By Rhys Finch
I grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland, and had a few labouring jobs before I got a job on a drill in 2007. I had a little bit of help from a friend getting a job in Canada, but it seems that most Australians find work within the first week or so of being in town.
I'm employed as a Senior Arctic Exploration Diamond Driller. We swap from day to night shift when needed, but usually we spend one rotation on days and the next on nights.
It's hard work being in the cold. Our rotations are six weeks on and two weeks off. So being in -40C to -50C for six weeks at a time is tiring. The thing that surprised me the most is that it's -50C, yet we stay in canvas tents in camp! But our clothing is all insulated and we have heaters everywhere. So we keep warm enough most of the time.
But it was definitely a shock to the system, coming from Australian summer to Canadian winter. Between 90 to 100 degrees Celcius difference! But everything that is hard is made up for with all the amazing things we see.
I have worked under the northern lights, watched 22,000 caribou migrate through our work site, seen bears, Arctic wolves, Arctic foxes, white outs, blizzards, ridden on snow mobiles to work, flown in helicopters, moved the rig with helicopters, and gone to some of the most remote places in Canada. I've drunk the freshest water, ice fished ... countless experiences.
I think the hardest things to adjust to are the names of tools and driving on the correct side of the road. And of course the cold!
My best advice for working FIFO in Canada is to be ready for anything! The weather changes so fast - and you could be in a commercial airliner or an eight-seater single prop plane. You can land on water, ice, dirt, snow ... anywhere!
Depending on what camp you are in depends on the ability to keep in contact with friends and family. Some camps are great and others are limited to text messages. The best support friends and families can provide to FIFO workers out here is sending a text message every now and then. It's nice to know that you haven't been forgotten.
It's hard to be away for so long in such a remote environment sometimes. You miss your friends' weddings and birthdays etc. But you also get to meet new people and get paid to see parts of the world that tourists pay thousands of dollars to visit!
Other great testimonials from overseas: