He’s my best friend and I miss him’
AT 3am every three weeks, senior mine surveyor Reece Olney tiptoes into a Perth bedroom to kiss his sleeping children, four-year-old Kye and ninemonth-old Amber, goodbye.
There’s a taxi waiting to take him to a 5am plane. When Kye wakes up to start the day, Dad is in the air heading north to his 11-day-shift at a Kimberley iron ore mine. Reece will work 12-hour days, can work out in the gym, drink in the wet mess or go fishing in the evenings, and sleeps in a room to himself, with ensuite and Foxtel and family pictures on the walls.
Wife Correen holds the fort at their Como home, rented while their dream four-bedroom, two-bathroom house on a large block is being built in riverside Bicton. She has family nearby to call when it gets too hard to be, temporarily, a single parent.
‘‘ We do hang out for him to come home,’’ she said. ‘‘ Kye counts the sleeps on his fingers every night until Dad finishes. When it gets into the one hand, he starts getting excited.’’
‘‘ When Reece is home, the kids have nine days of quality time with him, and he shares all the wake-ups and early mornings. I might let him have a game of golf. But you do it for the money, you don’t do it for the long breaks.’’
Reece says shifting to residential work would force ‘‘ a fairly large lifestyle sacrifice’’. Industry sources say senior or chief mine surveyors can earn between $100,000 and $160,000. Bad points? He misses the family. The good? ‘‘ I don’t know if I should say this, but you don’t have to cook or do the dishes or put the kids to bed, or get woken up in the night. You really knock off. You have a cold beer and really rest. I doubt I’ll stop doing it.’’
Correen has different ideas. ‘‘ I don’t think Reece will work away forever. He’s my best friend, and I miss him.’’ Fran Cusworth