Posts Tagged ‘Newman’

Let’s Play Chicken

March 25, 2013

There are few things more frustrating for a truck driver than dealing with car drivers who, through ignorance or stupidity, seem determined to add their names to the nations road toll list.
This has always been a problem in the cities and the more populated coastal areas-in fact, the coastal areas during long weekends/school holidays and the like are notorious for car drivers behaving badly around trucks. The Brand Highway in Western Australia, part of Highway 1 which circles the entire continent, is a prime example of this-several years ago at Easter I had to leave the road twice in the space of three hours to avoid collisions holiday makers. Pretty scary shit in a roadtrain.

Well, with the increase in mining in the inland areas of the Pilbara employees of companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and FMG and their subcontractors have shown they aren’t afraid of pulling out in front of a fully laden triple or quad roadtrain travelling on the Great Northern Highway. In the Newman area there are four hotspots-at least one of these locations will guarantee you a “panic brake” incident on your trucks’ data logger if you drive thru at shift change.

The first is Capricorn Roadhouse. The roadhouse is located on a bend in the Gt Northern Hwy about 16km south of Newman. Next door is a whole lot of accommodation for Fly in-Fly out (FIFO) workers. Now, occasionally you’ll get a roadhouse customer pulling out at a stupid moment but the vast majority of idiots come from the FIFO workers that seem to think their diesel 4×4 can out accelerate a truck coming through at 90kph. Doesn’t always happen like they think it will.

Number two is “The Nullagine Road”. It enters the Gt Northern Hwy from the east and has plenty of straight road to the north and south so drivers should be able to see traffic coming at them. Should. Not do. This intersection is a favourite with all the bus drivers given the job of safely delivering the workers to and from the work sites every shift. I think a few of these bus drivers get their kicks turning the helpless passengers into quivering wrecks-I know I’d be happy to let the cool kids sit down the back if my driver had just pulled out into the path of 118 tonne triple roadtrain.

The third is the northern most entrance to Newman. Here there is plenty of visibility in both directions so they can’t complain about not seeing something 4.3m high, 2.2m wide and 53.5m long coming at them. Regardless of this they just don’t seem to care, and once one pulls out two or three more will follow. Safety in numbers? I’m not sure. Stand on the brakes again, white knuckle grip on the steering wheel and a quick glance at the dashcam-if I run over and kill these idiots I want proof they were responsible for their own deaths. Then, to add an insult to the whole thing, they only travel 400m up the road before turning off the highway into a BHP site just opposite the sewage ponds. Really, it was that bloody important that you get in front of me, when the road behind me was completely traffic free, just so you can save 20 seconds on your way to work?! What is wrong with these people.

The fourth one has only really been a problem for me when I’ve been travelling south towards Newman. It’s at the Hope Downs 4 access road and the problem is so bad that the mine has actually positioned trailer mounted illuminated billboards on the side of the road north and south of the intersection warning traffic on the highway to look out for their less than intelligent workers not giving way or looking at all. There’s some real dipshits here.

I don’t know why these people feel the need to endanger their lives and put me in a position I really don’t want to be in. I mean, I don’t want someone’s death on my hands regardless of who’s fault it is-I’ve seen that shit really mess people up. Is it because they’re here for a good time not a long time as FIFO workers? Do they drive the same way when they are at home with wives/girlfriends/kids in the car instead of workmates? Do they drive their own car the same way or are they just thrashing the company vehicle because, hey, they don’t have to pay for it? Or are they just city people that come out to the bush to work and really have no concept of how dangerous their actions are and how much I’d really, really like to just run the dumb prick over to teach them a lesson?

The mining companies need to be aware of the havoc some of their employees create when they are let loose on public roads and the police need to monitor these problem spots and actually do something about these reckless drivers before they get the call to a fatality, not after. I hardly ever see the police patrolling along that section of Gt Northern Hwy and I’ve been a regular through here for years.

Oh, and do something about all these mine vehicles leaving their orange beacon on while travelling on public roads-orange flashing beacons are supposed to be a warning to other road users of a hazard, roadworks or an oversize load. More than half of the active orange beacons on public roads in the Pilbara region are firmly attached to mine vehicles driven by oblivious mine workers.

