This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2006 Travels October 23


Cloudy today and only into the high 30’s. “Only” – all things are relative!

While I was off yesterday, four more SPQ’s were delivered. FMG changed the location of the waste water plant and where the water treatment tanks would be – not sure why, but it would mean some adjustments needing to be made, to pipes and the like already laid.

Water for the camp would be coming from a bore,  dug several kms away and piped to the camp.

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The bore area and generator for its pump

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Pipe that would bring water from bore to camp

Work was continuing on the kitchen/diner roof, and its internal fit out.

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Inside a kitchen module, as it was delivered

Large generator units – four of them – had recently been delivered to site, and now were placed into their proper positions. Clearly, this camp would need quite a bit of power to run it – not the least due to all those air conditioning units that would be running all night, every night, through the hotter months.

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Generators being placed

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Four generators to form a power plant

Materials for the fresh water tank were put in place, and the subby firm was working on that.

I had to phone the hire company about K going in from RV2 to get lights for the cementers to work at night there.

In the morning, R received a phone call to say that the truck that delivered two of the SPQ’s yesterday, had gone “legs up” – rolled over – on the way back to Perth. It happened during the night, south of Newman. Apparently the driver was lucky not to be badly hurt – he had the second trailer “up” on the first, and that saved the cab. He went over quite a high embankment. Said an oncoming 4WD had high up, really bright driving lights, ran him off the road and didn’t stop. Poor guy was a subbie to the transport company. The boss of the transport company was trying to persuade R to drive down there and assess the damage for him. R said no.

All the SPQ’s were now in place here. Two more were delivered today for RV2. The truck driver said he had passed the truck accident site, down past Newman, and the truck was a real mess.

Today, we had 8 company staff working on site, two others were on their leave break, and there were 8 subbies working on electrical, air con, plumbing and sewerage tasks. The essential infrastructure was rapidly taking shape.

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Water tank being built

R decided that he wanted N and S to stay on here for a while. He wanted N to be a labourer/workman and S to work on cleaning inside all the SPQ’s – quite a big job. Hmmm – not sure she signed up for that!

John was sent into Hedland to buy lights needed for the kitchen/diner.

Late afternoon, there was a storm in the distance, with much lightning. Bushfire starting conditions.

Resize of 10-23-2006 Pilbara storm

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2006 Travels October 22


Our day off.

The temperature reached into the low 40’s, which was not conducive to doing much.

I did a heap of well overdue washing. We filled the van’s water tanks – ferrying same in a couple of large water containers – from the fresh water tank that supplied the Fly Camp. In turn, this was replenished as needed, by a tanker.

We made the two end tarps over the van better attached.

Even though the horrible cementer had moved on to RV2, N and S were still not eating with the rest of us. I guessed  the pattern had become established by now.

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Rain in the distance


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2006 Travels October 21


Temperature in the high 30’s today. I was starting to wonder just how high it would go by, say, December.

Back in the office, S had obviously been sending notes and photos, from the office computer, to her friend in HO. She had gone so far as to install one of her personal photos as the screen saver.

Things seemed pretty much in order, though looking at the Daily Reports, it appeared that S did not yet seem aware that HO did not necessarily need to know every tiny detail – especially of things that went wrong! I suspected that R might soon set her straight!

Having been absent for a few days, the rapidity of progress here was so evident.

A firebreak had been cut, right around the perimeter of the site. Good move, I thought, but it would be yet another Contingency item, not having been thought about in the original planning.

The kitchen/diner  modules had all been placed in position – all 16 floors of same.

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First kitchen floors being placed

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All 23 floors in place for kitchen/mess – painting and tidying up needed now

Work had commenced on the verandas for the Pod 2 SPQ’s. Apparently the roofing on the long kitchen building had to be replaced and that work had commenced. Another couple of the men were working on the inside of that building.

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Re-roofing the kitchen/mess building

Two more SPQ’s, destined for RV2 arrived by truck. These were steadily accumulating in our lay down area. I would have to catch up on the serial numbers of things delivered while I was away, plus get the delivery paperwork in order and sent to HO. S had not done any of that work.

One of the men cut his forearm when a piece of roof steel flipped up at him, in a sudden gust of wind.  First aid job for me, and another Incident Report to complete.

R and one of the authority types from FMG went off to inspect a proposed alternative access route to RV2, to try to get around the BHP blocking. I suspect it was probably the White Springs track they were looking at. Anyway, R reported back to the BB. It was no go, I thought he said.

John had to pick up a couple of subbies from the afternoon plane, so he was late back to tea.

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2006 Travels October 20


Today, we drove back from our break. Had to vacate our refuge by the usual time of 10am.

I would love to report that I was up early enough and sufficiently energetic to go for a last walk on the beach – but I wasn’t, and didn’t. It was simply too enervatingly hot and humid to be motivated into unnecessary activity.

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Fish cleaning shelter and path through the dunes to the sea

It became another very hot day – into the 40’s.

With some reluctance, we headed south again, through the dreary flat plains.

There was a large bushfire burning close to the road, a bit before we got to Pardoo Roadhouse. Could see it from a distance, and were somewhat concerned about getting through.

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Distant bushfire

But the worst of it had crossed the highway before we reached there and it was burning away towards the coast.

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We detoured off to the coast, from Pardoo Roadhouse, to have a look at Cape Keraudren, having heard so much about it as a place where grey nomads go and spend months – but not at this time of year!

It was very open – no trees – but I felt it would be well worth a “bush” stay in the future. But only outside of the real peak of the season. It would be impossibly crowded at the height of the cool months.

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Cape Keraudren

There were some pit toilets, but that was all in the way of facilities.

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Camping area

The Cape marks the southern end of the Eighty Mile Beach, which stretches a long way from here, northwards towards Broome.

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Eighty Mile Beach stretching into the distance

There was a brilliantly blue creek, of that intense, almost unbelievable  aqua colour only found in these parts, with a couple of camp spots there.

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Tidal creek

The best camp sites though, were on the Cape itself, and there were a lot of possible sites there, overlooking the sea. I suspected it could get windy, though.

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We stopped in Hedland, to buy some bread rolls for lunch, stock up the beer supply, buy some books, and do a download on the laptops, at the little park area.

When we arrived back at the Fly Camp, it was a relief to see that the van was alright – we had been slightly worried, given the unpredictable weather. There had obviously been some strong wind, though, and we found the back tarp askew. N told us later that it had come loose and he had attempted to secure it for us. Good of him.

R also arrived back this evening, late, having driven from Broome after his Darwin break.

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2006 Travels October 16 – 19


We slept late in the mornings – a real luxury after the very early starts of our working weeks.

John fished for some of each day, depending on the tides, trying to catch the incoming and full tide. At low tide here the water was so far out it could hardly be seen.

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Tide going out. Billions of shells……

He caught some of the threadfin salmon that were often to be hooked here – and which I prize as a great eating fish. We had brought the Chescold fridge with us, so I was able to freeze the surplus catch and take it back to camp, to go in the van freezebox for future use.

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I walked on the beach a couple of times each day – usually in the morning and again in the late afternoon.

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Sand dunes behind the beach

Couldn’t resist gathering up a few of the many and varied shells that abound on the beach here. It really is a magic place and we could see why so many people come and stay for months each year.

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Such an interesting place for beach combers……

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Looked like something to be wary of

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Weird things wash up on this beach…

Some days were overcast, some started out with a clear blue sky. Most afternoons there were storm clouds in the distance, which – combined with late dry season bushfire smoke –  made for some interesting light effects on the ocean.

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Resize of 10-15-2006 80 Mile Bch seagulls

It was too hot to spend too much time outside. We sat in the relative cool of the air conditioning and read, composed emails to family and friends, played a Mahjong game we’d installed on the lap tops.

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Pied oyster catcher

One day, on one of my walks, spotted a most unusual little reptile, perched on top of an old tyre that was used as a marker. I’d never seen one with such colouring – it was quite special. Some type of lizard, I thought, rather than a gecko, but that was about the extent of my identification of it.

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Most unusual colouring – and looking pretty well fed!

We had garlic prawns for tea one night – I bought a kilo of frozen prawns from the shop here. The other nights we had some of John’s threadfin catch – so yummy.

It was a very rejuvenating break, despite the heat. It was just so good to be away from the usual faces and the confines of the camp atmosphere.

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2006 Travels October 15


Today was very hot, even by the standards we were becoming used to. Seemed to have ramped  up a few notches.

Did not rush to get up, and left camp after breakfast. Just hoped there would be no bushfires or strong wind storms that might affect the van, in our absence.

We stopped at the South Hedland shops and I bought some food supplies and the weekend papers.

The drive was alright – just – and quite far enough in the heat.

There were not many tourists left at the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park.

Our cabin was great. It cost us $140 a night. It was very roomy. There were two bedrooms, with a good double bed in one and four bunks in the other. The kitchen area was well equipped and there was a full sized fridge. There were air cons in the three main rooms – good! We had the use of a BBQ outside. There were not many windows – better to keep out the heat.

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Our cabin at Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park

It was so wonderful to have our own bathroom again. All to ourselves……

John went fishing when the tide was right, christening the new rod he’d bought in Hedland, for this occasion.

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Later in the afternoon, as it was beginning to cool a fraction, I walked along the beach. The sea! The sea! Just so good to be by it, despite the heat and high humidity, after the aridity of where we had been.

