New Zealand Railways

nzrailwaysNew Zealand railway builders surmounted many obstacles: the terrain, a sparse and scattered population, two islands separated by an often stormy stretch of water, demands from every small settlement for their own railway line. But build a railway system - and a comprehensive one at that - New Zealand did. This is the story of that railway, from its heyday to the day of reckoning as losses had to be confronted.

By 1953 the pattern was clear. The era of railways as the mainstay of land transport throughout New Zealand was ending. One by one, most of the rural branches would disappear over the next forty years; passenger train travel - other than commuter services in Auckland and Wellington - would almost disappear to a stage where there are just a handful of tourist services on the most scenic lines; all but the largest towns would lose their railway station.

But, until then, the railways of New Zealand were part of almost everyone's life: you caught the train to visit friends and relatives in other parts of New Zealand, you depended on the trains to carry the bulk of the freight that moved to and from the ports. This is their story. Profusely illustrated with photographs and maps.


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National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Creator: Bromby, Robin, 1942- author.

Title: New Zealand railways : their life and times / Robin Bromby.

ISBN: 9780992595609 (paperback) 9780987403896 (ebook)

Notes: Includes bibliographical references.

Subjects: Railroads--New Zealand--History.
Railroad travel--New Zealand--History.

Dewey Number: 385.0993


Mining Investor's Handbook

mihIt took me several years, on and off, to write a book about investing in mining companies. Then I threw most of it away.

Why? Because you can find out most of the factual information online these days. So I kept what it's not easy to find online – the lessons I have learned largely from my 26 years of covering the mining sector, first reporting on a daily basis now writing weekly columns on the subject. But I think it captures the essence of my message: you have to be able to distinguish between the cycle and the trend, especially at a time like the present when iron ore, coal, gold and other prices are taking a battering.

There has been a long-run trend across the index of the thirty-two commodities for an uninterrupted rise since 1940. That's the trend. Uranium prices collapsed in 2007, rare earth prices imploded in 2012, iron ore prices are tanking now. That's the cycle.

The book does bring comfort to gold and silver bugs – again, if you look at the trend rather than panic at manipulations of the precious metals, there is a reassuring history.

I have been reporting on the mining business since the aftermath of the 1987 crash. I followed the recovery from that event, then the torpor of the 1990s, followed by the first stirrings in 2002 of what was to become the greatest commodity boom of all time. Then there was the panic of the GFC, the partial recovery thanks to money-printing and now? We may be going back to the trend-line, but it's too early to tell.

The book has cautionary tales. This for example:

"So, we have a fast rising global population, arable land disappearing due to causes ranging from urban sprawl to soil degradation, growing numbers of middle class people in developing countries who want more than two bowls of rice a day. Therefore, we are going to need more and better food
(including red meat), are we not? Well, yes. So it follows, does it not, that the companies mining potash and phosphate will be able to uncork champagne as prices soar? No, definitely not, as we have found out."

Global bank HSBC says the metals super-cycle is still more "super" than "cycle". Deutsche Bank says metal prices will on average trend higher than over the past 40 years because they will cost much more to extract from the ground in future. JP Morgan sees the present commodity cycle lasting until 2028. The Mining Investor's Handbook by newspaper commodity columnist Robin Bromby offers some timely, and cautionary, history to the greatest commodity boom ever seen, examines the extraordinary changes that have occurred in the commodity markets - and suggests that the story is a long, long way from being played out.




Fighting on Empty

foeNazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy all embarked on their Second World War plans of conquest without one vital factor: sound economies that could absorb and withstand the stresses of total war. In this groundbreaking study, Robin Bromby shows how all three Axis powers went into battle with seriously flawed economies, inadequate industrial capacity and deficient food security. When they invaded much of Europe and East Asia, the Nazis and their partners only compounded the problem: they had made few plans to manage their conquests and failed to harness captured factories and farms.

It was a fatal flaw: their war plans were doomed. Despite the legend of a beleaguered Britain, that country was the largest economy in Europe and was soon building more aircraft than Germany – and had its empire on which to call. Japan's lack of economic planning was breathtaking and the strains soon began to show. And then came the Americans with all their economic power. The Axis was finished.

Fighting on Empty reveals a largely ignored, but crucial, aspect of the Second World War.



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Australian Railways - Their Life and Times

Aust Railways coverThe nightmare of three different gauges, the daunting challenge of building railways across vast open spaces often with no water supplies, the follies of railway lines that were rarely used—all this is the saga of Australian railways, the sheer hard work and suffering of those who gave their life in service to the railways. Brimming with anecdotes and colorful stories, Australian Railways: Their Life and Times documents the old, the odd and the now forgotten. Complete with rare historic photographs.

Click on "Free Content" to read a sample of text


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ISBN: 978-0-9874038-6-5





German Raiders of the South Seas

german raidersFAR FROM THE MUD and slaughter of the Western Front, there was another face of the Great War — an oddly stirring and thrilling one, characterised by chivalry and remarkably few casualties. This is the story of how three German naval surface raiders disrupted British shipping across large swathes of the Indian and Pacific oceans between 1914 and 1917. Critical cargoes and much needed reinforcements for the trenches in France and Belgium were hamstrung by German daring on the high seas.

Were it not all real and true, it would make wonderful fiction: the buccaneering crew of the Emden casting a shadow of fear over an ocean; the survivors of the battle with the Sydney sailing a leaking copra schooner from the Cocos Islands to the East Indies, the captain of the Seeadler, von Luckner, sailing a small boat halfway across the Pacific to Fiji, and then later making a dramatic escape from a New Zealand prisoner of war camp.

In the first days of World War I a German light cruiser detached itself from the East Asiatic Squadron with the mission to raid and harass Allied shipping. The ship, SMS Emden, not only became world famous in its two months of raiding, during which it sank sixteen ships and captured others, but demonstrated the vulnerability of Australian, New Zealand and Empire shipping links.


amazon paperback

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication entry

Bromby, Robin, 1942-

German Raiders of the South Seas (electronic resource) : the extraordinary true story of naval deception, daring and disguise 1914-1917 / Robin Bromby.

2nd ed.

ISBN 9780987403803 (ebook)

Includes bibliographical references.

Germany, Kriegsmarine. 
World War, 1914-1918--Naval operations, German.
World War, 1914-1918--Pacific Ocean




The Farming of Australia (The Making of a Nation)

farming australiaTriumph over a dry, hot and often infertile land. Australia's farmers have overcome difficult terrain and the tyranny of distance to make the country an important food bowl. This is the story of 200-plus years of ups and downs - savage droughts and daunting challenges but also the triumphs of irrigation and imagination and inventiveness.


amazon paperback

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication entry

Bromby, Robin, 1942-

The farming of Australia (electronic resource) : a saga of backbreaking toil and tenacity / Robin Bromby.

3rd ed.

ISBN 9780987403834

Includes bibliographical references.




 Forthcoming Titles

Highgate Publishing will soon be issuing several new titles - all in e-Book format, some in print as well. They will include:

  • The reissue of a long out-of-print anthology covering Ashes matches between Australia and England
  • Essential reference books on Australian and New Zealand railways
  • Guides to minerals and the mining industry
  • New, innovative books on both World War I and World War II

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