Comment: Old Eyre Highway

Back in about 1970 I helped build a new microwave telephone link across the Nullabor, 146 microwave dishes to bring a decent telephone system to WA. Are any of the towers or dishes still there?
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Reply By: Echucan Bob - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 13:04

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 13:04

I've always admired our communications infrastructure. There are towers in some amazing remote places (on rocky outcrops, 100s of k's from anywhere). It must have been a real adventure putting them up. What was it like as a job?

AnswerID: 516966

Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 14:06

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 14:06
Eric Hi,
Were they part of the SEACOM project.
In the mid 1960's I worked in part on the South East Asia Communications with the PMG (later broken up to Telstra & ABC) The towers were about 30-40 miles apart My division looked after QLD & PNG.

AnswerID: 516973

Follow Up By: EricGB - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:42

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:42
Hi Michael and Bob.

This piece of infrastructure was called the East - West link. Towers as you say 30 - 40 miles apart zig zagging across the Nullabor. I was the production manager for the company in Melbourne making the dishes and had to get the dishes and the installation hardware to the various sites. Route instructions were very interesting on how to find the towers which had already been installed. The PMG were, of course, in overall charge of the project. A very interesting time in my career.
FollowupID: 796514

Reply By: landseka - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:08

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:08
Certainly a lot of them are still there Eric. Several can be seen from the highway.

It always amazes me when I do that trip (30 odd times now, privately, not trucking) why they don't utilize the towers for mobile phone usage.

Cheers Neil
AnswerID: 516976

Follow Up By: mulgamagnet - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:43

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:43
Neil your telstra mobile now works at Balladonia, Madura, Eucla, Nullarbor, Yalata and Penong. There is also good mobile reception along the railway, and currently Telstra is putting up towers right through the Western Desert aboriginal communities.
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Reply By: mulgamagnet - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:42

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:42
As a 9 year old I crossed on the old road to Perth with my family Dec 21-23 1969. We followed the PMG crew (probably including you Eric) who were "turning on" the microwave towers to complete their construction. I often camp out near the now disused towers as they are often well off the road, quiet and easy to access.
AnswerID: 516978

Reply By: Eric Experience - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:33

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:33
I was on the crew that decided where the towers were placed, the road across the Nullabor was just a crazy set of boggy wheel ruts. Eric,
AnswerID: 517012

Follow Up By: EricGB - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:46

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:46
Eric, so it was you that wrote those route instructions on which farm track to use and how to find a gate in the fence. Wouldn't gps have made life a lot easier then?
FollowupID: 796515

Reply By: Member - Peter (1) - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 12:10

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 12:10
G'day EricGB & others,

I use to travel to these sites on a bi-yearly trip to service & test the fire alarm systems and later to do building inspections as a Fire Safety Officer with Telstra. I still travel from WA to SA about every two years to visit family & friends in SA and quite often camp at one or two of the sites. As you say, it was a bit hairy getting to some of the sites, but that is nothing compared to the site in the North West of WA. You had to be a real 4X4 driver in a real 4X4 vehicle to get to some places, O.H.& S. laws would probably ban such activity now a days (I always travelled on my own) but there was a requirement to call in to the Control Centre via Auto Wire (a link to the Control Centre) on entry and exit so they could isolate and reset alarms, I always let them know where I was travelling to next. Once I got a puncture and had to change the wheel which put me about 30 minutes behind my schedule, when I got to the next site and called in, they said they were about to sent out the troops to find what happen to me so I had a bit of a safety backup. A great job and magnificent country.

Anyway to answer your question, all sites from Norseman to Eucla, towers and huts remain but dishes, waveguides and equipment have been removed. All sites in SA are mostly intact because they still use it for communication with farms and communities along the route.

Thanks for the query Eric as it sure brought back many fond memories.

Peter (1)
It doesn't get any better than this!!!
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Reply By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:09

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:09
I take my hat off to the lot of you. What a great adventure (challenge) those efforts must have been.

Cheers - Phil
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Reply By: bruce b2 - Monday, Aug 26, 2013 at 13:06

Monday, Aug 26, 2013 at 13:06
g'day Eric - yes, i think all of the East West system structures are still standing although not to much radio equipment is still working ie carrying Telstra traffic. Having said that - i should point out that the systems are still running as a backup if the optical fibre ever completely collapses, highly unlikely. Many of the towers have the South Australian Government Network equipment installed and maintained (until recently) by Telstra. Some of them also have Air Services (the old Department of Civil Aviation) radio beacons and telemetry/voice systems. As i said, most are still intact and we (Telstra) were still (until recently again) inspecting them for structural safety reasons such as loose / rusty steel work etc. The tower out from the Nullarbor Roadhouse is one that we are not real keen on, that platforms where you stand and have a rest or do a bit of work - if you jump on the platform, you can break loose some of the flat steel. Last time i was there, a couple of years ago replacing part of the Air Services radio unit, i stayed on the ground as this unit was in a very easy place to work on and mounted on the platform, just a bit disconcerting as every now and then when my offsider moved position, down would come a rusty piece of steel. The only one that i am aware of having been removed was at Eucla, it had deteriorated to the unsafe stage and was demolished a couple of years ago and i wasn't there to see it come down.
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