He’s my best friend and I miss him’

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

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

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