Anyway, I am sorry that I haven't written for ages... again. Sometimes I feel like my blog is just another area of my life that I'm failing in! But then, like all of those other failing areas, I guess I'll just try again :)
So... my week... Well, more jobs just keep pouring in the door at work, so I'm being kept busy there and it's all good. Sometimes I wish they'd stop pouring in, just for a few days even, but I can't complain. I spent a few days up in Mt. Isa again, and it was the second time in 2 weeks that I've been up in Mt. Isa. The thing I like most about Mt. Isa is knowing that I'm 'way out in the outback' :) It probably doesn't mean tooooo much to anyone who doesn't know Australia very well, but it's a very long way from Brisbane. I got this map of Australia off the Internet, and I added in Mt. Isa (in blue) since it wasn't on the map (since it's a tiny place). As you can see, Brisbane is halfway down the east coast, and it's 1829 km (or 1,136 miles) from Mt. Isa.
Last time I went to Mt. Isa, I think I told you that I didn't think too much of the town itself (I thought it was old and not very pretty) but that the surrounding country was fabulous. Well, this trip was to do some shooting at the mines (it's a mining town) and to interview and spend some time shooting with the ex-mayor of Mt. Isa (he finished up 3 months ago). Well, he was a lovely old fellow, and I really enjoyed my day. He's originally from Ireland (so he has a wonderful accent) but he's been living in Mt. Isa for about 40 years now, and he LOVES Mt. Isa. He was so enthusiastic about it, and all the projects they've worked on there and the community facilities etc. He honestly isn't interested in ever living anywhere else. He's convinced he lives in paradise. He was very understated and subtle about it, but as the day progressed I started wondering how on earth I missed the magic of the place on my last visit! How did I not notice it's charm, it's beauty, it's history and heritage? I was telling the camera man later that it was a good thing the day didn't last any longer than it did, because if it had, I reckon I'd have bought myself a property in Mt. Isa and refused to ever leave :)
I thought he was a wonderful example of a civic servant: When it was decided they'd build a tourist mine to give people the chance to see what it was like in the mines, and when funds were tight, his wife would often find him at 3am in the morning down in the tourist mine laying track or working the digging machines all by himself. I really love meeting new people and learning about them. That was so fun.
The other cool thing, of course, was spending some time at the mines. The first mine I went to was an underground mine, and we suited up and headed down. I didn't take any pictures of myself, but I found this picture online, and it was taken in the same place ( I recognize it actually!) So I looked like this - except for that weird thing the guy is holding in his hand.... I'm not actually sure what that is.... and of course I did up the extra button on my shirt...
Turns out I'm not claustrophobic, so that's good :) There was one slightly unnerving moment though, when we were in a section with no lighting, and the guy we were with had us turn of our helmet lights just to see how dark it gets. In case you've ever wondered, it gets very dark. I sat there 'not panicing' for what seemed like an extremely long time saying things like the other guys were saying ('yeah, it's dark alright' and 'I can imagine it would be a little scary if you were trapped down here' etc. etc.) and I did a very good job of not letting my voice crack and squeak with fear. I was very relieved when we turned the lights back on. Yep. Pretty sure I'll never work in an underground mine.
The other Mines up at Mt. Isa are open cut mines, and they have processing and smelting plants on site too. Boy - is that place dirty! At the end of the day when I took off my steel capped boots (yes - I have a pair of steel capped boots that I take with me when ever I'm on 'dangerous sites' - haha, I know, I know, it's very un-Tammy of me!), I smacked them together to shake off any dirt before putting them in my suitcase, and a huge cloud of black dust came off my shoes. So I banged them together again. Another cloud of dust. Again, another. Again, another. I gave up after about 10 bangs and just put my very dust filled shoes in a plastic bag before putting them in my suitcase! Those open cut mines are HUGE, and there are so many HUGE trucks and machines working down there. The processing plants were huge too. I really can't describe just how big these places are. I think you really have to see it for yourself (which you'll do if you ever come and visit me one day - since I'm moving to Mt. Isa and all).
At one point, we stopped up on a higher part of the site and got out of the truck so we could get some shots of an open-aired (no walls) smelting plant that was down the hill from us. Again, I didn't take photos, but I found this online. Basically the smelting is where they melt the metal. As we were standing there (probably about 500 metres from the plant) I guess the wind changed and brought the fumes up to us, and I almost died! I've never experienced something so horrible before. I was a terrible, terrible smell, but it was much more than just a smell - it was like a noxious gas that got down into my lungs and I could barely breath! Me, the client and the sound guy ran back to the car, while our heroic camera man got the shots. I think I yelled something like 'just get 4 or 5 nice ones' over my shoulder as I cowardly saved myself - poor fellow. I was chesty for the next several hours and still had that horrible taste in my mouth a few days later.
People always talk about how much money people who work up in the mines make - well let me tell you this: they deserve it! I can't imagine doing it day after day like that! (you'll notice the guy in the photo is wearing a gas mask, just like the guys on site were doing, but I think that it would still be like working in a nuclear holocaust of something!)
Anyway, all in all I enjoyed the trip. I love to see and do new things, and this was fun. Mr Mayor has convinced me to retire to the mining town of Mt. Isa one day, so you'll all get to see the mines for yourself when you come to visit me :) Lucky!
Till next time!
PS. Oh, I was going to tell you something that made me laugh: I stayed in the same (really nice) hotel I was in last time, and last time we all noticed that there was a channel on the TV that seemed to be playing the same movie (staring Jim Beluchi and a dog? Justin do you know what it is?) over and over again. We were there for 3 days last time, and the movie was on every time you checked. One time, I flicked to the channel just as the movie was finishing and saw that it just started right over again! Well anyway this time, 2 weeks later, I was delighted to discover that the same channel was still playing the same movie . I thought that was great :)