TEAM MEMBER STORIES – SHANE THOMAS
As a supervisor on Active’s new TransGrid Southern contract, Shane Thomas spends his days exploring some of the most picturesque regions of the country.
From the Brindabellas to Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains, his office is an ever-changing landscape that takes in places like Marulan, parts of Canberra, Cooma, Griffith and the
Kosciuszko National Park.
It can be remote, cold and subject to extreme weather, but Shane wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love being in the great outdoors,” he says.
“You get to see all these different areas and travel to country you wouldn’t otherwise.”
Shane joined Active in January this year, but he has worked this region for nine years; first as an EWP operator then as a chipper, ground liner, cutter, and also a scoper.
These days he heads up a crew of about 16 based in Tumut, in a role that extends from organising to scoping.
His day can involve early starts or late finishes, but he says he loves it all as part of a job where every day is different.
“I love being in the great outdoors. You get to see all these different areas and travel to country you wouldn’t otherwise.”
In his years in the tree industry, Shane has seen the countryside at its best and its worst.
In early 2020, he was among the first crews called in to clean up after the Black Summer bushfires in southern New South Wales.
“We spent two months in the fire area removing hazardous trees and clearing access tracks,” he says.
“We were the first to cut access back into the Snowy 2.0. It was a hell of a mess up here.”
At the time there wasn’t a single green leaf to be seen, and some of the vegetation is still yet to come back.
The after-effects of the fires also lingered on, with roads buckling in the heat and some washed away in the floods that came after the fires. In a landscape that comprised just dirt and rocks, Shane explains there was simply no vegetation to halt the erosion.
These days he marvels at the steady regeneration of the fire-affected areas, but notes hazardous trees continue to be a danger to watch out for.
On an average day, the countryside offers its fair share of wild animals and a whole lot of remote locations.
Shane notes he regularly encounters deer, pigs, and emus, while his favourite location is the isolated area of Geehi Dam to the north of Mt Kosciuszko and west of Jindabyne.
At present he and his crews are finalising cutting in the Snowy Mountains region before the national parks shut for the winter.
With the alpine region under snow, Shane and his team will travel elsewhere as part of a contract that extends as far afield as Broken Hill. There will also be work in and around Canberra, along with Griffith, and Deniliquin.
And as for where you’ll find him on a welcome day off – well it’s right back in the “office”, this time with his three kids, camping and socialising with a fishing rod in hand.