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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers

Foreword

Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction

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)

The unloading threatened to turn into a 'Keystone Cops' affair as many eager and smiling locals converged on our packing cases, heaving them here, there and everywhere. When we restored order we had the loan of two antique trucks and loaded our equipment on them to the gunwales.

The trip to the site was only about 10 kilometres, but it seemed much longer. We had to cross creeks where the banks had collapsed with recent rains, but the many helpful locals, clinging everywhere to the trucks including the roof, were quick to jump off and make effective crossings using tree boughs and other solids. The trucks managed to stagger across and then climb up the banks with plenty of manpower pushing. This exercise in adaptability had to be repeated, but was quite successful.

We stayed at the Oil International Exploration (OIE) company depot just outside Kupang township and became good friends with Lou Staisch, the Manager, and his Indonesian wife, Otji. The depot had been set up primarily to accommodate geologists. Every evening after work we would sit on Lou's porch in easy deck chairs and sample a few Bintang Barus (the local brew). The view was idyllic looking over the glistening water northwards to Monkey Island in the distance. When we got tired of the view, there was always plenty of pretty brown-skinned village girls passing by. Moments like these are pretty rare but, when they happen, they make the job worthwhile.

Behind the OIE depot were and probably still are Australian Army 15 inch (approximately 38 cm) guns which pointed on a rather narrow trajectory northwards to the sea. Unfortunately, the Japanese crossed the mountains from the east and south-east to capture Kupang but that's another story. We trained the Indonesian staff. Herb Adler, a Head Office Engineer, came over later in the program. It was hard to leave the island and go back to cold old Melbourne but we were recompensed by changing planes in Bali on the way back.

After a break back in the office, Carl Keswick and I went back to the West again in March 1974, this time to Meekatharra for a WF3 radar installation. Meekatharra, a man's town in the golden west, brings instant memories of regular pub fights, chaos on pension nights and tough publicans with baseball bats under the bar counter who were easily provoked into using them. We stopped at the more reputable of the three town pubs. John Gilbery came up from Perth and accepted the radar. 'Gilburger' likes a cold one on a warm day; anything over 3°C to be precise and we sunk a few in between flying Alf West's 'ping-pong balls'. Meekatharra is a colourful, volatile and hugely social place, but it wasn't too hard to shake the dust off our shoes and head east. Despite Gilbery's rhetoric that "the West is the best and East the least", we knew better.


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

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