This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 25


Low 40’s and humid.

The company only had two men working here now – and us. The electrical work was progressing – slowly, as usual! Four men from the pool company were working on that. Two men from the comms company were installing TV’s and the central broadcast system for same.

11-25-2006 Pool Fence being Erected2

Working on the pool

The mechanics company came to check and service vehicles, then go on to RV2 to do the ones there. They’d had good business from us, but it was invaluable having them come to the site to do servicing and repairs.

The forklift was U/S – having been borrowed – without permission of course – by one of the railway building companies on site. Mechanic said he would have to get in parts for it. Other site occupants raiding our gear containers and equipment had become a real problem.

Our two men painted the wet mess beer garden deck. Did more cleaning up about the place. They had removed a section of the deck wall and hoped that would be sufficient to pass muster.

11-25-2006 Alan and Peter Painting Wet Mess Floor

Painting the decking floor of the wet mess

John collected BB from the morning plane, then took the Acco to RV2 with their pool shed and fence and came back with a bobcat borrowed from there, and some cement mix.

Apparently, BB had been in some discussion with FMG, who were now concerned that the 280 rooms would not be sufficient for the needs of the railway builders. Our company might have to commission and install eight more SPQ dongas at each village – there had been some provision for these on the original plans. That would add 32 more beds to each Village. That work could not happen before next year though. BB said he thought they might start hot bedding – when I looked mystified he explained that meant working in  shifts so two men used the same bed. My mind boggled – I just hoped they changed the sheets in between. All part of the great sense of urgency that was now pervading the place.

BB did a walk round of the camp, with P, and made a new punch list of all that still needed to be done. He and A had a talk about the Spotless security screen and it was decided that A would build it on site. Then BB took the bongo bus to go to RV2.


Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 24


Low 40’s.

I packed up R’s stuff in the office and dispatched it to Darwin on the company truck that was returning there. That same truck would load up R’s vehicle at Broome airport and truck it back to Darwin. A sad ending – we didn’t get to say goodbye. I hoped he would fully recover from whatever was ailing him.

John took a load with the Canter to the tip in the morning and brought back pool fencing. He had reported that the cab was getting extremely hot, took it to the mechanic in Hedland, who found a loose panel between the cab and the engine bay!

Resize of 11-24-2006 john off to tip 1

Off to the tip, with the Canter

In the afternoon, he took the Acco to Hedland and picked up the pool shed destined for RV2.

There was a steady movement of our surplus equipment and stuff to RV2. At least, I hoped it WAS surplus!

The men had commenced clearing and packing up the lay down area. This would become a part of the large car park area for camp residents.

11-18-2006 Car Park now with lots of cars

Already a number of vehicles were being parked in the laydown area

Once again, the electrical company work was holding up other progress. The electricians had been missing in action this morning and only turned up in the afternoon. The Pod 3 TV’s could not be properly installed until the power points had been done.

Got word that the missing locksets for the Pod 3 doors would finally be coming – with BB from Perth, on Saturday.

About a week ago, I was approached by a guy from one of the companies that would be working on the railway line build, wanting to know if my site office would be available for them to hire. He was temporarily working out of one of the other assorted contractors’ offices that firms had set up at the side of the camp area. HO approved of that and said they would prepare a contract. It arrived today, for him to sign. So my office would not now be moved, but would stay and have to have services hooked up to it – water and camp power.

11-18-2006 Safety Shower

Safety shower installed outside the chemical store donga – a very pre-loved building

Also word came that the company HO had chosen could not deliver the roller shutter for the Spotless office until February. What now?

We appeared to have lost a batch of road signs that R had borrowed from a survey company, a while ago.

The semi took the trench digger, bobcat and concrete mixer to RV2.

Spotless was hassling me about a new griller that was required for the kitchen and whether it had been ordered – in turn, I was hassling V in HO about the same thing!

K came back from leave, so would be back at RV2 now.

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 23


There were storms this morning, but it was still about 40 degrees, just more humid. We were getting some really interesting skies, that had me reaching for the camera.

