Get in Shape Challenge Day 6 – Sunday 21st August

Day six of the challenge, the first Sunday which is a scheduled total rest day. I decided before starting the challenge that one day a week I would have a total rest day partly to give my body a chance to recover at the end of every week as well as to give me a chance to sit back and reflect on what parts of the challenge were going to plan and where I could focus on improvement.

On reflecting on the challenge so far I am quite happy with my current progress, I have managed to complete all three of the set weight sessions and am already starting to feel like in the coming week I shall start increasing the weight resistance being used. I am not currently happy with my cardio program (or should I say lack of it). I have not managed yet to get to the gym on any of my set days fro cross-training (something that will be remedied in this coming week).

At the end of this coming week I will be weighing myself and measuring my waist size to see if there is any noticeable improvement in these areas as of yet.

I am really excited and looking forward to what the coming week of the challenge will present to me – bring it on!

Get in Shape Challenge Day 5 – Saturday 20th August

Day Five has seen the first weekend session needed to keep my my challenge routine. Saturday morning have been scheduled in as the final weights session of every week before my rest day on Sunday. Out of all the sessions I have scheduled for during the weeks I felt that these ones would be the most difficult to commit to over the entire course of the challenge. To ensure that these sessions get done I know that I need to be at the gym at 7:00am (when it opens) so that it is done prior to my first student for the day whose lesson is at 9:00am.

My alarm went off at 6:30am and after some resistance from my body wanting to lie in bed and snooze I managed to pull myself out of bed, to ensure o got to the gym in time I decided that the my daily abdominal exercises I would leave until I got home from the gym.

I arrived at the gym just after 7:00am and got straight into my regular routine, I had made the decision that for the third session I still would not push myself with too much additional weight resistance – this will occur over the coming weeks as my body continues to get back into some sort of form. I started with my bench press with the weights on 60kg, throughout the first set my chest was still feeling quite tight from the sessions before, however not as tight as they were for Thursday’s session (a good sign that things will start to get easier). After the first set which I managed to get out the full twelve repetitions I stretched out my chest before continuing the final two sets. This, combined with the resistance from doing the sets, started pull out the tightness I was feeling (especially on my left hand side). I didn’t managed to complete either of my final two sets on the bench with the second set getting out 7 and the third set getting out 9, I found my arms were feeling quite fatigued early on, the rest day is definitely being looked forward to.

The remainder of my exercises I was very happy with how my body was feeling, I managed to complete full sets on all exercises with the same weights as I have been using for the entire week. I think that in the next week it will be time to start increasing some of these weights and slowly build it back up towards my PBs that I was setting back three months ago.

Get in Shape Challenge Day 4 – Friday 19th August

Day Four and I seem to be faced with another challenge, or actually the same one from Day 2, sleeping through the alarm. I again found myself sleeping through my alarm(s) set for 5:00 and 5:10am to wake up at 6:05am. Unfortunately this is too late for me to get a session done before being due up at Mater Dei in College in Joondalup to start my teaching day at 7:50am. This aberration on a Friday would normally not stop me from getting a session in with me having time in the afternoon usually to get a cardio session done, however for this fortnight due to various work and personal commitments which are of a great importance to me this time has not been available to me.

To ensure that I got something of a fitness value out of today I got up and did my morning routine including my abdominal exercises and prayer before getting ready for work.

It seems that a pattern is starting to emerge already, make the gym one day and then sleep through the alarm the next day. This is something that I will have to try and address in the coming week as I haven’t gotten a cardio session in since starting the challenge.

Another frustrating occurrence happened tonight, one that I am going to have to be very mindful of – the power of words and allowing other people to speak into my life as to what is possible and what isn’t. Tonight I have been told by some people that my goals aren’t possible, that coming up to the age of 30 with my body changing that things like a bit of weight around the middle is normal and that I’d better just get used to it. Well guess what? I am not going to just accept that and get used to it, my aim is to lose that bit of excess weight and I plan be successful with that. There are many people I know who are around my age (and older) who are in better shape, if they can do it then so can I. I am not a believer in this whole concept of “because you are getting older you can’t keep in as a good a shape” I feel that is just people making excuses. If anyone else wants to make those excuses for themselves fine, but don’t go sharing that ideal with me and try to pollute my mindset and desired goals. Their stinking thinking and negative opinions are not welcome in my world. I understand that they feel they are doing it show concern for me and “have my best interest at heart” but I have a much better grasp of what is my best interest and what is possible for me than any other person.

