Peter Barro: An enduring legacy

Peter Barro was born on 29 June, 1957, and passed away on 25 October, 2018. His passing is an enormous loss for his wife Christine, his sisters Rhonda and Elena and brother Raymond, the Barro Group employees and the quarrying industry as a whole.

Peter was an executive director with the Barro Group and was instrumental in securing strategic stone and sand resources, putting the company in a strong position for decades to come. His legacy to the Barro Group, his family and the extractive industries will endure.

Peter was always destined to follow in his father’s footsteps, and started work in the laboratory at the company’s Bacchus Marsh Quarry and in different roles at Point Wilson and Sunshine quarries. His formal training in the extractive industry was complete when the Victorian Quarry Manager’s Board issued him with the Quarry Manager’s Superintendent Certificate. This enabled Peter to manage any quarry in Victoria.

Peter found his niche within the family business and the skills he brought forward will benefit the company for many years to come. The identification, retention and development of the Barro Group raw material assets and his passion and personal involvement in crushing plant selection, design and output were outstanding contributions. One could see in the most recent plants an artistic flair, with respect to both shape and blending of colour, in the processing plants’ layout.

You were well aware of the pride and respect Peter held for his late father David and his Uncle Mark, as well as his wife, siblings and Ian Alexander when it came to the outcomes achieved by the family business.

In conversations with Peter, he would always associate the Barro Group as a private business in competition with the public companies. He identified with and was extremely proud of the humble beginnings of the family’s business, the significance of its loyal workforce and its managers.

Peter understood the important role that small businesses play in the economy and he was always willing to help those business partners survive. Over the years, Peter forged long partnerships that were based on respect, loyalty and trust. Peter’s “yes we can” attitude delivered fair outcomes for the Barro Group and its partners.

‘Minister for detail’

Peter was a driving force behind the innovation of sand extraction below the water table without having to dewater sand pits.

With a shortage of sand resources for booming infrastructure projects in Victoria, the approach would provide much-needed sand resources, which can be extracted with a much smaller footprint and less impact on the environment and ground water resources.

{{image2-a:r-w:250}}Peter was acutely aware of the economics for the extractive industry and was always prepared to take on governments of the day in relation to unnecessary red tape, access to resources and the approval process. He articulated the benefits of a strong quarrying industry to infrastructure projects and the Victorian economy and community.

When you met Peter, he would smile, lean forward and physically draw you into the conversation. It was always evident that he had a deep knowledge of the industry and its participants. He was inquisitive by nature and always searching for information.

Peter was charismatic, charming, funny and innovative. He was the negotiator, the deal-maker, and loved nothing more than spending time in the field with his people, his plant and his sand pits and quarries.

Peter loved people; he was gregarious, and the guy everyone wanted to be with. He was happy in any company – whether at catwalks and fashion shows supporting Christine, quarrying and industry events, wining and dining with Melbourne “royalty”, or generously supporting charities at the Spring Racing Carnival.

Peter was an amazing father to his son David and a loving husband to Christine. He was very proud of Christine’s achievements, her recognition within the fashion industry, her business acumen and her personal inner strength. His generosity and fun-loving spirit knew no bounds.

Christine’s heartfelt words in the “celebration of life” distributed at Peter’s funeral gave us an insight into the loving marriage and his ability to bring light and laughter to the darkest points of the room.

He brought people together, marrying one talent to another’s resources. He was “the connector” – the man who took no credit for the clever couplings that often bore transformative results.

Peter’s obsession with the smallest technicalities of stuff earned him the tongue-in-cheek title “The Minister for Detail”. Be it in the making of wine, the signing of a commercial contract or the creative design of a new quarry, he always believed a rigorous attention to the “micro” detail made for the “macro” success.

His need to find a better way was all-consuming, but when he did conceive of smarter “doing” and determined that he would bring it to immediate fruition, he proved all the naysayers wrong.

Nevertheless, he never sought to lord it over anyone. He just loved the game of it all, shaping and shifting the landscape of accepted norm, whether in business, design or a distant town.

‘Mayor of Merrijig’

Peter would see the food industry in action and want to replicate it with his own genius inventions, for example, the wood-fired oven he designed in dry stone in Merrijig, at the base of Mount Bulla.

From the inner glow of its beehive dome, Peter would feed his tribe with a spread of Saltimbocca that slid into an evening smorgasbord of pizza. The locals would drift in and out, indulging in Peter’s hilarity, gourmet hospitality and good advice on how to run a business and a local bureaucracy.

For serially agitating them into civic activity, they declared Peter the default “Mayor of Merrijig”, a title he indulged with full authority every Easter, when his four-day festival of eating and drinking drove into town and turned it upside down, with more constructed follies and counselling on business.

Peter loved colour – he spent a lot of time in black, but he was spectacular in colour, and wore it well. He literally lit up a room. His presence always ensured the event went up several notches, and conversely was not quite the same without him.

Peter Barro was an industry icon. We will reflect upon the loss of his presence, wisdom, social and culinary skills, distinctive welcoming voice and sense of humour, and his interest in his family’s wellbeing and finally the industry’s general wellbeing. For all of us who knew Peter, his passions and characteristics will endure for the rest of our lives.

This feature was prepared from extracts prepared by Christine Barro, Ron Kerr and Bruce Edwards, and from interviews with Basil Natoli, Mike McCann, Rob Snowden and Craig Cahill.

Article courtesy of Sand & Stone, the periodical of CMPA Victoria. Visit

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend