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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 Snippets from Noel Barrett (continued)

I actually went to Port Hedland as a Supervising Technician Grade 1 and, in 1970, ceased doing observations and became responsible for maintenance in the north-west of Western Australia. This included servicing the WF2 radars, etc, at Broome and Halls Creek. On my first trip to Broome I ran out of money and thereafter would not leave Port Hedland without advance travelling allowance.

Going on the round trip to Broome and Halls Creek was usually an adventure. Firstly there was the 2 am flight from Port Hedland to Broome, some sleep from 3.30 to 7 am if the key was left in the pub room door, then to work on the Broome WF2 radar, etc, that day. I then tried to catch up on some sleep before boarding the 3 am flight Broome to Derby the next morning. From about 4 am, sleeping or sitting in an old flywire enclosed terminal shed with bench seats at Derby, being eaten by midges, I then waited to catch the Twin Otter aircraft to Halls Creek via Fitzroy Crossing, Mount House or Koolan Island, etc, getting to Halls Creek at about 12.30 or 3 pm depending upon the route. I then got down to work on the radar, etc. Thank goodness the return trip was always better. Also, when the new DCA/Bureau building was opened at Derby, we could sleep in the Bureau OIC's office.

One of my most hair-raising activities was bringing one of the Bureau's cars, a Holden, back from Broome to Port Hedland on the old unsealed road after it was recovered having been stolen. Every time the car was braked it went into a sideways skid down the road; very hairy.

At about this time, late 1971, Allan Manson arrived in Port Hedland as a Radio Technician and we became responsible for AWS maintenance. This involved going away on the lighthouse ship Cape Don for three to six weeks at a time to service the AWS at Adele Island, Ashmore Reef, Rowley Shoals and Browse Island. The ship was usually boarded in Darwin although on one trip I flew from Port Hedland to Kununurra and then by light plane to Wyndham for the night before flying to Troughton Island off the Kimberley coast the next morning. A cyclone had just gone through the place and it was as rough as guts. Troughton Island, a shipping RDF (radio direction finding) base with two lightkeepers and their families, had a very interesting airstrip. Getting on board the Cape Don in the heavy seas was rather difficult, however, we made it. Since I had run out of smokes I got some from the purser. I lit up, and immediately rushed for the side of the ship and lost breakfast. I gave up smoking at that stage for some years. We had trouble with parts of these AWS being stolen, particularly at Ashmore Island where, for example, the copper wiring to the batteries was missing along with other odd bits. Working on these AWS in their hot huts with no air flow certainly kept the weight down. I remember that because of the ship's movements we only had a day at any AWS where there was no lighthouse or RDF beacons but that we had up to three days at any AWS where these other facilities existed. Interesting places those islands; hundreds of sea snakes at Ashmore Island and plenty of scorpions at Browse Island.

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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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