Get in Shape Challenge Day 3 – Thursday 18th August

Today was a difficult day to commit to  getting up and getting to the gym. My alarm went off at 5:00am and I wanted to just role over and go back to sleep. My lack of enthusiasm this morning was due to a number of reasons, firstly I got to bed later last night than I have the previous two nights meaning I had less sleep, my body still felt quite sore from the weights session two days earlier and with it being both dark and cold staying beneath the covers just seemed so much more appealing. I know these early stages of setting a routine and getting the body back into some sort of routine is always going to be the hardest stage of the challenge… all I am going to have to do is push through the pain and discomfort so that I achieve the result by the end of the 13 weeks. I must it is much easier to say it though than to go through it!!!

After toying with the concept of staying in bed I rose and did my abdominal routine, prepared my clothing for teaching later in the day and headed off to the gym. As happened on Tuesday morning, I arrived at Fitness First in Subiaco by 5:50am and waited for the gym to open at 6:00am (please Fitness First look at your opening times and even just half and hour earlier at 5:30am would be a better opening time for me). After dropping my things off in a locker I commenced my routine.

The routine I followed was the same as the one from Monday (this will be my routine for the next 12 weeks and slowly I will look to increase both the intensity and the load I carry for each exercise). I started on the bench press and put my warmup weight of 60kg on the bar and began to start the first set – PAIN! I was immediately met by an incredible tightness and soreness across the chest from the session two days earlier, the tightness was incredible! I got out six repetitions on 60 kgs and stopped to stretch, I knew from this that today’s session was going to be one of those ones where you are continuously having to push through the pain and fatigue to get the results desired. I find these sessions the most difficult but also in the long term the most rewarding as well. After stretching I continued with the weight on 60 kg and managed to get out another two sets of 6 reps with a short break to stretch in between.

The remainder of the session followed a similar line to the bench press with regards to soreness and tightness, although to a lesser extent. I did manage to complete all the exercises on the same weights as Tuesday’s session with the same reps (3 sets of 12). This really hurt, but it was in my capacity. I think I will see how I am feeling on Saturday morning to gauge what (if anything) I should increase weight bearing wise, these first two weeks are designed to get me back into the routine and not kill me. My triceps were the other muscle group incredibly tight, using the 10 kg  dumb bell I got out sets of 12, 10 and then 9 with each arm before failing, I could feel the tightness slowly pulling out of each muscle as I continued with the repetitions.

Overall I am happy with how the session went. I was very tight and it really hurt, however, going on past experience there should only be one or maybe two more sessions that will hirt like this one in tightness before the body adjusts. This afternoon I am going to head off to get some more protein supplements to help in both my muscle building and also recovery.

Fingers crossed tomorrow goes better than Wednesday and I manage to get up for a gym based cardio session.

Get in Shape Challenge Day 2 – Wednesday 17th August

My second day of the challenge and already a massive hiccup… Slept through my alarm!!!

By the time I woke up I had missed the window of opportunity to get the gym before work which I am so disappointed about. I am glad that at least tonight I do have my indoor soccer game with BXVI so I will get at least a little bit of cardio fitness work.

My body today feels pretty dodgy, the tightness and soreness from doing the first weight session of the new schedule is definitely setting in. Tomorrow is a weights session (if I manage to get out of bed that is). I am hoping that my body has recovered a little better than how it is currently feeling.

Get in Shape Challenge Day 1 – Tuesday 16th August

Tuesday 16th of August 2011

Today is the first real day of the physical side of my get into shape challenge and what a way to start – 5:00am wake up!

My alarm went off at 5:00am and unlike i have done on so many other mornings when I have turned it off, rolled over and gone back to sleep I actually got up and started to get ready for my gym sessions – today was going to be a weights session, my first in about two months (always painful in the coming days). Before I could get going to the gym I had to go through my new morning routine I that I want to try and do every morning without fail. I started with my abs exercises including set ups, bridging (both forward and then on either side) and some light dumbbell work. After this was completed I said my morning prayers before getting in the car and heading off to Fitness First Platinum in Subiaco.

