Any trip to Papua New Guinea from Perth will take almost two days to accomplish, at the very least. Heading to Tabubil in the Western Highlands to train Ok Tedi Mining personnel was no different. The Perth to Cairns leg usually has a stop in the Northern Territory, be it Alice Springs or Uluru. This trip was the former before arriving in Cairns late evening. This gives time to check into the hotel, go for a quick walk and grab some dinner before settling in for the night.
Flying from Cairns to Tabubil gives a view of some of the Great Barrier Reef (cloud permitting) before requiring a quick stop at Horn Island for a refuel and then on to Tabubil. On the days with little cloud cover this second part of the flight also has some great scenery of meandering water courses of the lowlands and the hills around Tabubil upon landing.
On this trip after arriving in Tabubil it was into the accommodation and then to the training centre for a quick induction prior to making sure the training room was set up. Induction complete, training room ready, training started. So the afternoon was spent going through some geostatistics with a couple of senior geologists. Good fun, or it is to me.
At the end of the day, being a Monday, the Star Mountains Hash House Harriers meet up and go for a random run around before dinner and talk. It's a great way to end every Monday when in Tabubil. It gets you out of your accommodation, gets you socialising, and more importantly gets you active. Running in 99.9999% humidity and high 20 degrees makes for a very sweaty activity. I think I would have been less wet had I just showered with all my clothes on. But it is good fun and having other people around always helps with the running motivation.
Tuesday began the regular training of geologists who needed to learn how to utilise MineSight a little more effectively for their jobs. There were two classes that would each run for three days with the Sunday off breaking up the second course. The attendees were all receptive which is always a good thing when teaching :)
So the Sunday happened to be the day of the Tru Kai Fun Run. This is a 5km fundraising and awareness run that this year was dedicated to helping raise the awareness of TB in Papua New Guinea. The event is run in a number of locations throughout PNG and Tabubil was one of them. So at about 645 on the morning of my day off I've joined about a hundred others to run through some torrential rain for half an hour. Though to be honest, as a lot of people also walked and by the time some of us had finished it was going to be another 45 minutes before the presentations, I figured another lap of the course would be a good thing. And yes it was still raining, but it did help fill in the time and when you're already wet it doesn't matter too much. So another 5km later and it was presentation time. What was really encouraging was the fasted three were all young local guys, some of which are part of the Tabubil Triathlon Club as well.
A little later when the rain had dies of a couple of us went mountain biking out of town. Really we just rode mountain bikes down the gravel road out of town for 40 minutes which was a lot of fun, but not much in the way of flat pedaling. I didn't realise just how much the downhill outweighed the uphill as the ride back took just over an hour, and the profile of the ride is pretty interesting to see as well. My time wasn't particularly helpful to those I was cycling with as my descending skills are absent, though I did usually catch up when going back up the hills. Usually. Until we were nearly back into Tabubil anyway. But it was certainly fun and always nice to do something on a day off in town.
The afternoon off ended up being a little more involved as I spent it with the Exploration Manager and we did a bit of training and making geological shapes. It's the sort of thing we do when we pretend to be grown up geos instead of just drawing shapes on paper sections and colouring them in. That's right, geologists are really just paid to do the same stuff we all did in play school :)
Then Monday was the last day of the basic training (and another evening Hash House Harrier run) and then it was a couple of days up the hill at the Ok Tedi mine office instead of down in town. It's good to see the pit as I hadn't been up to the mine for a year and there were a couple of changes to the layout of the pit compared to my last visit. Now you may think that a lot will change in a mine pit over the course of a year, and while you're basically correct, the bigger pits the change doesn't appear so obvious all the time. It's a bit like watching a tree grow. You don't always notice the changes until you haven't really looked for a while. So most of the time it's still rather cloudy up at the mine (one of the reasons the mine has 10+ metres of rain a year), but there were moments of convenient timing where the far wall was viewable.
These last few days were spend doing problem solving and a little bit more training with the MineSight using geologists in the mining offices. It's a good thing to do as you remember how the software is really used on site which hopefully allows you to incorporate those facets into your training courses, making it all a little bit more relevant to those you're training.
Then on the Friday after a half day on site, it was the flight direct to Cairns where after checking into the hotel a 10 kay run was on order. It was nice to run on the flat after having the previous 12 days running being either up or down hills for the most part. Up early Saturday, fly home to Perth and swap the suitcase for a hockey bag and go running around on the grass. Under blue blue sky. Without rain. Ahh, the small things :)
But it did appear to be a well received training trip and for me it was good for a bit of exercise and to catch up with those who I hadn't seen for a while. I'm not sure when that means the next trip to either Papua New Guinea or Ok Tedi will be, but I'm pretty sure it will be on the itinerary again one day.