Tuesday, November 29, 2005

McArthur River

Well, last Thursday afternoon I made the trip to McArthur River and spent the night for my tour on Friday. It was a pretty good experience, and I’m glad I had the chance to visit the site before being told whether I was successful or not for the position.

I left work early and got to the airport on time. To my surprise, I was one of the few people there. I’m so used to seeing the airport packed (because I usually fly on the red-eye cheap flights), it felt strange to be able to walk up to a check in counter and be served straight away!!

I flew on a small plane (a 30 seater) with three other guys. The steward was also a man, along with the two pilots. So, there I was, one girl amongst six guys. It didn’t phase me; I just sat back, and enjoyed my peanuts (no pun intended – I really did consume a small pack of peanuts!!). My only complaint was that the plane was incredibly loud, my left ear hurt a little until I got used to the constant drone.

When we commenced our descent into McArthur River, I looked out the window to see what I could see – I actually couldn’t see much. After seeing tree upon tree, I felt a little nervous and thought to myself “what am I getting into??” Finally I saw what was the processing area of the mine and also a square piece of tarmac. I had arrived!!!

Once the plane touched down we sped past a windsock and stopped. I saw a few four-wheel drives and a demountable tin shed which was the airport. I knew the guy John who had interviewed me would be picking me up from the “airport” AKA Tin Shed. However, the only thing I remembered about John was that he had a beard (a long bushy one – kind of like the one Mel is growing!!). So, upon stepping off the plane I immediately focused on a guy with a long bushy beard and started walking towards him. Suddenly out of nowhere, another guy (also with a long bushy beard) stepped out in front of me and said “hi Anika, I’m John”. I immediately stopped looking at the other guy and greeted John with a firm handshake. I never made eye contact with the pseudo-John again!!! I was then introduced to another guy who is John’s boss (Steven I think) and he asked me a few questions. The real John then said to Steven “so much for observation” and I just smiled and nodded and thought “what the………” John and I then got into one of the cars and left Steven at the Tin Shed as he was flying back to civilisation, I mean Darwin.

Whilst driving to the mine site John said to me “did you notice I said to Steven ‘so much for observation’?” I said “yes”. He said “that’s because when Steven asked me what you looked like I said I think she’s blonde.” I just laughed and thought “hmmm”. When I think about it now, I just think it’s hilarious, the only reason he could have possibly thought that was because during the interview I think he looked at me about twice!!!

Anyway once we got to the site, I turned my mobile phone on and discovered to my horror, that there was NO COVERAGE!!!!!!!! I tried to calm myself down by thinking that at the camp there was sure to be coverage!! After watching the induction video and answering the questions that went along with it, I was given a brief tour of the lab and then John and I waited for the bus to take us to the camp. I asked John whether there was mobile coverage at McArthur River. “No” he replied. My heart sank, “so, how do you make a phone call??” To which he replied “oh, there are payphones at the camp.” So, Kasun was right!! He had almost convinced me that there wouldn’t be any coverage at McArthur River, but I had assured him that there would be. Oh man!!! I felt like such a city slicker and a bit of a yuppy.

Upon reaching the camp I saw a lot of wallabies hopping around. John gave me a quick tour and then I was left to fend for myself. I went to my room and discovered that there were some cool Pay TV Channels. I decided that I would have dinner and then call my parents and Kasun. I made my way to the mess (the dining area – I don’t know why they call it that, it’s not messy at all!!), and immediately felt like an outsider. I realised I wasn’t that hungry and I felt rather lonely so I served myself some food, which I didn’t wallop down like I would at uni and sat by myself, making as little eye contact with people as possible. There were a lot of blokes (I say blokes coz that’s what they were, I would hesitate to call them guys) there who seemed to be eating lots. I quickly exited after eating and went on to find the pay phones.

I walked through the bar area and picked up the handset of one of the phones. To my dismay, you required a phone card to make a call. My first thought was, “they can’t possibly sell something like a phone card here!!!” However, I overcame some of my shyness and asked a girl in the bar area whether there was any possibility of me being able to buy a phone card from somewhere. She told me I could get one at the bar (what a weird place to sell phone cards!!!). After a couple of quick conversations with my parents and Kasun, I went to bed.

The next day I had breakfast by myself, but I didn’t care coz I was kinda starving. I realised that the water there has a weird taste and it seems to be denser than ‘normal’ water, ewwwwwww!!! I was told to catch the bus just before 8am. So I had finished my breakky by 7.40am and then looked at the bus timetable and saw to my embarrassment that on Friday, the last bus to the mine site is at 7.30am!!!!

