Selasa, 04 Januari 2011


Growing up as a Bandung native, I had never lived away from family and friends. Living abroad is exciting; life has been like a roller coaster in the past two semesters.

Sydney is a melting pot; people from different nationalities gather here. Hence, practicing English with these people were delightful since you can also learn their customs and languages.

I came to Sydney on late summer 2010, almost the same weather as in Bandung. The adaptation was quick in terms of weather, foods, and household matters. Living in a paperless world seems quite fancy at first, but with internet on board, everything is much simpler.

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

My campus, University of New South Wales or UNSW, is located in eastern part of Sydney. It is a relic location where beaches are in walk distance, a quiet neighbourhood, and a good place to study. Since I love beaches, this is truly heaven on earth.

UNSW School of Mines

In general, studying at UNSW is slightly the same with what I had in ITB. Some notable differences are in teaching, learning, and student style. Classes are very rare since there are only four courses every semester.

I had Mining System, Socio-Environmental of Mining, Mining in a Global Environment, and Mine Geotechnical in the first semester. Highlights in the first semester are making the report, referencing, group work, and risk assessment.

Making report is time consuming, yet most students here are also dead liners. Computer lab, where students gather, are jammed every assignment due date. But some students with good time management may walk around with assignment cover sheet on his hand, a sign that he has finished the work.

Your own work is valued and in return you must also value the work of others. Referencing is a huge issue and Wikipedia is avoided. Most references are available in the library or journals on the internet. Reports are made in order to show our understanding and cited carefully to acknowledge the references.

Group work is fun, at most. Workload is divided equally to each member of the group and everyone is fully responsible to do their parts. They communicate through email or Google Group to maintain the work progress and share unsolved problems. In the end, all works are bundled in a massive report, being referenced, and submitted near due date. It was efficient in terms of work and time, though the essence of group work is shaded by less personal meeting.

The last highlight of this semester would be risk assessment. It is a holy phrase and takes a big portion in every project marking. Australia had concerned on safety far before the World War II and it had been very enforced ever since.

University of New South Wales: Main Library

In semester two, I had Mine Planning, Underground Mining System, Rock Breakage, and Mine Management. Highlight in this semester is software.

Practical classes are very rare unlike in ITB. In exchange, software usage is critical to do most assignment in this semester. Students are recommended to understand how software works, analyse the output data, conclude the results, and recommend the improvements to be applied. It took hours of looking at the computer screen and days to finishing the final report.

In the end, using software is not a matter of input and output data. Students are required to read a lot of resources to extract the essence of a single output number from software. It was quite hard at first, but as time goes by, I am adapted to this requirement.

In August, our beloved teacher from ITB, Mr Seno, came here and I had the opportunity to meet him for two days. We had a discussion on these differences, especially on learning style. One point which I thought very interesting was the high industrial support in Australia for UNSW in terms of providing softwares and research programmes. Somehow, this could be a lesson for us, if not now, our future efforts to help young engineers in Indonesia. A combination of fundamental theory, practical abilities, and software skills is probably better than just enforcing only one of them.

Field Visit

I had the opportunity to attend class field visit to an underground copper mine in the outback of New South Wales. The site is called Nyngan Site which owned by Straits Limited and the operational work is done by Pybar. The visit included tour to exploration site with bore rig, geological department with its log cores, plant site, and the underground tour.

Nyngan Copper Mine: The Plant

An interesting thing had happened during the underground tour. Students are divided into several groups since the cars to get us inside the underground and the safety equipments are limited. My groups and I took the longest duration of underground visit since we were kind of locked in a one of its shaft level. To escape, we took the safety ladder up to the next level which is 100 m upper. Sounds short, but in reality, 100 m of straight vertical ladder inside a mine shaft took much more energy and courage. It was fun after all.

Hurdles and Solutions

As a Muslim, I had almost no problem practicing my daily and weekly prayers. There are large numbers of Muslim societies at UNSW. At my spare time, I allocated time for exploring Muslim suburbans around Sydney. What I had learned on this, Muslim Indonesia should be very grateful to be given the atmosphere like nowadays in Indonesia.

In terms of social life, it was just okay. Aside from Aussies accent which was hard at first, I also do not drink alcohol and feels not a party person. Denying their offers is sometimes ended up with explanatory lectures, but after all, they are very nice people. I love Aussies.

Procrastination is a common issue in a place where internet is very fast and unlimited. Hence time management is critical unless otherwise intended J

Vocation Work

I am now commencing vocation work in an iron mine owned by BHP Billiton and ran by HWE Mining. The site is located in the outback of Western Australia. It is extremely hot, especially on summer time like now. Daily temperature is 40 degrees of Celsius with strong red dust wind.

Yandi Mine Camp Site

The site is utilising conventional open pit system with truck hauling system. Estimated production is around 50 million tonnes of ore per year. One of the engineers said that this mine site is one of the richest in Australia with its low waste penetration. However, there is a current problem with clay and have been causing huge delays in trucks and crushers.

There are a few interesting things in this mine. It is located very near to a national park; hence compliances on environmental regulations are mandatory. In addition, there are also some artefacts of local Aborigin people; all items founded must be identified.

I have the opportunity to join the planning department which basically doing daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planning. Good thing that people are very nice down here. We are literally isolated from mainstream Australia; hence these people are the only person that we see every day.

I am currently on two weeks on site and one week off site rooster, which means that I will be flight out fortnightly to Perth from the site. Since the cost to flight up from west to east coast is quite high, I decided to stay in Perth during summer till I get back to Indonesia.

Wrap Up Words

Everything is a process, not to mention the hard works or sacrifices, but it is all worthy. Cheers mate.

Further writings during my stay here can be found on

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