11-23-2006 Storm Clouds 2

BB and FMG had agreed that we were to source and fit a roller/security shutter across the counter in the site office. There was nothing like that in the original plan, but the Spotless manager had been jumping up and down about it. I would not have thought his paperwork was really so high security! So I spent a lot of the day on the phone, trying to arrange for quotes for that.

11-23-2006 Spotless Office where security mess is required amended

Office area where mesh security roller screen required

The rest of the Pod 2 rooms, and all of the Pod 3 ones, were handed over to Spotless – apart from 16 unsecured rooms where we were waiting on missing locksets. Big progress!

The Acco tip truck had a cracked windscreen ,after John did a tip trip with it today. I doubted it was now roadworthy.

HO had come up with the figures that we were charging FMG $250 per tip trip, plus tip charges, as contingency. Boy, that was going to add up!

There was a really interesting cloud roll formation today. I knew such phenomena happened up in the Gulf country – the famed Morning Glory cloud – but did not know they happened elsewhere. I really should try to read up on meteorology a bit more – as well as on identifying little reptiles!

Resize of 11-23-2006 cloud roll 4

Resize of 11-23-2006 parking area

Cloud roll over the parking area and John’s Acco tip truck

The Hedland FMG boss phoned to say that they now had approval for us to dig a temporary tip hole at RV1. Fine – BUT – we no longer had any digging gear on site. It had all gone south.

N and S returned from their break.

R had not returned from his break yet, having been away ten days. It was rumoured that he would not be returning because he was having some kind of breakdown. That would not have surprised me – he was under so much pressure here. Pity, because I thought he was a really great guy.

Resize of 11-23-2006 cloud roll 3

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 22


Low 40’s.

There were only 4 company men working here now, 5 at RV2, with some subbies at both sites.

Had a minor vehicle collision on site this morning. P’s son was going out on the morning plane, but for some reason before he left, went to jump start his dad’s vehicle,  still in gear. It jumped forward and hit the Canter. Minor damage. Unfortunately, the FMG Safety Officer, from Hedland, who we’d had some issues with, every time he visited the site, was here at the time. He was an officious little man whom nobody liked. He then saw the lad working on the forklift for a few minutes, whilst waiting for John, wearing his casual gear and thongs. Safety man reported it, of course. So A, who was in charge here, had to deal with the lad. I had to deal with the FMG man – lucky me!

11-26-2006 P1000658

Another variety of reptile around camp – funny shaped little fellow.

J took P’s son to the morning plane and then collected R and M and another of the company men, from the midday plane. Then he had to go back to Hedland to collect two subbies from the afternoon plane, which was late. So he was away for much of the day, and booked up some extra work hours at night.

The company guy John collected from leave, was told to stay at RV1 to help with the tail end incidentals. So he had to take the Canter to RV2 to collect his gear. While he was down there, he fixed the phones – which had gone u/s again – following instructions given to him by the comms company before he left RV1.

M and R were to move to RV2 now – more cleaning and unpacking for M.

There was a gas problem with the vegetable coolroom refrigeration unit.

A – in charge at RV1 – was convinced the beer garden would not meet the Shire regulations, and that some wall would have to be removed.

The temporary bubbler cooler units installed in the ice room now appeared to have worked to cool the water enough for the three ice machines to now be churning out sufficient ice cubes. A win, at last!

Resize of 11-18-2006 dusk 5

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 21


Mid 40’s. The heat just went on and on.

Lots of oddments were being worked on about the camp.

The roller door for the wet mess would be made in Adelaide and a transport company would bring it here.

Tonight, seven of the Pod 2 rooms were used by Spotless – the first of the rooms in that Pod to be used, apart from ours.

11-27-2006 Fleetwood Made up bed.

SPQ unit made up for occupancy

The sewer firms was training the two bosses about the sewer and water. Bet they loved that!

A company would be in to surface the sports court here about 11 December, and at RV2 about 18th.

Resize of 11-29-2006 RV1 aerial 23

Sports court ready for surfacing – taken from high up

I had to call the Shire Inspector to clarify how much open space – as opposed to walls – was needed for the beer garden – because of people smoking. Could be an issue because the decks came with a certain amount of wall holding up the roof! If they head to be replaced with open beams or something, that would be a big hold up.

11-23-2006 Beer garden Wet Mess

Beer garden decks just placed – too much wall?

John did two trips to Hedland. When these involved the Acco tiptruck, it got pretty uncomfortable because it had no cooling system. At least the Bongo Bus had air con.

The gensets went down again in the morning, for a while and again in the afternoon. I could see more breakdowns of electrical equipment looming! Spotless was concerned about how the gensets would cope when there was a full camp, instead of only a third full,  as now. They were also worried about what the fuel usage by them would be then. Thank God that bit of equipment was nothing to do with our contract.

I went down to RV2 again, to do the office work down there. Quite enjoyed the drive – I found the country interesting, although many wouldn’t. The phones and modems appeared to be working alright there, now.

BB went to Perth, with P.  Two of the more experienced workers were left in charge at each site. Several of the men were on leave break from RV2.

At RV2 they had to order in two big truck loads of water to fill the pool because the water was not connected there yet. One of the men came down with heat stroke.

A problem was found at RV2. All the newly installed office modules had to be re-lifted to comply with correct step height. It took 3 men 6 hours to do that. The electrical conduits would have to be altered as a result. This was another K stuff up – he should have realized that the ground at RV2 was more sloping than at RV1 which affected the steps needed.

11-26-2006 Mr NT Link 2

Reptiles were adapting to the camp – nice home under that path!


Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 20


Over 45 today, and there were oppressive storms late in the day.

A lot happened yesterday.

A man from the electricians had to make a special trip up from RV2, for a while, to sort out the Pod 2 rooms that had electrical issues and get them ready to occupy. It seemed that B, the man from that company who was normally here all the time, had taken it upon himself to take the weekend off, without telling anyone. The SPQ building in Pod 2 that had the problems had already had six hours of man time spent trying to sort it out and the problem was still not found.

After all that, Spotless decided to cancel the hand over ceremony and its forty guests. Good!

Someone got the Landcruiser tyres fixed yesterday.

The kitchen fence was finished and those men left.

11-23-2006 Fenced area back of mess

Fenced yard around the kitchen loading dock and cold units

The gym was declared set up and operational, but was missing two gym mats. So today I had to phone HO to find some and get them to us, somehow.

12-02-2006 Gym Equipment

Some of the equipment int the gym

Spotless had occupation of the main part of the wet mess, but the roller door that would block off the bar counter when required was missing, and there was still some other work ongoing.

11-25-2006 Wet Mess and TV

Inside the wet mess

I ordered a roller blind thing from a company in Alice Springs.

From the quarry company I was told to order shingle stone – a 12 metre side tipper load – for “landscaping”.

One of the men had done a tip trip on Sunday.

A SPQ donga that was still at Fly Camp was moved to RV2. Down there, they also received 4 office modules and 2 kitchen modules.

Two of the company workers who had been based here were moved permanently to RV2.

I inducted 4 pool company men, here to install the pool, and a man here to install the TV system.

The kitchen compressor unit broke down again last night. The drinks display fridge in the wet mess was not working properly. There were just too many electricals related problems it seemed to me! The cooling man came and fixed the drinks fridge but said we needed yet another new kitchen compressor.  He was sure the repeated failures were due to power fluctuations.

John went to Hedland to return the light tower now that the cementers had finished doing the incidental paths. He also took in some of the semi’s tyres to be repaired.

The sewer company man was working on the sewer and water plants. He said they would train the Spotless managers in their workings. Why didn’t they do that in the first place?

A problem was emerging that some of the smoke alarms installed in the SPQ rooms were going off for no apparent reason. The heat? It was making the Spotless managers really cross.

John had an unusual and unforeseen job today, in amongst his two trips to Hedland. Last Thursday, when BB overnighted here, he nearly went through the base of the shower recess in his bathroom. He was not happy and ordered that every one be checked. So John and the Spotless second manager went round and checked them, by bouncing up and down in each shower. BB was a rather large man, but…… Of the 232 showers, 44 were lacking  bracing. BB was still running the show at RV2, so he got to deal with the manufacturers, about that, for which I was grateful.

11-27-2006 Fleetwood shower

I was starting to dream of having a cool – or cold – shower! No such animal in these parts.

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 19


Hot. There was an early thunder and lightning storm and it was really humid.

