Joondalup: Chef-turned-crane driver loves ‘awesome’ job

Beats putting a stir fry together any day: Former chef Stuart Bailey is now a crane driver, working on an eight-storey building in Joondalup.
Beats putting a stir fry together any day: Former chef Stuart Bailey is now a crane driver, working on an eight-storey building in Joondalup.

STUART Bailey wouldn’t swap his job for the world.

The 43-year-old sits atop Joondalup as one of two crane drivers on the Georgiou Group project to build an eight-storey development in Davidson Terrace for government workers.

“I love my job; it’s awesome,” he said.

“Though it can be mentally taxing, it’s still reasonably relaxing.

“From where we are, you can see the ocean, hospital, Lake Joondalup and the city.”

The craneman spoke to the Weekender this week:

Perched high above Joondalup in his cab in the sky is not a position Mr Bailey imagined himself in.

The Georgiou Group crane driver trained as a chef in England before coming to Australia nine years ago and becoming head chef at The Boat in Mindarie.

After heading up north for work and missing his then six-month-old daughter Maddison, Stu decided on a career change and joined his father-in-law in the construction industry. He trained to get his rigging ticket before doing a course in crane driving.

“I gave up my lunch breaks to go up cranes so I could learn how to operate them better,” he said.

Practising swinging the crane around was one thing, learning how to pick up a load was another.

He’s now been operating big cranes for six years and shares the driving duties with Roy Snare on an eight-storey Joondalup development Georgiou Group is doing for Primewest and the State Government to house more than 800 public servants in 2019.

On occasion he felt “the solitude” of his perch while “everyone else was down below”.

“You have to be switched on at all times,” he said. “You’re manoeuvring around people; sometimes you can come down from the crane mentally exhausted.”

Stu praised his company, which he said was right behind any decision to stop the crane if it was too windy.

“If it gets to 35km/h, it is too dangerous to lift the big tilt (concrete) panels,” he said.

He said his daughters Maddison (8) and Paige (3) were “so proud” of their father’s occupation.

When asked at her school in Joondalup what her dad did, Paige was able to go outside with her classmates and point to a 42m-high structure.

“That’s my dad’s crane,” she said.

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