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Published: October 4th 2015
Arriving on a Saturday we had a day and a half to spend with Tristan before he returned to work.
During the week we see little of Tristan as he starts work at 6am. Since his mine is 60km away and they car-pool, Tristan gets up at 4:30am and is out the door by 5:20am. A 10 hour standard day and the return drive results in Tristan getting home by 5:30pm. Such a long day means getting to bed early is essential. We find this highly amusing as when he was at Uni Tristan would often only get to bed at 4:30am! How things change.
Each morning Tristan leaves in a clean high-vis uniform and each evening he returns blackened from coal dust. Dirty clothes are shed on the back deck on the way to a shower.
We quickly learned not to wear light coloured clothes in a coal mining town. A meal in the local pub had Joan returning with a dirty backside on her beige shorts.
A remote mining town has limited TV coverage so alternatives included Netflix, board games, Xbox, crafts and endless cleaning.
The end of the mining boom has seen the town’s population drop from 4,000 to 2,000. Half of these people are housed in ‘camps’ where they are fed as a part of the accommodation. This means the population using services such as grocery stores is quite small and as a result many stores and take-aways have closed down. There is now talk of amalgamating the two schools. Many houses are unoccupied, particularly the older ones, and rents have dropped dramatically.
However the basic facilities are really quite good and the town has a nice character. While walking through a local park we noticed a Koala in one of the many gums trees. A local Mum stopped to chat and told us of the many Koalas at hole nine of the golf course. Two nights later Greg and Tristan surprised a group of deer in a local park! Deer in the town of Dysart, now that was unexpected!
Once a week Zoe travels about 75km to Moranbah for a weekly shop and specialty services. Moranbah is much larger, and even though it has also downsized, it retains a wider range of facilities and services.
Travelling significant distances is a normal part of living in this remote area.
Joan made the most of Moranbah for yet another visit to the medical centre. Outside the entrance door was a line of dirty work boots, clearly not tolerated inside. This appeared to be common in many establishments - and private homes.
On the drive to Moranbah we passed the Peak Downs Mine where Tristan works. It took us 20 minutes at 110kph to pass the pit – it is HUGE! Then Zoe told us the mine had been split into two mines as it had become too big to manage. The massive scale drove home the importance of the work that Tristan does as one of only a few specialist engineers for the mine.
Since we would be leaving before Tristan’s birthday later in the month we celebrated early on our last night in Dysart. Zoe beavered away to make Tristan’s favourite lasagne and a yummy birthday cake. This was the perfect way to conclude our visit.
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