Progression Series: Meet Ockert Fourie, Former Driller to Heavy Diesel Mechanic Apprentice

Welcome to our Progression Series, if you are keen to explore and progress within McKay Drilling then we hope this series assists you pave the path to success. Here we learn and share experiences from our employees. This post in the series ‘Ever thought about an Apprenticeship?’;

Hi, my name is Ockie Fourie and I’m a 3rd year Heavy Diesel Mechanic Apprentice.
I was born in the town Graaf-Reinet on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. I lived, however, in a small town with a population of roughly 2000 people 90km south of Graaff-Reinet called Jansenville.

I spent most of my childhood on our family farm of about 15,000 acres. Once I finished my last year of school my father told me to find my own feet in the world and not settle for working on our farm. So, I did a few jobs here and there before I decided to moved to Australia.

About a year into my working life, I received a phone call from a mate asking me if I want to work in Australia with him on a cattle station. I immediately said yes as it has always been my dream to work overseas and working on a farm was the only skill I really had. So I packed my bag with only $50 dollars to my name and I began working on a cattle station 20km out of Halls Creek in the Kimberley’s. When I arrived I started working as a station hand and worked my way up to a Livestock Manager in charge of 50,000 head of cattle on a 1.2 million acre station within 5 years.

At about 3 years into working on the station, my whole world changed when I met my now wife, Bianca. My outlook on life changed and I felt like I needed to move on from the station lifestyle. Once I got my citizenship I decided to move to Perth and pursue a new career.

As soon as I arrived in Perth I found a job offer on Seek as a Diamond Offsider for McKay Drilling. I had no experience at the time but applied anyway. A day or so later I got a call from Chondelle McKay to come in for an interview. When I did my interview I still remember Chad McKay giving me a look and said “you will be an RC offsider” – all good, good choice I reckon.

So I initially started off as an Offsider, eventually moving up to a Relief Driller and then a full-time Driller where I took charge of Rig 10. I then heard of the McKay Apprenticeship Program and decided that this is my chance for a new career. I was drawn to the Heavy Diesel Mechanic Apprenticeship because I have always liked fixing and working on machinery and equipment on the farms. It also seemed like a great opportunity for me to advance in my career.

Unfortunately, the pay cut was a massive factor in the decision, however, we worked our way around it and can still manage to raise our beautiful daughter. I have enjoyed my apprenticeship so far especially being able to learn and grow in my new role. As I am currently in my 3rd year, I definitely look forward to soon being able to work autonomously out in the field. I believe that I am always driven to achieve higher and I think I won’t stop working towards the next step in my career, whatever that may be.

Lastly, I would just like to thank to McKay Drilling for all the opportunities they have provided me so far and enabling me to grow and learn in my working career.

If you are interested in learning more about Apprenticeships within McKay Drilling, please contact

Featured: Ockert Fourie at the 30 Years McKay Drilling Christmas Party in 2020

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