View Transmission Lines 1955 to 1974 in a larger map.
This interactive map reproduces the map produced by my father. It documents the power lines he worked on through image and text. Click on the towers.

27 May 2008

More treasures & stories from afar

My correspondence with Mr Venturi has continued and he has kindly provided yet another marvellous photograph and glimpse into the past.

My father worked for SAE (Milan) & went to Australia to work with EPT from 1951 till 1962 when he returned to work with SAE until he retired. The whole family (my mother and two brothers ) went with him to Australia. SAE was the parent company which owned EPT and my father was seconded to EPT. He was one of the first to go to Sydney, I believe in the middle of 1951. The first "camp" with steel deposits, machinery, motor works was in MENAI (near Sutherland), subsequently a major works with galvanizing plant, offices, steel deposits etc. was built and managed till 1958 by my father, who subsequently worked as chief engineer in the Sydney headquarters of EPT. Incidentally my father also had a church built on the Marayong site (I attach a photo of my father and me taken at the time 1955) and it is still standing there ...

Of course the new "camp" I refer to (also had housing barracks - in Menai people actually lived in tents) was situated in MARAYONG.

We have ascertained that Mr Venturi's father and my father would have known each other. It would have been unavoidable as my father lived in Marayong for a couple of years. I spoke with my mother about this today, and she said that she had never met Venturi, but remembered the name as someone from head office.

The church, St Anthony's Italian Chapel, is acknowledged as part of the cultural heritage of Marayong.

Blacktown Council has a brief history and timeline, noting the EPT camp and St Anthony's Italian Chapel

And here is some information about the Catholic migrant ministeries (scroll down to the Italian Ministry)


Mr Venturi has been kind enough to provide a slightly modified translation of the photo caption:

I do not remember the chap in the middle of the photo with the plate in his hand. However on his left and leaning on the door is Vittorio Monduzzi (then chief executive of EPT). The people on the right of the fellow with the plate are my father (the tallest one looking at the plate), to the right of my father there is Father Enrico Bianconi (a Franciscan friar whom the company employed to help the Italian employees) who was also the Chaplain at Menai. Behind my father one sees Belgiorno-Nettis (founder of Transfield with Salteri). Lastly on the RHS of the photo under the awning among other people, one can see Salteri (of Tenix fame).

Actually in the photo, taken probably in Easter of 1952, you can see the founders of the Australian transmission lines.

26 May 2008

Cordiali Saluti, a message from a stranger

This morning, I was very pleased to received an email from Mr G. Venturi in Italy, who asked me why I had referred to EPT as a subsidiary of Transfield. Mr Venturi was right to point this out as I had been reading contradictory information about the Transfield - EPT nexus. As was noted in an earlier blog post, the original company was EPT, which was established in Australia in 1951. He said, "Both Belgiorno and Salteri worked with EPT until they founded Transfield in 1956 on getting their first contract". This is also explicit in Cresciani's book referred to earlier in the blog. Other than having my misunderstanding corrected, I am delighted to know that people are reading the blog and commenting.

Also, Mr Venturi has sent this wonderful picture depicting something of the 'original' camp and life in Menai, Sydney, 1952. It looks very much like a joyous village or community festival. I remember times when there were parties and celebrations in the camps. However, my recollections of the camps, though I was never in a Sydney camp, were that they were much more makeshift and rougher.

He writes in Italian (I will translate properly later, but I can decipher that the man to the right of the man holding the plate is Mr Venturi's father):

Le allego una foto presa a Menai all inzio del 1952.

Non ricordo la persona al centro con il piatto in mano. Ma alla sua sinistra e appoggiato alla porta e Vittorio Monduzzi. Le persone alla destra del signore con il piatto sono mio padre (il piu alto che guardail piatto) alla destra di mio padre, Padre Enrico Bianconi (frate cappuccino) impiegato dall EPT per aiutare gli Italiani e Cappellano a Menai (non Padre Silvio come ho letto nel suo libro). Naturalmente dietro mio padre lei avra riconosciuto Belgiorno.

Cordiali saluti ...

15 May 2008

Google Maps Mashups

Mashable presents 17 Google Maps mashups "that probably won’t cure cancer or stop world hunger, but they’re definitely interesting, at least from the “someone did that?” point of view. You might want to hurry browsing through these, though; from our experience, Google Maps mashups tend to die out almost as fast as they appear."

Info at: 

11 May 2008


This morning I received some information about an exhibition titled The New Normal. It is concerned with the use of private information as data and subject matter. The publicity material for the exhibition evokes social media as having had a profound effect on privacy: "With the rise of online commerce, many banks and retailers have developed sophisticated methods of tracking and studying the behavior of consumers, while increased use of the Internet has created new platforms for voluntary self-disclosure, from blogs to MySpace."

One of the questions that this project has raised for me concerns privacy and the implications of making seemingly private documents public, even though these private documents represent a working life or public life. I acknowledge, given my studies in history and heritage, that private documents are vital to the study and compilation of history. They give us rich insights into and personal stories about the past otherwise not accessible through the public record.

I find these ideas of privacy and disclosure quite beguiling. I am acutely aware, in my Transmission Lines project, that I need to be mindful of privacy and how much I reveal or disclose. In that process, I am endeavouring to draw attention to the magnitude of the contribution that migrant workers like my father made to, in and across this country. 

