This is a family-friendly site,
as is witnessed by the fact that it has been included on family-friendly
CDs, lists of family-friendly sites, etc.
And I'm one who never swears, but
the time has come to mention a four-letter word here.
The word in question ends in K,
and is one that has become quite common of late. I almost
never use it, but I find that I can no longer avoid it.
And the word is...
There, I feel better already.
Yes, over the past few months Chris
and I have been...working (I can barely bring myself to type
the word)...and what's more, we've been working hard.
Now I don't know about you, but
I worked for 20 years, and that's more than anyone should
have to endure. One of the reasons I worked that long is that
I wanted "toys". Sometimes the toy was a new house,
sometimes a car, and sometimes I just wanted to buy my lunch
rather than make my own.
The point is that, for the most
part, we work to buy things we want. So there's a simple equation...
want less = work
The only reason Chris and I are
currently working is that we purchased some new toys, to wit,
camera gear and a car. To be fair we have enjoyed the work,
we've put on a few muscles because of it, and it has only
been for about five months, so I think that's a reasonable
But I'd rather be camping near
a creek somewhere in the outback.
So I ask you a simple question...what
are you working for?
If it's just for more toys then
maybe you should re-evaluate things. There's a lot to see
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Wed 20 Apr 2005
Cate and Andy are about to have a new baby and they have moved down
to Cairns to be near a decent hospital.
Meanwhile Chris and I are looking after the mine.
Not that there's much to do as there aren't too many guests yet.
Looking into the lounge and kitchen from the breezeway.
The rustic-looking kitchen in Cate and Andy's house.
Andy made a new poppet head after the old one burnt down.
The old steam-powered winding gear, once used to lift the
ore and miners from the shaft.
An outside long-drop dunny.
The rear of the stamping battery shed. Note the shutters,
they are common in the tropics. They're simple, have no glass
and allow good ventilation, that's why we have them in the
While poking around behind the shed I notice these green tree
ants making a new home.
Mon 25 Apr
We are cleaning the cottages when I get the feeling that I've done
this before. No, it's not deja vu, I really have done this before,
yesterday in fact.
I've decided that this cleaning in the hospitality
industry is a never-ending process. It's just like Groundhog Day,
you clean, people stay, you clean, people stay, etcetera etcetera.
This is a very frustrating task, and one that's
Later, while waiting for Chris to prepare lunch,
I'm still mulling over this revelation when she places a plate of
scraps on a container of bread rolls, "Go feed the chooks"
(chook = Australian for chicken) she says.
I wander out to the chicken enclosure, feed the
little darlings, and return to the kitchen.
"Wow you should have seen them go" I
say, brandishing the now empty plate and container. "I nearly
got knocked over in the rush. They loved those bread rolls".
"What bread rolls?" Chris says.
Still, sandwiches are good too.
Later in the evening we notice the geckos walking
on the kitchen window. I couldn't resist taking a photo of their
Close up of a gecko foot, from the under side
Wed 27 Apr
As much as possible we are answering the phones while Cate and Andy
are away. Normally calls are about bookings and we just pass them
on. Today however I receive one of those extremely irritating calls
from some marketing company wanting to know what phone plan the
business is on, and would we like to change over to Telstra.
I try to get a word in edgewise between the syllables
of his finely tuned spiel, but to no avail. The "conversation"
from this end goes something like, "owners away...only work
here...don't know about the phones...no idea what plan..."
Nothing will shut this bloke up or make him deviate
from the prepared text.
Eventually I decide I have to put an end to it,
and, drawing on recent experience, I yell into to the phone with
my dumbest hillbilly accent,
"I don't know anything about the phones,
I just feed the chooks"
And hang up.
Sun 1 May
About three years ago we met a likeable Canadian by the name of
Kevin. We chatted briefly, then went our separate ways. Several
months later, on the opposite side of the country, we met again,
and became good friends. Now Kevin is back in Australia, and he
has driven out to stay with us at the mine.
Kevin and I drive out to nearby Mt Mulligan. Mt
Mulligan was a coal mine until the 50s, but it's main claim to fame
is the disaster of 1921.
In September of that year there was an explosion
in the mine which killed most of Queensland's coal miners, 75 men
On rounding a corner we are presented with a good view of
There's a disused airfield here, complete with disused equipment.
