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Max Opray

Freelance Journalist

Multi-award-winning journalist whose clients include the Guardian, The Saturday Paper, VICE, The New Daily, InDaily, Fairfax Media, CityMag and Projectory. Contact via [email protected]



the Guardian
Revealed: Rio Tinto's plan to use drones to monitor workers' private lives

In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition. Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource - its own employees, for data.

the Guardian
Tourist boom for ayahuasca a mixed blessing for Amazon

Seated beneath the domed ceiling of a ceremony hall in Peru's Sacred Valley, Martin (not his real name) picks some fruit out of the communal bowl. "Basically, I confirmed what I've always known anyway - plants are sentient and self-aware, far more than we realise," he says, before biting down into an apple.

the Guardian
The giant is coming: the true cost of Amazon to retailers and workers

Down Dandenong way, on the outskirts of Melbourne, Amazon is staking out a beachhead for the invasion. Strategically located near freeway connections to Australia's busiest cargo seaport, the US$465bn retail superpower's cavernous new fulfilment centre is gearing up to house hundreds of thousands of products shipped in from all over the world.

The Saturday Paper
Blue-Light Districts

Deanna tells me she hesitated before climbing inside. "I had to ask if they'd cleaned it," she explains, queasily. "It wasn't too bad I guess." At the salon she used to visit every week, the 21-year-old Adelaide student never had to worry about the hygiene of her solarium bed - it was thoroughly wiped down after each customer.

The Saturday Paper
Family First and the parties rallying the right

The morning after toppling Tony Abbott, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull bounded out before the assembled Canberra press and began his first doorstop as the nation's leader by announcing it "a great time to seize the day".

'Disgusting Is the Least I Can Say'

Three weeks ago Hamid Kehazaei nicked his foot. Nothing serious, unless that is you happen to be jammed inside a seething tropical detainment camp.

The weather business: Wind Prospect

The year was 1999 and Michael Vawser was based out of Bristol in the UK, working as an engineering manager for a tiny renewable energy firm called Wind Prospect. This story was originally published in CityMag Issue 12 alongside a Small Business Survey featuring three other local players in the renewable energy space - Zen Energy, Tindo Solar and Consolidated Power Projects.

Salvage City

The success of Adelaide's new small bar movement is often credited to liquor licensing changes and the enthusiasm and hard work of venue owners. But few people know about the salvage yard in Wingfield that's making a significant contribution to the city's transformation.

Beer from above

For over a century the red brick tower of the Central Market has loomed over Grote Street, but nobody quite knows why. Now, a design competition could give it purpose. It is not clear if the iconic three-story Federation Free Style tower structure that sits in the north eastern corner of the Central Market has ever been used for anything.

The New Daily
Faces of Gallipoli: men of history

Nine young faces, nine remarkable stories. Pictured (below) together at a training camp in Egypt before deployment, these scouts of the 10th Battalion were some of the very first to row their boats into the death-trap of what would come to be known as Anzac Cove.

The New Daily
Manor from heaven: Living in a church

In the beginning, churches converted people. In renovation-mad Australia, people convert churches: into offices, nightclubs, theatres, and - most of all - homes. It is a tempting market for steeple-chasers, as religious groups deal with dwindling numbers by selling off churches all over the country.

The New Humanist
Freethinking in the Arab Spring

"Have you unplugged from the Matrix yet?" At a meeting of Middle Eastern atheists and agnostics, AzizĀ“s question is a little unexpected.

Independent Australia
Revolution Tourism

One year on from the January 25th Egyptian revolution, the country's tourism industry is still enduring tough times.


the Guardian
South Australia to build battery storage and gas-fired power plant in $550m energy plan

The South Australian government has announced it will intervene in the national energy market in a $550m plan that seeks to tame the state's turbulent power supply and prices. Launching the plan, the premier, Jay Weatherill, said it was "clear the national energy market is failing the nation, as well as South Australia.

the Guardian
Most voters support transition to 100% renewable energy, says Australia Institute

Battery storage technology has the potential to reshape not just the energy and transport sectors but also the upcoming Australian federal election, according to a new report. The Australia Institute report Securing Renewables: How Batteries Solve the Problem of Clean Electricity includes polling indicating that 71% of Australians would be more likely to vote for a party that supported distributed small-scale solar and storage.

