The day the rains came

The shearing shed come CReefs research lab at Ningaloo Station.
Image: Gary Cranitch.


18 May 2010
Life on a field expedition is seldom glamorous and oftentimes nature makes difficult the study of itself. Like today.
The morning dawned cloudy and grey. Several researchers returned from early boat trips to the reef looking decidedly green.
Back on land, BHP Billiton employees Lexie Frankham and Silver Naumoska set about processing the ARMS, but had to guard their work from the greedy beak of Ningaloo Station's resident emu.
By lunchtime, the south-easterly winds had whipped up the waves. With boat trips cancelled for the rest of the day, most researchers had just settled in for a productive afternoon in the research lab when the skies opened up.
Ningaloo Station is in a desert, and had not had significant rain in the past year. Until today.
The heavy rain found every hole and crevice in the leaky old shearing shed, causing a scramble for plastic sheeting to protect computers and laboratory equipment.
After several hours of rain, the clouds cleared just in time for the evening refuelling of the "gennies", a ritual performed many times every day to ensure the generators continue to power the station's lights, laptops, fridges and scientific equipment.
And as the modems powered back up, it became apparent we'd lost the internet connection, one of the more tenuous links between this remote station and the civilised world.
Ah, the joys of field work.