Red dirt and Iron Mountains – Living in the Pilbara

Marble Bar, Western Australia

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In 1988 I met and married a man from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He worked as a driller for Mt Newman Mining Co. which later became BHP Billiton, based in the township of Newman. Newman is within the East Pilbara Shire which covers an area of 378,533 square kilometres. The region is known for its rich mining and pastoral industries. It also takes in parts of the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts and the historic Canning Stock Route.

The area is populated sparsely. There are many remote Indigenous communities and the towns house the general population who staff the hospital, schools and small businesses. Most people in Newman are employed at the mine at Mt Whaleback – one of many  large iron ore deposits.

I moved from Perth with my new husband and my three young sons in December 1988. It was HOT! Fortunately we had a nice home with good air conditioning. I lived in remote communities before but this was my first experience of a mining town. The Company was moving away from providing all the infrastructure for the town (they still provided housing for their workers) and the government provided schools, hospitals etc. It was a very multicultural community with over forty nationalities represented. The demand for workers attracted people from all over the world.

Newman was a very social place. Most people knew each other as the population was about 7,000 at that time. It has fluctuated up and down depending on the needs of the mining industry. The pub was a popular place for the workers. It was pretty rough and not the sort of place to wander through without a male companion. I think I only went there twice in the seven years I lived there 🙂

It was a place of opportunity – the chance to be a big fish in a small pond, as the saying goes. I very quickly found more work and interests than there were hours in the day. I was coordinating a migrant English program, writing for the local regional newspaper, and later became involved as a Shire Councillor for the East Pilbara Shire. It was great to have input into the decisions impacting on the community and the region.

We used to fly small planes to Council meetings each month as we tried to meet in different parts of the vast shire boundaries. We normally chartered small planes to places such as Marble Bar, Nullagine, Telfer and Shay Gap. Marble Bar is known as one of the hottest places in Australia and its history as a gold mining town. During the time I was on the Shire I was the only female councillor. It was a memorable experience with many larger than life characters on the Shire and in the districts they represented.

Today a lot of the mining companies employ their staff on a fly in, fly out basis. The partners and families stay on in the cities and towns and the men do some time at the mine site and then have a week or so back home with their families. I opposed that concept as it was very bad for the towns in the region. Fewer children meant fewer teachers were allocated to the schools etc and the towns reverted to a company town with the only focus being on the mines and the pubs. Community services declined and the lives of the families in the cities live only part-time with their partners. It can be very lonely for them, however  it pays well and that is why they do it.

I have some great memories of my time up there but I don’t want to go back. I would love to visit for a holiday but my life has moved on since then. Some of my information for this blog was is from a book commissioned by the Shire when I was there – Gold Dust and Iron Mountains – Marble Bar and Beyond by Hugh Edwards for the East Pilbara Shire.

cheers for now



Do we go to work as a refuge?

Around the globe there are millions of people going to work every day and night. Why? (apart from the money we need to survive)

How many of these people actually enjoy their work? How many people are stressed, anxious or depressed about their jobs?

When  I first joined the workforce at seventeen, I felt quite distressed about the impact it was having on me. I went to see a doctor because I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. He was an older man and he told me, “that is just what life is. I get up each morning and go home each night, just like you do…” I think he was saying “Get over it. That’s life! ” I always remember him when I question our economic system that requires a good percentage of us to work and pay taxes for the infrastructure we enjoy.

I have included a link of a great blogger EOF737 (Elizabeth) who got me to thinking about work and what we could do with our lives if we didn’t have to work. I hope you will have a read – all Elizabeth’s posts are inspiring.

So I started out thinking about NOT WORKING and in contrast, the great things about having some work. In a good work scenario (I know not all workplaces are good) I enjoy such things as:

  • the social aspect – conversations with a diverse range of people
  • money – this is an obvious one – it provides a buffer against stress and struggle
  • a sense of being of value for what I can do
  • the chance to do something completely different from I would if I was at home all the time
  • a sense of belonging to something bigger
  • the chance to quiet a busy mind of personal stuff – refuge from the questions about why are we here
  • respect
  • a purpose for getting up in the morning
  • something else to talk about after the day at work
  • learn new things – keep the brain active
  • a chance to dress up
  • the reassurance of the self-esteem

Most of these things are intangible and we don’t notice them until they are not there. So, I reluctantly conclude that going to work can be good for us 🙂 Can you suggest any other reasons why work is GOOD for us?






three wise koalas

Today I reflected on the meaning of listening, “to try to hear, pay attention, take heed”.

To do this I first needed to quiet my own mind. I had to take the focus of myself and listen to what was going on around me. I met lots of new people and made an effort to remember their names. Sometimes I had to ask twice because I forgot to listen the first time.