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Three months ago there would have been hundreds of people on this beach…

We bought fish and chips for tea from the shop cafe – the delectable thread fin salmon that was a common catch from the beach, here. It was the last night they were doing these, as the “season” was over for the year. So we were lucky.

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2006 Travels October 14


Tomorrow, R would be driving to Broome, then flying to Darwin on Monday. He planned to be back late on Friday. He certainly needed a break from site – he was getting increasingly hassled, and his wife’s seeming inability to cope alone did not help. He was often back at his office, after tea at night, doing stuff related to her business.

With R away, P would be in charge of the sites.

The cementers moved to RV2. Good riddance! With them no longer working on this site, we did not need any more loads of water from Wodgina Mine, so I could complete the Variation Order related to that and get it off to HO.

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Moving the cement plant

I am sure that HO thought that  giving us a break – unpaid – was doing us a favour. I just hoped that S did not mess up the computer files and workings!

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Another glorious Pilbara sunset

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2006 Travels October 13


There were all sorts of bits and pieces to do today, plus continuing to try to acquaint S with the routines and the specialized language.

I was actually feeling now that S was a bit of a ditz. God knows, my admin and computer skills are those of an amateur, but she was not even up to my standard! And yet she had run her own business in Alice Springs. Any time she got a chance at the computer, she was spending most of the time emailing her friend, BB’s wife.

John had a trip into Hedland, taking N to show him the routines and introduce him to the various suppliers he had cultivated.

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Looking west from the access track

I phoned and had no trouble getting us a cabin at Eighty Mile Beach, at this time of year.

Virtually all the services were now in the ground at RV1, and more buildings going into place. The cementers were packing up – hooray!

I booked R into a motel room in Broome for tomorrow night.

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2006 Travels October 12


HO  decreed that, with N and S here, they could take over our work at RV1 for a few days, to give us a little break away – unpaid, of course.  They would then move on to RV2. It would enable S to finalize her “training” in a functioning site office, before heading off down there.

This would be a pleasant respite for us. Not something we had expected, or requested, but appreciated.

We discussed what we could do in our break, and decided to go up to Eighty Mile Beach. It seemed too hot in these parts now to go further inland, to somewhere like Karijini National Park. Not the weather for being active outdoors.

At Eighty Mile Beach, we could book into a cabin and hide away. We would have to feed ourselves again!

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Stick insect on our fridge

There was a most unpleasant incident at dinner tonight. One of the cementers from SA was an absolute pig of a man – foul mouthed, coarse, dirty. He had a day off today and managed to borrow a vehicle and go into Hedland to visit the prostitutes who plied their wares there. Over dinner, he was drunk, sat opposite me and proceeded to treat the table to a very detailed description – in his filthy language – of his activities  of the afternoon. He was, of course, trying to get a reaction from me, but I decided not to give him the satisfaction, though I felt extremely embarrassed and insulted by his presence. One should not be subjected to that sort of thing. In another environment, I would claim harassment and look for him to be sacked – but this was not a normal workplace. However, there was more than one means of redress open to me. I decided that, the next time his wife phoned, wanting me to get him to the phone – which happened about once a week – I would inform her that he was not available because he had gone into town to visit the prostitutes! See what that would bring him, the pig!

I resolved to do all I could to avoid sitting anywhere near him at future meals – hopefully, that firm would be moving on to RV2 soon. I would go late enough to tea for him to be there first, so I could avoid him. I refused to give him the satisfaction of driving me away for meals, like S had been, after only one night. I was pleased for her sake that she had not been there for this night’s performance.

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2006 Travels October 11


On top of all the usual paper work and stuff constantly being forwarded to HO, I was this morning instructed by R on how to make up Client Handover Books. Something else I had never heard of. From R’s not very clear description, these seem to consist of every possible relevant piece of paper, plans, lists of all serial numbers of everything! It eventually dawned on me that putting this together  would be no easy task – think 280 accommodation rooms. Think bar fridge, TV, AC split system – inside and outside parts. Times 280. Each block of four had a hot water system. Then there were a lot of kitchen appliances, washing machines, driers, more hot water services and air-cons. Not to mention gym equipment and other miscellania. How would I create a list of such serial numbers? Why, by walking around, finding each one and recording same.

And here was I thinking that mapping the location of each building by its ID number was going to be a hot and sweaty task, away from my cooled office. Ha!

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My office and the surrounds where the death adders hung out

I would have to get the two companies that were building the SPQ dongas, to certify the plans – somehow.

This would all take some arranging and collating. According to R, there would have to be two such books for the client and two for us. I presumed that meant one set for RV1 and another for RV2.

There was going to be one hell of a lot of photocopying being done.

N and S seemed to have decided that the company of the workers at meal time was not their ideal and tonight took their meals back to their camper.

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