Andamooka and the races

Trip Start Apr 14, 2006
Trip End Apr 24, 2006

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Graham: We had our usual breakfast and were on the mine before 8am. Mick told us that the guys had blasted out the end of the bore hole, so we were all set. When we got there, we found a blockage half way down the tube and were ready to despair until we noticed that it was only paper wadding. Pushed most of it out with the plastic disc thingie, and then we sent the pipecam down. It looked like they had blown off the two largest projections, but a small edge remained. Decided to see what the hole looked like from the outside, so we sent the survey tool down. It managed to exit the hole once, but it is not very clear, but it doesn't seem that there is a nice edge to the hole. During the process, it started to concertina which seemed to indicate that the hole really isn't large enough. After careful deliberation, we decided that the risks definitely outweighed the rewards, so I decided that we would deploy the radar down to 6m, use the tilt sensor to measure the angle, and then retrieve it, which we did. I pulled the radar up from a hole at 21.5deg, and if there had been many more sections we couldn't have done the job easily. We decided to deploy the unit from the barricade, which proved to be a problem because Mick wouldn't let us into the stope. We then constructed a deployment that consisted of a 4m section made of 3 poles and then a further single pole section to allow us to deploy. We came up for lunch and then went down for about 2pm. The deployment went well and Craig started a scan with a 0.5deg spacing. After 25 minutes, just before they started to pour, it was complete. When we had finished. Craig cleaned up the data and after removing the outliers, displayed it - it was brilliant. Craig set the machine to dock, but it wouldn't, so we pulled it in, and found that it was not only covered with a layer of CAF, but had a rock wedged in the elevation axis. Took some photos, and then deployed for another scan during pouring, this stopped at about 80deg for no reason, so Craig started a fast one for the rest of the fill period. We removed the radar from the stope and broke a tube and then took photos of its filthy stone strewn state before packing up and returning to the surface.

Invited Mick and Squid to come and have dinner with us then showered and went back to the hotel.

Mandi had a fun time at the races. She spent most of it talking to Julie, the pump engineer with whom we have been eating breakfast. She suggested that we invite her to have dinner with us at 7:30. We had a very pleasant evening, a couple of drinks at the bar and then a good dinner in the Oasis restaurant - we even had desert, so were only in bed after 11pm.

Mandi: The second time I went to Andamooka was early on a Saturday morning - I'd dropped the men at the mine at eight, I think, and was in Andamooka by 8:30. I drove or walked all around for about an hour and didn't see a living thing - not even a dog or a chicken - and in the little "reserve" where some of the original houses are preserved as a sort of historical monument there was no sign of human life except for a bathtub full of empty booze bottles. It was like a ghost town - certainly felt really scarily post-holocaust. I was expecting mutants to burst out of the shanties at any moment. Eventually at about 9:30 the Post Office opened and when I commented on the "quietness" the postmistress looked at me oddly and said, "It's Saturday morning!" as if I must be mad to even think that anyone would be anything other than severely hung over. But the main thing is that it's a sad and desperate community - Roxby feels cheerful, with its residents prosperous and busy and cheerful, Andamooka just sad and lost and severely hung over. So for once I'm on the side of the Big Corporations at least when it comes to building communities in isolated places. Anyway, I did manage to get some nice opal jewellery for the girls at the Post Office (as you would expect. When I came home with an exciting present for them in the well-known AustraliaPost packet, their faces fell. At first.

The other fun thing was The Races. We had met up with a young female engineer over breakfast one day and she told us she was staying over Saturday as her company was sponsoring one of the races so of course I had to go along and see. She (Julie) and I had both wondered a little whether we should dress up as Australians take horse-racing very seriously - she in particular wondered whether she ought to hear a dress and a hat in order to hand over the prize for her race, but thank goodness in the end we both turned up in jeans and bush-hats or we'd have looked like right wallies. The race-track is a full-size one, but includes an extra sort of paddock at the finishing post, in which all the other events which aren't races are held. Over the course of the day there were only six actual races, one a camel race, (who race quite enthusiastically, to my surprise, but looking somehow like marionettes) and the rest were all gymkhana-type things into which the entire community and all its four-legged creatures entered with gusto. The charming thing was you'd see the same big rangy skewbald with a ten-year-old up doing bending or thread-the-needle or something, then with a two-year-old up in a leading-rein class, and finally in one of the races, still wearing the same big comfortable saddle, with Dad aboard. And all in the blowing, romantic red dust - it was a great day. I even placed a bet, for the very first time in my life, because I knew the nice country bookies wouldn't laugh at me. I bet $5 on the strength of the name (also happened to be the favourite, and No 2) and he won, at $1.50 so I won a total of $2.50! This went totally to my head and I bet again on the main race. There had been another race in between, in which No 2 had also won, so of course I came over all mathematical and although I liked No 2 again, I bet on No 5 and he came third last (shades on Monterey) but No 2 won yet again. So I lost my $5, leaving me a net total of $2.50 down - the last of the big-time gamblers, that's me!!
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