There's an old weir that forms a nice lake, which in turn
creates a nice camping area.
On arrival at Mt Mulligan we go looking for the
mine entrance, at first finding the entrance to the ventilation
Two views of the ventilation shaft. Looking into the collapsed
shaft, and out through the entrance.
This is usually thought by visitors to be the
mine entrance, but I know better as I've been worded up on the correct
We walk just a 100 metres or so down hill and
to the north, to find the real entrance.
The original mine entrance
The entrance was supposedly closed but, as you
can see, there's still a small hole. It's a bit spooky looking down
into the darkness, and there's a tepid breeze emanating from the
Maybe it's just the deep earth temperature causing
warm air to rise from the shaft, or maybe it's the humid breath
of 75 souls.
The entire town was removed by the mining company
in the 50's. There's nothing left but the bits that were too hard
to take away.
We explore the ruins for hours.
There's all sorts of old boilers and interesting stuff lying
The old power station and chimney.
The powder magazine.
We drive over to the cemetery. After the disaster
many of the miners were so badly burnt that they could not be identified.
Their graves only have identifying numbers.
A slight mound, and cast-iron "33", is all that marks
this miner's resting place
In an interesting aside, many of the bodies that
were unrecognisable were finally identified by the aboriginal washer
woman who new which socks were worn by which miner.
Some people had more elaborate markers
Fri 6 May
Some Koreans fly in by helicopter today. They are obviously pretty
well off, having paid for exclusive use of the mine for the day
The concrete pad makes a convenient landing spot, and we get
a front-row seat.
It turns out that he works for a computer game
company, no wonder they can afford to come here by chopper.
Mon 9 May
Today there is a meeting of those involved in the irrigation project.
Of course I attend, you never know, there may be something important
There wasn't really, just general information.
I did find out however that the job is expected to be six days a
week for two months, not five days a week for three months as I
had been told.
To save you reaching for a calculator, yes that
means less pay.
On the way into town I drop into the house that
some of us will be living in. There's only one occupant at present,
the surveyor, and he rushes up to see what I'm doing.
Sometime later, when I arrive at the business
premises for the meeting, the boss says "I hear you've been
out to the house". Apparently a bloke with a "big black
beard" was reported by the surveyor.
How kind of him, there's actually quite a lot
of grey in my beard.
All those at the meeting appear to be middle aged,
Craig, the boss, points out that he prefers to employ more mature
people because they are reliable. However, about half way through
the proceedings three young bucks from Perth arrive, and I wonder
how they fit into Craig's reliability theory.
After the meeting I rush back to the mine. We
have 19 German travel agents for dinner, and it's all hands on deck.
Wed 11 May
One of the requirements for the irrigation job is that all workers
have a blue card. The holder of a blue card has done a 4-hour safety
course which is all part of the stringent Workplace Health &
Safety arrangements in place these days.
There was a time when you got ten minutes instruction
(if you were lucky) on a piece of machinery, then were told to start
working with it.
I remember my first day on the job as a groundsman
on a golf course. I was told to "Put the harraz on the Fergy
and go harra the 10th".
Hmmm, I know what a Fergy is, I've driven a Ferguson
tractor before, but what the hell is a "harra"?
Fortunately we had been discussing what was required
to be achieved for the day, and part of that was raking up sticks
from the newly-cleared 10th fairway-to-be.
So all I had to to was look for an implement that
looked like it would be good at raking a large area.
I selected an appropriate-looking implement, hooked
it up to the tractor's three-point linkage, and headed off. It transpired
that I had indeed picked the "harraz" (AKA harrows), with
a combination of luck and thought, but no training.
But what has this got to do with today's course?
These days you need a "ticket" to do
anything on a construction site, and that includes just walking
The blue card tells the world that you have completed
a "General Safety Induction" course, actually it indicates
that you passed, but everyone passes, so it really just means that
you turned up and wasted half of your day.
Bruce was our trainer, and in eight years of running
these courses he says that only one person has failed.
Apparently this person was somewhat under the
influence of the evil weed, so, when asked to state a typical workplace
hazard, he thought for a second, volunteered "Being too stoned",
and promptly fell off his chair.
Thu 12 May
There isn't much to do today so I wander around the stamping battery.
