This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2006 Travels December 5


This felt like a momentous day – we were leaving to start to make our way to our very distant home. Our last breakfast in the mess. I packed us up a lunch crib each, for the road.

We had to finish the pack up of Truck, our rooms and the van before we could leave. John filled Truck from the diesel supply.

I had to spend a little final time in the office, bringing up to date the last entries for currently ongoing contingencies, and forwarding the spreadsheets to HO – just in case no one got round to doing them later, when work was finalized.

So, it was late morning before we got away.

We had to manoeuvre the rig really carefully, to move it away from  the building, without collecting one of the verandah uprights. John directed – I inched it in the way he indicated. And I mean inched! I couldn’t remember how we’d gotten it in there, in the first place – effectively with the side of the van in between two veranda posts……

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Bit of back and forth had been needed here……

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 We had a brief stop at the highway corner, to put on the weight distribution bars – not something we’d wanted to have on for the now rather corrugated access track and the even rougher section through the Turner River channels.

Resize of 12-05-2006 hitching up

And we are away……

I felt both sad to be leaving this area, but happy to be heading home.

It was very hot.

The drive was really enjoyable, despite the temperature. South of the Marble Bar Hillside turnoff, the country gradually became more varied, often with low ranges in the distance. There had been enough rain to turn sections of it quite lush.

The upper reaches of the Fortescue River, in the area where the highway crosses it, is not really a defined river channel, but an area of more vegetation. Just upstream from there, it seagues into the area known as the Fortescue Marshes. Over in that direction would be the Cloudbreak iron ore mine – the reason for the railway project.

South of the Auski Roadhouse we were into the at times stunning range and hill country, all the way to Newman.

12-05-2006 sth of auski

South of Auski Roadhouse

We decided that Newman was as far as we would go today. We were both tired after the very busy last few days, and the recent weeks of work without a day off.

Got ourselves a powered site at the Newman Caravan Park. $25.

Set up, then drove to the central shopping area, where I did a Woolworths shop, for fresh foods and the like to get us closer to home. No more having all our meals provided!

Refuelled. $1.43cpl.

Now we needed to get back into travel mode – and looking after ourselves mode…..It was such a novelty for John to have TV again that he wasn’t even too bothered by the distinct lack of any appealing offering, apart from the news. Yes, the world was still out there.

It was pleasant to have a shower where turning on the cold tap actually produced cool water.

The campground was rather noisy into the evening, with people – mainly workers – coming and going, and imbibing in refreshments after their day’s work. But we were tired, went to bed early and slept soundly.

12-05-2006 to n

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2006 Travels December 4


Low 40’s, with cloud.

In the morning, John took the Acco to Hedland. He took the water man to the morning plane, then went on to do his last tip load! In the afternoon, he was back in there on a purchasing run. It would have been interesting to keep a tally of how many kms he had driven, back and forth to Hedland, whilst here!

I finalized the office pack up. The computer and phones and printer would remain, because some of the men would remain here working for a short while yet. They would then have to organize the move of those things to RV2, or Leonora.

I phoned the Shire Health Inspector to come and do the final inspections of the wet mess and pool. He would come Thursday. Until he passed it, the pool could not be used – another source of complaint by camp occupants.

Darwin promised me a lockable first aid cabinet for the paramedics room – to be sent on the next truck. The guy there had delayed getting what I asked for until HO had approved it!

And that – effectively – ended my work here!

At RV2, Spotless had arrived and begun to unpack their stuff there. That would really put them under pressure down there – the Spotless management people were so pushy! I wondered how happy S would be about having to share her office with them, as I’d had to. But BB also arrived at RV2 today, so he might put Spotless back in their place…….I hoped!

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The distant Fly Camp had been re-invented as a storage area for railway making machinery and service centre for same. 

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2006 Travels December 3


We worked again today. There was plenty to do.

About 40 degrees. Daylight Saving started today – WA was experimenting with this. Didn’t make much difference to us up here.

Today, it was twelve weeks since we started work with the company, eleven weeks here on site. Over that time, we had each grossed about $30,000 in wages!

Brickie was down from Darwin with the semi. K wanted him sent down to RV2 to pick up the steel and form work from the bush where John hid it and bring it back here.

The water man arrived to fix the sewer plant.

Our men couldn’t finish doing the formwork for the paths around the pool and wet mess toilet areas because the materials they needed had been taken to RV2 by K!

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A load of rubbish was put up on the Acco.

The mechanics were here to service the vehicles. The bongo bus was due a service but they couldn’t do it because it had been taken to RV2.

The electricians had to go to RV2 to get things they needed that had been moved down there.

The fencers finished the sports court and moved to RV2 to do the one down there.

Spotless were back with more complaints. Now they thought  we should get them a new deep fryer because the one installed in the kitchen was not efficient enough. They mentioned that they were getting many complaints from the room occupants because the TV’s were not working – which could not happen until all the electrical work was finished.

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The beer garden deck of the wet mess

I was flat out finalizing as much as I could of the Building Registers and packing up the office. Some documents still to come for the Building Registers I had directed be sent to HO – someone there would have to complete the things, and I attached detailed instructions about what was still to come and where it fitted. Tomorrow, John would send one box, from Hedland, to Alice Springs – containing the Registers; warranties for RV1 items. like washing machines, fridges etc; and other items of value, including computer file back ups on thumb drives. Four other boxes of general office supplies would go to RV2, for later trucking to HO. A couple of boxes of supplies would go to RV2 for use there, plus the contents of my desk – in case I returned. There were eight boxes of office and general supplies to go south to Leonora and the company accommodation business there – which it had been decided H and M would manage for the company. I was pleased they had ongoing work – nice people.

The amount of money that had been wasted through the original over supply of office needs was almost criminal!

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2006 Travels December 2


About 40 degrees today.

One of our men, digging holes for pool path lights, dug up the pool water line! Bugger.

I cancelled all pending work by the heating/cooling company, whose attitude and delays had really annoyed me, and found a different company who were prepared to come today and check the compressors in the kitchen units. The problems with these were ongoing – and so were the power spikes!

The diesel fuel tank that had been at Fly Camp was moved here, next to the gensets, to provide an extra fuel source for those, due to the high rate of fuel use. I couldn’t work out why no one had known how much fuel would be needed – but it was one of the few issues that was not mine to deal with, so I didn’t fret about it.

12-3-2006 Additional Diesel Fuel back up for generators

Two fuel tanks for the generators

The two electricians went out to do a task for FMG at the water bore site, got bogged out there and had to get one of the men to trundle out there with the forklift to get them out. Then they used the company’s air compressor to re-inflate their tyres, ran it without oil and so that was now U/S!

The one electrician – B – who had been almost a permanent fixture here since early in the project, had a run in with the nasty Hedland Safety Officer. He was working on a car park light up at the top of one of the poles. He had put a ladder in the back of his ute and was up the top of that. No safety harness. Nasty man took photos of this on his phone. B saw him doing this and gave him the bird – which was duly photographed too. The man then raced off back into Hedland and posted it on a Facebook page as an example of poor worker behaviour. But it backfired, because his boss questioned him about what actions he’d taken about it, and whether he’d ordered B down. He hadn’t. So he was taken to task for not doing anything. The story all came back to us quickly, because there were a number of people in the FMG office in Hedland who detested this man.

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Tall light poles


Later, it was pointed out to B that the light pole was actually hinged, and that he hadn’t needed to go up the ladder at all! Duh.

John had a Hedland trip in the morning, purchasing needed materials. In the afternoon, he was sent to RV2 to bring back some steel that was needed here, but had wrongly been taken there. On the return journey, the carrying frame on the Canter collapsed under the weight, 5kms from RV2. John hid the steel in the bush and tied up the frame, which would have to be welded here before the steel could be retrieved. He was very late getting back here, to the extent that I was becoming worried about him.

Down at RV 2 a crane was placing their Pod 3 buildings into position.

