Story by Neil Yakalis. Photos by Wayne Clauson and Neil Yakalis.
[Ed: Neil has sent me these great photos and story of Doonside and you can click on them to open and then click a gain to see them in HiRes. Use your “Back” button to return. Thanks Neil]
The first 3 pictures of Doonside (below) taken in January 1986 nearly 30 years after it opened but with lots of the original equipment. Doonside was commissioned for the opening of the Melbourne Olympic games on 22nd Nov 1956. Construction started in 1955 though one of the worst rain periods the western suburbs had ever experienced. Mud was ankle deep in the clay soil around the station buildings. Bungarribee creek flooded & although the station building escaped it the aerial farm was under water & I was told the water came up to the back fences of the staff housing off Doonside Road. This was the year of the historic 1955 Maitland floods. Equipment & operations moved to Doonside sometime in 1956 however the station was not officially opened until 1957. In February 1957 the Postmaster General Hon. C.W. Davidson declared Doonside open & was the first person to sign the visitors book.
In 1988 Doonside had a major refit with new auto tune 10kw Marconi transmitters replacing the old AWA manual tune CLH transmitters. Ray Hookway (now retired OTC veteran) had travelled overseas during 1986 researching the latest equipment used at other maritime radio stations. In fact there were 2 Doonside’s so to speak.
The old Doonside from 1956 to 1988 & the new Doonside from 1988 till 1998. I was lucky to have worked at both. In 1997 the Marconi transmitters were relocated to Ningi an operation that took a year to complete. On 15th January 1998 Doonside was officially closed with Matt O’Neill the last person to sign the visitors book.
Bringelly was the receiving station & it’s start & finish paralleled Doonside. There is a lot of radio history in between this very brief timeline.
Also worthy of mention at this time of Olympic celebrations is OTC role in the original Herogram. This was due to the efforts of a OTC radio operator Keith McLennan for the first time in 1986. This was at the summer Commonwealth Games held at Edinburgh Scotland in July – August. Herograms became a part of both Commonwealth & Olympic games & have been replaced today by text messages. I saw 100’s of these faxes pass through our Auburn Maritime office during the Sydney 200 Olympics. These were picked up daily for distribution to the athletes at nearby Homebush with the best ones being shown on television each day. They gave an enormous lift to our athletes in the same way that letters did to our forces serving overseas in the army.
More in Part 2….