I arrived at the gym at 5:50am ready to get in there and start as soon as it opens at 6:00am. I find it quite frustrating that the gym doesn’t open until 6:00am as it is always a stretch for me to get everything done I need to, washed and changed and out to which ever school I am teaching at by the time I start teaching (a hint Fitness First…open at 5:30am please!!!). Today’s session was going to be aimed at not going too hard with the weights being used but rather slowly building back into routine over the first few weeks of training. The last thing I wanted to do was go too hard and then be so sore that I have to take time off before being able to train again, that would be an epic fail on my behalf.

I started with my bench press and loaded the bar up to 60 kg. The first set of 12 I managed to smash out fairly easy (the last couple were a bit of a strain) this weight normally is simple for me to do but because of the time off I thought it would be wise to not go much above this to make it a worthwhile session. I completed the second set of twelve with a bit more difficulty, the last set was no good  what soever with me only managing to get out 4 reps…looks like there’s a bit of ground to recover.

Next I moved onto the dumbbells to start focusing on my upper pecs and shoulder muscles. I like to work at a high intensity with lower weights for the first few weeks of a training regime to make sure I am keeping the heart rate up throughout my workout. I alternated between an inclined press with 15 kg dumbbells and vertical lifts with 10 kg dumbbells with a 30 second rest in between each set of 12 repetitions (one set was equal to both exercises being done). I did manage to get through and complete all three sets of these, but as with the bench press did find it quite difficult towards the end (it’s amazing how much strength can be lost in such a short period of time).

On completion of this I moved onto combining a set of Shoulder presses (no incline with 15 kg weights) with a set of bicep curls ( seated with 10 kg weights). I completed these exercises in a similar fashion to the two exercises previously done in combination as sets of 12 repetitions. The bicep curls I was doing seated with locking my elbows into my body to isolate the muscle to be doing the lifting, to many times at the gyms you see people doing bicep curls and getting there entire body involved in the lift – I would rather do a smaller weight and really work the specific muscle group.

Next I moved onto completing three sets of shoulder flys using the 10 kg wieghts, inbetween each set I worked my triceps with single armed triceps curls also using the 10 kg weights (12 on the rights arm and then 12 on the left arm). The flies I did manage to do quite easily and i think I will use the 12.5 kg weights on Thursday, the triceps curls I didn’t manage to complete even two full sets on either arm (the first set I did twelve, then struggled with 9 on each arm for 2nd set and the third set saw me fail at 7). Upon completing this I worked my deltoid muscle group using a 20 kg dumbbell.

Usually I would move on to my lats and spend some time working this group, however all the exercises I usually do I couldn’t this morning due to the equipment being used and me starting to run short on time! I moved onto my final muscle exercises – bicep curls with a barbell and triceps squats using my own body weight (one set being 12 repetitions of each of being completed before rest). Today I used only the 20 kg barbell (I was up to using the 30 kg one 2 months ago), I wanted to ensure I would get through the exercise and not blow up. Both sets of exercises I managed to complete so I think on Thursday I shall have to increase the weight and resistance to get  that little more strain out of it all.

All up I am really happy with the first morning of training, it is only early days though! Tomorrow is a cardio session at the gym – another 5:00am start will be needed. Fingers crossed I can make it two in a row!

Get In Shape Challenge Day Zero – Monday 15th August 2011

Day : Zero

Date : Monday 15th August 2011

Weight : 81.4 kg

At the beginning of this year I sat down and wrote a number of goals that I shared with some of my closest and most trusted friends. I stopped and assessed my life over a number of weeks to really assess the overall health of my life, which areas I thought I was doing well and those which needed some more attention and from these prioritise what I wanted to have achieved by the end of 2011. Basically I stopped and assessed my life and then cast vision as to who I wanted to have become by the end of 2011. I am a firm believer in the leadership principle of casting vision, without it as the bible says in Proverbs “the people perish”. As I am the one solely responsible for my life and who I develop into I believe it is vitally important to firstly cast vision (and write it down) to myself so that I can see and be reminded regularly who it is I am trying to become (the goals for 2011 are framed and sitting on my desk at home).

One of my goals for this year has been to be really diligent with my weight and get into the shape that I desire. My goal has been by the end of the year to work to a point of starting to get muscle definition showing through clearly on my chest and abdominal area. This has been a dream of mine for many years, but I have never been able to achieve it largely due to poor discipline over a long period of time. I do need to be clear, I have never been obesely overweight, as can be seen by my current weight I am sitting at 81.4kg and I am a height of 176cm, I have and continue to play sport and am active regularly every week – this goal is really just going for that extra little but to prove that I can do it.

