People and culture
Meet the Van Zyl family, a fifth-generation mining family originally from South Africa.
In the Van Zyl family, mining is more than a profession – it’s a deeply rooted legacy, and, as they proudly declare: “mining is in our blood.”
Deon, accompanied by his wife Louize and their children – Xavier, Marchello, and Dijonue – brought their rich mining heritage to Australia in January 2011.
Fueled by the goal of securing a safer environment, better opportunities for her children and a better life – it took a very determined Louize seven years to secure a permanent visa based on her teaching qualification; and to make the Australian dream a reality for the entire family.
200 years of mining experience in one family
With 200 years of mining experience spanning generations, Deon's lineage is deeply ingrained in the mining trade. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all miners.
Deon and his father, Charlie, worked alongside uncles in the mining industry, forming a familiar backdrop as Deon now observes his children working together at Fosterville Gold Mine.
Deon, with 28 years experience in South African mining and 12 in Australia, reflects a deep connection to mining: “Mining is in my DNA. When I say I am a gold miner, I'm not describing my job but defining who I am – an attitude, a source of deep pride."
Despite the inevitable highs and lows of mining, Deon and Louize initially steered their children toward diverse careers in human resources, finance, and medicine. However, the allure of mining proved irresistible, leading all three children back to their mining roots in Bendigo and at Fosterville Gold Mine.
The journey to Fosterville
The Van Zyls' immigration to Australia marked a significant upheaval for the family. Deon, who had previously managed a mining contract company in South Africa, had to start afresh upon arriving in Melbourne.
The family navigated part-time jobs before Deon secured a nipper position in Stawell, with Xavier and Marchello joining later. After the closure of Stawell Gold Mine, Deon explored FIFO opportunities in South Australia, the Northern Territory , and Western Australia. Xavier and Marchello relocated to Bendigo, joining Fosterville in 2013.
While Xavier and Marchello were advancing their careers at Fosterville, Deon made a determined effort to join them. In 2016, his persistent efforts paid off, and in 2017, Dijonue joined the ranks, reuniting the entire family in Bendigo.
Xavier reflects on their early days: "We did odd jobs in Melbourne to make ends meet. Working together as a household made us closer as a family."
Marchello's career trajectory, from nipper to relief shift boss in 12 years, exemplifies the opportunities and passion ignited at Fosterville.
Dijonue, initially considering a medical career, found her calling in mining after joining Fosterville as one of the first inexperienced young females underground. Now six years into her journey, she's pursuing a degree in Mining Engineering with aspirations for future managerial roles, inspired by the evolving landscape of women in mining.
Not going anywhere
The Van Zyls have grown to love Bendigo, becoming an integral part of the community. Deon, living a stone's throw from the golf course, expresses his commitment to retire in Bendigo, captivated by its unique charm and country culture: "I'm not going anywhere," affirms Deon, encapsulating the family's unwavering connection to their newfound home.