by Rebecca Ballard – Geology student, Deakin University
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Australia Day, 26th January 2023

I have hit the ground running! What have I done that has really brought me joy. What has really floated my boat! What has stopped me in my tracks and made me really think about the story behind a scenario. What mysteries remain unsolved. Where would my skills and passions best be used. Where could I be the most help? Lancefield…… I love Lancefield! I love the mystery surrounding the swamp. I love the memories I have of digging in this swamp and finding evidence of the Megafauna that once grazed our rugged landscape around 80,000 years ago! The mystery still remains…… what caused this huge deposit of fossils of these giant animals to be located in a concentrated area in Lancefield. Was it a catastrophic environmental event? Was it something else? It’s like a Sherlock Holmes mystery. There is work to be done, Watson!!! In 2016 we embarked on a digging program to unearth more of these mysteries. Unfortunately, since that time, bags and bags and bags of dirt remain waiting to be sieved, picked, identified and catalogued. It’s been 7 years and I need to remember all the details behind these mysteries, as well as all the geology […]

Fast Forward to January, 2023

…it ended abruptly! I won’t say it was easy. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve pushed four babies out of myself! The decision to leave the drilling program in 2018 was sudden and stressful. I quit the job, the university degree and I almost allowed it to change me totally. It only takes a few really awful, horrible people to make you start to question your validity, your knowledge, your passion, your very essence. And it’s unfortunate these very few people seem to deafen you to the really, really great people….. So without any details, it was awful. But I survived! Then our world was thrown into a pandemic. I would question if anyone has not changed in some way during the last three years. We are all scarred in some way, altered, our view on life constantly threatened and the importance what we hold dear has been questioned. What was once important and vital is put on hold, some dreams never to be looked upon again. But humans are resilient and with a lot of help and support from each other we find a new normal amidst the new year. I am no where close to […]

Young July Drilling Program, 2018 : Washing the Core……

Gawd I love my job! So most of my work for this program is in an administration capacity. But from time to time, I annoy the boys enough that they allow me near the geology and I can get my hands dirty! And in this case, my whole self dirty! Today I learnt to wash the core! The core comes to us straight from the drillers covered in a special substance that can only be described as gooey mud. It’s kind of like a sticky, oily substance – some drillers even use a canola based lubricant – so picture oily, slippery, viscousy slime and then add dirt to it. It has a very distinct smell – a mix of dog vomit, really sweet cow shit and slops. As the core comes out of the drill, it’s covered in this slime to help it come out of the drill barrel. It makes sense from a physics point of view, but it messes with the geology! So to view what the core really looks like, all this sludge has to be washed away! Apparently no one likes this job as it is slow and tedious. Enter the very keen, mature aged geology student with experience […]

Week One and Two – Young Drilling, July 2018

So, I’m here again! In Young, NSW. It’s becoming all too familiar. Although it is my MOST favourite time of the year to be in Young. It’s cold, crisp, the land is fresh and beautiful. And I’m loving it…….! Rather than bore the world with daily updates of me doing the same old things over and over (and also due to the fact I am so busy I can’t think straight!) I have decided to update this particular blog in a fortnightly increment – mainly because I am rostered to be here two weeks on and one week off, so it’s a good way of dividing up information based on those timelines. Plus it makes me feel better about not having to update daily as I am brain dead at night! So, I’m here again, again! My work for a mining company has brought me to Young to participate in a further drilling program. We are working in similar areas to where I have been in the past so the landscape is familiar. My Long-Suffering Trusty Sidekick, Alfy, and I are set up rather cosily in a comfortable apartment, complete with a visiting cat called George, who I have managed […]

Day One – Young Drilling Program February 2018

Another road trip to Young – this time for longer than one night, and we left at a more godly hour of 8am which meant LSM was verbal and not grunting. My ever faithful Dad came to meet us to help us attach our latest acquisition – a u-beaut double axle trailer WITH cage – oh yes! She’s beautiful. And I have named her Loretta. LSM being a little nervous about towing a double axle trailer through Melbourne traffic chose to take us the scenic route to Young, which may have added a few hours to our travel time, but didn’t fail to impress me with it’s gorgeous scenery, all the way through Benalla. Beautiful granite outcrops, and again I had not bought Lucille! Oh man! I was itching to stop but knowing that we would be leaving the truck and the trailer at Young for the duration of the Drilling Program, we would be catching the train home, so no rock collecting for me this trip! Having eventually arrived at Young, we began frantically forming lists of all the things that needed to be done before the drillers arrived tomorrow. A few new toys were brought along, one being […]