It was our day off. We’d now been on site for nine weeks. In some ways, it seemed to have gone fast but at the same time seemed  like ages. Had we been normal FIFO staff with the company, we’d have been out on break twice now, for a week each time. But apart from our few days at Eighty Mile Beach, we’d stayed here.

Did the washing – nice to have access to a proper laundry with lots of machines, and not have to queue for use.

Apart from that, just relaxed around our rooms and the van.

At one stage, earlier in our time here, when it was a bit cooler, we’d debated whether we should try to visit Karijini National Park on our day off, and do some walking there. But it was over 200kms to drive, each way, so neither of us could motivate ourselves to do that. Had it been closer……

Resize of 11-18-2006 dusk 3

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 18


Again in the low 40’s and humid. There was a storm in the late afternoon.

The head FMG man from Hedland had a meeting with BB at RV2. They were really putting pressure on us to have the Pod 2 rooms here available for Spotless to fully make up. They said the rooms must be in use for tomorrow, because they were expecting forty people in for some sort of ceremony to mark the signing over of the camp (which hadn’t fully happened yet!). Guess that was the original schedule?

11-18-2006 Spotless Office with aircon!

Site management office – with lots of air-cons!

The fence around the kitchen loading dock area was being built.

The electrical company men were off on a leave break. Just when we really needed someone to deal with little electrical problems and finish things off in Pod 2, there was no one here.

A man arrived (via airport and John) to fix the sewer issues. The pool installation man also arrived in.

Two of our storage containers were shifted to RV2 on the second company semi. That, with its driver L, had been based here since we started moving buildings to RV2, with L helping out about the place when the truck was not in use.

BB’s Landcruiser had two flat tyres – one when BB was driving, one when L was driving it on some errand.

The mechanic was back – again – and serviced the bongo bus.

John did two trips to Hedland. Reckon he could drive that road in his sleep.

11-18-2006 Gas Bullet

Camp gas supply

BB asked me to go down to RV2 and do any work that was needed at the office there, since S was out on leave.

I drove our Truck down there. Got to see the traffic controllers mandated by BHP, still at work down there. Sitting in their vehicle at the track corner, waiting for the occasional truck. What a boring job.

It struck me again how much drier, rough  and bleak RV2 seemed, compared to RV1.

There wasn’t much to do, apart from trying to make some order out of the mess that K created out of anything paperwork. I prepared a couple of letters that BB dictated – was quite impressed with my keyboarding speed, if I do say so myself.

Heat stress was an issue at RV2, and I could see why, especially since several of the men were working on installing veranda roofs. BB was letting the men knock off an hour early because of the heat. There were major storms around there yesterday and today, with heavy rain having fallen between RV2 and the Hillside road – I’d driven through lots of puddles and there was water over the road in a couple of places.

Despite the rain, there were several fires burning in the area, and a heavy smoke haze


Fires to the north at RV2

I brought back path lights for RV1 – they had fetched up down there on one of the trucks.

Resize of 11-18-2006 dusk 7

Dusk in camp – no path lights yet.


Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 17


Low 40’s. It was humid, and there was some cloud. There were lots of fires in the area and much smoke about.

Part way through the day, BB went to RV2 and would stay there, in charge, while K was out on his week’s break.

The beer garden deck was being installed – so, apart from the usual type of enclosed large room, there was to be a roofed sort of outdoor section too!

Spotless reported that they fixed the bain marie and dishwasher themselves – there had been wiring problems. There was a gas leak in the old piping in the kitchen. That was fixed quickly!

Word came through that Spotless was now to be responsible for all the genset fuelling, ditto for the one at the bore. So, water, electrical and sewer operations were all up to them. Well, the two on site managers had to transition to that, sooner or later, since our crew would not be here that much longer. And they were not facilities that we had installed anyway.

Just to underline the point, all the main gensets went down in the morning. The phones were out too and possibly affected by a power spike. My office was not affected, since it was not hooked up to camp services. So I was invaded by Spotless managers needing to use the phone – again!

Two swimming pools arrived on a truck, one inside the other. For once, the crane service was on time, and it took off the pool for here, then continued on to RV2, with the truck, to offload its pool. I had to phone and order the requirements for the pool people to install the pool – crackerdust and a crane, again.

