Sunday 18th Nov, 2018

THE GRILL: Paul O’Keefe


What does a typical day at work look like?
My day can be varying; from contractor inductions, developing training packages and running training courses.

What do you like about your job?
I seriously like what I do. It’s also the variety of the work and the people I work with that make it such a great job.

How did you get started working on the waterfront?
I originally started 35 years ago as a junior clerk at Patricks and worked at the old wharves of Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and Woolloomooloo. I’ve been here at DP World Australia’s Sydney Terminal since 1999.

Any career highlights or an accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of?
Working so long on the waterfront, I’ve witnessed so many changes and experienced quite a few bizarre things. Like the time when we unloaded all the circus animals for the Moscow Circus that came out on an old converted Russian icebreaker ship. We had to unload elephants, tigers and monkeys. Now that was an interesting day!

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Being a kid of the 60s, I was fascinated with the Apollo Missions to the Moon – probably an astronaut.

What is your favourite thing to eat?
I’m a keen carnivore. I love a good steak washed down with a cold Coopers Pale Ale.

Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve got a few, I love the beach and surf most days I can. I lecture on Australian history and recently worked as a researcher for the Australian author Peter FitzSimons, so I’m quite busy when I’m not at work.

Read any good books lately?
The Life and Times of James Cook – By Arthur Kitson. Cook was an amazing man and such a pioneer for his time.

I heard a rumour that you were involved in writing a play. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, it’s called Ned Kelly My Love and it’s a musical. The story was adapted from one of my lectures.

What is it about?
It’s about the untold story of Ned Kelly and Ettie Hart – the love he left behind and their doomed relationship.

Has it been performed? Where?
We had its opening season in Melbourne at the Mechanics Theatre Brunswick in November last year. More here:

Any plans for performances in the future?
We had such great reviews and we have now adapted a longer version that we are going to tour nationally later this year.

Are you working on anything new?
Yes, I’m currently assisting with the script and the development of a yet to be announced upcoming Australian movie. 

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From the print edition May 4, 2017

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