Hugh Skey

Alpine Observer - - News -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.