Day Two – Young Field Trip – Again……

I slept like a log!!! An early morning meeting meant an early breakfast and about a 45km trip to one of the most beautiful places in Australia, a place called Thudungra. With the sun rising (and burning my Celtic skin already!) we meet at the letter boxes, a place the locals knew well, which of course, are just a series of letter boxes. Our mission – to look at where the drilling was to take place and to make plans to try and minimise the damage to the property we were drilling on as much as possible. This beautiful land has been in the landowners family since 1929. I loved hearing the stories of how generations of his family have been born on this land, raised on this land, and has worked this land with respect and love. And you can tell the land benefits from this type of attitude….. It was just majestic! Beautiful red laterite soils with chunks of volcanic remnants. I spent hours just wandering around paddocks loving the natural history of this place. Just beautiful!   And to top it all off, the landowner had a dog who tolerated me rubbing my face all over his […]

Day One – Young Field Trip – Again……

At 5am, Long Suffering Mentor and I, again begin a road trip to Young, NSW. LSM is NOT a morning person at the best of times, so I expected nothing but grunts and sighs until at least Little River, but she was perkier than normal so we lasted in silence to maybe Leopold. Armed to the teeth with water, thermos, tea and keep cups, we set off on our trek to Young, NSW – again! This time our purpose for the road trip was to meet with the prospective landholders to talk about a drilling program we are working on in February. It will be a flying visit – a two night stay in our home away from home, The Townhouse Motor Inn in Young. We get free breaky and the people are lovely so I really love this place! Once again we reached the border and a flying photo as LSM kept shouting that we had to meet someone important at somewhere at 3pm so we needed to hurry. Honestly, I am just here to watch and learn, I have no idea what is going on or what is involved so I’m loving this – just sit back and […]

Day Eleven – Milford Sound to Te Anau- New Zealand

Today……was……the …..best…..day……EVER!!! We had booked the JUCY tour of Milford Sound – being the proud JUCY people we are! Plus the lady at the travel desk said it was an early tour that wouldn’t be crowded and too touristy – so we were in! Bright and early at 8.30am we arrived at the Milford Sound ferry terminal, all set to board a big boat for a tour of Milford Sound. Now, Milford Sound contrary to popular belief is not really a Sound (in Geology, a Sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord), but is actually a fjord – just a bloody great big one! Some Ningkompoop named it Milford Sound instead of Milford Fjord – and the name has just stuck. So for now, we will refer to it by it’s known name and just ignore the fact that in strict Geology, it’s not a sound, but a fjord…… Anyways, we began our cruise with the drizzle surrounding us, but not dampening our spirits! Once again I dragged Long-Suffering Mentor onto the top of the boat to enjoy the liquid sunshine that is New Zealand weather, and […]

Day Ten – Queenstown to Milford Sound – New Zealand

It was f*&^ing cold! I think my face froze off overnight! It was so cold that I had to hover over the dunny seat to stop myself sticking to it! Bloody hell New Zealand can get cold…. Anyways, having warmed my nethers over the gas stove, we set off towards Milford Sound. Along the way were more lakes that went on forever, Highland cows that looked mean and hairy, roadkill hedgehogs that I was itching to stop and get a look at (I’ve never seen a hedgehog before!) and even more clear rivers and streams.   We stopped for lunch at Te Anau, a beautiful little town right on the HUGE Lake Te Anau. At the coffee shop there were alpacas that you could feed for $1. If you rustled the paper bag they would all come ambling over and expect you to give them treaties. One fella got a bit miffed with the look of me and spat – but other than Mr Grumpy-pants they were all rather friendly and enjoyed some attention. I got my animal fix a little….   Something that is somewhat unnerving here in New Zealand is the air raid siren that periodically goes off! […]

Day Nine – Franz Josef to Queenstown – New Zealand

Having thoroughly had my tanty overnight regarding the cancelled helicopter trip to Franz Josef Glacier, Long-Suffering Mentor (also known as Cardio Cathy!) decided we would do the Franz Josef Summit walk – one and a half hours walk return but most of it uphill (of course – we ARE going to see a glacier!) and most of it on very uneven surface. Glaciers leave moraines as they retreat, and these moraines are made up of really, really, REALLY unconsolidated rocks. Big rocks, little rocks, really big rocks, really small rocks. Not a walk conducive with recovering from a broken foot. But being the stubborn lady I am, I instructed LSM (aka Cardio Cathy!) to walk ahead of me and wait for me at the glacier. If I didn’t turn up in half an hour she was instructed to come down the mountain and find me! So off she tore like a mountain goat, and I toddled off behind. The first bit was ok. Up hill at times and panting (so unfit!). But then we hit some river crossings which didn’t involve wet feet but did involve me stumbling over rocks, which may have resulted in a small cracking sound from […]