Life with the Earthmovers:

With the alarm clock once again set for 4.30 am the new day started.

Chris had prepared some of the breakfast in our van as he did not want to wake the men up working in the kitchen. Once we get started Chris is always a meal in front with preparation. Breakfast is prepared the night before, not cooked, just ready. Scrambled egg mix ready in a bowl, tins of baked beans opened and put into a microwave dish etc., but for this the first meal we needed to wing it a bit.

As there were already 7 people trying to get breakfast and lunch organised in the small area I didn’t venture over until everyone had gone to work.
Now Chris will tell the story that I just stayed in bed but we know the truth!

After watching how the men tried getting breakfast while making their lunches all together at the same table, we knew the system needed a little refining with some of Chris’s organisational skills, so after everyone left for work we rearranged and cleaned everything, cupboards, shelving, benches, range hood and bathroom.

The bench has now been cleared of the electric grill plate (seldom if ever used), electric jug and other bits and pieces. If we want to cook off steaks we’ll do it on our Weber Baby Q outside. Those grill plates are good but take so much more work cleaning and valuable bench space. We set up an unused urn on one of our little tables and placed all the tea and coffee makings and cups there.

This will also be good to use for washing up water. We have a rain water tap coming into the kitchen which is great, but the clarifier which cleans the river water needs attention meaning the water is out a bit muddy.
I remember when Koramba had a problem with theirs and we would have a layer of mud in the bottom of the bain  marie each day.
Once Toby knew about it the plumbers were out and now it is the cleanest of water. I would have been aghast at this a couple of years ago but it’s just a way of life now. It’s no use wearing white clothes as they come out of the wash brown so it’s out with the dark colours again.

Now that Chris has changed the kitchen around breakfast and lunch making is much easier.
Some are sitting at the table eating breakfast while others are prepping lunches and Chris is able to wash up the dishes without men trying to get to the jug or toaster.

The camp numbers have quickly swelled to 10 men.

On returning from days off one of the guys asked “What’s the difference in the morning? We’re all sitting here ready not racing around late and it’s only 5.40 am.”

Another replied “We’re organised!”

Yes Chris has done it again.

We’ve found the men are very proud of what they are doing out here and happily tell us all about the new reservoir they’re building and all about the machinery that’s being employed. We asked if we could go out and visit the job site and after meeting the farm manager Maurice Pierce and obtaining his permission we went out to explore.

We easily found where the guys are working after following the directions of, “Just follow the road” , from the supervisor Jeff . He told us to stick to the top of the reservoir or we might be run over.


Three scrapers and a laser level removing the dirt from the center of the new reservoir.

Three scrapers and a laser level removing the dirt from the center of the new reservoir.

These guys are not like the backpackers in the tractors where once you had your wheels in the paddock furrows you didn’t have to do anything until you got to the other end of the field. This is constant, full on action where a slip up could mean costly delays or perhaps even a disaster.

These machines move twelve cubic meters of dirt at a time.

These machines move twelve cubic meters of dirt at a time.

Moving the dirt to build the walls

Moving the dirt to build the walls

Wall gone

Two scrapers "Push Pulling"

Two scrapers “Push Pulling”

These guys move fast and efficiently and are constantly thinking of what needs to be done next.
There are 5 scrapers, a D9 bulldozer, a grader and a laser leveler among about four utes and various fuel tankers and equipment.

We watched as they removed the dirt from the bottom of the newly formed reservoir to be placed on the sides. We’ve been told getting the sides of the reservoir right is critical or the whole thing will leak!  This is done by forming a core first out of material that has a high clay content. After this core is compacted then the rest of the soil from the reservoir floor is packed either side of it.

The whole job revolves around finding the correct types of soils from the various sections of the reservoir floor and from other places on the farm. Any silt or sand is “mixed” in with other soils to avoid future leakage.

Even in the few days we’ve been here we can see the huge amount of work being done.

The old reservoir wall is coming down and that dirt is being put into raising the old sides an extra four meters.

This will result in one huge reservoir that is water tight and able to store the staggering 6,000 megalitres of water .