from Robert J Lee in Mt Isa

Cloncurry, located in the arid north west of Queensland has become a substantial mining hub but has had difficulties housing the many hundreds of fly-in-fly-out miners working at local copper mines.

Accommodation is expensive and in some cases substandard, but miners have to make do with what housing is available. Water has become critically short due to two failed wet seasons. The shire council has called tenders to enlarge the town weir in readiness for the next wet season.

Meanwhile the Discovery Holiday Park chain has accommodation available in the town to cater for miners and tourists. Staffing of the accommodation settlement has proven a challenge and Discovery has had to rely on filling vacancies with backpackers, not an uncommon practice in the industry.

The Cloncurry district is steeped in mining history and has played a vital part in the northern cattle industry supplying many thousands of cattle for the live export market. The township is a pleasant tourist destination in the winter months with motel and caravan park accommodation always available.

Discovery Holiday Park, Cloncurry, not a nice place to stay.

Recently Cairns News heard of a disturbing incident which the Discovery Holiday Park would like to forget.

Roger Smith, a fifo copper miner, returned from a break to begin work but when he opened the door of his allocated room, he discovered it contained personal belongings of a previous tenant.

Having several pieces of his own luggage, Roger asked the manager to remove the storage box and numerous other items so he could place his baggage in the tiny room.

The manager refused telling him it was company policy to leave other property in place because the motel was under instruction from its client, the local mine, to ‘hot seat’ rooms.

Roger decided to stay in town and not take the room. The Discovery manager contacted the HR manager at the ‘Debdrake’ mine to complain that Roger would not accept the room.

The HR manager in a fit of “hopelessness” told Roger not to come back to work after his shift was completed.

Roger said the “cosy” arrangement between the HR manager and the motel contravened union rules which state suitable accommodation must be provided in a fifo arrangement.

Backflow from the drainage system makes the rooms impossible to live in.

He said the accommodation was far from suitable because of backflow problems with the drainage system in each room.

“When you open up the door after a day shift the stench is so overpowering it makes me feel sick,” Roger said.

“”When I first got here I had to buy a bottle of disinfectant to dose the floor drain just to stay in the room, especially after a day of 40 plus temperatures.

“Turning on the air conditioner makes it worse and all you can smell for hours is a dirty drain.

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone staying here because the staff have a problem with the truth and the council should make Discovery fix up the backflow problems.”