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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

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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Chapter 2: The Training School

Not many 'techs' who went through the Bureau's training system will ever forget their particular Alma Marter for many different personal reasons.

The old timers will well remember making gas and letting balloons go from the top of 2 Drummond Street, Carlton, which in those days housed the Bureau's hierarchy within its stately portals. Many a story has been told (and, no doubt, coloured in time) about the success or otherwise of these balloon launches but I like the one about a 350 'grammer' with radiosonde attached which staggered into the air as a result of insufficient lift and finished up protruding into the open window of an old lady just a little up the road. I understand she thought it was the Martians invading. Luckily, no harm was done to person or property, but the public relations department worked overtime.

Many of us were involved with the cold, wet and quite unattractive facility in Bowes Avenue, Niddrie, and few would have happy memories of it. In its defence, though, one could say that it served its purpose. I still remember that ugly old red brick building full of red-back spiders where you had to be extra careful sorting out bits and pieces. And the rain; it seemed to be always raining at good old Bowes Avenue. The Radars would misbehave, your notes would get sopping wet and your boots picked up so much mud you were 10 centimetres taller than when you arrived. And, of course, you can't forget the bloody taxi cabs which were never on time getting you home. Yeah, a great place, the old Bowes Avenue.

Training School annexe

The Training School annexe at Bowes Avenue, Niddrie, Victoria, 1961. The 277F radar antenna is on top of the tower; a trailer-mounted AA3 Mk VII radar is visible in the foreground. (Photograph courtesy of Trevor Donald)

And of course how could you ever forget Laverton and its prime features. No, not the radars mate, try the Sergeants' Mess and the RAAF rubbish tip just across the road from the 277F building. Going to Laverton had its moments; you never knew what goodies the air force wallopers had recently dumped. Radios, motors, bits of cars etc, etc—a scavengers delight—just ask Bernie McCormick and Harry Alderdice. Getting back to the city from here was always a problem. It was generally dark when you got home and your missus couldn't quite understand or appreciate what was going on. Of course, it wasn't always the fault of the Commonwealth car driver being late.

Many 'techs' will have pleasant memories of 501 Swanston Street, Melbourne, which was at least clean and free of red-backs. The later day 'techs' will, of course, have good memories of the Broadmeadows complex.

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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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