This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2006 Travels September 29


Today was a momentous one! In the morning, R drove his vehicle into Hedland to arrange some materials and services needed, and when he returned, he was towing a porta-loo! I now had a toilet on site! Well, it was not just for my use, but the lack of such a facility had not been such a hassle for the men. I was so grateful to R for organizing it. Of course, the cleaning of same would fall to me!

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The luxury of a porta-loo!

Amongst my usual work, had to advise HO that we would need them to arrange for a crane on site, next Monday, to start moving some buildings into position. The cement paths for one of the three SPQ building Pods had been completed, so the SPQ’s (Staff Personal Quarters) could be installed for that.

The cementers had been working at night, when it was cooler. Not so much for them, apparently, but needed for the cement to set properly.

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Some of our machinery at RV1

I was notified that, on Monday,  we would be getting a couple of laundry buildings, an end section for the dining building, and two toilet buildings. That sent me scrambling back to the plans to work out where they would be going – just so I knew.

Accommodation at Fly Camp was getting very tight. Apart from our workers and subbies, there was now a steady flow of people associated with preparation tasks for the railway itself. BB arranged for two of our new accommodation dongas – eventually destined for RV2 – to be put down at Fly Camp – in a line from near our van. These would house eight of our people, though their en-suite bathrooms would not be plumbed or functional. These new dongas were supplied with beds and mattresses as part of the build. However, John was tasked with purchasing, in Hedland, mattress protectors, sheet sets, doonas and covers, pillows, for 8 beds. But nobody told him that the beds were king single size!

All the Milestone details had been sent from HO for R. I had eventually worked out that completion and signing off of each Milestone stage, by ourselves and FMG, meant a progress payment for our company. Very important things, Milestones!

Because I still couldn’t print from my computer, physical copies were going to have to be sent to the Hedland Post Office, from HO. The guru in Alice Springs who supplied the technology, had had a couple of attempts remotely to get the printer working, but no go.

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Our communication links to the outside world

Down at RV 2, the Heritage Area had finally been confirmed and marked out as a no go area, to one side of the site. Things there had not gone smoothly in the initial stages – the Environment Survey had found a stick mouse nest and this had meant that the whole alignment of the buildings had to be changed to be away from the nest area, and then approvals gained for those changes. At RV1, the three SPQ Pods were three U shapes and at the open ends of the U’s were the kitchen and dining building then all the other buildings, so it was a long rectangle arrangement. RV2 had to be turned 90 degrees, so the kitchen and dining area there was to one side of the SPQ Pods. All due to stick mice.

The Site Office at RV2 had now been set up and John reported that some direction signs had been put up – otherwise finding one’s way to it had been a challenge.

We were seeing the occasional willy willy in the distance. I hoped they would avoid our camp and the van!

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Distant willy willy beyond the cementers’ batching area

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2006 Travels September 27


John left to drive to Broome. Bit over 700 kms. Good thing he enjoys driving!

From 8am till midday, I was off site. Was asked to drive (in our Truck), south to the corner of the highway and the Marble Bar/Hillside road, 62kms from here. I was to intercept expected trucks that were bringing buildings for RV2. The route into there involved some 70kms on the BHP maintenance road alongside their railway.

BHP was being very obstructive about letting our company use this. John had already had to get a rush order filled for magnetic orange flashing lights that would go on top of all our vehicles, and magnetic  company logos to go on the vehicle sides. Our Truck was decorated with these now!

At this point they had again refused to allow movement of large trucks on the access road – and trucks delivering dongas were large! So I had to be at the corner to instruct the expected trucks to continue on to RV1 and lay down the buildings there. It was a pest because it would mean double movement and handling of these at some future time.

The truck schedule had been necessarily a bit vague. But they had left their break stop at Kumarina Roadhouse before a message could be gotten to them, hence my task. Eventually they lumbered up, I waved them down, and sent them on.

Apparently the drivers of the BHP ore trains had been instructed not to wave to our company vehicles!

One of the suppliers that John had been getting things from for the buildings, told him that businesses in Hedland hated BHP! Something to do with their attitude to local firms. They liked FMG’s boss for challenging BHP, so they told John they would give any work that he brought in to be done, absolute priority!

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Wendy at work

I arranged travel authorizations to be sent to HO for a couple of the men who had a week off coming up soon.

We were notified that there would be a visit soon –  early October – from five of the important men from Spotless Services. This company would be taking over the Villages from our company, when they were built, and running them for FMG. This opened my eyes to another facet of the FIFO mining industry of these remote parts – that there were companies who specialized in running the operations of such camps.

I guessed the men were coming to inspect the camp. I gathered the schedule was set some time ago, before the whole shebang got delayed by FMG’s late site access. So there might not be as much to inspect as they were expecting!

It was quite strange being alone at Fly Camp for the night. I just went and ate tea in the communal dining area, then holed up in the van till bedtime. I was finding most of the workers and subbies who came and went through the camp, reasonably pleasant and alright to sit with at meal times – one just had to sit wherever there was an empty chair. But there were a couple who were loud and prone to making lewd comments – not directed at or about me, but deliberately in my hearing. I just ignored them and hoped they would give up if they didn’t get a reaction.

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Fly Camp dining area