Thursday, 21 July 2011

There And Outback Again

I'm a bit late in reporting my safe return to Brisbane. To bring you up to speed, following my 300km drive out to Chinchilla I then drove out through Miles and on to Goondiwindi, 270kms away. I met up with Aiden and the field crew who had been sent out there a week before, and overnighted at the Jolly Swagman. I drew the long straw and got the room with the jacuzzi but it was too late for a bath by the time I turned in.

The next day had an early start and a 65km drive out to the rig site. These csg rigs are way smaller than the offshore rigs I'm used to. Aside from the drilling rig (left) and shakers (right) there is a generator and two portacabins (aka donga) on site, and that's it. There's no accomodation as everyone eats and sleeps in Goondiwindi, and certainly no helideck. After conducting the inspection Aiden and I hit the road, eventually splitting apart at Milmerran after we had a coffee, some pies and a pow-wow.

I finished off the drive, losing the e-tag for the toll roads as I took a corner in Toowoomba, back to Brisbane with a grand total just shy of 1000kms and got in at 6:30pm - twelve hours later.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mandatory Valet

A weed wash is a compulsory vehicle washdown in order to prevent pernicious plants from other areas of the state getting transported onto the landowners property (where the rig is). Not very exciting I agree, but this is just one of the differences between the conventional oil and gas industry and coal seam gas that I'm learning about. Without a washdown certificate I wouldn't be able to get to the rig. Can you imagine the chaos if the HLO on an offshore rig demanded a washdown certificate when a chopper tried to land on deck?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gone Bush

Here I am in chilly Chinchilla where the current temperature is about 5C and is set to drop to just above 0C during the night. It took me the best part of 4 hours to get here - cruising along at 100ks an hour - to get to this small agricultural town in south-western Queensland. And when I look at the map I'm staggered at how much more of Queensland there is to the west and north of me. Staggered I say.

I shot some photos along the way as a memento of the trip, during which I saw my first road train (a lorry/truck that has a minimum of 3 - and sometimes up to 5 - trailers being pulled by the tractor). Sadly I didn't get any of the snaps of it as they kick out so much dust and gravel (even on a tarmaced road) that it's too dangerous to stop on the verge for a photo opportunity.

So here I am, sat in the White Gums Motel, enjoying a hot lasagne and a cold XXXX. Ah, Australia :)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Only In Australia

Well, should I really be surpised? They call it Queensland after all.

I Brisbane

We've discovered another corner of Brisbane - South Bank - a stretch of parkland on the southern bank of the Brisbane River. We arrived there by ferry, having got on the CityCat service at Bretts Wharf, and were treated to a cruise under Story Bridge and passed the skyline of the city centre. South Bank was the site of the World Expo 88 and has recently been reclaimed from the river after the floods at the start of 2011. It's got children's play parks, an artifical beach, an interactive water feature, restaurants, gardens, and a huge ferris wheel (the Wheel of Brisbane) which we took Pickle on. Initially there were a fair few "oo, I a bit scared" but eventually Rae settled down ;)

Afterwards we crossed the river by foot (actually we used a bridge and so did not perform any miracles), grabbed a quick bite to eat and then a train back to Ascot, arriving in time for Heidi's signature cheesey chicken pasta dish. Pickle wore himself out by playing with Emelda, a cat that Heidi is baby sitting for a friend, so we took him home and tucked him in bed.

Sunday was one of spending my hard earned money. In the morning we walked to Eagle Farm race course, which is just up the road, to see what the Sunday market was all about. You won't hear me say this very often - but it wasn't a patch on the Sunday market at Huntingdon race course! Then we went up to Stafford, a suburb to the north, to get some essentials for the new house (-8 days and counting until we move in), a trip to an outdoor pursuits shop because they'd built a tobogganing ramp and Oscar wanted to go on it, and then on to do a spot of mattress shopping (so we can actually sleep on the brand new bed we bought - and never used - in Indonesia). The four of us (me, Rae, Oscar and my wallet) are worn out.

Rae has just asked me "Did you have a nice weekend?" to which I replied "Yes. I've had many nice weekends since I've been in Australia." And I think that is the perfect way to end this bog.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What A Weekend!

We three had a fabulous weekend - our first as a family in Australia since our holiday in 2009. Have you ever watched one of those "you need to move to Australia" shows like Wanted Down Under or Poms In Paradise where a family sits in a park (preferably one next to a golden beach) cooking sausages, steaks and kebabs on a free public barbeque while drinking a cold beer and enjoying a fresh breeze and a clear blue sky? Well, that was us on Saturday when we met up with Nigel (a friend from a long time ago in a little Welsh town far, far away), his wife Nicky and their bub Sophie.

Sunday was a more typical weekend for the Beckett family - shopping, shopping, shopping. We had to start stocking up for the house we are going to rent so we made a quick run to Chermside Mall, which has a K-Mart, a Target and a Big W. After spending a couple of hours (and a couple of hundred bucks) picking up essentials, before driving across Brisbane to hit Ikea. Oscar wasn't too keen on more shopping so we told him we were taking him to an out-tunnel-slide (his word for a kiddies indoor playpark), which seemed to satisfy him. We dropped him off in Småland (not the Swedish province but the creche that Ikea runs while we grabbed some furniture for Oscar's new room and miscellany from the market place. True to form we found more than we expected and ended up with three full trolleys by the time we got to the tills.

Final words: Australia is fab.