Building in the bush

Host: Remote Building Services
Written by Lise Browning, co-owner – Remote Building Services.

Here is a day in the life of a remote builder…

Wake up. There is smoke haze everywhere, definitely fire season now in remote Northern Territory.

Queue for the loo. Mustering camp here, 20 people and 2 loos, yay!

Queue for the loo.


Breakfast: coconut yoghurt and roasted almonds. Groceries here are a 5-6 hour round trip depending on corrugations and sandy bits.

Start painting this camp kitchen renovation.

The backpackers have been told to rake and blow leaves off the roof and gutters over the camp kitchen. Apparently, there are fires are coming. Now I have bits of leaves and dirt from the leaf blower falling on my wet, white, gloss skirting paint ☹

Boiled egg on the go for smoko.

Horses grazing outside caravan & camp kitchen.

Off up to the homestead to measure up for air conditioners and to frame-in and also fix leak on roof before the wet season starts. Manager says the fire is on its way and will be here in 2-3 hours.

Smoke is everywhere. Ash falling and drifting all through the new white kitchen. The staff on the station are filling up all the water tanks on the trucks. The grader driver is back-burning.

It might be a good idea to take the washing off the line now, so it doesn’t smell too smoky (It was too late).

The horses are grazing outside the caravan and camp kitchen, which is nice. I’m madly organising to get as many orders on the freight truck to the station as we can. At $1,300 a delivery, need to fill the load as much as possible.

One of the backpackers is still not back from smoko. He is vomiting, he may have heat stroke from getting all the leaves off the roof and away from the buildings this morning.

Start second coat of top coat, for the skirting, doors and trims. Richard is phoning about specs to a sheet metal and glass company.

I have to give up painting, black ash is drifting on to the wet, white gloss, top coat. The heat and the dry wind makes the paint “skin off” the moment it’s painted on the timber so it’s impossible to work with.

The fire is changing the colour of the daylight. The whole station is deserted now with all the staff off fighting fires except us. Now there are fires on three sides, two older fires still going and this new one today.

Fires on three sides.

Lunch (rosemary and lamb sausages on salad with a green smoothie!)

Email hand drawings to sheet metal company for stove top flu and oven splashback.

Email to glass company for quotes for flyscreens.

Email to head office re: stone floor and buying arborists gear.

Drive up to the homestead to hopefully get enough internet signal to send off emails. It usually takes 5 minutes just to load Bunnings homepage, so sending emails can be fun 🙁

The plumber has still not arrived.

Richard still getting wall framing and door frames in ready for first fix with plumber.

Everyone has red, stinging eyes from smoke.

The plumber is arriving shortly, just leaving the bitumen and driving all equipment on the corrugated dirt road from an Indigenous community an hour away.

Rosemary & lamb sausages on salad with green smoothies.

The plumber has still not arrived. We rang his wife and found out he is helping out at a truck fatality on the road between our station and the neighbours. He will stay until the police arrive from another Indigenous community about an hour away.

The sunset is beautiful and red from the fire and smoke. It’s strange how devastating things and beautiful things happen in the same moments in time.

We might have to drive dinner out to the plumbers.

The men on the station are all still out fighting fires.

The plumbers arrive and have tea and settle in for the night.

Hopefully tomorrow there might be hot water for showers and functioning toilets for the first time since we got here, and that would be a few months… but who’s counting!?

Staff on the Station still out fighting fires. Smoke everywhere.

Off to bed ready for another day.

With the lights all out you can see fires glowing all over the escarpment, so beautiful.

The end to another day renovating on a remote station.