Friday, April 16, 2004

First Week Back

It has been a long time since I wrote anything and I have excuses.

I came back to the camp on the 24th. Of March, and settled in to being back, there was a cyclone forming off the coast, and it was looking likely that it would be coming my way, I did the cleaning up as it got closer, until Saturday when it was definitely on the way, it crossed the coast and was heading straight for Normay, I got busy and got the cyclone shelter organised, made sure I had food that could be eaten without cooking, plenty of water and cigarettes, the vehicle was full of fuel, I had the sat phone fully charged, batteries for my torch and everything I could think of, and sat back to wait for the time I would lock myself away. Now the cyclone shelter is designed so that you can open the main doors, back the vehicle in, with all your survival gear, lock the main doors and come back into the shelter by a small door. I was already for this, and felt sure when the winds started getting stronger I would make a bolt for it. The cyclone as I said was coming straight for my position, but as luck would have it (for me that is) it went straight for Yarrie station, and having caused mayhem there, turned a little to the east (left that is). Now it was not coming straight for me anymore, but heading straight for Marble bar about forty kilometres to the east of me, I was still going to get some heavy weather but not the full force, I still might have to spend a night at least in the shelter, but not as long as I first thought. During all of this long Saturday I had good communications, both on the phone and internet, and using the tracking map and the faxes that were being sent to me, I noticed that the cyclone was heading even further east, but was now heading straight for Bamboo.
On Sunday morning at about ten, I had a last phone call from Bamboo Creek, they were heading underground, to weather out the storm, I thought this was a bit strange, as I thought that surely the water will follow them, but no, they have a adit that goes in the side of a hill and it was safe from an inundation of water. They went there and sat underground for about 36 hours, until the storm had passed them, the poor buggers came out to find that there power lines were all down, they set up a small generator to service the office, and a larger one to give them power to part of the camp, so at least by Monday evening they had some hot food. My phones and services were not touched at all, a few things were blown about a bit, a couple of trees went over and the ground was very waterlogged, I was not going anywhere in a hurry but had all the stocks to survive in comfort.
The folks at Bamboo had no telephones at all, except for one satellite phone, with this they were in contact with the boss in Perth who was relaying to me what was happening. I could not go anywhere as both the road in from the highway and the road to Marble Bar via the North Shaw mine were cut in several places.
The folks in Bamboo Creek managed to get some phones working by Thursday and the creek was going down that was stopping me from getting out, then Friday night and again Sunday night I had a few inches of rain, and Tuesday again there was a few more inches, I was supposed to go and meet the plane in Hedland on Wednesday morning, and swap over vehicles, it rained a lot on Tuesday night, but I set off early, about five thirty to meet the plane that was due at eight thirty, allowing myself an extra hour and a half for the journey, I managed after a bit of a struggle to get thirty kilometres, fording several swollen creeks, and manoeuvring quite a few washed out bits of road, when I got to Miralga Creek, What faced me there was about a half a mile stretch of turbulent, fast flowing water, it was just getting light when I got there, so I did what any rough, tough, bush wise man would do, took a few snaps, had a fag, turned round and fought my way through the elements back to camp and had a nice cup of tea, and reported to Bamboo that I was unable to get into town. They had a message from their guys who were going out on R and R that they had been unable to cross the Coongan River, and were returning to Bamboo, a plane was chartered to ferry those at Hedland into camp and those going out to Hedland, I stayed where I was. There endeth the first week back. Oh and I never got to spend any time in the dreaded shelter.

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