Resize of 11-17-2006 pools 2

Yep – oversize load….

Resize of 11-17-2006 pools 3

Swimming pools for both Villages

Brickie left for somewhere, with three trailers behind the semi.

The mechanic was back on site and fixed the Canter, amongst other work on the plant.

A new worker arrived yesterday – John had collected him from the airport and taken him to RV2. Turned out he was supposed to have his own tools and didn’t, so today John bought a set in Hedland and took them to RV2. He also took a load to the tip, had a part made for the forklift whilst in town, and brought it back. He really was proving invaluable to this project!

For weeks, R had been hunting for a disabled toilet room that was to be installed here. It was “found” by BB today – installed at RV2! Bloody K! He had repeatedly claimed it wasn’t there. His gut was bigger than his IQ. Now we had to wait for the one that was currently being built, in Perth, for RV2.

BB decreed that ALL company staff and our subbies were to be accommodated at RV1, as of today, regardless of whether the FMG people in Hedland liked it or not.

A big problem with the sewer became evident. Effluent was pouring out onto the ground. Not our responsibility, but in the absence of anyone else, P was trying to fix it, with phone instructions from the company that installed it. P was not a happy chappy! But he was definitely a smelly chappy! The Spotless managers were, it seemed,  white collar workers and getting their hands dirty was not their scene.

We could smell the effluent from our rooms and the van.

Leave a comment

2006 Travels November 16


In the low 40’s.

John had a busy day – two trips to Hedland and one on to RV2. About 700kms of driving.

BB arrived, in his Landcruiser. So did two more wet mess beer garden decks. The big gas storage bullet arrived and was installed. BB spent the day checking out the work progress here.

Resize of 11-17-2006 beer garden decks

Decks that would form the beer garden

All sorts of oddments were being done about the place today, including installing the two new toilets John had bought yesterday. An ongoing job that started a while ago and was ongoing, as more buildings were placed and finalized, was making and installing tie downs to anchor the portable buildings. That job was occupying one of the men full time.

The four and six man dongas at Fly Camp that belonged to the company were packed up and loaded onto two trays of Brickie’s semi.

The deep fryer in the kitchen was not working. Spotless told me what they thought was wrong and I ordered the required new part they said was needed and  arranged for it to come express from Perth. They were getting very terse about all the equipment failures in the kitchen; most of that gear would have been used in whatever had been the kitchen’s prior incarnation – possibly on the Darwin Rail line building. But some of the issues were due to the power supply problems – and that was not our fault.

The electricals would not work on one of the SPQ’s in Pod 2; our on site electrician couldn’t work out what was wrong, but was adamant that the fault lay back in the building of it, in Perth. A dud fridge was found, too. Just one of the many, many little things to be fixed. A glazier I’d arranged came and fixed the broken window. I’d also arranged that the mechanic company come today to service various plant items; there was too much for one day, so they would be back tomorrow. More travel charges!

11-13-2006 Pod 3 Unpacking 3

Unpacking and setting up Pod 3

There was a problem with the bore pump – something else that was not our issue.

Eating in the mess here was very different from the Fly Camp dining. The food was much more professionally done, for starters. There was a much bigger range of choice too. At breakfast, one helped themselves, still, to cold things like fruit and cereals, and cooked our own toast on a big, rotating toast maker. (That was one of the kitchen fitments I hadn’t been able to identify when collecting serial numbers!) There was a large range of cooked breakfast foods available from the servery. In a separate corner of the serving area, there were the lunch crib makings set out for one to assemble their own, to take away. Again, a really large range – lots of lovely salads, sandwich fillings and the like, down to hard boiled eggs, different types of olives and even artichoke hearts. At dinner, we queued up to collect our meal at the servery – a range of offerings including roasts, casseroles, steak cooked to order, other meats, vegetables and salads. There were desserts of course – choices amongst hot and cold ones. Excellent food.

Obviously, the camp set up was geared to workers doing hard physical work out in the hot sun, for at least eight hours a day, with nutrition to suit. This particular sedentary office worker needed to really resist the temptation to eat too much!