In the mid-1970s I lived and worked for 6 months in the middle of not much in the north of West Australia. Mt Tom Price is the name of a hill, and the town nearby. Mt Tom Price is composed largely of iron-ore. For many decades Mt Tom Price has been loaded onto railway wagons and sent down the line to the coast to be shipped off to places that turn it into iron or steel or whatever you make with iron ore. It is a mountain being exported.
I lived in a single-mans camp between the town and the mine. Many of the men in the camp were not single but that was the only place where employees of sub-contractors could live, so everyone was single while they were there. And it wasn’t a camp – more of a well resourced small town for 500 people. With a huge cafeteria with a choice of food to bulge the cheeks of a lad from Dunedin. A Wet Mess which was a beer-dispensing shed (where I worked first). An outdoor movie theatre. And lots more – an eye-opener for the lad from Dunedin with the big cheeks.
In the photo, that’s Mt Tom Price straight ahead. The mining is done by blowing bits up and loading the debris into 200-tonne trucks and taking it to load onto rail wagons which travel endlessly around the loop visible in the middle of everything. The single-man’s camp is in the foreground, with all its neat lines of huts (called ‘dongas’ in Australian slang) each with five little rooms that opened directly outside into the sun and the heat and the dust.
In the middle of the loop is a long mound of dirt/ore or whatever. And on the left-hand end is a tiny collection of white sheds. This (I think) is where I worked as a Fitters Assistant for Theiss Brothers, sub-contractors to what was then Hammersley Iron. Theiss Brothers were spending years moving the pile from one place to another because it was in the way of something.
The two guys in the foreground are fitters – diesel mechanics – and we’ve driven up Mt Nameless after night shift to watch the sun rise. And yes that’s right, Mt Nameless. I’ve always thought the New Zealand pioneers lacked imagination in naming places. But somehow the Australians trump all with Mt Nameless.
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