A change of pace

Host: Fortescue Helicopters
Written by Lisa Jeffrey – Office & Hangar Manager, Fortescue Helicopters.

Welcome to the third post of the year for Fortescue Helicopters. Today it’s starring me, Lisa. This is my first blog post, so I may be a little rusty.

I work at Fortescue Helicopters alongside my partner Weldon. My job title . . . well . . . it’s put perfectly as a “Bitza” – a bit of inside work, a bit of outside work, and a hell of a lot of travelling! I’m basically the behind-the-scenes “get it done” girl of the Operation.

I thought I would touch on who I am, how I got here, and where I’ve been.

I could start this blog in same way I see so often on Central Station, a trend that really excites and resonates in me; “If you told me I would (insert life changing choice here) I would’ve laughed”. You know what? I definitely did laugh when I packed up my possessions, pointed my ute north, and headed back to Newman . . .

I was born and bred an “almost city girl” or “a tomboy who likes pretty things” and grew up in the north eastern surrounds of Perth. In my later years, I was working in both FIFO and residential positions in the Mining industry for over six years in a range of roles in Construction, Operations, Open pit, Underground, and Port Facilities.

photo-1-copyParts of my mining career.

As a girl with a shiny new car license, and a couple of goals I couldn’t sway on, I moved 1200km to the town of Newman, knowing I could get a start in the industry. Newman and it’s surrounds were all foreign to me, no familiar faces, and places I never knew existed . . . but due to the stubborn and persistent woman I am (thanks Mum) I embraced some new challenges and made it work.

A few years later, I decided it was time to increase some flexibility into my lifestyle and decided moving forward, I would take on a FIFO role at an underground Diamond mine in the Kimberley region. Only a month before I was due to leave town, I met and befriended a person new to the area at our local rodeo, Weldon. I left Newman the next month vowing to never return.

Six years on, with a lot more work and life experience, many an adventure abroad and in my own backyard, I was back in Newman. I caved into the “there’s something in the water” theory and was back in town. This time, I was waving goodbye to my steel caps and PPE (personal protective equipment).

Deciding to work for Fortescue Helicopters, but more so working alongside your partner is a challenge. If you can get through working together, you can get through anything. I will vouch for that. It has it’s ups, downs, and curly ones, although it is also very, very rewarding. Working at Fortescue has given me the best of both worlds where I am constantly learning about all things aviation and helicopters, things I never thought I was capable of, whilst also being partially involved in a lifelong love for me, cattle.

What do I do when I am not knee deep in paperwork?

From getting involved in mustering, catching up with friends, going on quick helicopters jobs and flights, cooking for our pilots and guests at our staff house in Newman, living the life of a mustering pilot’s wife, helping out the engineers with small jobs, transporting fuel to stations . . . these are just some of the 100-odd tasks that you could spot me doing. Anything that needs to be done, or where I can help, you can be sure I will have a go. No two days here are ever the same.

photo-2-copyPerks of my job – Beautiful sunsets outside the door of the helicopter.

What do I do in my off season? Is there even an off season when you assist in running a business? 

Country Race weekends – These are my only opportunity to combine my more “glamorous side” and to have an excuse to dress up to the nines without being questioned. As soon as the theme is released for the Marble Bar ball, you can count on me to start planning. I even made my own fascinator one year for race day. Rodeos are a great way to catch up with friends near and far. Camping/Days at waterholes, there really isn’t much that beats these days basking in a powerful and spectacular place. I also love spending time with our dog Rufus, he comes everywhere with me and is a brilliant and easy going companion when camping out, travelling, and meeting new faces.

Making some sort of crazy goal – every year since I can remember, I’ve made a fitness related goal. It’s stemmed from my younger years competing in state athletics, which since then has seen me complete OCR’s, Fun Runs, and a Half Marathon. Until this year amidst peak season, I decided to compete in my first INBA comp. Placing second was no easy task through balancing strict nutrition (many a cold food from a takeaway container whilst driving was had) and gym protocols with crazy-busy work requirements, my environment, and the lack of resources at times has made it my toughest challenge yet.

And lastly, travel – both in Australia and internationally. Although I travel so much for work, I still love driving, getting out and exploring the Pilbara, and just when you think you have seen it all here, I can assure you, you haven’t. We are so very lucky to live in this part of Australia.

photo-3-copyRio Carnival was this year’s Marble Bar Ball theme. My headpiece was ridiculously heavy.

Sometimes I reflect on the person I was before I first arrived in Newman. I thought and believed I was a bit savvier than the average Joe, and I probably was. But now I can reflect and pat myself on the back on how much more I have learnt, the situations I have been put in and dealt with, the incredible people I have met and the many adventures along the way.

Here, each day brings something new to tackle, conquer, and question the way you did something the day before. Being involved in the cattle industry is a rewarding lifestyle that I am grateful for that keeps you constantly on your toes which excites me for the future, and for the future of Fortescue Helicopters.

photo-4-copySums up the life I love, and a borrowed hat from Weldon. By Izo Photograpy.