I’ve been working on the Telstra network for 38 and a half years and I have never seen anything like the mess I saw when I walked in the Warrnambool Exchange.

Now I live in Millthorpe, just out of Orange in NSW. When I went to work last Thursday I thought I was in for a normal day. Peter, my boss, called me just before midday and told me about the fire at the Warrnambool Exchange and asked if I would help out. I went home, packed a bag and started driving. I overnighted in Geelong and got into Warrnambool Friday morning and got to work on the job  I’d come to do – getting our customers connected.

The first three days were pretty long days, but since Monday we’ve been organised into 12 hour shifts, and I’m pretty pleased that I’ve drawn the day shift, working from 7:00am to 7:00pm. The works pretty tiring because you’ve got to be absolutely sure about what you’re doing, and being spot on with getting it right. You start repairing at the power level, then the high order transmission boxes, then work your way down the chain. You can’t connect a customer’s service back up until you’ve got all the infrastructure rebuilt to connect it in to.

It’s been a real team effort in our repair work. You’ve got construction and maintenance blokes who are working side by side, across each other and even sometimes on top of each other!  The team have just been great – while it’s hard work and we’re all tired I haven’t heard a cross word yet.

The working conditions down here are improving day by day. The aircon came back on on about Saturday and the dehumidifiers were connected up yesterday. Of course this is for the equipment, but it’s making it easier for all the team. A couple of the local techs have taken over the catering – and they’re doing a great job, but I must say I’m getting a little bored of BBQ and Pizza.

The people at the motel I’m staying at are also really good to us. They must have about 20 of us staying there, and they’ve been really helping out with looking after us and checking if we need any washing done and so on.

Right now, I have to say I feel a bit second hand and a bit of free time would be good – but it’s just not possible at the moment. I’m here for another week, and then I’ll head back home for a week – but I’ll be putting my hand up to come back after I’ve had a break. It’s so important that we get this Exchange back up and running. And you know what, this is the sort of thing, and the kind of team that you’ll look back on later on and go “I’m proud I was part of it”.

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