Moranbah Man Moves Family To Brisbane To Get FIFO Work In Moranbah

Moranbah Man Moves Family To Brisbane To Get FIFO Work In Moranbah
A bumper sticker regularly seen in towns like Moranbah, as locals get fed-up with the FIFO workers who don't contribute to the town.
A bumper sticker regularly seen in towns like Moranbah, as locals get fed-up with the FIFO workers who don’t contribute to the town.


23 June, 2015. 11:05

CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact

In the central-Queensland town of Moranbah, Locals are having to relocate their families south to Brisbane, in order to keep their jobs in the Moranbah mine.

“It doesn’t seem practical, but this place only likes hiring FIFO’s (fly-in-fly-out workers) – the locals may as well be fucking kangaroos” says 4th-generation coal-miner, Ted Thornton.

Ted Thornton, is the fourth generation of Thorntons to work underground. He says the days of coal-mining communities are over.
Ted Thornton, is the fourth generation of Thorntons to work underground. He says the days of coal-mining communities are over.

“My father moved here in the 70’s – Before that my family was based out of the Ipswich coal-mines,”

“That doesn’t mean shit anymore. I’d have a better chance of keeping a job here if I live on top of Uluru.”

Until late last year, the town, which was literally built on coal in 1971, was experiencing unprecedented demand for housing as workers and their families flocked to the region.

Unfortunately, this small-town housing boom has come to an end – and it’s not because the work has dried up

Moranbah is now not much more than an airport and mine. The "village" is slowly  disappearing.
Moranbah is now not much more than an airport and mine. The “village” is slowly disappearing.

“The companies have really shaken this town, they don’t care too much about infrastructure,” says local real estate agent Graham Sailor.

 “Over the last century, a lot of people have relocated here for work in the mine. That’s not to mention the generations of miners that were born here”

Local man, Paul Sterling got in on the mining boom back in 2006 when he was only 27.

“I thought, ‘Hey there’s work in Moranbah – it seems like a nice place, I may as well get the family out there with me’. We found a nice old family house and bought it for $800,000,”

Paul Sterling is now in over half a million dollars debt because he decided to invest in a family home near his work, Moranbah
Paul Sterling is now in over half a million dollars debt because he decided to invest in a family home near his work, Moranbah

But unfortunately for Paul and Ted, the mining company that employ them don’t really care too much about their idea of “community”.

“All of a sudden they only started hiring blokes from the cities. The local housing market plummeted because Moranbah, as a town, was no longer relevant – most of the workers just hot-bed it in dongers (demountable accommodation)”

“…and now they are trying to filter out us local blokes because they are worried they might have to build a proper hospital or something” says Paul,

Moranbah, 1970. As depicted by the cute postcard. Unfortunately, families are discouraged from living there anymore.
Moranbah, 1970. As depicted by the cute postcard. Unfortunately, families are discouraged from living there anymore.

“Hot-bedding” is a newly coined terminology to describe the frugal accommodation offered to mine workers by the bigger mining companies in Australia. In a shared boarding-style cabin, the beds are also shared.

“One bloke sleeps during the day, gets up for work, the sheets get changed and then goes to work while another bloke sleeps in the bed overnight,”

“The bed stays warm, if you know what I mean. It’s hot-bedding”

Paul says he is at risk of losing his job in Moranbah because the mining companies don’t like the idea of their employees enjoying work after hours.

“The fact that I have a wife and kids to go home to, that really worries them,”

Local publican, Bryan Shamrock also acknowledges the company’s fear of a local community uprising.

Moranabah miners serving themselves breakfast at bain-marie. Most miners put on an estimated 10-20 extra kilos while eating deep fried food on the job.
Moranabah miners serving themselves breakfast at bain-marie – put in place by the companies to replace their wives. Most miners gain an estimated 20 extra kilos while eating deep-fried on the job.

“They know that wives can often encourage workers to speak up for themselves – and in a mining site as big as this one, that can be a problem,”

“If they only employ city blokes as FIFO workers, there is less chances of these blokes unionizing… They are more concerned about getting home to their families and prepared to cop anything that gets thrown at them while on the job,”

In a bizarre attempt to find job security with his “local” employer – Paul has devised a cunning plan which would allow him to keep his job at Moranbah”

“We are going to move to Brisbane. It’s a bit extreme but it’s all we’ve got,”

“The house is dead-weight anyway, It’s only worth around $200,000 nowadays – I’ve lost close to half a million on that three-bedroom piece of shit”

It is more practical for the Sterling family to live 11 hours away from where Dad works. According to the mines.
It is more practical for the Sterling family to live 11 hours away from where Dad works. According to the mines.

“Gone are the days of me coming home to my wife and kids,

“Now I have to settle for two weeks at work, hot-bedding, while my kids grow up without a Dad,”

“But it’s kind of worth it because I get four and a half days off in between my two-week stints”