To achieve this goal I felt I needed to break down the task into two different categories firstly “What I Eat” and secondly “How I Exercise”. The first category of what I eat I have been very disciplined with. I decided at the start of the year to not eat any Fast Food or drink any Soft Drink. Since the year began I have not drunk any soft drink at all and as for Fast Food, well I have only indulged in Fish and Chips once and Pizza two times and that’s it. My diet very much at the moment is consisting of regular healthy meals.

The next stage of the challenge is now about to begin and run for the next 13 weeks – the physical exercise routine (Part Two).

This part of my routine has been very disrupted throughout the year, some of it has been due to a lack of discipline on my behalf (especially with bed times and getting up in Winter) but also largely due to a continual run of injuries in the form of muscle tears and strains (a 29 year old body doesn’t seem to be as nimble as an 18 year olds). Starting from to tomorrow this is going to change and all my progress will regularly be updated for all to see largely to keep me accountable to the routine. With there now not being many weeks left in the year it is important that I start this next phase to ensure I get to the body shape I want for the “beach look” this Summer. I have set myself the goal of the next 13 weeks also as I get married in 13 weeks and I am really keen to get in shape and a good routine exercise wise prior to getting married.

I will be rising early tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for Day One – this will comprise of a weights session at Fitness First Platinum in Subiaco, Western Australia. My mornings before work (I start teaching at 7:30pm most days) will either have an intensive weight session (3 times a week) or intensive cross training cardio session. It is going to be a tough task and big ask, however I do feel that this is possible. The hardest part is always getting started!

North West Trip Day Two – Port Headland to Karijini

Day Two – Friday 5th August

Port Headland – Kairijini National Park

After a refreshing sleep at my dad’s place in Port Headland Melissa and I were dropped off at the Port Headland Visitor’s Centre, the starting point for our BHP mine tour of their operations in Port Headland. Mum and Dad booked us on this tour for the morning as Dad had to finish off some of his work which would take all morning prior to us leaving for Karijini. I was looking forward to this tour and getting an inside look at one of the largest drivers of our economy here in Australia at this point in time.

We arrived at the visitors centre a little early, we used this time head on over to the Silver Carriage, an old train restaurant carriage that has been converted into a cafe. We had coffees and tea to pass the time on the back decking area enjoying each other’s company and the warm sun which we found lovely when compared to the cold winter days we had been experiencing back in Perth.

After finishing the coffees we headed back to the visitor centre and waited close to the front door to ensure we got a good seat on the bus tour (we had been told this was important). When the driver arrived I asked him where the best place to sit would be and he offered Melis and I the front seat in the drivers cab. This was brilliant as it gave us the complete view unhindered by any other person or part of the bus.

The tour was incredibly informative, the port site we toured make up half of the operations, the other half happening out on the mine sites. Throughout the Pilbara there are many iron ore mine sites, the largest being the Mt Whaleback site located at Newman. Our tour guide told us that the ore quality differs from the various mine sites from the high grade at Whaleback (the colour is a dark purple colour) through to the mustardy orange colours from the satellite mines. Apparently the Mt Whaleback ore is of such a high quality that it actually needs to be mixed with the lesser ore qualities for shipping to reach the demands of the various clients overseas. I was blown away with the size of the machinery and the size of the ore piles waiting for export. Some of the machinery located on the port site is no longer in use (this being the on site crushers). All of the crushing requirements now happen on the mine sites rather than in the port, at the moment the three crushers located on the Port site are being dismantled to make room for other machinery needed.

The companies BHP and FMG who operate out of Port Headland have invested significant dollars into infrastructure throughout the port area, most notably this is seen through their train lines throughout the yards to firstly transport the ore from the mines to the port but also to then have it stored in its piles waiting for shipping and then also its transfer onto the ships. The trains transporting the ore are operated by drivers, however, they can be controlled automatically from the central control station at the port. For safety reasons there is an alarm that goes off and has to be reset by the driver every couple of minutes. If a driver neglects to reset this alarm the central control can take control of the train and direct it in automatically. There are also sensors alongside all of the train line that detect anything obstructing the track, this technology allows the maximum amount of ore to be transported with the minimal amount of disruption which equals greater profits.

