CBH like family after 50 harvests
Brian Davies spent the first 10 years of his CBH career Clarke-shovelling up to 70 tonnes of grain a day.
“Every tonne that went on the train had to be shovelled,” Brian said.
“There was no such thing as boots, we wore thongs – and we did it in 40-degree heat.
“You could hardly walk in the grain because it was red hot when outloading open bulk heads.”
It was hard, itchy, dusty work when Brian started as a casual receival point operator at Koorda in 1967. He was just 17 years old.
“Sometimes the Clarke Shovel ripped the tin floor of the bins, so we’d cut our feet on it,” he said.
“And the country elevators that we used just threw the grain right back at you.
“It was a massive job and hard work.
“But I did it because it was my job, it was just the way it was.”
Pictured above: Brian Davies with a country elevator at the Kwinana grain museum. Credit: Farm Weekly
Brian is one of two people in our co-op’s 90-year history to clock up 50 years, having retired in August last year.
For Brian, it was the only job he ever knew apart from one short stint crayfishing in the 70s.
“Even though the work was hard in the early days, I still enjoyed it,” he said.
“I was young and fit, I made great friends – it was like a family.
“And my goal was to become a supervisor, and I got to do that.”
As senior operator, Brian was responsible for spraying chemicals on the grain to control insects.
“I was smothered in it at times – it was not like it is now.
“Now we have fumigation down to a fine art and it is much, much safer,” he said.
So, it comes as little surprise that one of the biggest differences between now and then for Brian is the improvement in safety standards.
“In those early days, there was no such thing as safety.
“We didn’t even have gloves or masks.”
Pictured above: Brian Davies at the Kwinana Grain Terminal in 2022. Credit: Farm Weekly
Brian spent 15 years as the supervisor in the Morawa district and later Merredin district – years that were marked by many droughts and tough times for WA growers.
“I spent a lot of my time talking to growers. You just never stopped working out there – even during the night.”
In 1994, Brian and his family moved to Kwinana where he took up the role of supervisor and relief terminal manager on a couple of occasions.
“It was much easier and more rewarding at Kwinana,” he said.
But despite many earlier years of hard, challenging work, Brian stayed with CBH.
“I could have left at any time, but I didn’t.
“I had good friends, and it was something I wanted to get out of bed for.”
When Brian was asked what he would say to anyone considering a career with CBH, he said: “Do it. I’m always telling people that even if there’s a casual job coming up, go for it, because it’s done me well.”
“I’m not surprised the co-op has made it to 90 years and I think it’ll last for a lot longer.”
Pictured above: Brian Davies at Kwinana in 1996. Credit: West Australian Newspapers Ltd
About the Clarke Shovel
The original Clarke Shovel, pictured in the first photo, was used in the early 1930s. It was simply a regular shovel attached to a chain and an engine-driven pulley.
As methods advanced, the shovel was replaced with a sheet of corrugated iron, pictured in the second image. This enabled our frontline to move a greater mass of grain at once.