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A family of foresters at OneFortyOne

Jeoffrey Van Den Hoogen

The youngest of seven children, Jeoffrey Van Den Hoogen followed in the footsteps of his father, a few brothers, and a sister, creating a career in local forestry. On a one-month trial at OFO’s Jubilee mill, Jeoffrey – better known as Coogee – started out stacking timber by hand in the Greenmill. Source: Timberbiz

Now 45 years later, Coogee has shared what’s kept him here despite never ‘officially’ being told by his original boss that he passed that month trial.

“Dad was in sawmilling, as well as poultry farming. He worked the two jobs to keep the seven of us alive.

Of that 7, I’m the youngest, and a few of us have worked in the industry. My brother Martin worked here as a leading hand in the planer mill, my brother Bushy worked as a saw doctor, another brother Johnny worked here in the log yard with me, and my sister Carla alsanother also worked at a timber mill.

I started when I was 17 stacking by hand in the Greenmill.

The guy who employed me said he’d give me a month trial, 45 years later I guess I’m still waiting for my trial to be over – he never told me I had a full-time job.

I worked there in the Greenmill for the first few years, where I’d go through a pair of boots every three months. It was harder manual labour then.

After the stacker I went to the bandsaw and was out in thelogyard at night running the debarker.

I’ve been on the ground in the logyard now for the last 30 years driving the grab.

Over that time, I’d say the safety is the biggest thing that’s better. We never had vissy wear (high vis) and you had to get your own. I was the first one on site to get a vissy top. There weren’t safety tags or locks in the machines either. You’d just turn off the machines and hoped no one touched it. Things have definitely improved to be safer.

Work isn’t the only thing in my life, it’s good to have other things going on. Outside of work I’m a life member of the street machine club, I’ve got a 62 Dodge that I’m still doing up.

I’ve got two Harleys and I’m with the Longriders Motorcycle Club which is my main passion at the moment.

In the past couple years my wife and I have bought a caravan too, we’ve have been on a few trips but I’m not ready to retire yet.