Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Semi-retired man lands world's 'best job'

Cortlan Bennett
Dave Smith has "the best job in the world".
He's also one of West Australian Premier Colin Barnett's recently labelled "professional protesters".
The semi-retired former Perth man lives on WA's spectacular far-north Kimberley coast at James Price Point - the proposed site of Woodside Petroleum's controversial $30 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) plant, about 60km north of the tourist town of Broome.
This "unremarkable beach", as Mr Barnett has described it, is where Mr Smith has been "employed" since Easter by the traditional owners, the Goolarabooloo people, to watch for any encroachment by Woodside on native lands and national heritage-protected dinosaur footprints abutting the gas hub site.
In return, Mr Smith gets free rent and one of the most striking coastal views on the continent.
"I think I've got the best job in the world," says the former computer programmer and bird photographer.
"It sounds a bit romantic, but the country calls you. There's just something special about this place."
Mr Smith spends his days fishing, walking, birdwatching and bathing in the Indian Ocean.
But he also has plenty to keep an eye out for.
Recently, Woodside employed a marine jack-up rig to test drill the coastline for a possible port to service its LNG plant.
Mr Smith and other locals, including dinosaur footprint tracker Louise Middleton - who with late partner Paul Foulkes brought the James Price Point tracks to scientific attention in the mid-80s - claim the rig is getting dangerously close to the national-heritage-protected intertidal zone which uncovers the tracks at low tide.
"The beauty and mystery of these dinosaur tracks is that most of them can only been seen when the tides reveal them," Ms Middleton told AAP.
The tracks have been described by University of Queensland palaeontologist Steve Salisbury as "one of the most extensive and diverse dinosaur track sites anywhere in the world".
When AAP visited the site this week, there was a large vessel - dubbed the "the floating hotel" by locals - on which marine contractors are based, and three police vessels in addition to the jack-up rig off the coast.
Mr Smith said many protesters at James Price Point - contrary to Premier Barnett's view - were not "fly-in, fly-out trouble makers", but concerned locals who demonstrated when they had time.

No comments:

Post a Comment