Dad passed away before I started my job here at SMEC, but I know he would have been pleased to see one of his children following in his footsteps.
I started working with SMEC in June 2018 as a Project Manager in the Rail division of its Melbourne office. It’s an exciting place to be with the Victorian government’s current focus on large scale infrastructure projects. SMEC has an experienced team of people working across a number of disciplines and is well positioned to deliver on these projects. I’m looking forward to being involved and contributing to the development of our country’s infrastructure, much as my Dad did.
Dad migrated from Slovenia to Australia in 1955, arriving in Darwin where he worked initially in a uranium mine near the town of Batchelor in the Northern Territory. But he found the climate too hot. So, he and a few friends decided to buy a car and drive 4,000km on unsealed, and largely un-signposted, roads from Darwin to Cooma, New South Wales, with aspirations of acquiring construction jobs on the Snowy Hydro Scheme.
I remember him telling me that the trip took about three weeks, and, on some occasions, they drove all day only to find themselves back where they started.
Leaving the hot and humid conditions of Northern Australia behind them, they shortly found themselves in a land of cold weather and snow – something more akin to the country he’d grown up in.
Being a very social person, Dad loved the camaraderie among the hundreds of New Australians working on the Snowy project and the chance to meet people from many walks of life. He never considered language to be a barrier and always tried his best to communicate with others.
Dad worked on the Scheme for 18 months before moving to Melbourne where he met my Mum, who was working at the Mercy Hospital in East Melbourne. They married and bought a house out in the ‘suburban wilderness’ of Mount Waverley where they raised a family of three boys, including me.
Dad always looked back fondly on his Snowy days and would often tell us stories of the towns he visited -– Cooma, Eucumbene, Old Adaminaby (before the dam was filled), Cabramurra and so on. When we were kids he took us on a family trip where he proudly showed us the massive scale of the works.
One of the things that attracted me to work at SMEC is its position as a major multidisciplinary international consultancy, offering its employees the opportunity to be involved in some exciting projects in Australia and overseas. One of these is Snowy 2.0, the recently approved expansion of the original Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. Perhaps I may have a chance to be involved in this project in some capacity. It’d be a great experience and something I would have loved to tell my Dad about.