Derrick Fernando, was born on 30 June in 1931 in a town in Sri Lanka called Negombo which is on the west coast.
After Derrick migrated to Australia in February 1973, he sought employment in engineering because he was trained as a mechanical engineer. His first job was at Pentridge Prison. After nine months as an engineer at Pentridge he applied for and was appointed to the position of engineer at Mont Park. Derrick remained in charge of engineering and projects, until the site was closed in 1997, a period of approximately 25 years. With his family, he lived on site in one of the staff houses. Living there meant he made life long friendships with many of the staff including some of the doctors and medical experts.
Derrick’s role as Head Engineer gave him a broad range of responsibilities. These included managing and overseeing the work on all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, security and water services across Mont Park’s large grounds and all of its many buildings. He was in charge of major projects where whole systems such as the piped heating, were changed and updated across the site. This was no 9 to 5 job and it was common for him to receive calls in the middle of the night. Derrick has a natural talent for story telling and an obvious passion for the work he did at Mont Park for so many years. His interview shares his knowledge of the site and the technicalities of keeping such a big operation functioning through many anecdotes and entertaining stories. Some are sad, many are told with wit and colour. The day to day life and challenges of working at Mont Park come alive through Derrick’s oral history interview. Listen to the sound bites attached here. Derrick retired to a home nearby and continues to be a keen member of the Strathallan Golf Club.
Our thanks go to Derrick for agreeing to release his interview through the project’s management team and excerpts on our website.