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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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Some Snippets from Noel Barrett (continued)

Macquarie Island was great. The AA3 Mk VII radar, however, wasn't too good but after a few new bits including a new waveguide and fixing the replacement antenna feed which had a dislodged taper pin shorting the whole thing out, she was ok. She because she was known as Rachel; Rusty Rachel to some. During the year we built a shed over her to keep out the weather. I enjoyed my year at Macquarie Island and was sorry to leave in December 1964.

In January 1965 I received a telegram while on leave in Hobart to report to the Training School on 1 February 1965 for some WF2 radar training prior to starting at Giles in February 1965 vice Bob West. Further training was provided by WRE, en route, on their radio gear. Giles was at that time halfway up the Woomera Rocket Range and Blue Streak rockets were still being fired. At least one landed not far from Giles; although the search parties always had trouble finding all the bits. While at Giles we had many interesting visitors including bird expeditions lead by Vincent Seventy and, of course, Len Beadell of Gun Barrel Highway fame. At Giles if you wanted to play cricket and the pitch wasn't too good you just fired up the Caterpillar grader and graded one. Had a great fridge in the mess with two evaporators; when the Bristol Freighter arrived each month from Woomera via Maralinga with supplies, the beer was always unloaded first and a carton or so placed in the fridge. The aim was then to quickly unload the rest of the aircraft so that the beer was nicely chilled when finished; if you took too long it was frozen. I left Giles in September 1965 for Melbourne, some leave in Hobart and more pre-Antarctic training.

In January 1966 I again threw my razor into the Yarra River and sailed on the Thala Dan for Wilkes, having once again followed up my permanency. By this time I was engaged to be married on my return and getting serious about staying in the Bureau. The trip down was relatively uneventful apart from getting stuck in the ice and the Pernot at Dumont d'Urville. At Wilkes we had US Weather Service 1680 MHz GMD auto tracking radio theodolite. While not having the refined mechanical precision of the AA3 Mk VII radar it worked very well even though it sounded very much like a Melbourne tram when the antenna slewed. Highlights of Wilkes were two field trips, one with dogs to the Vanderford Glacier where we were stuck in a tent in a blizzard on the Antarctic Circle for three or four days and travelled back across sea ice that was breaking up. But that was better than going across heavily crevassed country. The other was to S2 by D4 tractor. Wilkes was a very comfortable and happy station and we took much pride in trying to release radiosonde balloons in very high winds; we would always have three goes before giving up and then only to preserve gas. The delight of the place was the Baker HydroNeal hydrogen generator which broke down ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen to fill the balloon. Much better than messy caustic and ferro silicon, however, it had its problems if not used as per instructions. While at Wilkes some time was spent building what is now the first Casey station.


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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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