Richard Olive, Civil Engineer and Global Explorer

Richard spent the 1950s at Marcellin, went on to take a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Melbourne, and then headed to Tasmania where he spent ten years in design and construction of dams and hydro projects.  At age 30, he had never been further from Melbourne than Hobart, but then things changed.  His tools of trade became a magic carpet which saw him continuously on the move, to many of the world’s best known locations, as well as many of the most remote.

It all started in 1972 when he won a Churchill Fellowship which took him to USA for six months.  Then three years later he migrated to French Canada with his young family, to work on dams there.  In 1981 the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded him its medal for the best technical paper of the year, an event which became the catalyst for consulting opportunities ever since.  So his work has taken him to all 50 states of USA, all 10 provinces of Canada, all six states of Australia, most of Europe and much of Asia.  In all there have been over 90 international trips, including 25 times around the world.

And what about the remote places?  Well, there’s the southern tip of Madagascar, the icecap of Iceland, the Canadian Arctic, central Siberia and the jungles of Sulawesi.  “Oh, the Eastern frontier of Iran was quite remote,” he adds as an afterthought, “as was Easter Island.”

Now in retirement, does he travel much?  “No, not really.  My favourite transport now is the 109 Tram from my home in Port Melbourne to the city.  But I do have a dam assignment up on the Malaysian-Thai border next month, and I spend some time in the States every year with my American wife. Oh, and we’re going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest after that.”  It hardly sounds like ‘not much travel any more.’

All of this was beyond his wildest imaginings when he diligently studied languages, mathematics and science at Marcellin.  But he sees now that his fine grounding in those building blocks of learning created his key to the world.

The Brothers to whom he remains most grateful are Bede, Stanislaus, Eustace and Kenneth, because, to Richard, these were the men who best demonstrated the spirit which the founder of the order would hope for in the Marists.