Variety and passion key to career

September 11, 2021 BY

Plane-spotter: John Hartigan enjoys his relationship with tenant Field Air which manufactures and services agricultural aircrafts. Photos: CHIPPY RIVERA

IN February of 1977, a young John Hartigan became a Shire of Buninyong staffer as a surveyor, before the local government amalgamated with the City of Ballarat.

Almost 45 years later, he’s still working for the municipality with passion, having been infrastructure development officer and manager of the Ballarat Airport for the last 24 years, leading 85 workers on site, and the many community groups based out of its huts.

Overseeing a capital program worth tens of millions of dollars, he was also recently a key part of City obtaining a $5 million grant to extend the airport’s runway.

“I see around 30,000 aircraft movements a year; taking off and landing. The air ambulance is here three times a week, and the police helicopters come here to refuel,” he said.

“We have approximately 10 major company tenants on site, and I love checking in with them. Lots of people come out to the airport to watch the different-sized aircrafts, including parents who bring their young children out.

“They love to see the planes, and council is very supportive of children around the airport because we know they are tomorrow’s fliers.”

Mr Hartigan has had a range of roles in the municipality’s engineering sector since the late-70s, and has seen lots of change, surveying for five years, before he was employed as a purchasing officer and estimator for engineering projects for 12.

Contributing to the Warrenheip, Scotsburn, and Garibaldi Halls along the way, Mr Hartigan helped develop the Buninyong Botanic Gardens, at one stage managed Buninyong, Mount Clear and Mount Pleasant’s waste contracts, and introduced garbage services to the local government area’s most rural locations.

He was also a witness, and participant, of some memorable moments along the journey.

“I remember Charles and Diana visiting in 1985, and thousands of people waving flags and cheering along Sturt Street,” he said.

“I remember Anthony Edwards rowing the Olympic torch down the lake in 2000. In 2000, the Queen also visited Ballarat.

“One of my best memories was in 1982 when the Queen’s baton was carried all the way around Australia. I was lucky enough to carry it for one kilometre of that journey.”

Decades on, Mr Hartigan said he is as happy as ever as a member of the municipality’s team.

In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, family time with his two sons and four grandchildren, and renovating old homes, but still relishes the chance to head off to work through the week.

“Every day I am so proud to work for the City of Ballarat because we are all working for the community, and every day, we all make a difference,” he said.

“Ballarat means so much to me. I still have the passion for working for the community, because I’ve never done the same job for a long period of time, and I’ve always taken the skills from the last job into the next.

“I always say I wish the journey was starting all over again, and not coming to an end. I have loved the journey.”

City of Ballarat CEO Evan King said Mr Hartigan has been “integral” to the municipality’s development for more than 44 years.

“I admire John’s commitment and passion for his work, and both the City of Ballarat and Ballarat community have benefitted enormously from his efforts,” he said.

“John’s involvement across so many critical projects over four decades, has in no small way contributed to the Ballarat we see and enjoy today.

“I congratulate and thank John for his professionalism and for being an example to us all.”

Thank you for supporting local journalism!