Road train water drillers
The husband and wife team and their young son head
ANTHONY and Danyelle Haigh are making the most of a rare sojourn at home in Allora when Big Rigs caught up with Australia’s busiest water drillers.
The husband and wife duo, along with their precocious four-year-old Heath, are hoping to be back again at their 80-acre oasis 160km south-west of Brisbane by Christmas.
But the way the drought is gripping the Northern Territory and western Queensland this year – the main hunting ground for the Haigh’s in-demand Murranji Water Drilling business – Danyelle isn’t banking on it.
“When we took over the business [four years ago] we were doing about 30 to 50 bores a year – this year we’re about to hit 100,” said Danyelle, 34.
“In just a year we’ve seen a massive leap in the number of people desperate to get water.
“It’s just devastating to see the impact on the crops, cattle and farmers; it’s really quite sad.”
Station-by-station, however, the Haighs and their roving Western Star road train convoy of drilling equipment and shipping containers converted to living quarters, are winning the war.
They’ve hit water in just about every spot they’ve set up camp this year and Danyelle says nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing the smile that puts on the farmers’ faces.
“I never get sick of it, gosh no. My son screams every time we hit water and runs around shouting ‘we’ve got water, we’ve got water’.
“It’s very exciting for everyone. You’re in suspense too before that, standing around, waiting patiently.”
Danyelle admits taking the plunge and buying out former owner Danny Smith – he named the business after the station he owns 4.5 hours south of Katherine, NT – was the biggest punt she and Anthony, 42, have made in their 11 years together.
Anthony had been working for Danny for a year or so before then, but Danyelle, a nurse by profession, had been managing her mum’s women-only traffic control business on the Gold Coast, the role she had when they first met.
“It really could have gone either way,” said Danyelle of those tense first few months in the outback.
“We were going into this whole new business where we were just buying all this machinery that cost a lot of money, going up into where this guy who had been drilling for the last 20 to 30 years, and taking on his clients who could easily say, no we don’t like you, we don’t want to you use you.
“It was very stressful on all of us in the beginning, and we were coming into wet season too so we were short on money and not sure on what was coming next.
“But about six months later it started to pick up. Clients were ringing us to come again next year and we started to pick up new work and new clients. Word was getting out that were genuine people doing a great job.”
It helps too that they have two of the most reliable prime movers in the game lugging seven trailers of heavy equipment through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet.
Anthony bought the c15 550hp 2007 Western Stars one’s a Stratosphere, the other a Constellation - from Strasburg Bros. in Marburg. He’s eyeing up a third in the New Year.
They don’t do big k’s each
❝way. It really could have gone either
— Danyelle Haigh
Danyelle, Heath and Anthony love the outback life.
The Haighs are thinking of adding a third Western Star to the fleet next year.
The drilling gear needs more upkeep than the trucks.
Heath still gets a thrill everytime they hit water.