What REALLY happens in the life of a fly-in, fly-out mine worker?

Is it all high jinks for high pay?

A book by blogger and real-life FIFO employee Aaron White – FIFO: What Really Happens After the Plane Takes Off – helps to unravel the mystery for those not accustomed to the life of working rostered weeks in hot, dusty, remote locations, while apart from families thousands of kilometres away in the big city.

The amusing anecdotes surround the life of Mick, a nice guy from a small town who lands himself a FIFO job, and whose delusions of grandeur quickly fall apart after he gets a closer grip with the harshness of labouring in isolation for two to three weeks on end.

In the process, the book covers suicide, fatigue, camp life, drugs and alcohol, overspending, relationships good and bad, and mining stereotypes, to name just a few.

In between encounters with drunken mates in various states of undress, adjusting to early starts and living in a donga, being hit upon by members of the opposite sex, and impromptu holidays to Thailand, Mick experiences the sad reality faced by many FIFOs kept apart from husbands, wives and kids.

On an unexpected early break from work, Mick returns home from his shift hoping to spring a romantic surprise, only to discover his wife in bed with two other male companions. It’s certainly a fact that many people feel the pangs of loneliness while their spouses or partners are away for several weeks at a time, and unfortunately many FIFOs can relate to Mick’s ordeal.

The genesis of the book came when, as a haul truck operator in a WA goldmine, and part of the industry for 17 years, Aaron discovered there was a lack of books and podcasts to help miners and their families.

“When I went to the shops to buy a book about what I do at work to show my two-year old son, I realised there were none,” he said.

“So I YouTubed how to self-publish a children’s book and took photos of all the machines at work and made a book.

“The book helped me and my work mates to show our kids and even our partners what we do at work. I also made a colouring book to go with it.”

Aaron said that driving the trucks for 12 hours a shift, with only the radio and a two-way, was often fatiguing.

“So, I started a Podcast called The Aaron White Show, where I interview people who are doing interesting things or have been through stuff,” he said.

“My work mates and I listen to podcasts while driving the trucks and feel they help you stay alert and we get to learn from other people’s life experiences.”

  • The Aaron White Show is on YouTube, Spotify, Apple podcasts and various podcast platforms.