Friday 3 February 2012: Curry Club and Kalgoorlie
Arrived out here at the farm just in time to help transport my mother-in-law's contributions to the curry club dinner up to her neighbours' house. The curry club consists of two couples plus my mother-in-law and her friend Kathy, who used to live nearby and is at present visiting on holiday. Each month they take it in turn to host a curry dinner, to which they all contribute a dish. Tonight it was the turn of M & V to host the dinner in their recently-completed new home on their dairy farm, situated on a hillside with panoramic views down the valley.
The host chooses the ethnic theme for the evening and distributes the recipes to be prepared. This time it was a Thai-themed evening and my mother-in law had prepared a Massaman beef curry and a Lychee Sorbet. Dishes cooked by the other members included an entree of Thai fishcakes followed by a Vermicelli shrimp salad; spicy chicken, peanut, pineapple and mushroom stir-fry; and a mango , papaya and apple fruit salad to accompany the lychee sorbet. It was all absolutely delicious!
It was Kathy's birthday today and everyone was delighted to have her back in their midst, if only for a short time. As many Kiwis are doing at present, she moved 'across the ditch' to Australia a while ago in search of a better-paid job - which she has found in Kalgoorlie, as a super-truck driver in the country's largest open-cast gold mine, known as The Super Pit. This photograph of her with her truck was produced from somewhere, which led to discussion and some very hair-raising tales on her part about life at the mine. All sorts of mind-boggling figures about the mine were bandied about, but I'm afraid it's rather late and I can't remember them all!
I was very impressed by the descriptions of the trucks though. An onboard computer tells the driver where to go, what to pick up and where to take it. Another computer records everything about the driver's activities whilst at the controls - for example, if they take a break to go to the loo, that has to be entered into the computer (for the men, this is rather easier than for the women drivers - they just pee off the back of the thing!). One of the most dangerous aspects of the job is driving up and down the mine at night in a vast, monotonous circle spiraling ever down- or upwards, when fatigue can set in.
Apparently they now have cameras built into the goggles that scan the drivers' eye movements, which change when a person is about to fall asleep. If this happens, a warning siren goes off in the cab. If there is no reaction to this, the seat starts to shake. Finally, a last desperate attempt to get the driver's attention is made by human intervention in the form of an overseer yelling at them over the two-way radio "NUMBER 14, WAKE UP AND STOP!!" It sounds to me rather like something in a film, Avatar perhaps, in which the human soldiers clanked around Pandora in giant, robotic suits !