Sunday, 22 July 2012

Oz Trip - Day 82

Day 82 – 22/7/2012 – Flight over Bungle Bungles

Before we even arrived at the Bungle Bungles we knew that we wanted to do a flight over the Bungle Bungles. Back in Katherine we did some research to see whether we would do the flight at the Bungle Bungles or from Kununurra. We ended up finding the prefect tour. It was a flight over Lake Argyle, the Bungle Bungles and a tour of the Argyle Diamond mine. This worked out perfectly as I wanted to see the mine site but there is no other way into the mine site, (for the public), other than by air. I was able to ride shotgun for the whole trip.

Our little buzz box

Me riding shotgun

My controlls :-)

Dam, I won't be able to perform any stunts!

Us being over taken
It was about a 1hr and 40min flight to go over the Lake Argyle, the Bungle Bungles and then land back at the mine site. It was a windy morning so the flight was a bit bumpy. We landed just in time because Jodie was starting to feel a bit queasy after being in the cramped small plane for that amount of time. It was also lunch time, which we had in the same dinning room as the miners. It was great. A hot and cold buffet, drinks, and even ice cream was all available.

Lake Argyle from the air
Argyle Diamond mine
The Bungle Bungle Domes from the air

The mine dining room
After lunch it was off for a tour of the mine site. It was a nice and small group, only 5 of us including the pilot/tour guide. Being so small we all fitted into an Nissan X-Trail to drive around the site.

In order to get into the mine site we had to go through security. Because we were on a tour we didn't have to go through the same screening process as the miners. Each shift the miners are brought in by bus and have to go through a security check that could be anything from x-ray screening, a body pat down, to a full body cavity search! The security is unbelievably tight. Their lunch that they bring in has to be all eaten or any leftovers have to be thrown out. If your finger prints are found on a diamond, instant dismissal – not questions asked. If you find a diamond, then you don't pick it up, you mark where it is with something and you go and get security. We were even told that when we were out of the tour car, if we dropped something then don't pick it up. We had to tell the tour guide and he would pick it up or get security.

There were security cameras everywhere. Hence the lack of photos. We were allowed to take photos but we had to make sure that we didn't take any of security or the security cameras. I wasn't up for a full body cavity search so it was safer not to take photos! Security are watching the miners via the cameras, someone in Perth is watching the security watching the security on site, then there are people in Rio Tinto Singapore watching the people in Perth and then Rio Tinto London are watching the people in Singapore! One guy was recently dismissed because he put his head through an access hole to have a look at something and because he didn't have a confined space ticket to enter that access hole, he was breaking the safety rules. It was the guys in Perth watching the cameras that picked up the safety breach!

The workshop fixing a dump druck
The open cut section. This is closing soon and it will all be all underground soon.
All the trucks lined up
Processing plant
In the part of the processing where they can't tell if a diamond is in the rock or not, they shine an x-ray type machine on it and the rock glows green if there is a diamond inside and then a jet of air blows the rock out into the "good" pile for further processing.  The people that monitor this process are only allowed on site for 6 weeks.  After that they are never allowed back on site.  It is to stop them having any significant amount of time to work out the processes and how to possibly get around them.

The mine tour took about 2 hours and then it was back onto the plane for the 30min flight back into Kununurra.

Kununurra from the air
It wasn't until a couple of weeks later when we were talking to another Slingair pilot that we found out that our pilot and tour guide for the day was Ben Harris an ex 1st grade NRL player.  He played for the Canterbury Bulldogs and then the North QLD Cowboys after returning from England.

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