One of the old oil-burning engines that used to drive the
battery. It has long since been replaced by a diesel motor.
An unused flywheel that would have driven one of the shaker
Mon 16 May
I start the irrigation job today. The job site is only 30k from
the mine but the road is terrible, so, to save wear and tear on
the Cruiser, I will be camping on-site.
At 5AM I rise to a clear sky. I have breakfast,
then step outside to load some stuff into the car. There's a pea-souper
fog, where did that come from? I'll have to leave a bit earlier.
At seven I arrive at the job, Ron (the foreman)
is there, but I'm the first of the grunts. To kill time I cut some
empty fertiliser barrels in half, these will be used to store the
A couple of the others arrive, then Ron asks who
wants to volunteer to drive the old side-lift fork. I stick my hand
up, bad idea.
The forklift has seen better days, and I'd say
those days were around fifty years ago. It's a cantankerous old
bastard to drive, and it doesn't help that I'm not exactly an experienced
Still I manage to fumble my way through the day.
We're laying 375mm PVC pipes, they are quite heavy and, although
we try to use machinery as much as possible, there is still some
manhandling to be done.
We are expecting the three young fellas from Perth
to start today, but they are a no-show. Looks like Craig was right
about employing young people.
At five we knock off and have a beer. Day one
over, 89 to go.
Tue 17 May
Day two, and what a day. I'm knackered. We started laying out 250mm
pipe which, at first, may sound like it would be easier than the
375s we were working with yesterday.
The beauty of large pipes (ie the 375) however
is that they are pretty much too heavy to lift, and therefore you
seldom have to. Sometimes there is a requirement to move one a short
distance by hand, but in general either a machine or gravity does
The 250s are still heavy (about 60kg) but not
so much that they can't be manhandled. To make matters worse they
all have to be laid in the same direction, even though they are
packed head to tail. Therefore every second pipe has to be rotated,
and that's a lot of lifting.
While laying out the pipes I'm walking next to
the trailer when I find that I can't move my left foot. The pressure
on it also tells me that something is wrong. I look down to find
that the trailer's wheel is squarely on top of my boot, thank goodness
for steel caps.
There's nothing to do but let the wheel continue
We spend the rest of the day moving pipes from
one place to another, hard work, and not all that gratifying I have
At five we knock off, I retreat to my little camp,
get a beer from the fridge, and put my feet up to watch the sunset.
Now this part of the day I can deal with, still it's not that bad,
and at least I'm not sore yet.
Wed 18 May
Today I'm sore, I guess my pipe-lifting muscles haven't been used
for a while (if ever).
It's still foggy as we head out with the first
load of pipes. The light is fantastic, there's a tank stand looming
out of the mist, with a hawk standing on top, the brolgas are dancing
and there's a bustard hunting through the grass.
Great stuff with potentially some great photos,
and I'm laying out bloody pipe.
Thu 19 May
Today we are laying pipe, that's "laying" as opposed to
the "laying out" we've been doing until now.
With the larger pipes you no longer use glue,
they are a push fit, but you have to push pretty hard to fit one
pipe into the rubber ring of another. To help the process a lubricant
is used, it's revolting stuff called PVC Pipe Lubricant, but I prefer
the colloquial expression, gorilla snot.
My main job has been to "snot" the ends
of the two about-to-be-joined pipes, then eyeball the connection
to ensure that the pipes are almost perfectly aligned. When this
is the case, two of the lads apply a lot of force with a crow bar,
at which point one of five things happen.
- pipes join
- crowbar bends
- crowbar slips, workers fall on ground
- crowbar bends, pipes join, then crowbar slips
and workers fall on ground
With options 2, 3, and 5 we just try again. If
the pipes join we move six metres to the right and repeat the process.
Today I'm working with three local farmers, Grub,
Johno, and Alf. Grub is a big fellow and he is having trouble with
his new steel caps. "Bloody boots" he says, "I haven't
worn shoes since I quit at the mill, 20 years ago".
I seem to be getting into the swing of things,
unlike the previous few days, neither my feet, back, nor arms are
After work a few of us have a beer, Craig says
that they have another big job like this on next year. "Remind
me to be in another state" I reply.
Fri 20 May
Today was a fairly easy day, we've been laying out the 375mm pipes,
and, as I said before, they are quite easy because they are too
heavy to lift so you just roll them off the trailer.
