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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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Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches

I commenced with the Bureau in January 1969 and, as a 'tech', was posted to the South Australia Region in 1972 upon completion of RMIT and BMTC schooling. Those days were not unlike those of now in that the Bureau has always been organised and run in a very conservative way. This has not changed dramatically, although, it has, I would contend, been the root cause of its slow insidious demise. Life then was as hectic as now, but was less personally demanding with specific outcomes, like getting equipment running. As now, money was tight; I can recall being given travel allowance to ride my motorcycle to Mount Gambier to repair the WF44 radar, as that was all the Region could afford.

Another interesting maintenance journey undertaken during my posting in Adelaide, was the slow ride to Oodnadatta to repair the radar there. Being young and not wanting to stay in outback pubs, and at the same time trying to conserve travel allowance, meant unofficially camping in the meteorological office. This had some down sides, particularly at 3 am when the scream of the WF2 radar alternator would keep my attention for the hour or so that the balloon flight at this time took. It invariably happened, too, that while a 'tech' was on station the observing fraternity would jump at faults that were not there. I remember being called out of the open air Oodnadatta picture show, by an eager Albert Zammit, complaining about the WF2 radar not working only to find that the brilliance control was turned down. This made you look good to them; and missing the movie was the only down side.

In those days the RMO for South Australia, Alan Jarman, was a big fang for food of quality and quantity. The maintenance trip to Mount Gambier would be accompanied by a huge order for cheese and meats from local merchants. The advantage of being the procurement officer was the side order for wines from the Coonawarra area, and this is where my appreciation of wine came at a young age. The South Australia Region, unlike today, was then responsible for the maintenance at Giles. I was fortunate to go on a number of extended maintenance trips there. One of these was as a result of an unfortunate motorcycle accident to Trevor Rogers the day before he was due to depart for Giles. This trip was an extended visit to fill in while the diesel mechanic took leave. What did I know about being a diesel mechanic?; nothing. I learnt a lot during that trip and improved my self-reliance skills, including becoming a whiz helping the locals fix their punctured tyres. The record for patches on an inner tube was 25. I know, I counted them as I was putting on the 26th.

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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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