He’s only just returned to the job after what can only be described as a life-changing experience.

On this sunny North Queensland afternoon he’s standing in the middle of a paddock on his Ayr property, casting an eye over the other fruits of his labour.

Well actually it’s more like the vegetables of his weekend toil as before him there are rows and rows of ripe bio-dynamic pumpkins.

What’s the difference between a normal pumpkin and a bio-dynamic one?

Best I let the man affectionately known as ‘Biff’ explain.

“It’s all natural farming, no pesticides or poisons like roundup or anything like that.

“It’s what my wife Desley and I call a healthy existence.

“Years ago when you drove through Gumlu on the way to Bowen, you would almost choke on all the spray being used by the fruit and vegetable farmers, you couldn’t get away from it.

“So we decided to grow our own and now we do pumpkins and organic mangoes; it’s hard work but it’s great.”

Mark Biffanti talks to staff at the Ergon depot at Garbutt  

That’s how Mark Biffanti spends his weekends.

Tending to his healthy crop, making sure there’s plenty to go around for those who want them.

Eating healthy and staying healthy is a big part of his mantra.

And the importance of looking after himself was brought firmly into focus in January this year.

“My wife had been telling me for a long time to go and get a colonoscopy and I’d of course been putting it off.

“When I finally gave in and got the procedure done they found a three and a half centimetre growth in my bowel.

“The doctors were pretty keen to get me under the knife, so within the space of a few hours I went from a busy day coordinating things around the region for Ergon, to a bloke not knowing what the future held.”

The father of four was operated on the next morning where the growth was removed and he was eventually given a clean bill of health.

“I’m just thankful I got the procedure done when I did.

“The doctors said if I’d left it a while, we could be talking about a completely different outcome.”

Mark had six weeks off work recovering from the surgery which for those that know him, wasn’t an easy ask.

He’s the first to admit he isn’t the best patient but his recovery was made that much easier by those who stepped in to fill his role while he was off work.

“I really didn’t have long to do a handover to Matty (fellow colleague Matt Wuersching) before I was on my way to the hospital.

“Because Matt and I work closely together he had a lot of the background knowledge of the stuff I’ve been working on and was therefore able to step into the role without too much fuss.

“Having that sort of planning in place is crucial within organisations like ours and it really came to the fore on this occasion.

“I knew everything was in safe hands.”

Mark is now back on the road and fully recovered from his surgery.

His perspective on eating healthy and staying physically fit hasn’t changed, in fact it’s something he’s even more passionate about than ever before.

“When I’m travelling around the region it’s not easy to go past a petrol station or truck stop especially when you’re hungry.

“I now carry some healthy alternatives to the regulation ‘yellow food’ you get at those places.

“I’m really conscious about what I eat and like all things in life, it’s about getting your priorities straight.”

Mark’s now racked up 32 years with Ergon after starting as a fitter-mechanic back in 1984.

He’s managed to stay away from the big regional centres, remaining a Burdekin boy born, bred and true.

“I like the country, I like country people, mind you I also like city people but I’m really a country person at heart.

“Townsville is great to visit but it’s just too big for me.”

The future is about continuing to provide support for his Ergon crew which is spread across an area from the Whitsundays to Mount Isa and North to Tully.

There’s also the chance to spend a bit more time on his 25 acre hobby farm.

“It’s a great lifestyle and the farming side is an added bonus.

“My Dad Enzo immigrated to Australia as a 21 year old to cut cane and he always told me work hard but remember, family comes first.

Like Dad, “The Biff” isn’t afraid of doing the hard yards at work and he’s happy to be back on the job at Ergon and a role that he’s passionate about.

“I love my work but I also love my life away from work and with three sons who are all grown up and 12 year old daughter, the events of this year have certainly reminded me of how important my own family is to me.”