There was some unexpected excitement at RV2. A strong willy came out of nowhere, picked up the site office donga and then dropped it askew, so that the cement blocks that the building chassis normally sat on, came up through the floor. It made a bit of a mess. The men who were sitting eating lunch in there at the time, got a real fright. Luckily, it was S’s day off – the office desk and filing cabinet had slid right across the floor.

12-03-2006 The office relocated after whirly

RV2 office moved sideways by willy wind. Steps no longer line up!

The sewerage smell was strong again tonight.


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2006 Travels December 1


The first day of summer. Ha! Mid 40’s today.

The shower men finished the showers here. These were passed as satisfactory by a Spotless manager and the men then left to go back to RV2 and finish there. This shower business had really been a saga.

The sports court fence was built. The wet mess toilets were plumbed. The electricians were working on the car park lights, which would be up on tall poles.

12-03-2006 Tennis Court fenced

Sports court fenced and awaiting surfacing

The lease man used my office for a while. The water had been connected and the wiring to power was in progress.

The Pod 3 locks were finally fixed and all those remaining rooms handed over to Spotless.

John took men to the midday plane, fetched some materials from town and then went back for the evening plane. He purchased some boxes I would need to send office supplies away; the original boxes having mostly disappeared over the weeks.

K appeared from RV2, raided the gear container and took tools and materials he wanted. We had been finding that, quite often, things that were needed here had gone to RV2! To me, that was the product of no longer having one project manager overseeing both sites.

The unpleasant OHS man from Hedland was on site. He strutted around then issued several directives related to our men’s use of tools, the fitments in the first aid room and the site in general! Now I had to try to get different desks, lockable cabinets and other gear for the first aid room. The easiest way, at this stage, was to get the Darwin company manager to get same and send them down on a truck, so I phoned Darwin.

I was still chasing the heating/cooling company about the compressor motor they were supposed to have been replacing.

The poo plant was – officially – leaking. That company would have to return to site and fix it.

12-01-2006 Leaking Sewer Farm 3

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2006 Travels November 30


Low 40’s. I was dreaming now about cool things – green grass, rain, even cold. Was starting to look forward to being home – green grass, a shower of comfortable temperature, an absence of red dust.

The men from the SPQ building company agreed – very reluctantly – to stay and fix the showers properly this time. It was a very messy job and they got fibreglass gunk all over them, so I could understand their attitude. The ones at RV2 were checked again too, and 24 there were found to still be defective. Guess those guys were going to be around for a while yet!

John went to Hedland in the morning – to the plane and to buy oddments needed for work on the punch list.

I was notified that the roller door for the wet mess was ready and would be sent here from SA via one of the transport firms that had been bringing buildings.

John put up safety mesh around the sports court and around holes that had been dug for light poles in the car park. When he was walking across the car park area, his eye was caught by a glint on the ground, and he picked up a large piece of clear stone. He brought it in to show me, convinced that it was a chunk of topaz – it certainly looked like it to me. We put it aside to keep. (A couple of years later, a jeweller confirmed it was indeed topaz – good quality – and I had it made into a ring. My permanent piece of RV1)

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There were still faults happening with the smoke alarms. I was not sure that problem was going to be fixable! Just too hot.

I was working now on a stock take of everything that was in the office – divided into what would stay with the leased office (not much) and what would be sent to RV2 or on down to Leonora. I was also trying to track down all the bed linen that John had purchased, weeks ago, for the company rooms at Fly Camp. Although I had kept it in a separate store area at Fly Camp, it had got disorganized because we had people in both places for a while, then some of that bedding was used here when we first moved in – before Spotless took over upkeeping the rooms. So I had to go right through the linen store at Fly Camp, and here. Spotless reckoned our stuff was all separated and stored, here, but I could only find some of it. Some could have gone to RV2, of course. I was not going to be able to tidily account for it all and that annoyed me.

At night there was a very bad smell coming our way from the poo plant!

12-01-2006 Sewer Farm.

The sewage treatment plant


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2006 Travels November 29


Low 40’s and steamy again.

In the morning, John did a shopping  run for all sorts of required oddments, and in the afternoon, an airport run.

