Fire Boy Downunder

The adventures of a little Brit ex-pat on his tour of duty...tales of bravery, dragons, maidens and drunkeness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


So I work with Carl, he's a farmers son (one of three) from a town 4 hours north east of Perth called Mukinbudin. His cousin also used to work in the office, and we often used to hear of this town someplace inland. It nearing the end of harvest, the opportunity arose for me to lend a hand on the farm, and experience something a bit different.

It's a dry place, not the worst year they've had but the farmers at the bar when we arrive late on friday describe the place as 'Marginal' with the prospects for the future generations looking bleak. Some are having a good year and others very bad. Given that ,they all they are all in good spirits after a hard day.

Sat morning comes round early, the 'Header' aka Combine Harvester, is broken and Carl's grandad who has come up from Perth to lend a hand is fixing it - we're sent off to check the level of dams and clean out troughs...woohoo! Carl's grandparents retired this year, but they can't get it out of their system and are all hard at work spending hours in the field. We're back for morning tea and Carl's gran has baked up a storm, mmmm

We eventually get out onto the fields, and help shift the grain coming in. I meet Carl's dad for the first time , his hands are large and callused from the years of work, they're having a good year, given the rise in wheat prices, but theirs plenty going wrong with equipment and the prospects for a storm coming in that could put pay to the last week of the harvest, even so, the jokes keep coming and he tells Carl to let me have a drive of the header!

That arvo we do a swap with Grandad and I get a lesson in Header driving, the thing is enormous and you can't believe the number of pulleys and belts driving it. it's like driving a jet plane, with joystick controls, LCD readout, and the sound is similar to a jet as you shift the stick forward. An hour or so later and after a couple of dumps of grain, the thing comes to a halt, thankfully not due to me - it's overheated and there's a long walk back to the car.

Sunday is spent fixing the header and having a last hour on the field, we also get some time to have a blast on the motorbike around the farm. Heading up the 'the big rock' Carl spots a lamb stuck in the fence, the mother has obviously given up on it. On inspection it's damaged it's leg, so we take it back for a rest. Before we head back to Perth, there's some time for a target shoot with the rifle - the Roos got off lightly!

I had a great experience and Carl's parent were great hosts. Every day is a long hard day at work. they're looking forward to heading to Perth over the festive break for a good rest until it all starts again in the new year. It also turns out that his great Uncle's farm is called 'Sandhurst' (my home town), so we asked his Gran to find out the background to that.

A few pictures of the weekend:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Moving on....

It's been two years since I first moved out to Perth and for the majority of that time I've been living in the same townhouse in Subiaco. Close to the shops, train, work, it's been a great place to stay, apart from the weeks when it doesn't get below 35 deg at night when without Aircon life seemed unbearable ;-) Through my stay I've had a few people over, but never got round to a house warming. Time has flown by and so when the lease was too much to re-new I held a last house leaving party....

Fire Forum 2007

Another year and another 'Jolly'! This year the Australasia region of the fire group got together in Melbourne to share our knowledge and have some serious debate and presentations. The bulk of the rest of our time in Melbourne we did this.....