Ray and his family

Preventing the Spread

Preventing the Spread

Working together, staying apart: Ray’s story


Ray is a drill supervisor at our Hope Downs 1 iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. Ray and his family recently relocated from Brisbane, Queensland to Busselton in Western Australia. We recently spoke to Ray about his experience of adapting to a new roster – and a new life – due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we had stayed in Brisbane it would have meant I’d be away from my family for longer. So we made the decision as a family to move 4,500 kilometres from one side of Australia to the other on April 1. When I told my youngest daughter she thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. But we did this because I didn’t want to leave my family for so long. So taking them with me, moving closer to site – I thought that was a great idea.

So now I’m on a two weeks on/two weeks off roster. It’s obviously a good idea to keep the teams apart, keep that social distancing there and keep everyone safe. I’ve been kept well informed by Rio.

I think the safety measures in place are good – spacing on planes, only two people allowed in a light vehicle, and wet messes are now only allowing a certain number of people in at a time. Social distancing is very important up there – we take it seriously, and that’s important.

It was my choice to go to Busselton. For the past 8 years or so my only dealings with Western Australia were the mine site and Perth airport. We liked Busselton because it’s a quiet little town, making it much easier for all of us to get around. We’re living in a great spot down on the marina. The family member of a colleague owns the property. The holiday season has collapsed here, and so we thought we could help him out by renting the place.

Our family has been in isolation since we got here. We’ve been lucky to be able to do some fishing off the deck and have been catching a bit of bream – that’s keeping our girls entertained. They’re starting back at school doing online learning this week too. I’m actually spending some really good quality time with my family on this new roster, which is great.”