It's the enormity of everything that strikes you first.
When we approached the open pit at the Cadia mine as part of Saturday's free Open Day tours I was amazed at just how big that hole in the ground really is.
Narrow roads wind around its immense exterior and plunge deep into the bottom. It was all eyes to the left-hand windows as our bus passed by the pit on the access road.
And size is what hits you at the mine workshop where above ground and underground machinery was on display. You are dwarfed by huge dump trucks while diggers have massive scoops that look like mouths about to swallow up all in their path.
That's never been done before.Melissa O'Brien, Cadia
Tyres for some haul trucks cost $40,000 each, weigh nearly four tonnes and are 3.6 metres in diameter. You won't get the NRMA repairman to turn up to replace one of those if you get a flat.
But it's also the immense size of the entire site at Cadia that is impressive. It takes about 10 minutes by bus to get to the operations from the entrance. The view over the tailings dams is over a great expanse of mine and farm land.
I was among about 2500 people who attended the open day on Saturday. It was the mine's first open day for three years. And with the next not likely until 2021 it was a unique experience.
VIDEO: View of tailings dams on tour ...
There was a fair bit of precision planning behind the operation. About 40 bus trips, the one I was on came from Picton in the Southern Highlands, shuttled people from the centre of Blayney out to the mine.
A few remnants of Cadia's past are evident on the entry, a cutting and line of road, high up on the hillside was once the route of a railway that ran from Spring Hill to Cadia to transport iron ore until the 1940s. And a giant slag heap is now heritage listed.
The rest of the history was shown at an extensive display at the Blayney Community Centre where everything from fake gold bars to dioramas explained the workings.
A highlight of Saturday's tour was the chance to go underground. Cadia's senior community relations specialist Melissa O'Brien said it was the first time any tours of Cadia had included an underground component. "That's never been done before," she said.
VIDEO: Massive machinery at workshop
So we all donned hard hats, put away our mobile phones and cameras to meet a filming ban, and descended into the darkness for about 70 metres.
We went into the Ridgeway Mine where mining stopped in 2016 as another site in the area, Cadia East, was more productive. The Ridgeway Mine is now in 'care and maintenance' mode in case it is needed again.
It was dusty and dark as we were told the road continued to spiral several kilometres underground. Back on the surface were exhibits of both necessity and improvement.
A de-commissioned refuge for workers in case of trouble underground gave an indication of what life would be like for trapped miners awaiting rescue. The refuges are positioned about 650 metres apart under the surface.
The other exhibit was a robotic machine designed to replace one of the more difficult operations of mining, replacing the idlers that allow the conveyer belts to keep moving 24/7 underground.
Meet Ric-y-Bobby, yes, think the Talladega Nights movie, which could well be the way forward for mining. You might even see more robots on future open days.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below ...