August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
John Elliott
Photography

Branko

 

When I left Macedonia, I had applied to come to Australia and when I arrived in Sydney in 1969, the first thing I noticed was the city, how big and tall the buildings were. I also took note of how much money was in Western Australia in the mines so I came to Perth to get a job up North and work for a couple of years. 40 years later, I’m still here.

In 1972 I went back home to get married and returned to Port Hedland with my wife. The company provided us with accommodation, they gave us a two bedroom flat, when my family expanded, we moved into a larger house that was fully furnished. The fridge was also full of food to last at least one week and rent was only $6.50.

Back then there were a lot of people from Macedonia, there were also Serbians, Croatians and people from Montenegro. Together we would catch up and organise for our native music to travel from Perth to here.

First I was an Electrician, then I was employed to work on the railway line for BHP Billiton, which I have done for the last 40 years. I was kept in Port Hedland because of the work and company. BHP Billiton really look after their workers, we would come with limited education and they put us through school and learning.
My job was flash flooding the railway line, which is a huge operation and we don’t use any welders or machines, we would use the railway line tracks by banking them together and join strings of 400 metres of railway line in the process.

In 1999 I took the package that was offered to retire, which was a lot of money, so I had to take it. My family and I shifted back to Perth but then in April 2000 BHP Billiton called me to return and do the same job, offering me more money. I now live a Fly in Fly out lifestyle.

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