For a town set up purely to support a mining operation our final destination, known by the locals as Tank which was an abbreviation of the name of the mining company that set it up, was fairly large. There was apparently only 3000 people in the place, with a FIFO (fly in flight out) population of about 1000 on rotating rosters but that was still enough to support two pubs, a supermarket and several Ma & Pa take away shops. There wasn’t any fancy city clothing stores or the like but the town was pretty self sufficient. The sub station we had on our back was only going to boost that self sufficiency.
I think I might have told you once or twice we were headed to a remote outback town, a town in the middle of nowhere. I might also have said that with the remoteness comes roads that despite the heat get easier to travel on. Well all that is true and on our last day, in which we travelled about three hundred kilometres, the number of vehicles that we saw for the entire day numbered in the tens not hundreds. We didn’t even see mining road trains because we were coming in from the south east and they load in and out from the north east..
What that meant for us was an easy run, rarely having to move over onto the red dirt shoulder but most of all it meant we could maintain a 65 kilometre per hour average without any drama. Had it not been for the few hills we had to cross that average would have been higher given our speed on the flat often pushed out closer to 90 clicks, but even the outback has hills.
It all made for a really good run into Tank, no hold ups, a couple of quick stops to water the flora and a stop for lunch, but nothing really hampered our progress. If only the rest of our week had been as good as the final leg of our journey.
One of the best things about mining towns, especially towns set up by mining operators, is that they are designed around big things. Before the big hole in the ground was ever there big equipment had to be moved in and while the mine continued operating big equipment continued to be moved around. What that meant for us was that there was no power lines to be lifted, no trees to be trimmed and best of all no bloody roundabouts. All we had to do was drive around the eastern side of town on the “Over Dimensional Truck Route”, turn into the power company’s yard and almost straight onto the site were the sub station would rest..
The best part about “ODT routes” are that they can be closed down at short noticed and have all traffic shifted from them without needing to worry about permits and time limits. Not that Tank had a peak hour or massive traffic jams and they were used to the ODT route being shut down but such routes did make our job so much easier.
The next thing that made our job easier was that when we got to the site the power company’s on-site team had done more work that we expected. During our site visit several weeks before this load was even permitted we were told we’d have to manoeuvrer this big load around the yard and reverse it onto the concrete slab where it would sit. Now that’s not an impossible job, we can reverse this thing at such a slow speed we can put the bugger nearly anywhere and within millimetres of our marks. It does take time and it can be done with just one tractor, the remote operator for the trailer and spotters but it’s more time consuming than it is difficult, unless we fuck up!
However what the power company guys had done for us was cleared an entire site, not just the slab which would be the sub station’s final resting place, but the entire area around it. What was once an area that had rusty trucks, scrap metal, dry grass and who knows what else in had been transformed into a clear, open area where we could drive the truck up onto, unhook Corey’s tractor, unstrap the load and let the crane raise it up until I could pull the trailer straight out from under it. And with a load the size of ours that sort of delivery is nearly unheard of.
In fact the only down point of the whole day was when they tried to put the large mobile crane into position and realised that there wasn’t enough space on the right hand side. Had it not been for a sink hole where the left rear stabiliser leg needed to rest they’d have been right but someone miscalculated by about three metres.
Although it was only a little cock up it took nearly an hour and a half to rectify because with the load in over it’s final resting place room the manoeuvre the big crane was at a premium. There was a lot of backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards, right hand down, left hand down, go, stop, fuck, whoops, but they got there in the end. They had to do the lift from the other side of a shipping container which had been converted into a workshop, but with a reach the crane had that was no real issue, once the workshop had been vacated of course.
It was nearly 7pm when I finally got the trailer out from under the sub station. Like I mentioned previously once the trailer was out of the way our job was over but that didn’t mean our day was.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.