After we had finished the tour we were picked up by mum and taken to the turtle beach, this was because dad still wasn’t quite finished his work and we needed to give him an additional 15 – 20 minutes. Port Headland is a hatching ground for endangered sea turtles, it is the only urban hatching ground in Australia. Whilst we were at the look out we did manage to see a couple of these magnificent creatures out in the ocean. After picking dad up from his work we headed back to is place to have a quick lunch and then head off for Karijini National Park.

The trip to the National Park was an interesting one in itself, we estimated it’d take about two hours (we were wrong as it took us four hours). The landscape in the Pilbara is absolutely stunning, we were blown away with the diversity in flora from small semi arid scrubs to broad sweeping flood plains to, as the trip progressed, the high sweeping hills of the Hammersley Ranges.

After four hours and a quick stop for fuel (fuel places are few and far between so you do need to take them when they come along) we pulled into the Eastern Entrance for Karijini National Park. The time was just after 4pm so we decided to not waste a second and head to the visitor centre. Melissa’s and my hope was to be able to book oursleves onto a guided tour of the restricted gorges (level 6 walks) and hopefully get some time to go into a gorge or two in the afternoon. Unfortunately upon arriving at the visitor’s centre we found out that it shut at 4pm (we got there at 4:05pm). Feeling utterly disappointed that we had missed it by such a small time frame we headed for the accommodation at the Eco Resort to check-in. This is when we found that there was another 47km until the Resort and it was a rough gravel road we had to get there – this felt like another fail as the afternoon was getting late!

By 4:45pm we pulled into the Eco Resort and checked in, Melis and I noticed that there was a tour on offer which could be booked at the Eco Resort for the restricted gores with West Oz Actice Adventures. We booked ourselves onto it for the following day , all of a sudden our spirits were lifted as one of the main things we wanted to do had now been taken care of.

Instead of going straight to the accommodation we headed for the Weano Gorge Recreation Area and for Oxer Lookout, reputably one of the best lookouts at sunset in Western Australia. At Oxer lookout three of the gorges in the area, Hancock, Weano and Red Gorge all meet at the point known as the junction (at the base of the gorge is Junction Pool). We arrived there right as the sun was staring to set, the setting sun provided brought out the many different shades of red from the rock of the three gorges. We had arrived and now it felt like we were going to have a great time. All I can really say about the view is wow, words just cannot describe the magnificence and beauty. I found myself in total awe at the magnificence of creation and again thinking about how there is no such possible way that we, or creation in its full splendor could not have happened accidentally but as part of the design of a loving and powerful God.

After spending a lot of time down at Oxer Lookout we headed back to the Eco Rereat and checked out our accommodation. We had booked two Eco tents between the four of us, I was sharing with my Dad and Melis was sharing a tent with my Mum. These tents were a great blend between the basic necessities with a little bit of luxury containing a proper bed and electricity as well as an en-suite with both a toilet and shower. The toilets and showers provided much humour over the next few days with it being a common occurrence to open the toilet to find a small frog looking back up at you…always a good thing to check before doing your business.

For dinner we headed over to the Eco Retreat’s Restaurant where we enjoyed a good meal. The retreat was actually not too badly priced from a food perspective and whilst the menu was rather simple the quality of food was great and there was enough range to cater for everyone. Whilst we were having dinner we had the tour guide from West Oz Active Adventures come over and introduce himself to us, Pete. Pete filled us in on everything we needed to know about our trip the next day.

After dinner had concluded we headed back over to the tents, on our way there we were blown away by how cold it had gotten (it was super cold). It was lucky we had been warned and brought lots of warm clothes to get through the evenings.

Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics Friday 12th August 2011

Gig Details

Band :

Date : Friday 12th August – Saturday 13th August 2011

Time : 11:30pm – 3:00am

Venue : The Ellington Jazz Club

Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics returned to Perth’s premiere jazz club venue, the Ellington, to entertain the crowds as a part of the “Late Night Groove Sessions” on Friday the 12th of August 2011.

