Lets talk roads. I know, you are just beside yourself with excitement aren’t you? I can tell. Outback roads – they are our life. We travel more on dirt roads than we do on bitumen so it is important they are well maintained.
Most cattle stations up here employ a full time grader driver. We used to, but when our grader driver left years ago we decided to get a contractor in to do the job. One less employee to have to worry about. John is our grader man, he is the main man and it just so happens that he knows this place like the back of his hand. Before we arrived here John used to managed the place for about 10 years. So he knows where he is going and what to do, low maintenance and just an all round top bloke.
He usually has all the roads on the station (which is 1.7 million acres) graded in about 4 weeks – which makes our Bore Runner’s very happy indeed – lovely roads to travel around on day in, day out. It isn’t much fun bashing over ungraded roads after the wet season, not to mention hard on the vehicles. We also need the roads well maintained so the road train can travel out to the various cattle yards without any hassle. They also form fire breaks during the fire season.
John and his offsider – Badger – arrived on the weekend. Here is his set up, quite impressive isn’t it?!
First things first… unload everything from the road train. 2 graders, 1 water tank, a diesel tank, and a ute. They camp out where ever it is they are grading.
Once everything is unloaded they hook up a bit of a convoy and get ready to head out. The water tank trailer is connected to the grader, the ute it connected to the water tank trailer and the diesel trailer is connected to the ute. The second grader travels along behind, check it out…
Off they go, bound for their first camp base, along the road somewhere. They will throw their swags on camp stretchers. This is what the stretchers look like…
The stretchers keep them up out of the dirt and away from the snakes. I give this a 2 boot out of 5 rating in the luxury stakes my friends… very fancy indeed. They cook their dinner in a camp oven over a fire or use a gas hot plate. Roasts & corned beef are their main meals, which also means they have cold meat for lunches. To shower they use a bucket and tip the water over themselves somewhere behind the grader. Like I said – luxury at it’s best. Of course they do come into the station every now and then and I could only imagine that a hot shower would be very welcome.
They will work from dawn until dusk grading the roads. The grader in front will make the first cut and the second grader will come along for the second cut of the road. Anyone who lives on dirt roads will know how important road maintenance is.
Often they are a long way from the station which is why they take the Toyota out with them. This way they can make trips back in if need be. They may need to do repairs or stock up on food. They also have UHF radio’s and a satellite phone. Someone always checks in on them to make sure they are going along ok – fit and well – and often our Bore Runner will deliver bread or other staples out to them…. home delivery, doesn’t get much better my friends.
Although we don’t have a grader driver employed here we do have a grader and would be lost without it. The grader is an essential part of fire fighting. Without the grader fires would wipe out the entire place.
Grader drivers who work full time on stations – employed by the station – usually camp out. They take a whole convoy of gear out which usually consists of: A grader that tows a caravan that tows a diesel tank. A caravan… that’s a bit fancy isn’t it! They live out by themselves for most of the time, cooking their own meals. A great job if you love your own company.
So there you have it: Road Grading. Any questions? Fire away!