How rough are ringers?

Host: De Grey Station
Written by Trent Walk, Mechanic – De Grey Station

My girlfriend and I decided that we should pack up our lives in NSW to try our hand at the station life in WA, her as a ringer and me as the mechanic.

I’ve always been mechanically minded. I enjoy figuring out how things work, pulling them apart and putting them back together, test driving them and figuring out what the problem is to getting covered in grease and oil. It’s what I live for, aside from farming.

Working on a station is a great lifestyle, we work hard but we play hard. You become fast friends with the people around you, as they are your neighbours, co-workers and your social buddies, so although it can get “cramped” living and working together, we all make the most of it.

Being the mechanic on the station has been an eye opener. No day is the same, from a general ute service to unloading a truck in the telehandler, to teaching people how to use straps properly to completing paperwork and the list goes on. Not only that, but I was also fortunate to participate in a horse farrier clinic, so not only can I fix a busted tyre but now I can shoe your horses. As well as completing a 2-day Stress Free Stockmanship clinic, where I can utilise those techniques on the cattle.

Although, I’ve started to wonder about some of these ringers…. When I hear my name called in the workshop, I just think “what have they done now?” and some of the more common things are:

  • Vehicle is overdue for a service
  • CV boots on utes are buggered from the rough terrain
  • Tyres and more tyres to be fixed & replaced
  • Damage to vehicles from being thrashed across the station
  • Welding something back together
  • Fixing motorbikes & god damn that one quad bike doing my head in

The list of casualties to vehicles, tools and machinery is ongoing.

I swear I need to give these ringers some basic mechanical knowledge or more to the point teach them how to look after their equipment. The better you look after it, the less it’ll break. In saying that vehicles (and most things really) these days just aren’t built as tough.

Each morning vehicles that are due to be used for the day should undertake a pre-start check, this is a great way of picking up on problems early to then get them fixed before they become a breakdown. Except, that would mean that those completing the Pre-Start checks would then report any faults or general feedback that would be important…. well it’s a working progress of mine.

Being the mechanic, or a better term would be “Mr. Fix It”, is that I work across multiple different vehicles and machinery utilising a magnitude of tools. Now trying to keep all these tools inside the workshop or in a ‘safe place’ can seem impossible. Someone always wants to borrow something and oops there it’s gone forever lost in the pindan dirt.

On top of the good stuff, getting dirty in the workshop, there is some paperwork that I have to get completed and boy if I don’t our Admin lady will hunt me down. Nothing’s hard about it, it’s just remembering to get it done.

Coming from NSW, towns are a lot closer to each other and when I used to order parts it was there within days with no big worries. Well what a shock to the system ordering parts has been in the Pilbara. It can seem such a hassle just trying to talk with businesses in ensuring they are ordering you the right part, to then have to allow for at least 2 weeks for it to arrive to you as most of the time it’s coming from the east.  Needing parts in a hurry can be painstakingly slow.

All in all though, I love the job. The location is everything and more – I mean I’m a deadest keen fishermen so to be right on the coast line with river access and all, I’m living the dream!