A photo of Kerry & Cath standing in the front yard of their Tieri home in the warm afternoon sun hangs proudly on Canvas in the Truloff household. A daily reminder of the town they dedicated over 25 years of their life and spirit to – where they created a family-like community and will forever leave a legacy.
As Kerry settles into retirement and life takes a slower pace at their cattle station 70km west of Emerald, we sat down to reminisce on life in Tieri and Kerry’s role at Oaky Creek Coal.
Q: Kerry, what did life and your career look like before moving to Tieri in 1992 to work as a Development Crew Member?
A: I grew up in Ipswich, where my Dad was a miner and encouraged me to start a career alongside him. 11 years later, I moved to Blackwater where I worked in the mine for 6 years. From there, I found Tieri and spent over 25 years working at Oaky Creek Coal within a town that quickly became home.
My first thoughts about Tieri was that it was a really, really top place. Everyone was welcoming and we have met a lot of good people there over the years.
Q: Are there any standout people you have enjoyed working with?
A: I have made some really good, life-long mates throughout my career at OCC and life in Tieri. The community bands together during the tough times and without having to ask, there is always someone there to help.
Q: What kind of generational changes have you noticed in mining?
A: Having worked in the industry for 43 years, I have definitely seen some big changes, I have to say, one really great thing is how OCC handles the change and supports you though it
Q: Do you have any specific plans for retirement?
A: I’ll be spending most of my free time working on our cattle station named The Firs, which I believe is named after a tree.
Q: Now that you have moved out to the cattle station, what do you miss most about Tieri?
A: When I first stopped working at OCC I really missed my routine of 43 years, when my day had a clear plan and a regular routine. I also miss having my mates around. In Tieri, there was always someone to help me out or have a beer with. There was definitely a lot of adjusting.
Q: How many different roles did you have over the years at OCC?
A: I worked at the base for OCC number 1 for quite some time and then moved on to do the supply work, which was great I really enjoyed that. After that, I moved over to OCC North and towards the end of my career I worked on the conveyer belt, which was really good.
Q: Have you had any good mentors over the years?
A: In the early days of my career in Ipswich there were a few people, that in hindsight, I wish I would have called on a little more often for advice. Even though I was experienced myself, they were very good miners or machinery operators and I really looked up to them. I did often put the advice they gave me into practice throughout my career, and it definitely kept me out of trouble on a few occasions.
At OCC, Keith Williams was a really good mate and he was someone I could talk to and go to for advice.
Q: Do you have any advice for young families or people that are looking to live and work in Tieri?
A: You have to go there with an open mind and just enjoy it. Make it your home and commit to that. We are so lucky in Tieri, having a home provided by the mine where we eat dinner and catch up with our family every night after work.
Q: What made you stay at OCC for so many years?
A: In my eyes, Oaky Number 1 was what I class as ‘the cream of the crop’. It was a good place to be, always. My son worked there too, as a longwall fitter and when he moved on to another mine, he felt a bit unhappy about it. That’s the same feeling I got whenever I thought about leaving.
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