I also seem to have done a lot of driving around
for various reasons. On one such trip I notice a vaguely familiar
figure walking up the road. As I get closer the figure resolves
into my wife.
Chris was upset at the mine because Andy didn't
give her a lift into town, so she decided to walk, all 30k.
As she didn't plan the trip she only had a small
bottle of water, and it's very hot out here on these dusty roads.
At about the 25k mark a couple of old fellows picked her up and
subsequently dropped her at the entrance to the farm I'm working
She is well happy to sit down and have a drink.
This works out well because I had planned to drive
into town and collect the mail at lunch time, a procedure that would
seriously impinge on my lunch break. Now Chris can do that chore
during the afternoon.
It took about three days but I'm now pretty much
in the groove and not tiring at the end of the day. Naturally you
get a little weary working for hours in the heat, but I'm drinking
plenty of water, and my muscles are loosening up, so, for the last
couple of days I haven't collapsed in a heap at 5 o'clock.
Sun 29 May
Cate and Andy are away this weekend so we are playing host. There's
a tour group arriving who require lunch and a tour of the mine workings,
which includes seeing an operational stamping battery.
I have operated the stamping battery before, but
only under supervision from Andy, so, before the group arrive I
do a dry run.
The cold diesel motor starts with some difficulty,
requiring a spray of Aerostart. I engage the clutch and wheels start
turning. The separation table fails to vibrate, so I give it a kick
and away it goes.
Now to engage the stamps. This is a process that
requires some manual dexterity, a wooden paddle must be inserted
between the spinning cam and a collar which is clamped to the 1-tonne
A Close up of the cams, these spin quite fast, and the wooden
paddle has to be inserted correctly or it gets smashed
When I insert the paddle to lift the second rod,
the force of the cam shatters the 2x3 hardwood paddle into splinters.
Not a good start.
Later I repeat the process for the tourists, this
time there are no dramas.
The view from the rear of the stamping battery.
The view from the front of the battery.
Mon 13 Jun
For some time now, ever since I traded my five film bodies in on
a single digital camera, I've been worried about only having one
camera. What if it fails?
Well a week or so ago it did fail.
Fortunately I'm too busy to take many photos at
present. But anyway the failure drove it home to me that I am totally
incapable of doing any photography without a camera body.
Last week I ordered a new Canon 10D, actually
it's second hand, and my how the prices have dropped. My first one
cost me $3300 just over a year ago, this one cost only $1300.
It certainly make sense to buy last year's model.
Wed 15 Jun
While working in the field I could not help but notice the thousands
of termite mounds. They look great, so, after work I get on the
motorbike and ride back out into the paddock.
These will all be cleared tomorrow, so I have
to get some shots today.
Thousands of termite mounds, all doomed, tomorrow they go under
the bulldozer. The excavator in the shot is digging trenches
for the larger pipes.
Fri 17 Jun
We start work at seven and, at this time of year, the sun rises
just about then.
Walker on his favourite machine, the Ditch Witch (aka Ditch
Sunrise, photographed at 6:58, leaving just enough time to
stow the camera and report for work
Sun 10 Jul
I have to do another mine tour today. I start the motor then jump
down to the lower level to kick-start the shaker table. It runs
for a few seconds then stops.
Andy turns up just about then and we continue
the tour without the table.
When everyone has gone I pull the gearbox apart
but cannot determine the problem.
I have to go back to the farm so leave the problem
with Andy. (It turned out to be a simple problem, he fixed it later
in the week)
Fri 1 Jul
For a couple of weeks now I've been working on the valve manifolds.
These manifolds control the water flow to each block of trees.
One of the simpler control manifolds. This one only has a single
automatic valve, some have four.
They are an assembly of butterfly valves, automatic
valves, turf valves, gate valves, tapping bands, filters, taps,
etc. It takes one to two days to build one, depending on the complexity.
Sat 2 Jul
Andy and Kate brought an orphaned joey back from Mareeba the other
He's an agile wallaby, and they've called him
Rocky peers from his home-made pouch hanging from the chook
Wed 13 Jul
Just before we started this irrigation job Craig, the boss, said
that he didn't like employing young people or anyone from an employment
agency because they were unreliable.
