I started with Thiess in 1975 and over that time have seen many changes. Back then, the Thiess brothers were still a very big part of the company and they would often turn up on site to check on things.
The Dartmouth Dam project in Victoria was the beginning of my long association with Thiess. Having just finished high school, I started work as a plant clerk before moving on to the position of timekeeper. There was a main frame computer in the main office but no PC. Most data was handwritten and copies made using carbon paper. The wages payroll was all handwritten using the Kalamazoo system which had carbon paper and tear off strips that were inserted inside the pay packets along with the cash.
In those days there were still reminders of some of the old equipment that had been salvaged from the South Pacific at the end of World War II, including some ex-US Army 6x6 Studebaker trucks.
From there my travels started. I worked on dam projects in Victoria and Queensland, meeting my wife of 31 years on the Wivenhoe Dam project near Brisbane.
It was then on to near Collinsville in Central Queensland where Thiess built a weir across the Bowen River. It was here that I met Roger Trundle, the Bowen River Weir Project Manager, who later went on to become the Managing Director of Thiess. Many lifelong friendships were established along the way and good times were had working in remote locations.
After some years of travelling around the country working on various projects such as Hayman Island in the Whitsundays, I moved back to Brisbane where I worked at the pay office. One of the duties was to deliver the pay packets to the sites around Brisbane, being chaperoned by a policeman.
My yearning for site work took over and I worked around Queensland on many projects including the Mt Leyshon Gold Mine, Lindeman Island and the Collinsville Coal Mine. The mine was Thiess' first foray back into coal mining in Australia since the days of the Thiess brothers and the start of Thiess becoming one of the largest coal mining contractors in the world.
I would go on to work at the Moura Coal Mine, the Gateway Motorway Extension project at Eight Mile Plains, a weir job near Bundaberg and back to Brisbane for the widening of the Pacific Motorway near Oxenford. Once that job finished, I worked at the Burton Coal Mine in Central Queensland, flying home once a month.
After working on the Comalco Alumina Refinery project in Gladstone, I returned to the Thiess Queensland office before working on the Boggo Road Busway Project at Woolloongabba and the Northern Busway section of the massive Airport Link Project.
A brief stint in the Queensland office looking after a small job for Queensland Rail at the Toowoomba Range led to a position at the Caval Ridge Project near Moranbah – my last job with the company.
It’s been a great journey that has fulfilled an ambition to see Australia and created enduring friendships with a few workmates along the way.
Working long hours for long periods and being away from family and friends can be lonely and demanding in our industries. Bonds and special friendships help, and it’s these friendships and memories that are certainly cherished.