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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers





Chapter 1: The Early Years

Chapter 2: The Training School

Chapter 3: Equipment Installation Records

Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

Chapter 5: The 'Techs' Tell Their Stories
Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989
Ray Clarke Looks Back
Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch
Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics
Some Titbits from Dave Grainger
A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson
Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches
Jack Tait Recalls
Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter
Some Snippets from Noel Barrett
Stephen CourbÍt Has His Penny Wworth
And a Flyspeck or Two from Lenny Dawson
Some Interesting Reminiscences from Jannes Keuken
Brief Stories from Phil Black
From Gloria West, Wife of the Late Bob West
The Life and Bureau Times of Graham Linnett
Tales Out of School from Bill Hite
Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy
Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

Appendix 1: 'Techs' Roll Call

Appendix 2: Trainee Intakes

Appendix 3: 'Techs' Who Have Served in the Antarctic Region

Appendix 4: Summary of Major Installation Projects

Appendix 5: Summary of Major Equipment Variously Installed at Sites and Maintained by Radio Technical Officers


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Ray Clarke Looks Back (continued)

We should have twigged on the docks at Townsville before we left when a Torres Strait Islander crewman asked me "hey, mate, where's this Lihou Reef place?". When I told him it was 650 kilometres east of Cairns way out in the Coral Sea his eyes rolled in his head and I swear he paled visibly as he came back with "look here, mate, this tub is only a river boat". Well, in retrospect, he was spot on.

The second trip to Lihou Reef, on the Cape Pillar, was a breeze. The reef and island is a very isolated spot only visited by huge turtles and one could visualise the odd yachtie or shipwrecked sailor. There were plenty of good fish about, cod and sweetlip, etc, until the sharks came on the scene. They were huge, too; many big tigers around the four to five metre mark. Even so the water was too good not to swim in, but we continually looked over our shoulder for the fast-moving fin. The stinger shells there are reputed to be deadly within 30 minutes so we took few souvenirs.

Without wanting to bore the reader, I will briefly mention the duties and responsibilities of being an installation supervisor, which role I filled for 16 years. The job is not all beer and skittles or a paid holiday as one station OIC in his cups told me one day. I didn't take long to set him straight even though I was in his backyard.

Major projects always started on the drawing board, with some having lead times of from two to three years. Early planning included site surveys, reconnaissance trips, Regional Office comments, etc, and assuming a proposal got the nod from Management, it became 'live' and was listed in the following year's budget. Some proposals could get the 'knock' right up to the last stage of planning, which could be quite frustrating if you'd put a lot of personal effort into it.

In the last month or so of the planning period for an approved project, a work flow program was prepared which, amongst other relevant data, listed the installation period, dates/times, names of the installation team members and allocated duties for each. Quite often, Regional 'techs' were seconded, with the RMO's agreement, since the Installation Section was generally undermanned.

People in Bright Sparcs - Clarke, Raymond W.

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Clarke, R. 1999 'Stories of the Bureau's Radio Technical Officers from 1948', Metarch Papers No. 14 February 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

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