After almost a 50-year career spent down by the wharfs of Geraldton Port, crane operator Mick Price hung-up his hard hat for the final time on Friday.
While being farewelled by friends and colleagues, some of who he has worked alongside for decades, Mick had the chance to reflect on his 47-year-tenure and the road that brought him there.
He had never been one to shy away from a hard day’s work - even as a 10 year old he was up at the crack-of-dawn to drive a self-propelled header on his parents farm.
As a teenager he was eager to enter the workforce, so much so he even admits to telling a white lie when he first applied for a job at the Port.
“It was 1969, at about this time of year, when I first applied for a job down on the wharfs,” he said.
“I was 16 but In those days you had to be 18 to work here, so I added on a few years and got the job.
“Eventually they found out and told me to come back and try again when I was of age. So that’s what I did and in 1971 I was back again working in maintenance.”
Chuffed with his weekly wage of $49, Mick made sure he worked hard to earn his money.
His duties started out as mixing concrete, replacing the jetties at the Fishing Boat Harbour and painting and replacing the old timber fender systems on the berths.
As the Port expanded, with Mick witness to the construction of berth 5, 6 and 7, his duties also evolved and he went on to sandblasting and maintaining the Port’s machinery.
“I’ve certainly seen some changes down here that’s for sure,” he said.
“Even the tools we started off using - it used to take two of us to work the handoperated drills when we were replacing the fenders.
“I’ve done a lot of different jobs in my time and for the past 10 years I’ve been operating and maintaining our cranes, which I’ve gone up two grades in.
“We’ve got a pretty good group down here and all get on pretty well – I think the thing I’ll miss most is my mates.”
Mick has no plans to slow down in retirement and is eager to spend more time restoring his fleet of vintage cars and machinery, which includes a 39 Ford De Luxe.
When he’s not tinkering with his cars, the rest of his time will most likely be taken up by his nine grandchildren.
Mid West Ports Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis thanked Mick for his years of service and wished him and his family all the best for the next chapter.
“Mick has been part of the fabric of the Geraldton Port for almost half a century,” he said.
“He takes with him considerable history and memories of how the port has developed over this time.”
Before the end of his final shift, Mick offered some final words of advice for those preceding him.
“I really think making sure we always bring in apprentices and give them the time and effort to learn is really important,” he said.
“I’ve always had a lot of time for the younger guys coming through.
“Other than that, I think it’s important to just get to know the people you’re working with and be social with them.
“Have a beer together every now and then - they could end up being some of your good mates.”
MWPA staff and Board thank Mick for his years of service and wish him a happy and healthy retirement.