This opinion was reinforced almost immediately
when three young fellows from WA didn't even turn up on the first
However, we're a bit pushed to get 65,000 sprinklers
in the ground at present, so the call went out to a local labour
agency, and four people turned up.
By lunch time two of them are looking a little
worse for wear, but, at the end of the day they are all still here.
Thu 14 Jul
Only three of the new-comers turn up today. We spend the whole day
trudging through thick bull dust and broken ground.
Fri 15 Jul
Only one new-comer left now.
Another pre-dawn photo, note the two balloons. Ballooning is
a very popular pursuit at Mareeba
As it's friday I'm off home after work. As I approach
the locality of Thornborough I notice the great light on the termite
At the other end of the day, the light is also great at Thornborough
Thornborough was once a thriving community, sporting
no less than twenty hotels. When the gold disappeared so did the
What you see in the above photo is pretty much
all that's left.
Sun 17 Jul
We've had some wasps set up house on the light over the truck steps.
We'll leave them there, they are harmless enough and make very cooperative
subjects for my macro lens.
One of the wasps living over the back steps
Tue 19 Jul
And then there were none.
Our last agency worker didn't front today. I can
see why Craig doesn't like employing them. Still, maybe they are
the smart ones, the conditions are appalling here at present, a
fierce south-easter has sprung up and, with the 500 acres of newly-ripped
and disked soil, the dust is almost unbearable.
While rock picking in one of the paddocks I notice
a small tree frog. What it's doing out here I have no idea, but
in this heat, in the dry bull dust, and with the ever-present hawks
patrolling, he certainly won't make it through the day.
I pick it up, wash it down to hydrate it, then
put the little fellow in a storage compartment of the 4x4.
After work I release it on a palm tree near the
The tree frog lives to fight another day
Thu 21 Jul
We've all had a gut full by five o'clock.
Imagine walking through the sand dunes at the
beach with heavy boots on, stumbling and twisting your ankle on
a rock every few minutes, then bending over to push a sprinkler
into the ground, only to find that there is a boulder at that very
location. The sprinkler has to be in that exact spot, so you drop
your heavy bundle of sprinklers and dig out the rock with your hands.
Once the sprinkler is inserted you move 4.5 metres along the row
and do another. After 3-4 sprinklers have been inserted on a given
row, you move 8 metres to the next row and repeat the process.
Imagine doing this in a howling gale that creates
a dust storm so thick that, at times, the visibility is down to
Now imagine doing that for 9 hours, day after
Yep, I reckon those agency workers are the smart
ones after all.
Thu 28 Jul
Another day off today, more stuff ups with the earthworks have caused
most people to be laid off for a few days.
I have about half a day's work, but then I to
am at a loose end.
I decide to go for a ride and look for some photos.
A bustard or plains turkey
This area's main crop used to be tobacco and every
property still has at least one tobacco barn.
Disused tobacco barn, now surrounded by sugar cane
The industry has totally died because, as I understand
it, it's cheaper to get the tobacco from Brazil or somewhere.
The farmers now grow other crops or get odd jobs,
which probably explains why half my workmates are local farmers.
Wed 3 Aug
It's nearly three months into the job and we finally have the site
safety induction "course". It's not really a course, just
a meeting, about safety on the site.
One thing we are told is illegal, not to mention
dangerous, is riding in the back of utes, on trailers, etc. This
is no problem for us on the irrigation team, but the tree planters
have been piling onto a decrepit old Landcruiser. Still I guess
that will stop now that we've had a site safety induction course.
The Guinness Book of Records attempt at the "Number of
tree planters on an old moving ute" record
After work, while having a beer, we notice two
of the tree planters scratching their heads while peering into the
depths of their car's engine bay.
As most of us can usually get a car going, and
one of the blokes is actually an ex-mechanic, we wander over to
Two hours later we are still helping.
We've prodded, cleaned and tested just about everything.
But the engine's electrical system is totally dead.
I look into the cab and notice a flashing light
on the dashboard.
"What's the flashing light for?" I ask
the owners, two Korean backpackers.
"Don't know" one replies, "sometimes
flash, sometimes not flash".
It looks like an immobiliser to me.
They have only just bought the car, and a quick
phone call to the dealer clears things up. It's an immobiliser alright,
and it seems that the only problem is that they used the spare keys,
the main set have a small electronic doodad that has to be within
a couple of inches of the steering column to disable the immobiliser.
