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Mike Leahy's Diary

Day 17: Waterproof Tent

Mike coming out of the tentI am woken by Martin well before it is light. As he was bringing me a cup of coffee it was probably pretty uncharitable to greet him with the immortal Leahy early morning greeting.

Although a thin cloud layer has spread over the night it is still quite frosty. It is nowhere near as cold as the previous morning's –7 or –8 degrees, but is cold enough to put me off washing until after breakfast. Peter has already freshened up down at the creek. After eating I follow suit. The water is clean enough to drink safely and is very cold. I soon feel ‘fresh' so walk back to the porch of the old hut to have another cup of tea before pulling the tent down to let Kate arrive by helicopter. Five minutes later, as we work to move/disassemble the surprisingly robust tent we hear the sound of a helicopter above the beguiling song of the bellbirds. Damn, Kate's nearly here!

We ask Chris to give us five minutes to clear the landing site. Chris dips down, only to climb again a couple of times to blow any loose stuff from the landing site. The last thing he wants is a fern branch becoming entangled in his rotors. Then he comes down to land. It's the first time that Kate has seen the clearing. I think that she is impressed.

Mike, Mike and Kate by tentA quick cup of tea and we walk down to the creek. I'm told to carry Mikey's rucksack while he has mine. It's because the crowbar that I'll be using later is in Mikey's bag. I'll be in trouble when I get home because my bag was chosen by Liz to match my outfit. Not sure that Mikey's is the right colour. I look across to Derek and John as they unplug from each other's equipment to walk along the treacherously slippery rocks. Memories of the first ‘Rough Science' series flood back. Those two guys work so closely together that they might as well be man and wife. I'm sure that they know each other better than many married couples. I love the close teamwork here and love working with five or six people rather than fifteen or sixteen.

Kate, Martin, Mikey and the crew walk down one of the old mineshafts. I am to stay near the surface with ‘Peter the ground crew'. I chat to Peter for another half an hour or so about culling in the interests of the environment and why you should never walk down a creek if you don't know it. After a while I begin to worry about the guys down the mine. Peter and I have talked for ages. We haven't heard landslips and there is no reason to suspect that the shallow mineshaft is full of gas but we're a little uncomfortable. We walk to the entrance - no sound comes from it. We don't have a torch but can hardly get lost so walk slowly down the claustrophobic passage. Still not a sound. God. I hope that they are OK. We slowly work further into the mine, now in total darkness, then I hear Derek's laugh. They must be OK. We wait a while and then see lights. Apparently there has been a technical problem.

Mike hammering off some rockThe others exit the cave and we climb up to an exposed reef of quartz. I hammer some rock off and Peter carries it to the hut while I hump Mikey's bag and some tools back. We've finished filming a little early. Cool! We clear up and leave the place in silence again. Our next stop is a quarry where Kathy and J are trying out their seismometer. The final scene takes hours to film because each time Kate twists the lever to set the explosives off nothing happens and because the construction isn't playing ball.

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Photo: Mike Leahy
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