I can get busy with preparing what I am going to say next and thinking about how it may be received. When I am doing this I can’t hear what is going on around me. When I meet people for the first time it is important for me to be focused. It is hard to track back later and get the details that were freely given the first time on meeting.

As a child, I was a day-dreamer. There are parts of my childhood that I cannot remember much at all about. I believe it was because I wasn’t there a lot of the time – I was off in my imagination, in another world. My imagination today is still very active and can easily slip into worrying about the worst that can happen. I would love to be able to slip into a world where my thoughts are stronger and more positive.

I think I will dedicate this week to listening. Habits get stronger through practise, so that is what I will do.

cheers for now



The number 3

A triangle

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 Wordpress topic on 22 September 2011

Step 1: Pick a number from 1 to 10.

Step 2: Now think of something interesting in your life, or that you’d like to have in your life, related to that number. For example, if you picked 6, tell me about your favorite kind of beer (which come in packs of 6).

I have chosen number 3. There are three sides to a triangle and there are unlimited types of triangles that we face in our lives. Here are some that come to mind:

1. I am the youngest of three girls in my family.

2. I have three sons.

3. Mum, Dad and child – so often a child can come between his/her parents and if this happens too often it can have a detrimental affect on the whole family.

4. Husband, wife and an outsider (male or female). There must be millions of books written about this scenario of the love triangle, often with unhappy endings.

5. Sometimes the outsider can be a friend of the wife’s or husband’s who monopolises their time and interests to the point where someone feels abandoned.

6. An interesting scenario can be Husband, Wife and former wives or husband’s. This one can create some crazy dynamics and they are not always nice ones either!

7. Three people are good friends and then one of them becomes an outsider. This is painful for the person who is on the outer.

8. Mum, Dad and outsider – In my case it was my Mum, Dad and Uncle. My Uncle gave me special attention for as long as I can remember. Although I enjoyed the special treatment, it put me offside with my Dad who didn’t appreciate his brother’s involvement in our family.

9. Aunt, Uncle and Niece – as in my earlier point – my Uncle’s kindness to me was kept secret from my Aunt. I always had to keep information from her.  This was really difficult for me as a small child and it very confusing. 

10. It is harder to share an apple or orange between three people 🙂



(total words are 333)

I would like to anonymously send someone a gift

Facebook logo

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 I have a girlfriend that doesn’t have email. This means that the only time we catch up is by phone once every few months. We don’t live in the same town. My friend is on a disabiliity pension and is reluctant to spend her pension on paying for an internet server, a computer and new software.

I would like to buy her an up to date computer, with all the latest software and pay all her bills for its associated use for the next ten years (at least). Then we could email each other; she could learn about Facebook; she could even start her own blog. She is a very intelligent person and I am sure she wouldn’t take very long to catch on to all the new technology.

I can’t imagine my life without the internet today. At the same time, she has a lot of friends and they are not virtual friends either. I went to her birthday party a couple of years ago. The restaurant was packed and I hardly had a chance to speak to her because she was in such demand.

I wonder is there is any connection between her lack of technology and the incredible number of friends that she has in her life.

I love being able to keep up to date with my extended family via Facebook. I have nieces, nephews, sons and daughters-in-law that use the internet regularly. I get to see all the baby photos and hear a little about what is happening in their lives. I get concerned though, that my presence on Facebook may embarrass them. I do try to be discreet if I make any comments (which is not very often). Would they tell me if they weren’t happy with me popping in there?

Until next time


Peace in our time…

A post card from the 19th century showing the ...

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Today WordPress ask us bloggers to write on the topic, Do you think peace in the Middle East is possible?

That question is way toooo big for me to even contemplate! I have thought about peace (being a pacifist and anti-war) so I do have some thoughts to put forward.

1. We need to love and respect ourselves and have compassion for self 

2. When we can experience peace within we can give thought to peace within our families. This means that we love and respect their individual selves and have compassion on their humanity.

3. Now that we are at peace with our selves and our families, we can look further afield to our neighbours, our townspeople, our countrymen. We can show our love and respect for their similarities and for their differences. Then we can have compassion on their humanity.

4. We can then move beyond our borders and love and respect people globally. We treat them how we would like to be treated, value their similarities and respect our differences.  We can then have compassion on all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

I believe there are many reasons why we find it hard to be at peace with ourselves; our partners and families; our own communities; and our world. Often it can be tracked back to imbalances of power, ego, wealth, status, fear of what we don’t know and understand, aggression, racism, sexism etc. When we are at peace within ourselves we are in a much stronger position to deal with these emotions and then compassion for others can be very powerful and love can then overcome all else.




Weekly photo challenge – faces

My three sons 🙂

I will never forget these faces – they are my three sons – and I love them very much!