Anti-bikie rush "reeks of ineptitude": criminologist

The State Government has been slammed for rushing anti-bikie laws through parliament late last week, just months before three parliamentary inquiries into organised crime legislation are due to be completed.


The Guardian
Tony Abbott's South Australia problem: on the front line of the Coalition's war to win back votes

Perhaps the red line was crossed. After unemployment surged past 8% in South Australia last month - well above the relatively steady 6% national rate - the federal government's emergency plan swung belatedly into action: send a plethora of cabinet ministers to Adelaide for three days and announce a range of measures to help save the economy they themselves gutted in the first place.


The Saturday Paper
ABS unemployment figures overlook the hidden jobless

Sleeping rough on the streets of Adelaide, Aimee Rose didn't feel like she counted for anything. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), it seems, was inclined to agree with her. Despite being jobless and periodically homeless for most of her teenage years, Rose did not meet the official definition of what it is to be unemployed.

The Saturday Paper
Exporting Australia's offshore detention policy

They took Sayid away in a yellow Corolla. It was late 2015, and the 26-year-old IT support worker was returning home from his job at the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan when he was abducted off the street by Taliban militants.

The Saturday Paper
BHP Billiton's Brazil disaster a year on

When local surfer Leonardo Zorzal paddles out into the mouth of Brazil's Rio Doce, he brings a few Australian brands along for the ride. He sits atop a surfboard equipped with FCS Fins, and wears board shorts marked by not one but two antipodean companies - designed by Billabong, stained a toxic hue of red by BHP Billiton.


The Guardian
Australia v New Zealand: sunset in Adelaide signals new dawn for Test cricket

It was a moment only Test cricket could have delivered, yet in 138 years it had never done so quite like this. A carnival atmosphere reigned during the tail end of the New Zealand innings - with the floodlights on, wickets falling and most of the 47,441 fans baying for Kiwi wickets at the Adelaide Oval, it was more akin to a T20 match than the more genteel long form of the game.

International Olympic Committee
Ma wins men's singles gold to complete career grand slam

Ma Long cemented his place in table tennis history with an emphatic win against London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Zhang Jike in another all-Chinese final. The world No.1 secured the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's singles table tennis gold medal with a 4-0 triumph (14-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4) and in the process joined an elite group who have achieved a career grand slam of world championship, World Cup and Olympic Games titles.

The Roar
Live blog of Suns vs Giants, AFL

The Gold Coast Suns meet GWS Giants at Metricon Stadium today with potentially the Brownlow Medal, Coleman Medal, Wooden Spoon and Kevin Sheedy's legacy at stake.


the Guardian
Kate Grenville interview: why perfumes are making you sick

The Australian author Kate Grenville was on a book tour for her 2015 novel One Life when she started noticing the headaches. "I was having them virtually every day," she says. "From hotels I was staying in, taxis and planes I was riding in, and also from my readers - unfortunately.

the Guardian
Family, air quality and a strong business case: the coal executives defecting to green energy

Australian clean energy activists might have recognised some strangely familiar faces joining their ranks of late - those of their greatest adversaries in the coal industry. Coal sector executives have been quietly switching sides to chase the lucrative profits up for grabs in green energy and - welcome or not - the experience they bring could prove vital to the increasingly desperate race to avert cataclysmic climate change.

The New Daily
Firefighting footage shows world how it's done | The New Daily

Ben Wilson had never seen anything like it. Hurtling up through the Adelaide Hills on the back of a fire truck directly into the region's worst bushfire conditions since Ash Wednesday, the 24-year-old Country Fire Service volunteer gaped at flames he described as hundreds of metres high, reaching up so far they licked the clouds.


Stephen K Amos - What Does the K Stand For?

Marching onto stage armed with a clipboard and a stern look, Stephen K Amos is not messing around. Like a snarky bureaucrat assigned to some remote backwater, Amos informs the "village" of Adelaide that he'll be testing out new jokes for the "real" show, a process that involves reciting gags from the page, ticking off the ones that get laughs, and angrily dressing down the room for not appreciating the rare misses.

the Guardian
Adelaide Fringe: six talked-up shows you have to see

The second-biggest fringe festival in the world has once again seized Adelaide by the scruff of the neck and shaken this city to life. Like a supersized village fete, the Adelaide Fringe delivers an all-encompassing catharsis you won't find at the eastern seaboard festivals that are drowned out within Sydney and Melbourne's bristling cultural calendars.

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