EMPLOYEE STORIES – RAY HUNT
When senior jarraff operator Ray Hunt started in the tree industry 15 years ago, he was following in his father’s footsteps. Now they share Active Tree Services as a workplace in the hot and humid conditions of the Northern Territory, working in separate regions but enjoying the occasional job together.
Ray explains as a teenager he’d had a few odd jobs as a removalist and butcher, but went to join his dad working for a private tree contractor after finishing school. When Active took over the power and water contracts, Ray and his dad made the move together, with Ray heading into regional areas while his dad handles urban work.
“I started out as a cutter, did that for three-and-a-half years then moved onto the jarraff. But every now and then I get on the chipper as well.”
His role takes him all over the Northern Territory from Katherine to Dundee, and along the Adelaide and Darwin Rivers. He’s been doing it now for over seven years, enjoying the beauty of the bush and the different locations on offer.
These remote areas also provide the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wildlife of the region, including the not-so-infrequent, large, sun baking croc.
“When you’re far in the bush you see thousands of them,” he says, recalling a recent 5.3m saltwater variety. It’s a highlight of his job, but other memorable moments are more about the human interaction, including working with a great team of mates.
Ray was also among the Northern Territory crew who attended Active’s 40th anniversary dinner held in Adelaide in 2014, which he fondly recalls as a great occasion.
“I went with dad and a few mates and we got to meet Active founder Mark Willcocks and mingle with the boys from Adelaide. We had a great time.”
As for job challenges, Ray notes the Northern Territory climate is probably their greatest obstacle.
“The heat gets to you, and once it’s raining it’s hard to get the work done. But I love the reward of getting the field work finished before the wet and the cyclone season. You’re really under the pump to get the work done.”
He’s also enjoyed learning from experienced operators along the way.
“I learned about machinery like the jarraff from an old jarraff operator. He was great to work with and taught me how to use and maintain it.”
A fair bit’s changed since he first came to Active, however.
“The computer system has made a huge difference. When I first started it was all paperwork, but now it’s much more simple and easy.”
And occasionally working with his dad, well he enjoys that too…
“It’s a great opportunity to be part of the same team.”