Cheers, Mike.

Nicholas Downs

June 9, 2010

Here’s a few pics I took this week on a supply run out to a place called Nicholas Downs. It’s a mine operated by PMI on the Balfour Downs cattle station north east of Newman.

Balfour Downs Map

Leaving Balfour Downs

Talawana Track

Talawana Track, goes east to....well, it goes east.

I shot some video on the way out there and will put up another post with more detail and possibly some of that video – when I’ve had time to put it all together.

Perth Apocalypse

March 23, 2010

It’s been a bit of a rough week – weatherwise. Starting with heavy rain encountered between Mt Magnet and Newman, over the weekend, and continuing with a Fifty Year Storm that ended with my car under a fallen tree.

The rain between Mt Magnet and Newman caused quite a few floodways on the Great Northern Hwy to begin flowing and caused the closure of the road to the Weld Range Camp – which would prevent me from delivering their food later in the week as it was closed for several days. The thunder and lightning show was spectacular at times.

As I was heading back into Perth I drove into the severest storm I have seen in this part of the country. Flooding, limited visibility, traffic lights not working, trees down, power off, cars stranded and communications failing (Took me six attempts to send a four word long SMS). It was a tow truck drivers’ wet dream!

After the rain had eased and the wind had calmned I received this picture on my phone – my ute with most of the tree that had fallen on it cut away.

I’ve been told there is little or no damage to the vehicle but won’t be able to see it for myself for several days.

And by the way, “perthapocalypse” was the hashtag some were using on Twitter during the storm.

One Of Life’s Little Mysteries

March 18, 2010

Absolutely no idea how I managed to stake the sidewall of one of my near new drive tyres. But, the damage is not repairable so it is scrap even though it still has over 80% tread left on it. None of the other tyres show any signs of scuffing or damage so I just have to write it off as a random occurence.

December 7, 2008
Found this site ( which makes some pretty cool slide shows.

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Whoa Back!

November 23, 2008

I recently changed employers. I put it that way because it sounds better than saying “I chucked in my job”.
My main motivation for “changing employers” was money, money, money! I have to say I was quite happy at my last job. I liked the boss, I liked the work and while the pay rate wasn’t fantastic it was in line with other drivers doing the same job for other companies.
The new job is a Fly In/Fly Out (FIFO) driving position for a crane hire company. Still driving roadtrains but carting all of the crane associated equipment such as counter wieghts and lifting gear. It’s a real change of pace, believe me!
At first I couldn’t adjust to the change of pace. Twenty years of working for frieght orientated companies is hard to override when I start working for a crane company and the trucks are a minor part of the operation – not the focus.
Hanging around the yard for 10hrs straight isn’t much fun. Even after the truck has been washed, polished, Armorall’d, greased, etc, etc. (How much can you do to keep busy?)
The upside is the pay for sitting/waiting. A lot of jobs come in with short notice. To mobilise a crane takes a support crew and to recall the crew from off-duty usually presents problems. If they want to pay me to sit around playing with my…um, yeah – just waiting, I’m cool with that. I just have to develop strategies to deal with doing bugger all, to keep me sane.
On a slightly different note : my last flight back from Newman. I really feel sorry for the young bloke sitting next to me on the Quantas Boeing 717 last trip. The poor fella started getting a bit flustered even before we began to taxi onto the strip. I wasn’t wearing my Sunday best but I didn’t fancy getting puked on, let alone having to travel the whole way home smelling of someone else’s puke. Luckily he he did the right thing and kept it to himself.
At the moment I am enjoying a week of R & R. Catching up with family and friends, getting a good supply of books to take back out with me. I lashed out and bought a iPod Touch and I’m loving it! My 4yr old 30Gb iPod classic is starting to fail (it’s had a hard life) and I’m stocking the Touch up with plenty of content before I fly back out to work.
Got to go and fire up the BBQ now so I’ll catch you later.

Cheers, Mike.