Arlen’s Alex Adventure

Host: Alexandria Station
Written by Arlen – Bore Mechanic, Alexandria Station.

Hey, how you going? I don’t have a lot to tell yah. I’m the kind of person who sticks to myself and that’s probably why I enjoy living and working out in the middle of nowhere. I shouldn’t say it’s the middle of nowhere, because you can find everything you need in life right here.

Barkly sunsetA Barkly Sunset.

I’m originally from around the Casino area in New South Wales near a small place called Mummulgum. When I left school I started working with a saw mill company, then moved on to working on the road works. I heard about The North Australian Pastoral Company from my brother’s friend who used to work for them. I visited the NAP Co website, filled in an online application and it went from there.

I started working at Alexandria Station in January 2014 as a Pumper. Just in case you don’t know what a Pumper is, it’s the same as a Bore Runner. I would travel one of the many routes around the station, starting motors on bore sites to pump water into tanks or turkey’s nest to provide water to the cattle in the paddocks. I would travel on a normal day about 260km and start about 16 pumps on an average. Along with starting pumps, I would service them, clean troughs, and fix the odd fence that bulls have wrecked fighting with each other over the fence. Here at Alex there are three pumpers employed on the main station and two on each outstation – Gallipoli and Soudan. We start and service about 200 bores sites over a week between us all.

This year I have moved from being a Pumper to the Bore Mechanic. Stephen the Manager asked me if I wanted the job when it became available, he knew I liked to get a bit of grease on my hands and working with tools. I really like this job. I get to travel to the outstations fixing bores as well as around Alex.

Replacing teeth on the loader bucketReplacing teeth on the loader bucket.

Most of what I know about bores/pumps and bore holes I have learnt while being at Alexandria. The other day I worked on a bore hole that was drilled in 1969. The hole had caved in due to age, so bore drillers had to come and drill a new bore hole beside the old one. With every bore hole I work on there is something different that is wrong with it, from rusted out pump rods, corroded casing, or the water level in the holes have dropped.

We’re pretty lucky here on Alex most of the bores have pretty good quality water, so gear that goes down the hole usually last longer than it does when the water is salty or brackish.

This year I brought up my horse so I have an after work interest. I called him Jack cause you need a jack to get on him. The other day the station had a Bill Hutton horse shoeing school for the staff in the stock camps. I wasn’t very busy so Stephen said I could do the school and learn to shoe Jack. Over the two days I got to shoe him all around, this was the first time I have ever shod a horse. Bill Hutton is a great teacher and a master at his trade. I found it very rewarding and was very grateful.

Shoeing schoolShoeing school.