OPERATIONS MANAGER’S REPORT
AT ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
16 JUNE 2019
This year we have implemented one major trip to install plaques and that was in early April to Leonora, Lake Raeside, Malcolm Kookynie Road, Yundamindra and Mt Sir Samuel. We also installed plaques at Emu Creek Station. A total of just over 100 plaques in that trip.
Commencing 30th June, Blue Mullumby and Sue and Trevor Tough will embark on another trip to install more plaques at Lake Raeside, 2 at Mt Sir Samuel. 5 at Milgun Station, 1 each at Muccan and Yarrie Stations, 2 at Derby, 3 on the Gibb River Road, 4 at Napier Downs Station and 1 at Mt House Station. It will be another 8000 kilometre journey.
We have currently made 55 plaques for Lake Raeside, but should produce another 25 to 30 before we go. That will leave about a further 25 to make for that location.
In August, Alex and Julie are planning a trip to Bardoc to install 19 plaques there.
Mark and Debbie Bogaers will be doing a trip in September around the Siberia area to install approx. 12 plaques and to find the grave of James McHugh.
Blue and Mary Mullumby will also be on the road around then, with about a dozen plaques to install.
This amounts to an estimated 20,000 kilometres of self funded itineraries this year alone. If you consider the multiple vehicles involved, you can safely double that. This is an enormous and generous investment by our members in our Outback Grave Markers project.
If we were to brag about the amount of effort the stalwarts of Outback Grave Markers put in to make it all work, then the past 3 or 4 weeks must surely have set an astounding record. Alex tells me that our fantastic website team have put in more than 450 hours between them in the last 2 weeks to prepare and load our data. And that doesn’t include the months of work Cherie and Lorraine put in to get us to the start line. You are soon to be stunned by the result of their efforts. Sincere thanks to Julie, Alex, Glennis, Lorraine and Cherie.
It is fact that no plaques would be made and no progress would occur without our research team. Glennis McDonald has put in at least 5 hours per day since August last year. That is more than 1500 hours for her alone! She averages about 3 hours or more of research for every plaque we make. When we make a plaque now, we are confident that every last detail is correct. That is something we did not have before Glennis came on board and she has found lots of mistakes we have made in the past. She has spent countless hours and days going back over every plaque we have made, to ensure that our records are correct. Glennis is something special, having also endured a very difficult time with the death of her beloved husband Pat.
Engravers. Well, with the help of Blue Mullumby and Adrian Malloy, we have produced more than 200 plaques so far this year. Blue and Adrian have made this possible, because their “back up” makes it possible for me to just get on with the engraving. We reckon we will probably produce at least another 150 this year. Can you imagine the results of this output in 5 or 10 years time? Between us, we have logged over 350 hours since the end of January 2019. In reality, we have put in much more.
We have just made plaque number 550. Not bad for a bunch of old volunteers!
A great part of how we manage to produce these plaques is because Suzie keeps up the smokos and lunches and she races into Midland when we need something. And she backs up and supports our project and everything I am doing here. Thanks Suzie, the quiet achiever.
Of course, all these plaques incurs cost. Cost of material, maintenance of machinery and expendables. I want to thank Glennis for a huge and generous donation to cover the purchase of more blank plaques and steel for posts, at a time when the alternative was to stop production. Also, Blue Mullumby and Adrian Malloy who quietly just pay for bolts, paint, mineral turps, etc. Thankyou sincerely.
I also want to thank Adrian Holdaway for maintaining our engraving machine, sharpening cutters at no charge and then supplying us with a second engraving machine with a “pay me when you can” generosity. This second machine has given an enormous boost to our volume of production.
We continue to attract like minded people to our project. The Eastern Districts 4WD Club have agreed to work with us and we have allocated the area from Norseman to Esperance as their “patch”. Their representatives are here today and they will be coming along on a trip in early September.
I have been in discussion with the ABC office in Geraldton about them filming a program about us installing some plaques. One of their current people is leaving the ABC at the end of June and she wants to come along to write an article for Outback magazine. We plan to do this in early September at Gullewa cemetery, about 80 kilometres south of Yalgoo, on the Morawa road.
WHAT IS AHEAD?
Well, what is possible depends on the decisions of various Shire Councils to financially back our project. New capabilities. Laser engraving. Hosting Shire burial records. Ground penetrating radar. The new financial year will reveal what these Shires have in mind for us. But you can be confident that the Shire of Leonora will continue to back Outback Grave Markers.
But we certainly will be doing:
A new Outback Grave Markers branch in South Australia. Mark “Tracker” Prance has sent us $10,000 for us to purchase for him an engraving machine which matches ours and to supply him with an initial 100 blank plaques, cutters etc. We have found a suitable machine for him and are negotiating to buy it. He will come over to stay with us for a few days and learn how we go about every aspect of our project from research, engraving, recording and installing our plaques. He will use our back up and all his South Australian work will be loaded in his State section of our website. This is another step towards our becoming a truly National project.
WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON AND WHAT IS NEEDED?
Developing new management and systems to make sure we don’t lose or forget contacts, opportunities or requests.
The rate of growth is testing us all and we need to consider that we are all volunteers with our own lives and we need to keep the workload under control. There are many individuals amongst us who need protecting from overload. I see the management of this issue as crucial.
WHAT A YEAR!
Shire involvement and financial support.
New website of a scale and data capability we never dreamed of having.
Our own poem and song.
Research excellence which is probably unmatched in any like organisation.
Producing plaques of better quality and in great quantity.
Strong management committee with great experience and capability.
A list of ideas in the pipeline.
Our first interstate office.
A growing number of people joining us.
LASTLY AND ALSO, THANKS TO:
Yvonne and Kevin Coate, whose continuing generosity allows us to access and use their lifetime’s work. Their Lonely Graves work remains the start point of our research activities.
Thanks to all you people who give us your approval and show your enthusiasm for our efforts. Without you, we would not have the same fire and drive.
And sincere thanks to all of our Committee, who inspire and amaze me with their combined talents, imaginative ideas and dedication. Alex and I could hardly have imagined what Outback Grave Markers has become.