Found out that it was R who used the missing borrowed signs, and lost them somehow – probably buried in the back of a container at RV2 – never to see daylight again! The company would have to pay compensation for them.

The two electricians left at 11.30, to query things about their work, in town, and to collect things they needed.

The pool man instructed the Spotless managers on how to operate the pool.

John and Spotless second manager started out to check the completed shower repairs. The first three they checked were still unsatisfactory, so the check was abandoned. I notified HO, the build company, BB, and the repair men now at RV2 and left it all to them to sort out.

More door locks arrived, having come on a truck load to RV2. Now, the remaining Pod 3 rooms should be able to be fixed.

The pool men left.

Aerial photos were taken by John.

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The site office at RV2 had to be relocated to make room for ongoing works. I was curious about why it hadn’t been put out of the way of works in the first place, like mine had been here, but had no one to ask about that.

Two containers of our gear were moved south to RV2. The pool installers finished there.

I did a lot more chasing around of documentation for the Building Registers, and photocopying for same.

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2006 Travels November 28


Mid 40’s and very steamy after yesterday’s storms.

In the absence of anyone even vaguely resembling management on site, I had been instructed to sign off, on the company’s behalf, on Milestone 4. The FMG head honcho from Hedland arrived on site in the morning, and we duly signed the document. My signature was worth something like $6 million to the company! When I – reluctantly – took this job on, had not envisaged anything like that responsibility! For that matter, had not envisaged most of what I’d ended up doing…….

11-25-2006 rv1 aerial

RV1 as it would look in another few weeks. Gaps at ends of Pods for possible extra dongas

There was much cleaning up needed after the storm. The wind had redistributed quite a lot of loose stuff. John had to re-do safety barriers blown down in the storm.

John took the Acco to Hedland with a load for the tip. A flying stone broke the Acco windscreen on the way back. Then he went to RV2 with a load of materials for there, on the Canter. Then he had to drive back to Hedland for the evening plane. This was two hours late, so he was very late getting back. When this happened, as it did regularly, I was in the habit of getting a plate of cold dinner makings – salads and meats – and taking it back to our rooms. Sometimes, he was able to get a meal in Hedland anyway, before starting back – it really depended on what whoever he’d picked up wanted to do.

The shower repairers said they’d finished here and went on to RV2 to do some that had the same problems there.

The guy who wanted my office signed the lease contract.

12-03-2006 wendy at work

I spent some time on the phone, trying to chase up documentation I thought was needed for the Building Registers, from the SPQ manufacturers in Perth.

At RV2, there was a hunt for the RV1 disabled toilet that was supposed to have been transported there – which in turn was to replace our original one, which K had installed down there! K swore the new one was not there – but then he said that last time. Mystery of the disappearing toilets.

S drove BB to Newman to catch a plane to wherever he was going next. She could be spared for several hours – the men could not.

We were now into our last week here! Hard to believe……

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2006 Travels November 27


Mid 40’s. Humid in the morning.

It was getting a bit quiet here on the work front – today only two company men, us and two electricians who did turn up.

It was discovered that the instant hot water service in the main office – which was not working and was the subject of regular complaints to me by Spotless manager, (who had tried to fix it himself) – was in fact, not wired up! That had been overlooked by the electrician at the time.

Because of the change of mind about that damned office shutter. I had to phone the shutter company and explain we no longer wanted it. But apparently there had been some change of mind about who was building it and I faxed the design diagram that A had done, to the Perth company that built our SPQ’s, to get them to make the wall up – on BB’s instructions. It might still take two or three weeks, but I ordered it to be delivered to RV1 then.

I had to phone the company that installed the air cons to see if they would agree to a local firm fixing some that had been found to be faulty, as rooms were occupied.

I chased up a copy of the letter that BB had written to FMG about the electrical spikes stuffing up some of the gear in the place – needed it for the Document Register!

I spent much of the day putting together the Building Registers. Without R here to guide me, I was rather flying blind on that. It seemed a hell of a lot of material, but I had decided to put in everything that could possibly be relevant. Times four!

Resize of 11-26-2006 donga pod

Almost finished…..

