Cat Trucks Thrive Among The Desert Dunes
Remote region specialist takes Cat to extremes
A lifetime living and working in some of Australia’s harshest and most isolated regions has taught Neil Dunn a simple, uncompromising principle about endurance. The way he sees it, you either have what it takes to survive and succeed in tough country, or you don’t.
He applies the same steadfast principle to machines of every sort and since early 2013 Cat trucks have been showing all the inherent strengths needed to endure a life lived hard, midst the wild extremes of South Australia’s Strzelecki Desert.
Neil is founder and managing director of Dunns Earthmoving, a remarkably resourceful and self-reliant company operating from a remote base roughly 100 km west of Moomba in the rich oil and gas fields of the Cooper Basin.
Isolated but Big
The scale of the operation forged by Neil and wife Sue is as surprising as it is isolated.
With two publicly-listed oil and gas companies as its chief clients, Dunns Earthmoving has evolved dramatically in little more than a decade. What started in 2003 as a simple two-man operation living rough in desert isolation with a few pieces of second-hand earthmoving plant has grown substantially.
Today, it is a business employing more than 100 resilient and variously skilled people who maintain and operate an immense equipment inventory of trucks, service and support vehicles, and almost every form of earthmoving plant, from bulldozers to scrapers, graders, excavators and skid-steers.
Yet as Sue Dunn emphasises, it is an enterprise built from the ground up by the resourcefulness and tenacious work ethic of her husband, born and raised in drought-riddled cattle country and ingrained with a natural affinity for remote and arid regions.
Neil Dunn explains, siting the extremes of summer temperatures regularly at 50 degrees Celsius and winter nights that dip well below freezing plus the high costs of operating in severe isolation:
This is not easy country. We specialise in remote area earthmoving and road works, repairing existing roads and making new ones.
With new roads, we’re basically just given a GPS location after all the environmental studies and cultural heritage sites have been identified, and carve a track through virgin country.
On top of that, we do the earthworks for drill rigs, tank farms and basically anything else that needs a machine or a truck to move dirt.
It probably sounds simple enough but there’s a lot to it. You need to know what you’re doing. This country is very unforgiving.