Working in 42+ degree heat

Open the door, and you literally walk out into the desert. It is a strange feeling, working in the Cooper Basin.

Right in the heart of Australia, a few clicks out of the Queensland and Northern Territory Border.


The heat is scorching and dry, sapping any moisture that dares to make its presence known.  It enscones you like a heated blanket you can never take off, the sun beating down on your hi-visbility long sleeve shirt, warming up the little buttons and the metal zip on your coveralls, pricking your skin.

Everything warms up; the toilet seat is strangely heated, like one of those smart Japanese loos.  Tools burn your hand when picked up and even the doorknob is touched only tentatively.

It is an environment we are pretending to conquer by being here, drilling away for its hidden treasures.

In reality it is an environment so harsh that without all the aids - the gallons of water drunk, the air conditioning on overdrive and the convenience of vehicles - we would perish like the delicate desert flowers that we are.

It has happened: any person coming to work out here gets told the stories.  The stories of the guys who decided to walk away from a broken down vehicle and were found; death by dehydration.  Of the people sent a little loopy and those who never came back.

'Heat stress' is something that is all too possible and can creep up on you without you noticing, so you check the colour of your pee obsessively, pinch your skin and let it drop, hoping it will snap back and not 'peak', indicating your skin has started to dehydrate.  You keep an eye out on each other, but sometimes things slip through the cracks...

I walk out of my cramped room with the too-many monitors for a stretch.  Climbing the sand dune behind the shack, the sky is huge and the landscape barren.  A gray brush covers most of the ground and in the very distance, a Mad-Max like set of structures can just be seen.

Two minutes and my collar starts to burn.  Back into the ice box I scurry...