TEAM MEMBER STORIES – GAGE OWENS
In South Australia, Active Tree Services’ climber Gage Owen has no qualms about working at height and isn’t fazed by powerlines. But the looming shadow of a huntsman spider coming into view over the top of your work visor, well that takes a bit of getting used to, he says.
Gage is the leading hand on a crew of seven working in and around Adelaide for SA Power Networks. It’s a job that takes him everywhere from the city to rural areas, climbing trees with a harness and trimming around live power lines.
He’s been doing it now for about four years since arriving from England.
Gage explains he’d been working near Newcastle in the UK after studying a Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture when he decided to send his résumé to about 20 different arborist agencies.
The first one got back to him with the question: “Do you want to go to Australia?”
Only 19 at the time, Gage made the shift across the globe to fill a role as a contractor. When that position ended, Active offered him sponsorship to stay and work on their behalf. It’s a job that’s taken him from Western Australia to New South Wales and Victoria and, but by far his favourite place is South Australia.
“It’s really relaxed, there’s less traffic and not so much hustle and bustle,” he says. “Everyday’s like a holiday and of course there’s the beach.”
And he’s not the only Englishman on his crew relishing the Australian lifestyle; of his team, four are from the UK.
Gage’s average day includes climbing, organising kit, generating job orders and making sure the work gets done.
While he states the weather in Australia is “heaps better” than the UK, storm damage, including the recent spate of wild weather that wreaked havoc across SA, is a frequent part of his job. He also notes the wind on any given day can prove a challenge when you’re working at height in a tree.
So far Gage has enjoyed all the places the job has taken him and appreciated the opportunity to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife, with the exception of just a few.
“The huntsmen will sit on your helmet and the first you know of it is their legs coming over your visor,” he laughs.
Aside from the occasional brush with an eight-legged hitch-hiker, Gage says it’s a job he’d definitely recommend. He’s not only inspired a friend to come over and work with Active, but is also currently applying for permanent residency.
“It’s just a great lifestyle because of the things you get to see and do, the people you get to work with and the fact you’re not sitting behind a desk.”