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Why quarrying makes a great stocking filler

As I’ve written in this column over the years, quarrying has a much larger place in popular culture than we realise. While the industry’s technical aspects are rarely covered, quarries have often been fantasy landscapes in popular movies and TV series (two recent examples being Mad Max: Fury Road and Game of Thrones) and many suppliers to the extractive industry (eg Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo, etc) have provided equipment both on- and off-screen for big film projects.

Earthmoving machinery is more specifically reflected in the children’s genre – particularly on-screen. Animated TV shows like Peppa Pig, Bob the Builder and DinoTrux highlight earthmoving plant and equipment, sometimes in quite amusing, refreshing and innovative ways. There’s plenty that kids and adults can watch on the DVD/Blu-Ray front.

In turn, there are toy lines that give boys and girls the chance to imitate the extractive process in sand pits nationwide, eg Fisher Price, Tonka, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, to name a few. Some of the OEMs have dabbled in their own toy lines, notably Cat and John Deere, or collaborated with toy manufacturers such as Lego on products to scale, eg Cat and Volvo have launched branded toys in the Lego Technic range. And, of course, there are diecast models, which are not so much for kids as the diehard adult collector, that are based on popular earthmoving brands.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-Q:"Stumped for a gift this Xmas? Why not give your loved ones pressies with a quarry theme?"}}There are plenty of children’s books out there that can get kids’ tongues wagging. I’m personally fond of (and heartily recommend) the Roadwork series by Kiwis Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock, comprising the books Roadwork, Demolition, Construction and (this year) Dig Dump Roll.

The books are great because they illustrate the use of building materials and equipment in the construction of roads, libraries, and parks and gardens.

There are also plenty of large coffee table-size books of repurposed quarrying landscapes and of quarrying materials as art that can keep adults in your family entertained. These books tend to be not as recent and quite exclusive but can be found on Amazon, Booktopia and other online platforms.

If you have a family member that’s interested in home renovation and “grand designs”, then I recommend Sarah Gunn’s Stone House Construction (CSIRO Publishing, 2012, ISBN 9780643096370). It’s a great instructional book on appropriate materials for stone buildings and provides not only a layman’s guide to the geological history of much of the stones used in architecture but also to what Gunn describes as “small scale quarrying”, including the use of tools and explosives. The book underlines the holistic importance of quarries – and particularly the innovative end uses of quarry products.

What all of these stocking fillers can do is engage people in discussions about quarries, earthmoving and the extractive process. For children from two to 18, toys, films and books about construction plant and equipment have the potential to ignite passions and prompt questions (and perhaps over time their curiosity and investigations will lead them on a career path into the industry).

Similarly for adults, the chance to see photos of different quarrying landscapes and the novel uses of rock can also invite discussion and a deeper appreciation of the extractive industry and processes – particularly when new sites are proposed.

I’m not suggesting you over-educate your family and friends this Christmas but there is the scope for you to give out stimulating, edifying and, most importantly, fun gifts.

Best wishes for the season. See you in 2019!

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