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

1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn

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

Typical crystal set of 1925

1920 Crystal Set



In 1949 we lived in the inner working class suburb of Auburn, 7 km east of Melbourne, above and at the back of a small shop, in Burwood Rd. My mother sold confectionary, biscuits, ice-blocks and ice-creams from the shop. I still have one of the original tall screw-top glass jars in which were stored the lollies! 


My father was a sole proprietor of a concrete paving business with the name of “Grumento Paving Company” – he had emigrated to Australia from a village in southern Italy in 1926. He was an expert in the art of colored terrazzo paving, and continued to manage his business well into his 70s. He passed away at the age of 81 in 1980. My mother left this world at the age of 93 in 1997.


In 1949, as a schoolboy, my parents presented me with a crystal set and pair of earphones for my 10th birthday.


This was to be my pride and joy for a long time – it was mounted in a wooden box about 6” cubed, covered with black shiny leather, and the components were mounted at the back of a black bakelite front panel.


The controls were few – the round tuning dial made of a hard black substance, with white engraved calibrations 0-100. I still have that dial! There were two terminals for the phones, as well as antenna and earth terminals. The crystal detector was screwed to the front panel, with a rotatable “cat’s-whisker”, and its positioning on the galena crystal was very critical.


My brother and I shared an upstairs bedroom, which looked out over the tin roof of the ground floor kitchen and across the rather small back yard. At the end of the yard was a laneway, about 20 metres long, which ran between a large bakery and brick stables for the horses. The covered bakery carts that they pulled were kept in an open space at the end of the laneway.


Those stables survive to the present, now occupied by an upmarket car sales company.


I had set up a long-wire antenna from our first floor bedroom.


I recall the "cricket" and "soccer" matches we played in the laneway which was next to the stables - our school friends from nearby would come and join in - the "soccer' ball was a dilapidated old medicine-ball. We set up stumps at either end of the lane, with wickets of pieces of wood and tins.


We even had "rules" - the balls were old tennis balls - if we hit these out of the laneway we were given out!


Interestingly, on the corner of Burwood and Auburn Rds was the Hay and Corn Store, run by Murphy Brothers. Built in 1906, this sold all kinds of farm products. It is still there today, selling the same sorts of things as in 1950, and looks much the same!


At the end of our small backyard at Auburn, Pop had built a little raised wooden woodshed. He added a second level with roof and a power connection. This had a bench in it and served as my electronics workshop. It was in this shed that I experimented with radios and electronic devices. I had trays with electrical components – resistors, capacitors, coils, valves, everything!


I continued to use this little shed until we moved to Mont Albert in 1959.


We would eventually move away from Auburn in 1959 to a “real” home, built in 1925, in Mont Albert, 15 km from the city, one of thousands of such homes constructed around Melbourne in the “Californian bungalow” style – front veranda, garage, lawns, large gardens, weatherboard, and terracotta tiled roof.


My father’s paving work may still be seen here in Mont Albert, having stood the test of time for more than half a century.



Most of the images in this site are thumbnails. Click on any image to see a full size verson in a new window

If you would like to contact me about my Autobiography, you can do this at