It seems that from the response to my first FAQs blog and conversations / mail since, the FAQs on FIFO is a topic of interest and the response has been somewhat unexpected. It seems that a lot of people across the board are interested in what life is like when working away.
What also surprised me from the feedback was that life in accommodation camp was quite different to what those that feedback expected it to be. A lot of family and friends saying “It looks different to what I expected…but not too sure what I expected”, or something like that.
I really hope sharing this information, especially with some pictures, gives you more insight into the world of FIFO project life. I think it helps create a more accurate picture of what life out here is like and maybe put into perspective some of the harder things about working away the have been discussed previously.
So, that being said…here are some more answer to some FAQs!
What exercise facilities are available?
All camps I have stayed in have Gyms…to differing standards. The last accommodation I was in had a brand new, very spacious, heavily equipped gym with floor / boxing facilities and separate large cardio room.
The one before that; 4 shipping containers joined together with a bunch of weights lying around.
My current camp has two gyms, a variety of equipment and are very crowded most times. There are outdoor facilities though which make it handy and I love outdoor training!
Is there a supermarket nearby?
Not on my current job. There are small shops that cater for things like chocolate, drinks, snacks, toiletries etc. Most remote camps have these small retail facilities with supermarkets or convenience stores being a long drive or flight away.
You can though bring certain foods to camp when you come back from R&R (examples on the facebook page) or if you know someone coming from Perth or Karratha mid swing…it’s a good source of groceries. Generally if you plan ahead, you can get a good variety of the course of your swing.
Is the mess / food hall / whatever you call it, open all the time?
Not all the time. The mess opens at 4am and operates for breakfast. The crib facilities (where you make your lunch) are available until 1200 to cater for late arrivals or those not at work. Mess opens again for dinner at 5pm until 8pm.
What’s the food like?
As previously discussed, the food is what you make of it. It’s not gourmet selection but there are enough options to keep you healthy and interested. This is fairly true for all of the camps at which I have stayed. The dinner mess here has a “healthy” option selection if you want to try and watch what you eat. The picture on the right is a pretty standard selection from the health side.
There is also an outdoor BBQ area here every night that caters BBQ steaks, chicken, fish, sausages and burgers. Not the whole range every night but the selection is good enough to get variety. Also, this keeps me away from the mess so I don’t have to try and walk past the desert bar!
What’s your favourite food at work?
Saying that though, my eyes do light up in the morning when I see that BBQ meatballs are out for crib that day! I load up on the meatballs, cover with red onion, pineapple and cheese…then about 10am, it’s into the microwave for 2 minutes with some lemon pepper seasoning. So…damn…GOOD!
Can you befriend the cooks to make special requests (E.g. Gluten free)?
At some camps, yes but this one, no. At previous camps I could get custom made omelettes for breakfast and cooked to order grilled steak, chicken or fish. There are some options that are gluten free and the staff are usually pretty accommodating to pointing these out.
Again, I think there is enough variety to cater for most dietary requirements, especially if you bring some supplies with.
What’s your best friend’s name? Do you have a special handshake/fist pump?
I don’t really have a BF at work, but plenty of work colleagues that I find I can relax and chat to after-hours about work, life or just nothing in particular. Having a great back to back in my role definitely helps and makes the days a lot more light-hearted.
We are all in this crazy thing together so I find the comradely between like-minded people on these projects quite strong and extremely important for maintaining mental and emotional well-being while I am away.
Work is work and we all have our dis-agreements. But because you can’t walk away at the end of the day, the relationships you develop with your colleagues, subordinates and superiors is quite unique…and yes may lead to some special handshakes!
Do you speak to you family often?
The mobile coverage at the camp is questionable at best and in peak times it’s extremely bad. We do have land line access from within our rooms but with the time difference, it’s hard to get the kids before they go to sleep by the time I get home from work.
I try to finish early a couple of times a week so I am back at camp to Skype or call at 5pm. To my sister, not as much as I should (Check out this earlier post for more) and again with time differences and her kids it’s hard to nail down some quality chat time. We do try for at least once a week.
My parents, at least 2 times a week when they are not grey nomad-ing.
Do you miss your kids?
Terribly!! I miss them so much and coming back to site is extremely tough but the time at home is what I call “quality time”. I get to make them brekky and dinner every day. I can drop them to school / kindy and volunteer to help out with sporting and activity days.
This is the constant conundrum for away workers I think…one hand, working to give your family everything they
need, having a solid income and spending quality time with them while at home. On the other, spending extended periods away from them and missing so many special events…
As I write this I am 2 days from going home and all I can picture is the 3 of them running down the road, arms out-stretched screaming…”Daddy!!!”.
What do you miss most when you are away?
My kids 100%. I do also miss not getting to spend time with friends as much as I’d like. And you know, I really miss time at home. Actual time in my own home, in my own space; being in a totally familiar, safe and welcoming place.
I do miss being able to totally relax, have a beer or wine on my own back deck looking west at the sunset and reflecting. Reflecting on the “whys” in life and how 26 more days has not bought me closer to any answers.
Oh and I also miss the beach.
What do you look forward to most about going away?
Coming back to see how the project is going. These jobs are so big they and so critical to an organisation’s success; when they change it is always a significant chain of events.
Actual physical, on the ground change is usually slow and un-noticeable over the week or 2 that I am off. But at the level of the organisation at which I work, the dynamics around how the project is being executed change rapidly.
Staff turnover, position changes, work front prioritization, system handover, procedural updates, incident investigations, hierarchy shifts, skylines, fish-bones, manning curves, milestones….it’s an exciting environment.
What’s your favourite colour?
Good question. I am a black and white person but since looking at interior colouring for home, I think I’m a Red / Blue person. My parents bought me an amazing street painting while in Mexico with vibrant reds and blues and just love the combination.
Is your office like in a big building or like one of those relocatable caravans?
Well, to be honest it’s some from column A and some from column B. My particular office is in a single story relocatable office. It’s no high rise
There are 2 story versions here also, pretty much the same but twice as high. They have all the essential / standard features we need to execute the project and no complaints about the working conditions.
Our team office is located directly across the road from the main power generation plant and about a 3 minute walk onto the work site.
Yes, this is my desk and yes I sit on a big ball….
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Kath ZJ, Amber Herd for sure…oh and Gloria from Modern Family. But…I did watch the movie Columbina and Guardians of the Galaxy a few months back as was quite taken with the actress in those.
It was bought to my attention by my back 2 back that they were the same actress so I need to add Zoe Saldana to the list.
Oh and both great movies if you haven’t seen them!
Well I think that’s a wrap for this entry but still plenty more FAQs in the stock pile to answer…so there will be a part 3. Hopefully this gives that little bit more insight into the away life of a partner, friend or family member.
Or maybe it will help with your choice to embark on a career that takes you away from home for extended periods. Whatever you got out of reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.
Until the next instalment, keep safe and stay connected!