After having had over a month since our last performance (The RTR Winter Music Festival on the 26th of June) we returned to what I personally believe is the best sounding stage in Perth. Whilst the vibe and atmosphere at the Ellington is totally different to any other place in Perth, it is a jazz club and not a pub or night club, I always love the appreciation of the crowds at the Ellington and also playing in an environment where at the end of the night I can leave and still feel like I can hear (it is also a great bonus that throughout the show I can always hear myself and the entire band clearly and not an overpowering level. This is largely due to the house sound engineer, Liam, every time I have played at the Ellington he has been in control of the sound desk and carries the responsibility of the atmosphere of the room and as of yet he hasn’t missed the mark once on any of the shows I have done there.

The evening of the show had some interesting factors right from the outset, Miss Odette Mercy was ill and would have have to push through barely being able to breathe in order for the show to go on plus a large portion of the band were having to get on a coach at 5am the next morning to head off to Kalgoorlie for a gig with the Funk Club House Band. This was also going to be the first time we had gone with a three piece horn section at the Ellington, having proved very successful at the album launches at the end of April, Alistair McEvoy rejoined the band on Tenor Saxophone whilst I (Simon Montgomery) moved to doubling between the Alto and Baritone Saxophones. This role of playing the baritone saxophone is one that I am thoroughly enjoying with this band, hopefully i will be able to continue to pick up more and more work as a baritone saxophone player as well as on the other instruments I play professionally.

The show started with our “Soul Atomics Theme” and straight into “Up To You”  one of the tunes which is featured on our recently released single “Wait in Vain”. Our opening segues moving from “Theme” to “Up to You” and then into “You’ve Got Soul” and “Wait in Vain” are really getting tight and were appreciated by the audience for the energy level was kept at a high throughout the first 20 minutes of the first set. The first four songs of the set feature Jamie Searle on guitar who produced some brilliant solos that really captured the heart of the songs and kept the audience captivated and interested.

The remainder of the first set continued to build the intensity set up by the band in the first 20 minutes. Solos from Alistair McEvoy, myself and Jimmy really kept the crowd sitting on the edge of their seats, with one audience member continually requesting more baritone sax solos throughout the set. Personally I felt the solos in Ogg’s Groove (an instrumental tune) were some of the best of the set with all three horns blowing powerful improvisations which were developed both rhythmically and melodically. Another highlight of the set came in the song “What’ll I Have To Do” when Miss Odette Mercy asks the audience for relational advice on “how to get her man back after treating him wrong”. For the first time in the band’s existence it felt like this segment of the night was going to fail (the crowd had no relational advice at all) until the final relational advice to “give him the best sex he has ever had”. 

The second set commenced with us playing the full Theme of the Soul Atomics, complete with solos from all the horns this tune really set the scene for the entire set. Unfortunately, quite a few people left in the break between the two sets (must’ve been because it was about 1:45am) but soon after we started more people started coming in off the street from other places around the city. The second set continued in the same vain as the first one finished, solo highlights included Al McEvoy on “Booby Trap” and “Gold Digger” as well as Simon Montgomery on the baritone saxophone on the song “Three Hip Cats”. The biggest highlight of the second set was the MC freestyle addition to “Gold Digger” which was appreciated by all of the band as much as all of the listeners.

The set concluded with the tunes “Gold Digger”, “Tell it Like it Is” and “Fear of the Feeling” segued together, over these songs all of the horns were featured soloists with Alistair McEvoy on “Gold Digger”, Simon Montgomery on “Tell it Like it Is” and all horns trading two bar sections on “Fear of the Feeling”. 

A huge thanks to the Ellington for the opportunity to be able to perform as a part of the late night groove sessions and to everyone who came along to support us on the evening. Our next performance is coming up in the next few weeks at Boheme, Perth’s latest club located in the centre of Perth. We hope to see you down there at it.

If you haven’t already checked out Odette Mercy’s New Single, make sure you check it out and buy it via download.

North West Trip Day One – Perth to Port Headland

Day One – Thursday 4th August 2011.

Perth – Port Headland

On Thursday the 4th of August 2011 my fiance, Melissa Haydon, and I left Perth for a four day holiday in the North West of WA. The reason we were traveling north was to get a taste for Karijini National Park, a beautiful location in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, it had been one of Melissa’s dreams for many years to go there to walk and climb through the many gorges which exist there.

