Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Simple Life as a FIFO worker

The other day I have been asked to write about life as a FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) worker. For people who don’t know what that means, I will explain it. I live west of Rockhampton in Central Queensland but I work over in the north shelf of Western Australia – a distance of about 5000 km. So, I do fly from Rocky to Brisbane to Perth, stay the night and then take a work charterplane to work on an island in the Indian Ocean. For 28 days I live and work on this island together with about 6500 other workers (there’s no residential people here) and then I fly back home, while my ‘back to back’ (B2B) takes over for 28 days and I enjoy my R’n’R (Rest and Relaxation). So I actually only work 6 months of the year which I absolutely love!
While I’m rostered on for my 28 days, I work 12 hours a day (5 am – 5 pm), every day, 28 days straight. I have 30 mins lunch break but no RDO (rostered day off). I get up at 4.15 am every day to get dressed and then go to the diner to pick up my breakfast, lunch and snacks. I could have breakfast there but 4.30 am is a bit early for me. I then take the bus to the offices and work. I work as an Environmentalist, so I ensure compliance with all regulatory conditions are met, I take care of the Regulators on site and supervise a team. The job is very versatile and I can enjoy both office and field work.
When I come back to camp at about 5.30 pm, I get changed and go for a walk or a jog. The island is very restricted and we’re only allowed to walk on 2 roads. One of them however is a 15 km return walk and I do enjoy that. I see the animals coming out at dusk, listen to the waves and watch the sun go down in the ocean. Upon my return I have a shower and then go for dinner, normally around 7 pm. We have 4 meal areas – all serving the same food. After dinner I read, watch TV or check Facebook and then go to bed between 8 and 9 pm. This goes for 28 days. My room’s dimensions are about 4x3 m and part of it is my own bathroom with toilet, shower and sink. In my room I have a TV, Internet, a little fridge, a single bed, a desk and a wardrobe. It gets cleaned twice a week and our clothes get washed twice a week as well. There’re gyms here and tennis courts and pools and 2 ‘wet messes’ (= bars, where we’re allowed to have 4 light beers per day). But I enjoy solitary after a day at work and prefer to keep to myself. I sometimes meet up with colleagues for dinner and we do have the occasional drinks and a BBQ – especially around Christmas time.
I enjoy working here. It really does teach you about living simple. And when you notice how little you need you come back home and wonder what you’re supposed to do with all the stuff. I also like being able to concentrate on my work and not have to worry about things like shopping, cooking and cleaning while when I’m home I don’t have to think about work and can fully concentrate on my home life. I’ve done FIFO work for about 6 years now and in between had a residential job. That was terrible! I worked Monday to Friday, 10 hours a day plus travelling to and from work, 12 hours a day all up. In winter I never saw my backyard in daylight until the weekend. I felt tired and exhausted, mainly because work never stopped. I had to deal with incidents on weekends, expect phone calls at any time of the day or night, it was draining. I had my daily routine as I had no intentions to spend my entire weekend catching up on cleaning and washing but still, I never felt relaxed.
When this job came up, I jumped at it. Yes, it’s sad at times to be away from home for so long and to miss Christmases and birthdays but I earn well so I can pay my house off quickly and retire early. And I do enjoy being able to spend 6 months of the years at home, doing all the things I love and be close to the ones I love.