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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout
Major Installation Projects Involving Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


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History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout (continued)

The site of the radar aerial was called Wandana, being an aboriginal name for 'see far away'. It was 2750 feet above mean sea level, high on a ridge. The road to the site climbed through dense rain forest and two bridges had to be constructed. At the summit we had to work constantly in cloud. Tracks were made slippery by four inches of rain which lasted for four to five days and made the transport of equipment very difficult. The output of the radar was fed into a microwave link and controlled by meteorological staff at Cairns meteorological office.

I described the cyclone warning system as the 'eye of the North'. You could see about 240 miles out to sea giving Cairns 12 hours notice of cyclones forming in the Coral Sea area.

About this time we had an influx of engineers into the Bureau as the newly created Facilities Division of the Bureau was formed. Harry Ashton took over the Facilities Division and, later, Mike Moore, experienced engineer, had his own section. Satellites were all the go. Keith Henderson was the principal engineer along with Ralph de la Lande, Mike Hassett and Alf West.

I went on my merry way. I received a further promotion as Project Officer with duties involving me in preparation of specifications and lay-out of future buildings. I only went travelling on special projects.

One of the most eventful episodes in my career was my association with the testing of X200, the British atomic bomb, at Emu Field in the desert in central Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology played an important role in this exercise.

Before the trials began Mr Timcke, Director of Meteorology, called me to his office. I wondered what I had done. When I entered his office I saw two big guys wearing black overcoats standing beside his desk. He explained that they were security officers and would tell me of the nature and location of the atomic weapons trials. He emphasized that the information was top secret and that I was not to divulge the information to anyone, not even my wife.

Mr Timcke indicated that I would have the responsibility of installing meteorological observing equipment and associated office accommodation at Emu field. The equipment would include radiosonde and wind-finding equipment. He emphasized that I was not to tell anyone the location of the test site, or my part in the installation of meteorological equipment on the station.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ashton, Henry Tamblyn (Harry); de la Lande, Ralph; Henderson, William Keith; Stout, Reginald William (Reg); Timcke, Edward Waldemar

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Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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