I rang John (with the beard) and left a message on his answering machine letting him know that I missed the bus and could he please come and pick me up. After that I met a guy doing some raking of leaves and explained my predicament to him, he told me to go to the office area and find another guy called John who would be able to drive me to the mine site. So, off I went. When I entered the office area, I met a young-ish guy and said to him “are you John??” He said “yeah, but do you want the other John?” I looked at him in disbelief and said “I don’t know!” How many John’s could there possibly be????

I then explained that I was visiting and had missed the bus and was told that a guy called John could drop me off at the mine site. He then said that he was the guy I was after!! Whilst I was waiting for him to get ready to drop me off, I met the other John, who also had a beard (not a bushy one though!!). I then rang up bearded John (bushy beard) and left a message with one of the guys at the lab saying not to worry about picking me up because I was getting a lift. Whilst, young John and I were driving to the mine site he told me that there are about 200 guys who work at the mine. He then added that there were about 20 girls who work there and that I was lucky, but he was not so lucky. I just laughed and imagined the guys I had actually seen (no, I was NOT lucky by any means).

When we reached the mine site, I saw bushy bearded John drive in after us. He hadn’t got my message in time and had gone to the camp to pick me up. I felt BAD!!!! After I apologised a few times, I was breathalysed for a check on my blood alcohol. Apparently that happens every day and there are also random drug tests every now and then. I was then ready to go to the lab and see exactly what goes on.

When we got to the lab, there was a lot of looking and standing and nodding. I found that I would be using a machine called and ICP (I don’t know what that stands for, $5.00 for the most creative answer!!). I was then given a run through on safety procedures and was shown a picture of the breathing apparatus that would need to be worn in the case of an emergency. I wanted to laugh out loud due to its similarity to one of those head/face-covering things people wear when dealing with bees. Ah yes, I have matured greatly!!

I was also shown the actual area where smelting occurs!!!! I got to actually go in there and have a look at all the machinery and let me tell you, it was COOL!!!! I was quite excited and this over took the fact that I was climbing to great heights on these stairs. I told myself “a man would be able to do this, why can’t I??” Hehe. In fact, it was only when we were half-way up the stairs did bearded John ask me whether I was afraid of heights. I said “no”. I’m not really, but it did get a little scary (I didn’t let on though!!). Seriously, it took me back to year 12 Chemistry when I read about smelting in textbooks. All up, I was quite impressed with the whole thing and I couldn’t help thinking that my year 12 Chemistry teacher, Mr Jenkinson (AKA ‘Jenko’) would be a little proud of me!!!

To be completely honest with you, I did have a good time. My second day there was better than the first as I had gotten over my apparent homesickness/communication-with-the-outside-world. I would love to work there and I hope I do get that chance!!! Will update you all on the outcome.

Have a great day.

P.S. I had my medical examinations on Monday and I felt like I was a candidate on ‘Celebrity Overhaul’.

Jack Handy Thought For The Day: Blow ye winds, like the trumpet blows; but without that noise.


At Tuesday, November 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recognise excitement in that post of yours dearest Anika. I hope all goes well for you and you do get it. It's wonderful that someone has made a healthy (yes, word is healthy) post... Acitivity on the blog front once more!

Take care.


At Tuesday, November 29, 2005, Blogger Anika From Darwin said...

Thanks Yoomi, it's probably the longest post I've ever written!!!

At Wednesday, November 30, 2005, Blogger Vidya said...

Iced-Coffee Printer... I hear its the latest craze - you type in what kind of coffee you want.. and it actually PRINTS it out for you!!! How cool is that???

Anika - you seem to be going further and further away! Hope yo see you soon!

At Wednesday, November 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm Vidya, I'm sorry but you just lost me. How does that work???


P.S. I'm very, very interested in the concept of this Iced-Coffee Printer

At Wednesday, November 30, 2005, Blogger Anika From Darwin said...

Further and further away?? Yes, I know, but I just want to know more people named John, alright!!!!

I could go an iced coffee right now!!!

At Wednesday, December 07, 2005, Blogger Anika From Darwin said...

Hmmm............I'm having mixed feelings about this job. However, the recruitment officer was very nice to me and is letting me start after Christmas and also flying me back into Darwin for New Year.

At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Blogger Vidya said...

Think it through Anika - weigh the pros and cons... Hope it all works out for you!!!

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Blogger Vidya said...

*Ding Dong*... sorry was just trying out my new cymbals...

At Monday, December 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Ding Dong* the witch is dead which old witch? the wicked witch?
*Ding Dong* the wicked witch is dead!
*Ding dong*
*Ding dong*


At Tuesday, December 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ding Dong...Trying out the African Drums plus percussion set... Hmmm, perhaps it's time I learnt a bit more about music...


At Tuesday, December 13, 2005, Blogger Anika From Darwin said...

Okay okay, leave me alone!!!


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