The spare set does not have the doodad.
Thu 4 Aug
The house I'm staying in is pretty disgusting, but that doesn't
worry me. Living with us are some of the largest cockroaches I've
ever seen, most of which seem to get trapped in the bath. I put
an old towel over the rim so they can climb out.
Today though I had a visitor in the shower, a
nice big mantis.
The old "mantis in the shower" trick
Sat 6 Aug
At around 7 I'm woken by a rattling noise outside the truck. I look
out the window to see a Landcruiser and trailer pull onto the concrete
In the trailer stands a saddled stock horse. The
driver gets out and lifts one of the 44-gallon drums upright. These
drums are filled with Avgas, and are used by the mustering helicopters.
Looks like it's mustering time.
An hour or so later I'm on my third cup of coffee
when I hear the helicopter. We have helicopters here quite often,
but mostly they are ferrying tourists, they approach nice and slow
then softly land on the concrete slab.
In total contrast this pilot approaches at high
speed, pulls up the aircraft at the last second, then drops it onto
the rocks near the concrete.
He jumps out, pumps some fuel into the tank, and
takes off, all in the space of about two minutes.
A quick refill then back to work.
The chopper flies right down at tree level, herding the cattle.
After an hour or so the cattle run passed the dam, on their
way to the yards
This occurs several times during the day until
late afternoon, when he removes the pump from the drum and departs
for the last time.
Sun 7 Aug
Cate and Andy are away today so I have to do the mine tour. I'm
not looking forward to it, last time I broke the shaker table mechanism.
I'm happy to report though that this time I didn't
break anything. When everyone has gone I relax by taking some photographs.
Camped below the mine.
Green tree ants holding leaves together to make a nest
Sat 13 Aug
Kids say the damndest things. While sitting with Tom (Cate and Andy's
2-year-old), both of us silent and deep in thought, he says "I
love my Mum". "That's good, and she loves you" I
There's a short silence as Tom ponders a bit more..."I
love generators to" he adds.
Wed 17 Aug
Most of the lads have been off work again for the past couple of
days. We are having frequent layoffs because the earthworks are
taking a lot longer than anticipated, and we can't lay pipes until
the dirt has been arranged into the right shape.
Fortunately there's been a few jobs I can do,
one of which is wiring up the remote radio valve controls.
All the watering on the property will be automatic,
with radio controls activating the valves. It's pretty hi-tech for
a mango farm, and it has been fun to do some electronics for a change.
After lunch we install the foot valve in the dam.
On the average farmer's system this would entail little more than
throwing the valve in the creek, but not here.
The valve itself is over a metre high and weighs
100k or more, but that's the easy part. It's connected to several
tonnes of poly suction pipe.
As we don't have a crane handy we employ one of
the excavators that are on site. It's a bit touch and go for a while
as the weight is really more than the machine can handle at full
After a couple of hours, some of which I spend
up to my backside in the cold water, we have the valve and suction
line connected to the pump. It's not right though, hanging at too
great an angle into the dam. It looks like we're in for a repeat
performance as an extension will have to be added.
Another of our insectivore house mates, a huntsman spider
Thu 18 Aug
More wiring of radio controls and helping to commission the pumps,
but really I'm just doing busy work and by lunch time I have nothing
to do so I clock off.
The motorbike has been stored at the farm for
a couple of months now but I've also had the Cruiser so the bike
hasn't been used.
I decide to dust it off and run the motor. Then
I get the urge to take it for a run, so get my helmet and hit the
road. I just ride around the block, but out here that means about
60k. It's fantastic to wander aimlessly for an hour or so.
Sun 4 Sep
This has been my worst weekend in ages, I'm sick as a dog with some
kind of flu, but still have to do two mine tours. One today and
It's very difficult to speak in front of twenty
or so people while trying desperately to stop my nose from running.
What a nightmare.
Fri 16 Sep
I told Ron (the foreman) that I'm leaving the job in three weeks.
If we don't get delayed again that should be enough time to finish.
We've lost a lot of our team over the last few weeks, mostly because
people got sick of being constantly laid off for a week or so because
there was no work.
I've been lucky, there always seems to be something
I can do, and I've only had a couple of days off.
