Over the last two days, Telstra has temporarily fixed a cable cut in the Kimberley region in an operation involving a C130 Hercules and a baby crocodile.
The Logue River, 60 kilometres from Derby in Western Australia,
broke its banks early Sunday morning. As the waters ran out, debris
damaged a cable, cutting service to 4,300 landlines, 2,000 ADSL
connections and 12 mobile base stations.
A Telstra team was soon on the scene with 5km of
fibre, a spokesperson said, but realised that more would be needed since the access
points (which would normally have been tapped for the repair) were
submerged. The 15km flood front meant 17km of cable would be
needed, an amount only available in major centres.
Telstra considered sending the drums of cable in on a truck, but
ruled it out since the journey would take two to three days. It
then looked at sending the drums, 2.2 tonnes and three metres high,
via a commercial airline, but there wasn't availability on the
The Federal Attorney General's office came to the rescue,
organising the use of an RAAF C130 Hercules for the job. With four
of the drums of cable on-board, the aircraft lifted
from RAAF Pearce, 80km north of Perth, at 11:00am Monday to arrive
at RAAF Curtin, a base near Derby, at 5:00pm.
During this time, Telstra employees had also been working on the
ground to patch lines as best they could, rerouting via the
Northern Territory. By the time the aircraft landed, they had
almost patched 3,000 landlines and enabled some mobile data services
to come back on line such as EFTPOS and remote alarm facilities for
the fire brigade.
A forklift and truck met the Hercules to transport the cable to
the site. Although a lot of the area was submerged, a road reserve
was still dry. Telstra decided to run the cable along the reserve
in a temporary fix until the waters subsided. The team rolled the
four 4.5km lengths of cable out and began the joining process.
The process was safely carried out, a spokesperson for Telstra
said, and mainly on dry ground, but that didn't stop some workers
encountering a three-foot crocodile, drawn to the floodlights.
"He just rocked up to see what the fuss was about," the
spokesperson said, adding that a few crocodiles had likely been
flooded out of the catchment. "They just shooed it back into the
The repairs went on. The strands of the cables were not joined
indiscriminately, with emergency services receiving top
priority. By 1:30am, all those were back on line. By 5:00 this
morning, all services were up and running.
The flood waters were expected to peak tomorrow. When the level
comes down, the workers will work on a permanent fix to the cable
Carousel image by Kevin Walsh, royalty free.