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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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

In 1961 and 1962, I applied, without success, for service in Antarctica as an Observer (Radio). I also applied to the Bureau for a position on the 1963 Observer (Radio) intake. Like most things in the Bureau, advice of my interview and then subsequent acceptance on the course was very short; I was offered the position on a Thursday provided that I could start in Melbourne the following Monday. Being keen, I accepted, although this very much upset my then employer who only had one day's notice and a bottle of Johnny Walker. I took up residence at a guest house in St Kilda often used by the Bureau. It was in High Street, just past Alma Rd.

On the Monday I reported to the Training School at 501 Swanston Street only to find it was closed for the Labour Day holiday. I reported again on Tuesday and was pleased to find John MacDermott running the 'tech' training; I was at school with his son in Hobart and like most Tasmanians we had many common friends. You may recall that 'Mac's' son was killed in a helicopter accident while assisting with flood relief work when working for BHP. We are still in regular contact with 'Mac' and his wife, Marie, both of whom have been in a retirement village in Pakenham in Victoria for some years now.

Since all the other members of the course had the same short notice, by telegram I think, the course didn't get underway until the following week. Other members were Arthur Carter and John Spehr, both ex-Navy, Peter Lane, ex-Navy and Macquarie Island, and Graham Linnett ex-PMG/ABC. About halfway through the Observer (Radio) course I was interviewed by Don Styles of ANARE in March 1963. My other application to go south was now working. I was short-listed and then accepted to go to Macquarie Island. Bruce Retallack was not pleased having partly trained me for permanent service. However, in fact, I intended to remain with the Bureau anyway. My training was cut short and I was posted to Carnarvon for approximately 10 weeks to get some experience on the AA3 Mk VII radar. The Senior Observer (Radio) at Carnarvon was Alan Pendrich and he ran a tight ship; the books were correct and the radar was in very good condition along with the building and spares. It was the best introduction I could have had to field operations and set the standard I tried to maintain in future years.

I stayed in Wilson Tuckey's Port Hotel and got to know a bit about real life in the north-west of Western Australia, and also the problems of getting travelling allowance. The observing staff (Bernie Rowe, Sid Salt and others) were most helpful and some great times were spent catching mud crabs and drinking home brew. The OIC was Flip Phillips. Alan left after about four weeks and I had the station to myself until October when I was posted back to Melbourne for pre-Antarctic training. In December 1963 I set sail for Macquarie Island on the Nella Dan, however, as the ship was about to sail from Number 6 North Wharf on the Yarra River a fellow from Staff Section appeared on the gangway and asked me to fill in an application for permanency. They had lost the first one completed in March, and must have lost others, too, as most of the March 1963 intake were not made permanent officers until 1966 or later.

People in Bright Sparcs - Retallack, Bruce James

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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

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