Truth is I probably would have liked some more,
both Chris and I have been working seven days a week for the past
five months and we're getting a bit sick of it.
Thu 22 Sep
I spend all day facing into a howling gale and intermittent dust
storms. Great fun. I don't think that much about it though until
later in the evening when my face feels red hot.
I guess I got some wind burn.
Chris has been into Mareeba today and she drops
in to say hello on her way home. I notice a somewhat broader than
usual smile as she approaches, but when she does a little pirouette,
arms out like a model, I'm not sure what's going on.
"You're looking at a size eight" she
says with some pride.
That's not bad going, just a few months ago she
was verging in being size 18. Just goes to show what exercise (AKA
hard work) and an improved diet can do.
Fri 23 Sep
On arriving back at the truck Chris comments on my wind-burned face
and suggests some cream. It's supposed to be great for, amongst
other things, chapped buttocks. Should be just the thing for my
Now I hate applying any form of cream at the best
of times, but this stuff stinks. I'm sure that it's already been
used on some chapped buttocks and put back in the tube.
Sun 25 Sep
Nothing to do today I'm happy to report. I'll be moving the truck
into the mango farm next week, so I decide to spend some time getting
photos from around the mine. After all, I may not be back again.
The view from one of the mine cottages, showing the access road
and Mt Mulligan
Sun 2 Oct
It's Armageddin today, no not some combination
of bad spelling and the end of the world, armageddin ouda here.
Today I'm moving the truck back into town, or at least to the mango
Nearly six months in one place, I can't believe
it. Still no real harm done, and we have topped up the bank account
From now on we will be having a role reversal,
I will be living in the truck on the mango farm, and Chris will
be camping at the mine. She can use one of the cottages, or just
sleep in the 'Cruiser.
I will miss Tom and Nick and it's hard saying
goodbye to them, but then I will be back over the next few months.
The musterers have parked their horse truck on
the road nearby, it partially blocks my access, but I should be
able to squeeze through, nothing will stop me leaving here today.
I get in the cab and turn the key, the motor starts
instantly. After a short warm up I go to put the truck in gear.
The clutch pedal goes straight to the floor.
A few minutes later the cause is obvious, the
master cylinder has died, probably a dried seal because it hasn't
been used for so long.
I pull the cylinder out, there'll be no leaving
the mine today, not with the truck anyway.
Mon 3 Oct
Chris drives into Mareeba to see if she can get our master cylinder
repaired, or even get a new one. She finds a new one at the first
brake & clutch place she visits. $40 how cheap is that?.
I'm still working though so it won't get fitted
for a few days.
Thu 6 Oct
I replace the master cylinder, it works.
Fri 7 Oct
I start up the truck again, this time everything works and I move
it onto the nearby concrete slab in preparation for leaving.
The truck has been moved to the concrete pad in preparation
After some more goodbyes I'm back on the road,
albeit only for 30 kilometres.
It's good to be driving the truck again.
At around 4 I pull into the mango farm and find
a level spot. According to plan this will be home for the next three
New moon, Venus and tree.
Chris' job at the mine was supposed to end last
week, but Cate and Andy have asked her to stay on for a while. That's
fine, because I've been asked to work on the farm when my irrigation
job finishes next week.
We decide to continue working at least until Christmas
and maybe into next year.
That's the plan, but you know what they say about
the best laid plans of mice and men.
Fri 14 Oct
No work again today so I'm off on the motorbike with the camera.
A 10-span pivot irrigator in action
On my return I notice some spiders on a nearby
gum tree. The tree is white in colour and so are the spiders, which
probably explains why I hadn't seen them before.
Also living on the tree is a colony of ants who
nest in the branches and forage in the surrounding countryside.
This of course means a lot of trips up and down
the tree's trunk, which is probably why the spiders live there.
A jumping spider has ant for afternoon tea
Mon 17 Oct
The word is that there will be some aerial spraying of grass seed
this morning. It seems the powers that be are worried that the entire
farm will wash downhill in the wet season.
And the wet season is not far away.
To combat this the push is on to get grass growing
in the bulldust.
I head out early, before work, sunrise, and the
The mango tree saplings at dawn.
At last the plane arrives.
These fellows get pretty low
At five to seven I have to put down my camera
and report to work. Bummer.
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