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.

13 May 2010

Digital Story in Progress

I've been working on a digital story as part of a short course I'm doing at the State Library of Queensland. Here's some work in progress ... So far I've written the script - the video and audio is yet to come.

My father, like most, amassed a large collection of tools. If, when visiting my mother’s house, our visitors enter the garage, they are greeted by a massive shifting spanner hanging on the wall. At a half metre or so long, it’s not the sort of tool that easily fits into a utility belt or back pocket – “what do you use that for?” they’d ask. So I would explain that it belonged to my dad, who worked as a rigger and a linesman building high tension power lines for about 20 years. It’s almost a rite of passage as husbands are initiated into our family with each querying that spanner.

The company he worked for in Italy offered him a job in Australia. When his boat landed in Sydney in 1956, he was driven out to a camp at Blacktown to work on power lines in the city’s west. The company’s motto was ‘one tower per day’ regardless of weather conditions and terrain. He often spoke of the rigours of that life – while on the job he lived in camps with other workers, mostly migrants, in makeshift barracks – It was hard work in sometimes harsh country.

I used to think my father was a giant. He built big things, like high tension power lines, and had big tools, like that spanner. His voice boomed and his laugh roared. He had large hands, toughened by working with steel. He drove heavy vehicles and crossed great distances, stringing cable all the way.

He took pride in his work and my mother once told me that no one ever died in my father's gang when he was a foreman. She also told me that he had just the right touch for stringing those lines. My family often recalls its life as an itinerary. We lived here, then moved elsewhere, following the weave of the power lines.

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