Monday, May 31, 2004

Birthday surprise

Well today is Monday the thirty first of May, and tomorrow is my birthday. A couple of the blokes from Bamboo were working down at the mill, loading a couple of trailers on the road train that are needed at the other mine. I had taken them some lunch around noon when a plane approached, it buzzed us and done a couple of loops then landed on the old airstrip , I wandered over to see who it was, having a good idea that it was my geologist mate, it was him flying the plane, and out he jumped, followed by Mike, the American guy, and a girl, Naomi who is some kind of engineer. I knew they were going to fly down and take some photos of the area but was double surprised when they brought out a cake for my birthday, complete with candles, they came over to the mill, lit the candles and sang happy birthday to me.
I was double chuffed, first time I have ever heard about someone getting a birthday cake flown into a camp in the middle of the bush albeit a day early, but a lovely surprise all the same


It has been an interesting week, on last Friday, the 21 May, A geology student working on a study of very old fossils that are found close to my camp, turned up eventually, he had been expected on Wednesday. With him was a very interesting American, about my age, a doctor by profession, who is working on some gizmo, that should be able to look at rocks on Mars and tell if life existed there at some stage in history. This area where I am has some of the oldest rocks in the world and in among all these rocks are the oldest fossils yet found.

They were equipped with the latest Toyota Landcruiser that had more bits and pieces on it that you could ever imagine, it had huge long range tanks for the fuel, a very large water tank, a fridge, a compressor to blow their tyres up and all the gear for survival in the bush, unfortunately it rained over night and got about five miles from the camp and died, the lads walked back to camp and I went and looked at it, on opening the bonnet, I saw more relays than were healthy, and even with my multi metre, I could not find the short. I towed them back to the camp and they set about calling up everybody they could think of, we eventually got a tilt truck out to take it back to Hedland, the car was under warranty and on ringing the Pilbara dealer on Monday, I was told (having dropped the blokes out to a sight they wanted to look at) that they might get around to looking at it on Thursday, I of course stirred up Macquarie University and the WA geological survey mobs and it was done by Tuesday.
On Wednesday I ran the guys to Hedland to pick it up, did a bit of shopping and got treated to a nice lunch, and drove back to the camp, I stayed in front on the bitumen and they had no trouble, I got them to take the front on the dirt road and just as well, we got to within about ten kilometres of the camp and the brand new car broke down once more, I towed them back in again and on Thursday back came the tilt truck to take the Toyota back to Hedland, the student went with it and came back with a hire car, they then went out to their site on Friday morning and came back today, Sunday afternoon. Just after they had left the camp I had a phone call saying the vehicle was fixed, I told them when they came in this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Mundane things

Well I haven't written lately, the main reason for this is that nothing much has been happening up here in Club Normay. We did walk an excavator thirty kilometres a couple of weeks ago, it took two and a half days, now that might seem mighty slow but them big things are not designed for walking, they are designed to sit on a bench and dig, and move a few feet occasionaly. The stop speed is about three kilometres an hour, OK I hear you thinking, thirty kilometres at three kilometres an hour, that's only ten hours.
Of course nothing is ever that simple, you have to keep a close eye on the oil, they are driven by hydraulics, you also have to change around and run in reverse for half the time, and then you have to stop about every hour and let the oil cool down.
I should also explain that by walking I mean travelling under it's own power for a long distance, and the reason for this is because we could not get a truck (or lorry) past Miralgo creek, which was still flowing, and we had nothing to fix the road back up untill we walked the digger there and used that, again a hundred tonne excavator is not desinged for this, and although we fixed the road after a fashion, it was still pretty rough, but we could get a float (low Loader)into it and a semi trailer (artic) truck up to the camp. This truck brought in an old loader to load some gold concentrate to be processed at Bamboo creek. they left the loader for me, and I had great plans to fix the road, on the Saturday morning I took the loader and fixed my road down to the Dresser mine so it was easier for me to get there to turn my water pump on, in the sfternoon I fixed up a couple of creek crossings out towards the mine. While working the old loader I was planning what else I would do, and was a bit pissed off to find a phone message waiting for me when I got back to the office to say they were coming back the following day to get the loader and could I make sure that the mile or so of deep sand was cleared away on the road into my camp as the truck had had troublw negotiating it and the four wheel drive had got bogged there, and they would be over about lunch time. I set of early the next morning and spent several hours clearing the sand and rebuilding the road, working on the assumption that they would have to come past me I carried on past lunch time clearing the sandy bit and started back towards camp fixing the worst bits as I went, I managed to get back to camp about three PM and rang up to see how far away the truck was, only to be told it would be there first thing in the morning, they were starting early and picking the digger bucket up on the way, I offered to work my way towards them fixing the road but they said no, so I lost a few hours there, but they are happy with what I did manage to acheive on the road.