Changing habits

An Indecisive Moment

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Changing habits is a life-long process for me and I often fight against it. I must be single-minded in my pursuit of change. Being indecisive is not a good place to be.

I used to be a heavy smoker. I boasted that I was good at giving it up as I did it so often :-). I am pleased to say that I haven’t smoked for over ten years now. I gave them up “cold turkey”. There are many good reasons to not smoke: health; finances; being socially acceptable (smokers can be isolated and ostracized today); consideration of the effect of passive smoke on others; etc.

How did I do it and why? It doesn’t seem to matter today except that I made the decision and I stuck with it. I still get tempted at times but I just remind myself of all the reasons why I stopped.

I have changed the way I eat in recent years. Sometimes I am surprised about it because I actually eat a healthy diet (mostly) today. For a few years I ate a low-fat diet. I didn’t restrict anything else in my diet and I realise now that I really don’t like fatty foods  today and they make me feel ill if I do eat them. I still like ice-cream though – I go for the low-fat ones.

I think it helps to keep it as simple as possible. I don’t enter into a discussion of “will I or won’t I ?”.

The one area I still struggle with is being physically active. Recently I had a goal to lose some weight for my son’s wedding and I went to the gym nearly every day. Since the wedding, I am less motivated to continue, even though I enjoy being able to fit into my clothes better and I know I enjoyed doing the exercise.

I did some study a few years ago and I made a commitment to doing at least 30 minutes of study each evening. I was able to meet this schedule with the support of my partner reminding me each evening. I had a goal to pass all my units and to get good results and my persistence paid off. 

After I got my qualification, I still felt the desire to do something each evening and made a commitment to write 300 word stories, about anything I felt like. This was good practise for when the WordPress Challenge to write each day came along.

On reflection, I see that I CAN make changes to my habits if I keep them simple, clear and achievable, and do something small each day  to reach my goals (it is critical for me to have a goal to reach). I avoid comparisons with others and can be pleased with what I do achieve.

cheers for now



Write a story by finishing this sentence…

A picture I took on my senior trip

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 I told him where I was going, and he hurried me out, pointing to the door with the gun, but what he didn’t know was…I had practised this scene in my mind many times before today. I knew he had a gun, however, I knew he would never harm me, as I was too important to him.

I was the only one who knew exactly where the diamonds were. If anything happened to me, they would never be found and his dream could never become reality. The first time he shared his dream with me was when I was twelve years old. He said he would buy me anything I wanted and we would live in luxury for the rest of our lives. As I got older, his dream never waivered. He promised me that one day our lives would change forever.

As I got older, I moved away and had dreams of my own, I forgot about those promises. They were just the fantasy of an old man. My life went on and I forgot about him too. That was until last year when he found me once again. There was a fondness between us, probably based on the fantasy that we once shared.

I first found out about the diamonds when he gave them to my mother as an expression of his love for her. She was moved by his kindness but was too loyal to my father to keep the gift and wanted to give them back to him but he refused to take them. I sneaked into her room and stole the diamonds and hid them in a secret place. Nothing more was said about them as they were a secret anyway. My father must never know about them. I had done them all a favour by making them disappear.

He tracked me down and called me on the phone. I agreed to meet him at the hotel where he was staying. I didn’t expect him to have a gun and to look so wild eyed and desperate. I hardly recognised him. He told me to go and get the diamonds and that’s when he pushed me towards the door. I knew it was time to return the diamonds but it was much too late, for both of us, for the fantasy to ever become reality now.




Procrastination, hang on, wait a minute…

FreeMind 0.9.0 RC4 - Mind Map with User Icons

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Sometimes I don’t start writing my blog because I don’t feel inspired or excited enough about what I want to say, so I leave it to come back to later. Then I remember my core committment is to write often just so that I am getting some practise.

An expression I love, that helps me get started, is “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, for starters :-)” Sometimes I feel that what I do is not good enough and the fear of failure stops me from proceeding. I encouraged my children to at least give something a go, as starting can be a very powerful tool in overcoming our fear of failure.

I procrastinate at doing exercise. I blame the heat, the cold, the wind, too busy, too tired etc etc. Instead of going for a long walk, sometimes I will at least do a short walk to buy the paper or some bread. Once I get moving I decide to walk a bit further after all.

I find it helps me to write a list of things I need to do and then number them in order of priority. I do love ticking off the jobs/tasks once they are completed. For the recent wedding in our family I had a list of 20 things to do – number 20 was to attend the wedding and celebrations afterwards. It really helped having that list to check things off as there was so much to do.

If I am overwhelmed with a task, I break it down into smaller, achievable jobs. I do a Mind Map and write down every single thing I can think of, group them and then prioritise. It moves the items from my head to a piece of paper and leaves room in my head to think more clearly 🙂

Cheers for now