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Table of Contents

Seventy-Five Years at Willis Island



Chapter 1: Willis Island Today

Chapter 2: Willis Island is Conceived

Chapter 3: Willis Island is Born

Chapter 4: The Early Years

Chapter 5: Life in the 1930s

Chapter 6: Willis Island at War (1941–42)

Chapter 7: After the War

Chapter 8: Willis Island—1960s Style

Chapter 9: The Value of Willis Island

Chapter 10: The Original Inhabitants

Appendix 1: Willis Island Milestones

Appendix 2: Willis Island Officers

Appendix 3: Log of Willis Island Observations, December 1922

Appendix 4: References


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Chapter 1: Willis Island Today (continued)

Satellite communications allow the speedy dissemination of meteorological data and provide staff with telephone, facsimile and electronic mail facilities, with text-based Internet access also available. Communications with family and friends is as easy as picking up the telephone, although the slight delay and low echo is unsettling at first.

Over the decades of human occupation, a considerable amount of rubbish of many types accumulated. Much of it was buried but occasionally high winds and heavy seas would uncover parts of the rubbish dump. The greater awareness of environmental issues in recent years and the need to avoid polluting, especially in sensitive areas such as coral sand cays, prompted a major clean-up campaign. Within the last ten years, large amounts of rubbish have been removed from the Island and returned to the mainland for proper disposal. Nowadays all rubbish is stored in bins and returned to the mainland on the staff exchange vessel.

Another source of pollution on Willis Island was the toxic residue from the chemical generation of hydrogen, eliminated in 1994 with the installation of an electrolytic converter for hydrogen generation.

With some pride, the Bureau can now claim to run a very environmentally friendly operation.

Whilst a combination of daily observing duties, equipment maintenance and housekeeping chores keep the staff busy, there is time for relaxation. A recreation room includes amenities such as a pool table, darts and table tennis. Outside sporting and fishing gear and a home gym are also provided for those desiring vigorous activity.

More leisurely recreation is also available. A substantial library caters for all tastes. Two satellite television systems enable reception of Australian Channel 10 and the ABC, and of free-to-air transmissions from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Programming includes the USA television channels CNN and MTV. A well stocked video library adds to the passive entertainment options.

But it wasn't always like this!

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Fletcher, P. 1996 'Seventy-Five Years at Willis Island', Metarch Papers, No. 9 December 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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