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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 Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter (continued)

Although I never considered myself a top class 'tech' I was conscientious. I performed my work to the best of my ability and hence enjoyed most of what I did during my service with the Bureau. I look back on a number of achievements and many highlights and place these above everything else that happened.

Having planned my retirement over a period of time I took the opportunity to retire early, in September 1982, after this was legislated by the Government of the day. I built a house just two kilometres from the flood warning river station on the Stanley River upstream from the township of Woodford. I still had a great fondness for the Bureau and made a number of trips to this river height station to check problems with the station when requested by staff from the Regional Maintenance Centre and Hydromet, and I frequently walked down to the river to check the staff-gauges during flood times.

Present day Radio Technical Officers could not possibly appreciate what we old style Observer (Radio)s experienced in our three pronged role of observational duties, maintenance of the electronic equipment whilst on shift work and general responsibility for the cleanliness of the radio aids building and surrounds.

I have three particularly fond memories of my time in the Bureau that I would like to share with you. One of these took place shortly after Cyclone Tracy had devastated Darwin on Christmas Day 1974. With the resulting staff shortage in the Northern Territory, the Queensland Region was co-opted to service AWSs at North East Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape Wessel and Cape Forecroy on Bathurst Island.

Holmes Reef AWS

Fred Soutter, up the mast at Holmes Reef automatic weather station, February 1974. (Photograph courtesy of Fred Soutter)

Together with an excellent young 'tech' and likeable gentleman in Andrew Morton (Handy Andy) I flew to Thursday Island to join the MV Cape Morton. The vessel's first assignment was to install several markers for shipping entering the estuary en route to Weipa; it was then to proceed west across the Gulf of Carpentaria to North East Island which is situated north of Groote Eylandt. When we departed Weipa there were two tropical disturbances in the Gulf, one to the north and the other to the south, and our course was between those disturbances. We noted two Navy patrol vessels heading for the safety of Cape York, and several hours later a Russian prawn trawler still actually working. Later we passed the Russian mother ship which looked the size of the Queen Mary.

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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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