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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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A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson

In October 1962 I commenced work as an Observer (Radio) with the Bureau, and was located at the radio laboratory in the 'Pink Palace' under the watchful eye of Peter Broughton, later RESM, Victoria.

I soon learnt that travel was possible and applied for a term of duty in Antarctica. I was accepted and as a result of this had my first encounter with the Training School in the middle of 1963. There I met such gentlemen as Arthur Shirley and Brian O'Connor, both in observations and 'Mac' (John Francis MacDermott), the technician, who kindly helped me through.

My posting was to Davis. Since the Nella Dan sailed from Fremantle that year, January 1964, we were all flown across from Melbourne to join the ship. Davis was then the smallest station with only 10 in the wintering party. It was a very interesting year with many challenges, not the least of which was making hydrogen gas at low temperature. Davis did not have any fresh water lake from which to carry water so it was all obtained by melting snow and, when the sea was frozen over, collecting ice from icebergs. The shower was a 20 litre can with a shower hose attached, and the toilet was one of those outside jobs.

There were two dog teams on the station providing transport. They were also good company during the year, especially the young pups. I was lucky to get two field trips, one with the dogs and another with motorised transport.

We were to be the last party at Davis for some years so towards the end of the year we started to mothball the station to preserve it so it could be reopened at sometime in the future. We were back in Australia by March 1965.

I then went to the workshop for a year. It was located at 501 Swanston Street. Later I started to work with the RC33 radar at the University of Melbourne.

I was offered the chance to complete the Observer (Radio) course which I had commenced prior to my trip to Davis. This was done between April and December 1966. Just when I was finishing my training I was approached about a trip to Macquarie Island as the previously selected 'tech' had withdrawn. There was some quick training on the AA3 Mk VII radar by Johnny George, and by early January 1967 I was on my way south again.

Macquarie Island was very different to Davis, where the main program was meteorology. Here there were many different science programs, and there was plenty of opportunity to help if you were interested. Macquarie Island also offered more freedom for the individual to move around compared with stations on the Antarctic continent. The Island measures only approximately 38 by 5 kilometres and could be trekked around making use of six huts placed around the coastline. These huts, located at Sandy Bay, Green Gorge, Bower Bay, Lusitinia Bay, Caroline Cove and Hurd Point, ranged from buildings to converted large packing cases, and the hikes between them were not all that demanding. All huts had some canned food but most food was carried.

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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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