Looking Back - 1939 to 2011 - the Autobiography of Robert V. J. Padula, OAM

1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician

1941 - Bikes and Cars
1943 - Hiking - Hills and Coasts
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 1
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 2
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 3
1945 - Auburn schooldays - Part One
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Two
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Three
1945 - Upwey and the Puffing Billy
1945 - Gramaphones and Record Players
1946 - Flinders St Station
1946 - Astronomy
1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures
1946 - Going to the Pictures
1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow
1947 -The Listener-In Magazine
1947 - Balwyn WIldlife Sanctuary
1948 - Fishermen's Bend Aerodrome
1948 - Radio Australia QSL cards
1948 - Excursions
1949 - Australian Rules Football
1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn
1950 -Trains and Ships
1950 - Radios for Communications
1950 - Radio Listening Clubs in Australia
1950 - World Radio TV Handbook
1950 - Shortwave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Medium Wave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Radio and Hobbies Magazines
1950 - Discovering shortwave radio at Auburn
1951 - Photography
1951 - Competitions on local radio stations
1952 - Camp Buxton - YMCA Shoreham
1952 Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling
1953 - Stamp Collectiong
1953 Camberwell High School
1954 - Royal Visit to Melbourne
1954 - Shortwave Radio reception at Auburn
1956 - Melbourne's Olympic Games
1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician
1957 - Trainee Technician - field work
1957 - National Service Registration
1958 - Laverton Air Show
1958 - MOOMBA Parade
1958 - Trainee Technician - field work
1959 - The move to Mont Albert
1960 - Working at Deepdene Telephone Exchange
1963 - Trade Unions, Staff Associations, Industrial Relations
1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Amateur Radio
1964 - Media Writing
1964 -Travels
1964 - Engineering Support for International Broadcasters
1965 - Professional Employment with PMG/Telstra
1967 - Professional Qualifications - Institution of Engineers Australia
1967 - Australian Radio DX Club Photo Gallery (to 1979)
1972 - Wireless Institute of Australia
1972 - Natural disasters in Melbourne
1980 - Australian Radio DX Club Gallery (to 1995)
1981 - Award of the Medal of the Order of Australia
1995 - Padula Books
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Oldtime Australian Radio Drama from the 1930s
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Radio Monitoring Clubs in Australia - 1920 to 1949
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Melbourne Picture Theatres - History - 1906 to 1970

1939 Melbourne Central switcboard

1956 - Trainee Technician group "F" - author at top left!

1980 Wills St (Melbourne) exchange switchboard

1956 - the author 's TIT badge, pic of 2011!



In late 1955, whilst in Form 5 at Camberwell High School, the time was approaching  to decide what to do for a full time living. It was not possible for me to continue on to Form 6, and ultimately University, as my parents could not afford the fees. I underwent a vocational guidance assessment, and the results were somewhat vague, suggesting that my career path should be “something technical”!


I decided to contest the Australian Public Service entrance examination, along with thousand of other kids,.


In late 1955, I was offered a position in the Postmaster’s General’s Department as a Trainee Technician, a five year course in Telecommunications, and commenced on January 9, 1956, aged 16 years.

This was not really my first preference, as I had wanted to join the Department of Civil Aviation as a Trainee Technician in radio, but there were very few vacancies there.


So I entered the PMG’s Department, completing the course in December 1960, and gained an award for Dux of the school in my final year .


1956 was Melbourne’s Olympic Games year!


I would remain in the Department, for 41 years, through its various transformations, to the present-day entity Telstra, ultimately leaving in 1997 as the beneficiary of a very generous voluntary redundancy package.


On leaving the Company, my substantive designation was Professional Engineer, Level 4, and I had been employed as an Engineer since January 1965, across many areas of involvement.. 



From the early 1950s, the Government had embarked on a massive Telecommunications expansion program, nationally.


This included the replacement of all magneto and Central Battery "CB" telephone exchanges and telephones, the conversion of old Strowger exchanges (dating to early 1900s) to the modern 2000-type system, the introduction of direct dialling of trunk calls without the need for an operator, the construction of hundreds of small automatic Crossbar exchanges in rural and semi rural areas. and the laying of new pit and pipe to support the program..


It also saw the phasing out of aerial/overhead wires with underground cable, and the replacement of old dial-type telephones with modern push-button instruments.


New switching systems were becoming available, such as Stored Program Control (SPC) which used the Swedish Crossbar system instead of the older archaic electromechanical "step" switches.


To assist in managing the massive increase in network capacity, a huge commitment was made to the recruitment and training of technical staff, mainly through the introduction of the five-year Trainee Technician program, which ran from the early 1950s into the 1960s.


Trainees were 15 or 16 year olds, many from country areas.


Selection for training required passing of the annual Commonwealth Pubic Service entrance exam.


Thousands of Trainees passed through the scheme, who after graduation were appointed to disciplines of telephone exchange maintenance, telephone exchange installation, telephone maintenance, long-line equipment installation and maintenance, radio, or PABX installation and maintenance.


Since the late 1940s, shorter training schemes for adults had been operating where returned servicemen and other adults could undertake training for up to four or 18 weeks.


To manage this massive "TIT" program, training schools were set up in major capitals, some housed in converted factories, stores, Victorian era mansions, or warehouses.


In 1956, there were three schools in Melbourne - two in West Melbourne (Batman St and King St), and in South Yarra (the former "Grong Grong" mansion)


In 1964, these schools were discontinued as part of a site rationalization program, in favour of a refurbished larger establishment in East Hawthorn, in Auburn Rd, the former Westclox factory.


The first year of training was at the schools where trainees would learn basic practical skills specific to the Dept's needs, and theoretical training.


My wages, in 1956, were 25 shillings a week! 


In the second and following years of training, field training to various work centres would be arranged, usually close to trainees’ places of residence, and supervised by senior technical staff and Field Supervisors.


Some school attendance was also required.


These field visits would range from one to four weeks and trainees’ work and performance would be closed monitored and assessed.


In parallel with the TIT scheme, a Lineman-in-Training scheme was operating, offering training in eternal field practices for several weeks, which would include cable jointing, external plant construction, and pit and pipe work.


LIT schools had been set up in various capitals.


In Melbourne, the main Lineman’s School was located at Fisherman’s Bend, adjacent to the Yarra, and we, as TITs had to survive a four week stint here in mid winter to gain an appreciation of skills and practices  relevant to external plant.


The Fishermens’ Bend centre had its origins in the war years, and was on land owned by the nearby Commonwealth Aircraft Company and the former Fisherman’s Bend airport.


It consisted of a large open paddock, with a central admin block where lectures were conducted. The practical work was done in converted "Nisson huts" - wooden floors, and curved tin walls and roofs.


In the third year, the amount of time spent in the Technicians school was reduced, and field visits were extended.


In fourth and fifth year, Trainees were allocated to their final "stations" with only minimal attendances at the schools.


1939 Melbourne Central switchboard

`1886 Melbourne Central switchboard

1945 - Lineman's Training School, Fishermen's Bend

1910 Magneto Switchboard

1915 Step switch

1920 Ericcson phobe

1940 135 MW Magneto phone

1945 Candlestick phones

1950 Auto wall phone

1950 Candlestick phone

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