers have swelled.