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

1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow

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

1946 - Altona beach - me, bro, and Dad (colored by me) from our Family Album

1947 - author, bro, Dad and sheep near Altona Bungalow

January 1952 - Altona - in the boat! I am at rear far right! Colored by me, from our Family Album

The ancient TRF radio at Altona

The Astor Mantel at Altona in 1949


From  1947, we had a bungalow in Queen St,  at West Altona, a coastal suburb to the west of Melbourne, which had been made available by my Grandmother (Nana).


It consisted of a large shed (with a bedroom), kitchen, a caravan (with several beds), and outdoor toilet (with many spiders!). The kitchen had a wood stove, on which Mum would make scones and dampers, and cook the fish which we caught in Altona Bay. The origins of the bungalow are uncertain, and we believed that it had belonged to one of the early fishermen in the area.


Dad would attend to the large vegetable garden.


We planted willow trees - these are still flourishing in the backyard of the house which was bullt on our property after we sold it. We took cuttings from the willow to our new home in Mont Albert in 1959 - there grew into monstrous trees, two of which survive to the present!


Us kids would be taken out in a small fishing boat owned by the family who lived in the adjacent house - we caught flathead in Altona Bay!


There was an electricity supply pole at the front of our property, which is still there!

On the east of our property was a large swamp in which we caught tadpoles and frogs! This later became Apex Park. 

We had that property until vandals burnt it down in 1959, and then we sold it.


We used to go there quite often and spend a lot of time there during the Christmas holiday period. Nearby, a great-aunt and great-uncle lived very close to our bungalow, almost on the beach, and there were many family gatherings with relatives from the country coming down to visit us and my great aunt and uncle.

One of my mates (Ian) from Primary School would come down and stay with us occasionally in the late 1940s. In the mid-1950s, my brother and I would take our bikes by train from Auburn to Altona and ride to the bungalow.

One of my Trainee Technician mates would come down to stay with us in the late 1950s - we would ride our bikes all the way from Auburn!

Explosives Reserve
About 1 km to the west of our bungalow was the Altona Explosives Reserve, which was built in the early 1940s. There was a Jetty, at which barges would be towed from Williamstown carrying containers of munitions. These would be off-loaded on to small  tramway trucks, which would then be transported by a horse along a narrow gauge track to underground storage bunkers.

The reserve was closed down in the late 1950s and became part of a public park complex. There are a few stumps remaining of the former jetty.


I can recall the railway track, which ran alongside Queen St before it entered tor reserve.


The Big Explosion

On Sunday February 1 1953 we were staying at the bungalow and heard a tremendous explosion to the north. We rushed outside, to see a vast plume of smoke rising thousands of feet into the sky. This turned out to be from the Deer Park munitions factory, a few km to the north of our bungalow. The noise was heard right across suburban Melbourne!


Radio Monitoring
In the bungalow there were two radios: a stand-up TRF console in a wooden cabinet of ancient vintage, and a small Astor mantel radio (made around 1940) in a green plastic case.


In 1950, we set up a wooden pole outside the back door, and ran a simple short antenna wire into the TRF.


The results were amazing! In mid-summer, in the late afternoon, New Zealand stations were heard very easily, such as 2YC Wellington 660 and 2YA Wellington 570. This was some five hours before our sunset!


Nothing like that nowadays!


In those years, the Melbourne Age newspaper published a weekly Radio Listening Guide (the forerunner of today’s “Green Guide”), and it also put out a folding large card, about A4 size, in which all Australian medium-wave stations were listed, with calls, operating times, locations, and other details.


I had pinned this card to the top of the radio, and ticked off then stations which I had heard.


Rifle Shooting
In 1950, our family friend with his Ford Prefect car visited us often when we were staying at the Bungalow. He used to drive my bro and I out to the paddocks north of Werribee, a few km away. In those days, the area had not been residentialized and was mainly volcanic plains, Scotch thistles, lava stones and farms.

Our friend had a .22 cal rifle, which was for destroying rabbits, which in the early 1950s had reached plague proportions. He showed me, as a kid of ten, how to set up the weapon, prepare znd load the ammo, understand the recoil, and fire it. I became rather good at this, and killed many rabbits, whilst my bro watched. These animals  were everywhere, and had virtually destroyed the landscape with their burrows.  

My accuracy was good up to abut 100 metres Wet then took the carcasses back to the Bungalow, hanging them on a bar on the front of the car,  where I would clean them, and Mum would cook them up as stews.


Looking back, our friend had no understanding of safety issues, and I now realize that those activities were extremely dangerous, as a 22 rifle can be

lethal to humans at close range. This weapon is still used in its millions worldwide, in controlled environments at  gun clubs, pest control, the Boy Scouts Movement, colleges, and self-defence.

 and the bullets are about 6 mm diameter. 

1950 Tramway at Altona West, transport of explosivess

1952 At Altona West Beach - Nana and me - colored by me, from our Family Album

Altona Beach c1940, near our bungalow

1950 Explosives Pier

1957 Family group at the Bungalow,L-R Mate Graeme,me,Dad,Mum

.22 cal rifle bullets

Early Spark transmitter c.1920

In the 1940s, through until the mid-1950s, the Australian medium-wave band started at 500 kHz and ended at 1500 kHz.


500 kHz was the Internatiolal Distress Frequency,.


The band was extended to 1600 KHz in the early 1950s - the first station to commence in the new specrrum was 4GM Gumnpie on 1570 kHz  in 1951..


In 1978, channel separation was reduced to 9 kHz, replacing the 10 kHz difference, Frequencies were changed to comply with intrnational requirements.


Prior to the extension, the spectrum between 1500 kHz and 1600 kHz was occupied by shipboard and coastal broadcasters, some using spark gap transmitters.


At Altona, I can recall hearing these types of stations, with enhanced reception due to the proximity of our bungalow to the coast!


The spark gap services were wideband, raw energy. much like spark-plug interference of today, but very strrong, These would be in Morse. The concept of a "centre frequency" for these stations was unknown - operatiions surrounded a type of centre channel, but extending many kHz either side.


The transmissions sounded like high volume "thumping"!


Other maritime services used conventional transmitters with Morse, usually modulated at around 600 Hz..


These stations were cleared out of this spectrum when it was opened up to commercial broadcasting in the 1950s

1947 - gardening at the Altona Bungalow - me, my brother, and Paddy Dog!

1943 - Altona Beach - Dad and me, from our Family Album

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