Fifty years ago Max King graduated from the WA School of Mines, ahead of a career that saw him become a lecturer, one of the most respected prospectors in the State and a pioneer in the local drilling industry.
In fact he literally wrote the book on drilling — the Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee’s Drillers Manual to be precise.
But there were few more special moments in the mining industry for Coolgardie’s King than on Friday night, when his youngest brother David graduated for the first at the same ceremony his 1967 graduating class was honoured.
David, the youngest of 10 children born to acclaimed local historian and Kalgoorlie-Boulder Walk of Fame award recipient Norma King, was just five when former Amalgamated Leaseholders and Prospectors Association president Max graduated.
Now he holds a diploma all of his own, a graduate diploma in Mineral Exploration Geoscience awarded at the WASM graduation ceremony at the WMC Conference Centre on Friday night.
The mine foreman, who works at Pantoro on the Nicholsons Find Gold Mine near Halls Creek, said his journey started with fish fingers at his brother’s prospecting leases in the early 80s.
“He used to get me out to dig all the holes for him. He’d offer me as many fish fingers as I could eat and I’d dig a hole for him,” David said.
“Him and his partner Frank they used to mash up the potatoes and give me fish fingers and I’d keep digging all day.
“When we started I used to visit his shows out there, you’d getdigging underground and start looking for the little veins of gold.”
Having his older brother at the ceremony was the icing on the cake for David, who initially planned to be the black sheep in a family of academics driven by their late mother’s thirst for knowledge.
“It meant the world, he’s been driving me through all these years like all the other members of the family,” David said.
“Coming out of the Depression mum drove everybody to be academics and I just showed her my hands and said ‘I’m going to be like dad, earn a living with my hands’.
“After a while I thought looking at mum, she wrote a few books around the place and kept active in the mind, and she said to me ‘you’ve got to keep your mind active’, so I followed that lead.”
The moment enhanced the nostalgia trip for Max, who was honoured alongside fellow 1967 graduates Cecil Pearson, Adrian May, Eugene Dombrose and Geoff Carroll.
“It was very special, a lot of memories came back today … but walking around the old school where I used to work and where I studied was quite special and having my brother here as well was very special,” he said.
The history of the Western Australian School of Mines Alumni (WASMA) reflects the ups and downs of the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) and the role it has played in supporting graduates in a range of activities and events. It also describes the important role that graduates have played in ensuring WASM remains in Kalgoorlie. Learn more.