Two men came in from the Perth building company to fix the weak shower bases. They did not seem real happy…..

The missing kitchen/mess curtains – which we had hunted for previously – and for which V had ordered replacements made in Alice Springs – were found in one of the containers, after all – at RV2! Who the hell put them there – and when? I had never even set eyes on them before. Had to have been K or S…..

So there would be a double lot of curtains, as the new ones were already in transit. Guess a use would be found for them somewhere……

John had to do an airport run in the morning to get the shower fixers. He had a tip run in the afternoon. He also had to buy portable gas BBQ’s for each village, gas bottles for those, fire hydrant hooks and fire signs for RV2, from the fire service company in Hedland.

The main camp generators failed twice today, so the camp water supply ran out.

At RV2, where K was back but BB still there too, one of the men went off sick and would not be fit again till next year – heat stress related, apparently. Someone on the ditch digger broke the pool pipes and that took all day to fix! That figured – K was back! There were bushfires within 2kms of the site, so the fire break was made much bigger. They were laying pipes from their bore field to the camp – still no water on there.

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Distant burnt hills at RV2

I had an email from boss lady. After conversation with BB at RV2, she instructed that Milestone 4 was to be signed off on today. Milestone 5 – full completion of RV1 – was to be signed when the sports court was complete, after the surfacing company was here on December 11 – N would co-ordinate that from RV2. Two extra men would come up from RV2 to work on the final punch list of defect fixing.

Her great news was that R was fit again. He was to fly to SA tomorrow, to relieve the Project Manager at the camp construction site there and get a handle on that project. Then, in about ten days, he would fly here for the final total sign off of RV1 and to get an overview of RV2 progress, before flying back to Darwin in time for Xmas. I was so pleased to hear he was OK.

She instructed that we were to work through this week and wind up the office in an orderly fashion by December 4, after which we would leave. She asked that we be on standby to fly back to RV2, in January, if needed. That needed to be decided by K and R before Xmas, depending on how far along RV2 was. Seemed like S had definitely had enough of mixing it with the workers!

December 20 was to be the travel day for all the remaining company workers, to go home for their Xmas break.

So – we were actually finishing up a bit earlier than I’d expected – the next few days could be quite a rush. But it was great that we would have time to drive home comfortably before Xmas. But we might become real FIFO workers, for a little while, next year! More money!

There had been a really nasty cloud build up through the humid day, then about 5pm a massive storm broke, with strong wind gusts, thunder, lightning and rain. A deluge, in fact. The lay down  area/carpark turned into a sea of red water and mud.

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11-27-2006 The Rain 4

Raindrops keep falling……on my lens

That lasted until about 9pm. Quite spectacular. This really was raw and elemental country……

11-27-2006 Aftermath

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2006 Travels November 26


Mid 40’s today.

We had been asked to work, instead of having a day off, such was the pressure to get everything finished. That would make for a bigger pay packet next time round.

Once again, the electrician had disappeared off home to Hedland – I wondered how much it had to do with Saturday night – so there was no one here from the electrical company. The Pod 3 power points were still unfinished.

The comms company gave Spotless a demonstration of how the comms were to work. TV came in via satellite, of course, as did internet and phones. TV was cabled from the central control point to all the SPQ rooms and the wet mess.

12-01-2006 Television Dish

John and the comms man did the final check of the signal strength of the comms system and John prepared a spreadsheet to be given to Spotless – and a copy for my files too.

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TV system receivers on the end of each SPQ donga

We handed over all the Pod 3 keys to Spotless. John and the second manager did a final Pod 3 punch list. There were still not enough bloody door locks though!

The pool company finished up here and went on to RV2.

12-01-2006 Pool Fenced

A company worker came from RV2 to do some repair work to some verandas here. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the two sites now.

The bulk of the company’s workers at RV 2 had been taken out for the day, by BB, on a boat fishing trip, from Hedland. N went, but not S! Boys only….Word was that they’d had an enjoyable day. I suspected it would have been a rather boozy one! With conditions as tough as they were down there, morale boosting exercises were a good idea. That was why BB had wanted the bongo bus…..

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