What is your job?
I have been retired for about 20 years. My last position was general manager of the exploration group of an Australian mining company. I led a team of about 25 professionals in geoscience looking for minerals, essentially base metals such as zinc, lead and copper and some other things. We worked all over Australia, in Indonesia and some other parts of the world.
Is it something you always wanted to do?
When I was in my early teens I saw myself going into the Royal Navy, but some time in high school I changed tack and found I enjoyed geography and chemistry and found a way to merge the two. I studied geology at Nottingham University and was offered a job by a large Canadian mining company who sent me to Australia. I came here in 1966, first to Adelaide, then to the middle of Western Australia looking for zinc and copper, but that quickly became nickel because it was the beginning of the nickel boom. My job evolved from there, gaining more responsibility. Basically I spent my life working for the same company, but it changed around me. I was one of the lucky ones, who managed to hold onto my job through all the changes, then the company got taken over and I retired. I did a bit of consultancy work but getting another exploration job was difficult because there was a slump in the mining industry and by the time another boom came along I wasn’t interested.
What did you love about the job?
You are being asked to find something and no-one knows if it exists or not. It’s like a treasure hunt but you don’t know if there really is a treasure. You are looking for a large, high-grade mineral deposit in a good location, hopefully not far from infrastructure. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s detective work. I was working with colleagues with great expertise in geophysics and mineralogy and law, who were using really specialised new equipment, some of it unique. And when you find what you’re looking for it’s a huge buzz. Also, it was largely an outdoors job, which I love, travelling the country and the world and having someone else pick up the ticket.
How do you come to be in the Kiewa Valley?
I had a conversation with someone in a plane about skiing in Australia, so my wife Nola and I tried it and got into cross-country skiing. My boss brought us up to ski at Falls Creek, and we stayed in Tawonga. We liked it so much that we bought a block and built a small house because by that time we could afford a weekender. When we retired we built an extra bit on the house and moved up here.
What else do you do?
I got very interested in occupational health and safety because of my job, so one of the first things I did was to join the St John’s Ambulance. Then I got into Rotary, but had to give it up because I wanted to join the Mt Beauty and District Community Band, and practice was on the same night. Nola and I both play clarinet in the band and I also have a go at alto sax. I’ve been involved in running the tennis club for a few years, I’ve been on the arts council and also on the Alpine Health board for a while.