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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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Some Titbits from Dave Grainger (continued)

In August 1976 I was a passenger in a friend's Ford Customline that was hit from behind at about 80 km/hr. I received the brunt of all the acceleration and ended up in traction for six weeks flat on my back with a fractured vertebra and dislocation of the neck. I was in a neck brace and off work for six months.

During the 1970s there was an AWS at the RSL hall in Portarlington. The sensors were attached to the chimney and a screen in the back yard had a tipping bucket raingauge on top. It was a strange fact that this station became unserviceable on 25 April each year. We were required to clean beer from the electronics unit and remove tea leaves from the raingauge. This site was eventually closed, with new equipment put on South Channel Island, a man made fortress of rocks with gun emplacements in Port Phillip Bay built to repel the Russian Navy in the late 1800s.

Also on the work roster in Victoria was the river height recording equipment at various sites in Gippsland such as Tanjil Junction, Darnum, Wonnangatta, Orbost, Buchan, Amey's farm (one of the stations on the Snowy River), McKillop's Bridge and two on the Cann River. Once again this 'milk-run' was a one man trip for close to a week until it was pointed out that a bloke could be out there for ever if he had a breakdown or worse, because on some of the sites one never saw a living soul for miles.

On my first trip I was briefed by Phil Parker of the Victorian Regional Office Facilities Section. He had a map and said "be careful round this road to McKillop's because there's a 1,000 metre drop off the edge of the road". So I meandered up the road from Buchan for about 30 kilometres 'til I came to a fork in the road. One way went to Jindabyne; the other, which I wanted, had a notice which said that this road was unsuitable for caravans and semi-trailers. About 15 kilometres further on, while wondering why the notice was there, I went around a left hand bend on this unsealed goat track and everything disappeared on the right. All I could see was sky. Years later, Peter Broughton was doing this run with Stammy Criticos, obviously for the first time, and at this particular point was driving a little faster than me. Peter applied the brakes quite enthusiastically; Stammy had his belt undone and the door open by the time the car came to a halt less than a metre from the edge.

In the middle 1980s, after the Commonwealth Centre was condemned, the task of finding a new home for Regional Office arose. 'We will never move to the Head Office building' was the consensus of opinion throughout the Regional Office. Several sites were investigated. Two were in St Kilda Road. One of these would have been technically difficult but the other was ideal. However, due to the usual pedestrian nature of those who held the pen, we were kerthumped. Two other premises were considered; the Rotunda at St Kilda junction (very nice) and the Rialto (ideal for observing the weather and for the radio link to Laverton) but both were declared too expensive. So, you've guessed correctly, we moved onto the 26th and 27th floors of 150 Lonsdale Street. I think the cost of this move was around $2.5 million. The need for some of the equipment to be duplicated before operations could be moved contributed to this cost. The observational site remained at the corner of Victoria and LaTrobe Streets.

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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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