My Dad has been working as a contractor to the state government in the medical field for the past eight months. The nature of his job means that he is based up in Port Headland throughout the weeks. My mum flies back and forward regularly between Perth and Port Headland to both spend time with my Dad and also look after my nephew in Perth two days a week. Our trip came into fruition after a conversation I had with my mum where she said that she wanted to go and visit Karijini whilst they were based up in the Pilbara region, I mentioned that Melissa also really wanted to visit the National Park and the rest was all a matter of working out available times for the four of us to embark on our journey. After sifting through many dates we managed to find time we were all free from the 4th of August to the 98th of August, it would mean I wold have to renegotiate my teaching loads for the Friday and Monday either side of the weekend but I figured it was worth it to have this experience and share it with my fiance and also my parents.

After teaching in the morning of the 4th of August out at Aquinas College my mum and I were picked up by Melissa’s family and taken to the domestic airport to catch our 2:10 flight on QF1114 to Port Headland. Melissa and I were sitting separate from my mum, this worked really well as it gave us the two hour flight duration to talk about various details for our upcoming wedding (the trip was made pretty comfortable thanks to being given an exit row aisle).

On our descent into Port Headland I was blown away to see the size of all of the mining operations happening up here. Out in gauge roads of the harbour were 29 iron ore carriers waiting to gain access to the port to be loaded with iron ore for export to China, India and various other places around the world. It is said that the mining in Western Australia and Queensland is what is providing the Australian economy with a sense of stability throughout this global economic unstable time, however, words cannot describe the extent and size of the operations (which port wise is still being expanded further top maximise export potential).

Upon landing at Port Headland airport we were greeted by my dad and a nice warm 28 degree day (a pleasant change from the cold winter days in Perth). It was an interesting experience being in Port Headland with virtually every person you see wearing a work reflective shirt for mine site safety (it really was a sea of orange and yellow). Another interesting site were all the mine site safety fitted 4-wheel drives (all with only one person in it).

Dad wanted to give us the grand tour of the area so we left the airport and headed for the town of South Headland, the main living area of the town. I was not aware that Headland is divided into two distinct parts being Port Headland and South Headland. The reaosn this came about was due to a need for more land. Port Headland naturally is an island which has very limited land available for development, and most of it is owned by BHP. The site of South Headland was formed from the need for more land for residential living and commercial uses. There is a distance of between 20 – 25km between Port and South Headlands, this distance was worked out based on the location of South being the first strip of land that doesn’t flood during the wet season.

We went into South Headland and were shown the various landmarks (it really was very minimal). He really wanted to show us the brand new hospital which was just opened earlier in the year up here – it is currently the newest hospital in the state of Western Australia. After having viewed South Headland we proceeded back onto the main road to head for Port Headland.

As we approached Port Headland we started to see the extent of the mining operations in the region. Port Headland is one of the two major ports used to export the mineral resources of the North West (the other being Karatha). Before we got into the town of Port Headland we were confronted with the Dampier Salt Company’s Port Headland operations. Dampier Salt is largest exporter of salt in world with the majority of it heading over seas for industrial uses including use on roads in Europe during the winter. 24 hours a day the salt pile is continually added to from the thousands of hectares of salt pans which is refined from pumping seas water into massive pens to be dried over a period of three years.

The BHP port site is an incredible thing to behold, it dominates the entire Port Headland landscape. As we approached the town we saw the size of the machinery, iron ore storage piles and the out of commissioned crushers (all crushing now takes place on the mine sites rather than in the Port area). Mum and Dad have booked us into a mine tour of the BHP site tomorrow so we will look forward to learning more about all the operations of BHP in the Pilbara tomorrow.

After an extensive tour of the town (took all of 10 minutes really) we went back to Dad’s place he is staying in up here, a nice 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house. After having refreshed we went to the Port Headland Yacht Club for dinner.

The Yacht Club building is a rather new structure which replaced the older one earlier this year. A lot of the funds to construct this were a joint venture between BHP and FMG, the two big mining companies invested into the town. Aparently there was a short fall in the money and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest donated a million dollars of his own money to have the yacht club completed. Dinner was really nice, the menu wasn’t extensive but it was all reasonably priced (as were the bar drinks). The view from the yacht club is very pleasant, the majority of the seating is actually outside and overlooks the mouth of the port harbour.

At the conclusion of dinner we headed back to the house and prepared for the next days activities including the mine tour and leaving for Karijini.

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