05 May 2008


This series of images, composed of a number of sequences from various times and places, shows the construction of a transmission tower.

Photos & Feeds on Facebook

I have posted the photos to an album in my facebook profile and the photos are publicly available at the following URL:

A slide show has also been created on and added to this blog:

RSS feeds have been added from this blog, Flickr and the Platial map to my Facebook profile. Anyone can do this and there are a number of Facebook RSS widgets. Just go to the feed links on the respective sites ... or copy and paste these URLs:

03 May 2008

Marayong Camp

In Transfield: The first 20 Years, Gianfranco Cresciani writes that EPT set up a permanent camp and workshop at Marayong, near Blacktown in NSW:

"Everything was shipped from Italy, labourers, materials, and prefabricated dwellings. They established a little Italian community with a cook, a priest and even a little church. They occasionally invited people from neighbouring suburbs to attend meetings, theatrical performances and parties, and also to have the chance to speak Italian and enjoy Italian culture, hospitality and heritage." (p 17)

My father often said that when he arrived in Australia, he was taken out to the camp at Blacktown, so I am assuming this is what he was referring to. The camp was not salubrious by anyone's standards and was comprised of barracks style accommodation. You can get an indication of what the camps were like from some of the photos posted to the map (the Port Augusta, SA, photos are probably the most explicit).

Background of EPT

In Transfield: The first 20 Years, Dr Gianfranco Cresciani's describes the early formation of Electric Power Transmission and, then, Transfield. According to Cresciani, the Italian company Societa Anonima Elettrificazione SpA (SAE) sent Enzo Oriolo to assess Australia's potential as a new market. "When the then NSW Premier Joe Cahill could not find local companies capable of helping end the post-war blackouts plaguing Sydney, he reached an agreement with Oriolo for a future Italian involvement in the construction of steel transmission lines." (p 4)

The Sydney company Dickson Primer got the agency from SAE to build tranmission towers in Australia. In 1951, SAE via its agent Dickson Primer, registered the company Electric Power Tranmission Pty Ltd so as to carry out the work.

Cresciani describes the circumstances leading to SAE's arrival in Australia:

"In August 1951 a group of 25 SAE men, a priest and two SAE engineers, Franco Belgiorno-Nettis and Carlo Salteri, left for Australia. The team project manager, Vittorio Monduzzi, came some months later with his wife and with Salteri's wife ... Born in Brisighella, in the Province of Ravenna, he left school at 11, like many of his generation, and joined SAE as a supervisor when he was only twenty." (p 4-5)

This project manager, Monduzzi, came from the same town as my father. I enjoy this coincidence.

01 May 2008

Not Quite Right

I'm beginning to suspect that something is not quite right with this chronology. One of the impacts of my father's work on our family life was that we moved around quite a bit, usually annually. In the early days of my parent's marriage, my mother and father lived in a caravan in the workers' camps, following the work around. When my older sister arrived, that necessitated a different living arrangement, although we did, from time to time, live in the camps. However, usually the family were more settled and lived in a capital city or a town. Their first home was in Miranda in Sutherland, Sydney (where me and my younger sister were born). My father would often drive long distances to spend weekends at home with the family.

On this premise, I'm thinking there may be mistakes in some of the captioning. From the time I started school in 1969 through to 1971, we lived in a couple of different places in Melbourne. When I was in grade three, in 1972, we lived in Geebung, Brisbane, in Queensland. Then in 1973, when I was in grade four, we moved twice - to Wollongong and then Maitland. After that we relocated to Brisbane again and stayed. My father ceased to work with EPT in 1975 whereupon he pursued a different life altogether.

However, on the basis of his photo captions, everything makes sense until we get to Brisbane in 1972. In 1971 and 1973, he worked in Western Australia. It is unclear to me why we were located in Brisbane and why we moved twice in 1973. I'll also have to do some more research about the work my father was doing from 1972 onwards.


The following chronology is assembled from captioned photographs. Many of the photographs are not captioned and I am trying to identify them through the interview conducted with my father and also with some help from my mother.

1955 - Bari to Foggia, Italy
1956 - Migrated to Australia
1956 - Chullora to Canterbury, NSW
1956 - Helensburg, NSW
1956 - Waterfall to Mt Kiera, NSW
1956/57 - Culkairn (to be verified)
Late 1950s - Wagga Wagga to Hume, NSW
1958 - Sydney to Dora Creek, NSW
1961 - T2, Snowy Mountains, NSW
1962 - Mt Kosciuszko region, NSW
Early 1960s - Cabramurra, NSW
1962 - Tumut, NSW
1963 - Cairns to Kuranda, QLD
1964 - Port Augusta to Whyalla, SA
1965 - Murray 1 Power Station, Kanchoban, NSW
1966 - T3, Tumut/Talbingo Dam, NSW
1967 - Moura to Blackwater, QLD
1967 - Connesvil (to be verified, possibly Collinsville) to Clare, QLD
1967/68 - Templestowe to Kew, VIC
1968 - Tolmie Gorge (to be verified), possibly QLD
1968 - Low Yarra to Brooklyn, VIC
1969 - Dederang to South Morang, VIC
1969 - Myrtleford, NSW
1970/71 - unknown mountain region (to be verified, possibly Snowy Mountains)
1970/71 - Hazelwood to Keilor, VIC
1971 - Swan River, Kwinana to East Perth, WA
1973 - Helena Valley, WA