“Huff” chuffed with 44-year career

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Peter Huffer’s first job at Council was helping to build Lake Pertobe in the late ‘70s. He’s had a number of roles since, but after 44 years of service to Warrnambool, he is retiring to spend more time with his family and enjoy the city he helped to build.

As well as working at Lake Pertobe, “Huff” helped in the construction of Flagstaff Hill and worked with the Council Painter before joining the stormwater maintenance team.

“Then Council were looking for someone to take care of the maintenance and cleaning of the stormwater system so I moved out to the depot,” he said. 

“I looked after the stormwater drainage system for nearly 25 years and helped construct roads and worked underground in the tunnels.

“Back then a lot of the guys at the depot would do maintenance jobs wherever we were needed. I learnt to drive nearly all the plant out there.”

Peter also worked at the old tips driving a dozer, at the Warrnambool Airport as Head Groundskeeper for eight years, and sites like the Warrnambool Art Gallery, the old Performing Arts Centre and Flagstaff Hill when maintenance was needed before moving into the Assets team 18 years ago. 

“There aren’t too many areas that I haven’t worked in and the Council has always made me feel appreciated,” he said.

“The reason why I’ve stayed here as long as I have is because I’m born and bred here and I just love working outside. I love Warrnambool, it’s a great place to live.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes happen that are beneficial to Warrnambool.

“As Council, it’s very easy for people to kick us in the backside but the crew that is here is a great working body that tries to do the best for the ratepayers of Warrnambool with the resources they have.”

Despite being Council’s longest serving current employee, Peter said he never worried about needing to adapt to change.

“You’ve always got to fine-tune things to move with the times,” he said. 

“Being an older fella my last three coordinators in this role have been younger people.

“Some older fellas think they know it all, but I learnt a lot about new technology and new ways to do things, and they learnt from my experience.

“The technology has really come a long way too. 

“Originally it was all paper, now I carry a tablet that has everything in Warrnambool mapped and I can add things to it and they automatically go into the system.”

Peter said that it would be hard to leave the place that he has worked since his early 20s, but he wouldn’t miss his alarm clock.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here, but now it’s time to move on and see a bit more of the countryside with my wife,” he said.

“My kids are all married and I’ve got grandchildren, so it’s the next step in life.”

He said that while it may take some time to adjust to retired life, he will always be proud of what he and his colleagues have achieved. 

“You look out at Lake Pertobe and I can tell my grandchildren ‘I helped build that’.”

Warrnambool City Council Chief Executive Officer Peter Schneider said that “Huff” could enjoy retirement knowing he’d helped to make Warrnambool a better place.

“It’s fitting that Peter spent so many years working in our assets team, because staff with his level of experience and dedication are one of our organisation's greatest assets,” he said.

“To spend 44 years with the same organisation is almost unheard of in this day and age, so there wouldn’t be too many people out there that have worked as hard for Warrnambool as Peter has.

“I wish him a long and happy retirement – after 44 years he has certainly earned it.”