The camp’s operating again

It’s good to see Koramba buzzing with activity again.

Everything’s gearing up to take advantage of the massive amount of water that’s been dumped on the farm over the last few weeks. Every available acre of land that’s not already growing barley will be planted in cotton.

The dry, brown landscape has been transformed again to green grasses and plants and every water storage facility is full to the brim. Hundreds of thousands of birds are nesting and feeding around the dams after their 2 year absence.

Even the local shops have an attitude of expectancy again as the farms all gear up for what’s anticipated to be a bumper couple of years.

Amidst this intense activity we’ve been working to get the quarters ready to receive the backpackers who will arrive to begin jobs such as planting, pipe throwing (getting the irrigation pipes ready that will spill water into the many thousands of furrows alongside the cotton plants) and irrigating. The harvest contractors will arrive soon to begin harvesting the thousands of acres of barley that’s already turning golden.

Smack in the middle of this activity I get a health scare.

This means a seemingly endless round of tests and consultations that couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

We’re determined to ensure this has a minimal effect on the preparations to open the quarters.

To this end we spoke to an old friend and work colleague, Fiona.

She was at a loose end and was happy to come out and work with Kerrie for a couple of weeks while I went through the merry go round of tests, scans and biopsies in Brisbane.

I’d have thought most women, who’re used to the city’s busy and varied lifestyle, would be reluctant to just drop everything and come way out here into a lifestyle that is completely different and in many ways quite harsh compared to city comfort but Fiona did just that.

She arrived with a smile and an attitude that seemed to say, “I’ve no idea what I’m getting into but I’ll give it my best”.

The next day was a drive back to Goondiwindi to purchase two full Ute loads of food for the initial stocking of the kitchen.

We’ve given the camp a quick but thorough face lift as the last 2 ½ years of laying idle has rendered it untidy and tired looking with many basic facilities not working properly. The mess room has new table tops and benches and a new crib lunch system, which utilises a new double door fridge to keep the meats and sandwich fillings cold. It’s also had the large cracks in the walls and roof fixed and a paint job. Leaking rooves have been repaired, the kitchen painted and a few new pieces of equipment have been added.

The courtyard pavers have been straightened, a new water tank installed to replace the badly leaking old concrete one and, Kerrie’s favourite addition, a tap on the outside wall of the mess room that takes water from the rainwater tank and runs it through a copper coil in the cold room. This offers easy to get at COLD water for drinking. It’s also been piped to the kitchen so we now have fresh rainwater in the kitchen also. New shelves have also been installed in the cold room.

A whole block of dongers has relined and repainted walls and ceilings and walls have been fixed in the toilets and showers.

The camp is now looking and functioning very well.

Since this is a fresh start we’ve redefined the policies and a number of systems that we’re confident will make for better operation of the quarters and a more acceptable experience for the inhabitants.

The initial intake of 10 workers arrived on the day I had to leave for Brisbane, 9 blokes and 1 girl.

They come from Russia, England, South Africa and Ireland and we have to say we are impressed by them. They seem a happy lot, keen and willing to work and are courteous and well mannered around the camp. We can’t speak for their work effort out on the farm but from what we’ve heard that’s pretty good also.

Kerrie and Fiona soon made them feel welcome and settled them in to their rooms on their first day here and the old single men’s quarters at Koramba Cotton Farm was once again doing what it has done very well for some 30 years, making a temporary home for workers from far flung places around the world.