By Paula Doran and Noel Fisher
We’ve heard of fly-in-fly-out miners, but until today, never shearers!
Heavy rainfall this week saw 20 shearers stranded at Mundi Mundi Station and with dwindling supplies, the SES made the decision to evacuate the team by helicopter.
SES Unit Commander, Ian Harvey. said it’s the first time in his 20-year-experience a shearing team has had to be airlifted out of a property, but with a buxom creek system surrounding the property and creating an ‘island’ of isolation, it was deemed more sensible to get the team out, rather than resupply them with food.
“There are quite a few creeks running out there and we don’t estimate the water will subside for a week,” Mr Harvey said.
The helicopter arrived in Broken Hill at midday on Friday and began the task of evacuating the shearers in groups of four.
Roustabout Mele Tuipulotu said there were nine shearers, about seven roustabouts and a cook stranded on the station.
“We were all sorta stressing out because we didn’t want to be rained in because it was going to be more than over a week or so that we would be out there.
“We only found out last night that Burgess had ordered a chopper to get us out and to drop supplies for those that were staying out there.
“Not often would a shearing team get transported by chopper.
“All the rain is good for the land, but we’re missing out on a bit too much work,” Ms Tuipulotu chuckled.
The 15-minute chopper ride was the first experience young locals Mele Tuipulotu, Tulah Rogers and Steven Newman ever had in a helicopter, it was also their first week working on this shearing team with C and C Burgess Shearing.
They said they were quite blown away by what the boss would do for them, that they would send a helicopter out to get them.
The crew had managed to shear about 10,000 out of the 16,000 sheep on the station but had to stop because of the rain.