MONDAY 25 SEPTEMBER NORTH POINT CAMP
It had now been confirmed that P would be the Site Supervisor here, K at RV2, with R overseeing the whole lot as Project Manager. I had already figured out, just in his few days of work to date, that P was much more organized and efficient than K, so it was smart to have him running the site that was ahead of the other, and thus ironing out at least some issues and problems along the way.
John had managed to persuade head office to set up company accounts with the local businesses he already knew we would be using often, like Bridgestone, Repco, the Hedland Emporium.
BB, K and some of the engineering contractors were still at RV 2, doing site preparation there. They had asked R to arrange to send down some machines and things that were needed . John was asked to drive the old Acco tip truck down there with that load. He was pleased at the chance to go to RV2 for the first time, and have a change from trips to Hedland. Actually, he could have done with a full day on site as the paperwork associated with his Safety Officer role needed work on organizing and filing!
Unfortunately, John decided to be a bit adventurous and take what seemed to be the shorter route south – along the maintenance road for the BHP railway, that he heard talk about, and which was the later part of the way to access RV2. He thought he would do it from here, rather than take the highway south to the Marble Bar/Hillside turn off, which was the normal way. Always one for exploring, John!
But he did not clear this with R – or anyone, first – and duly set off. Unfortunately, what he had assumed – God knows why – to be the rail access track, was not. The BHP rail access track, in fact, very logically, ran alongside the BHP railway, which we both knew was a few kms further east of our locations.
We had, in driving between the camp and the highway, crossed a somewhat roughly graded line. For some reason, John decided this was the access track, and headed off south on it, with the loaded Acco. It was, we discovered later, the marked line that the FMG railway would take. It would have been a challenge for a 4WD vehicle – the Acco had no hope and John was soon stuck. He had no option but to walk back to the site – a few kms – confess his folly to R and get him to take out one of the machines that could pull the Acco back to the road.
Then John continued on his trip to RV2 – via the sealed main highway and then the BHP access track, south of the Hillside road. This was, incidentally, the only part of that access track that FMG related vehicles had permission to be on! He was away for much of the day. He reported to me that the RV2 site was located in rougher terrain – among some low hills – and felt much more isolated.
I just kept my rather embarrassed head down at my work and hoped R realized I was not responsible for John’s foolishness. Later, when we were alone at the van, I took him to task, asking him where on earth logic and common sense had departed to!
I had to establish contact with a quarrying company in Hedland, on behalf of the engineering company, and arrange for delivery of gravel needed for their cement batching plant.
Today, I learned about a thing called a Variation Order – which I was to get to know very closely in the months ahead. This was to claim extra money above the contracted amount, for unforeseen variations to the work and contract. My first encounter with this came when one of our men had to clear a fire break around the site perimeter. Such had not been originally specified, but it was now agreed that it was necessary. Hence, I had to prepare a Variation Order to go to head office for them to process and deal with FMG over.
I decided I could really get to like this work. The detail appealed.
BB wanted his own 4WD, which was here because he had driven here, relocated to Broome airport, after he flew out of Hedland tomorrow. From there, he and his family would be able to collect it, at some future time, after flying in from Alice Springs via Darwin – there was a direct Darwin to Broome service.
There was some discussion about how this could be done. It was settled that John would drive the vehicle to Broome – some 700kms – stay there a night, then catch a bus back to Hedland, where someone, probably me, would collect him. Just a pity for John that the country between Hedland and Broome was so tedious to drive through.
It looked like our company would now be employing H, the manager of the Fly Camp. He had approached BB to see if there was a job for him. I didn’t know why he wanted the move – maybe he thought the Fly Camp role would end soon, maybe the pay was better. In a sense, once the Fly Camp had been set up, there was not a great deal for him to do anyway.