26 September 2023

Veteran hydrographer flows into retirement

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After 49 years with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Hydrographer, Jeff Garbutt has announced his retirement.

Executive Director Regional Delivery at the Department, Simon Taylor said Mr Garbutt (pictured) was quite possibly the longest public serving hydrographer.

Hydrographers measure and analyse the flow and quality of water in rivers, lakes, and stormwater, and survey and map estuaries and rivers.

Mr Taylor said Mr Garbutt’s retirement plans included long walks with his dog, Chrissy, travelling with his wife, and being more involved with his other passion, square dance calling.

“Jeff left school in the early 1970s, taking his first job with the Public Works Department that set him on a dedicated career path as a hydrographer,” Mr Taylor said.

“Jeff’s passion for his craft, and dedication to mentorship, means a lifetime of valuable knowledge has been passed on to the next generation of hydrographers.”

Mr Taylor said Mr Garbutt had seen many changes during his work life, from instruments recording river levels on paper charts which were physically collected during frequent field visits, to data now being sent in real time by satellite, directly to the internet.

“The beauty about paper tape recorders is that you have a trace in front of you and you can almost imagine yourself being part of the river,” Mr Garbutt said.

“You can almost feel the water flowing over the rocks and its rises and falls and it has just got a fascination that modern technology doesn’t have any more.”

He started work in the Albany office in 1974 and moved to Harvey, Perth, Manjimup, Roelands and finally Bunbury, where he put down his roots in 1995.

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