Allstone Quarries – Rod (Rocket) Lightfoot

By on December 5, 2021

TIM BIRD, Managing Director of Allstone Quarries (ASQ) provides an insight into their long standing employee Rod (Rocket) Lightfoot who has been in the industry over 50 years.

The end of 2021 will see an end of an era at ASQ with the retirement of a 50 year veteran to the extractive industry in Rod Lightfoot, better known as Rocket.

Three generations and five family members have been involved in the extractive industry since the 1970’s with the last twenty spent with us at Allstone Quarries.

Rod left school at the age of 15 in 1967 and started a Panel Beating apprenticeship until the business closed in 1969. He then went to work at Lake Boga Quarry for EB Mawson & Sons Pty Ltd. Ted Lightfoot (Rod’s grandfather) worked in partnership with Mawsons, whilst Charles Lightfoot (Rod’s father) also worked there at the time.

Around the same time 1970 in fact the ASQ business was established in Castlemaine, Victoria initially trading as G&L Bird Contracting and then Bird Brothers. The main operation of the business was the hiring of backhoes and tip trucks, specialising in the installation and maintenance of water mains and underground power lines for the State Rivers and SEC as well as general hire for such things as demolition, house site preparation and septic tank installation.

In 1973 after Lake Boga Quarry was sold the family moved south to Maldon where Rod and his father Charles and mother Heather Lightfoot purchased Maldon Quarry. They were a team, father, son and mother, all working together. Heather was heavily involved in the quarry and a pioneer for women being the first woman shotfirer in Victoria. Blasting was always of interest to Heather and it allowed her to help her husband and son on the quarry floor.

Heather was one of very few women in the quarrying industry at the time and loved her job and was very good at it. There was no doubt in her mind that women can take on some of the many opportunities the quarry industry offers and make a successful career.

Heather believes that there are plenty of opportunities for women in the industry, particularly in the administration area. “Women are good organisers in general and are particularly efficient and effective when they work in a job they enjoy.” She said many people, but women in particular perceive quarrying as a dead end job. They think it is hard work and long hours, but they really don’t understand anything about the industry. In fact, she said there is great scope for achievement and advancement. It is a fascinating industry because there are so many aspects of it. If you are a geologist or an engineer or a shotfirer for instance there is work for you in the quarry.”

In 1989 the quarry was sold to Leech Earthmoving, Rod stayed on and worked for them until the quarry was eventually sold and closed down in 1999. Rod then moved to Birds Mobile Crushing based in Castlemaine where he was involved with many Birds Projects including Beach Forrest, Tumut, Corowa and Dunoly.

Around the same time the company was issued with a work authority to commence quarrying operations at its own site, east of Newbridge. The permanent quarry site was established to service the local market of Central Victoria and at the same time the Eaglehawk site in Alexandra Street was acquired to develop the construction and demolition waste recycling side of the business.

With these major changes and direction of the business, they felt that it was time to re-brand the business and thus Allstone Quarries Pty Ltd was formed.

Allstone Quarries (ASQ) today is a proud employer of over 100 staff working across seven sites within the organisation. Being a locally owned, family operated business they aim to foster a family friendly workplace and are committed to the health and wellbeing of their staff and working environment.

Rod loves and is very proud of his ZX870 excavator, he has continued to work at ASQ where he plans to retire in December 2021. Thank you Rod to you and your family for your hard work and dedication to Allstone Quarries and the Quarry Industry.

Charles (Dad) / Heather (Mum) / Rod at Maldon Quarry
Charles (Dad) / Lorne (Nephew) / Rod

Allstone Quarries has been an active member of the CMPA since the association’s inception in 2000. The CMPA has been essential in supporting our business throughout the past 21 years, through networking with likeminded members and associates, providing relevant training resources and reference documents. It is comforting to know that the CMPA has our best interests at heart when dealing with our regulators and policy makers as well as our politicians.
Recently our Newbridge quarry has undergone a workplan variation. This has enabled us to utilise the total resource that is available within our Work Authority and has formalised the rehabilitation of the site allowing us to progressively rehabilitate our terminal faces as we quarry out the basalt.
Our Castlemaine quarry is now exhausted of resource (tertiary gravel). However, we have recently had a planning permit issued to develop this site into an industrial estate which is a perfect end use, fitting in well within its surrounds of the area. We are excited to see this redevelopment through and plan for this to be a great example of the end use of a quarry in our region.

The boys at Leech Earthmoving.
Rod preparing a blast.
Rodd on his ZX870 Excavator.

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