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.

31 August 2011

A barber in the camp

Another surprise email arrived today ...

G`day Linda,

Mark Stass is my name, my parents moved to Marayong in 1952 after migrating from Europe 1949. Dad was Czechoslovakian and spoke many languages amongst them Italian. He was a barber by trade and had a lively trade from all the mob from the EPT camp. He had a day job at Riverstone meatworks and cut hair after hours at our house. I was born in 1951 and remember fairly well the circus atmosphere when a few turned up for a cut. Vince Ferrara was one who seemed to make himself at home and often cooked up a big serving of spaghetti with what I thought at the time horrible smelly cheese. I remember visiting the mess hall a few times and I suppose Antonio Cardinale probably served me up some spaghetti. The Church was a beauty, built from nice lacquered timber I think and the bell would go off on the quarter hour before mass on Sunday.

Hard to imagine the few buildings that were there in the 50's, we lived on the corner of Harvey Rd and Elliot st till 1958, in a little garage size dwelling that my father built and then moved not far away to Sunnyholt Rd into a brand spanking' new Mala (builders name) home. There were quite a few other migrants spread out around the area we use to visit, most seemed self sufficient with cows, goats and gardens. Their was a dairy farm nearby, my sister and I probably made a nuisance of ourselves there, the Crogan family managed it. I loved the steam trains going by our place loaded with stock for the Riverstone meatworks, often not being able to encounter the rise and having to roll back towards Blacktown and try again.

My father died two and half years ago aged 95, mother worked at the Bonds cotton mill for years at Pendle Hill, still going and 85.

Great memories, my early connections with those men instilled an affection for Italians, they were fun loving fellas.

Mark Stass

20 January 2011

Transmission Lines: Digital Story

This video was produced during a digital storytelling workshop at the State Library of Queensland last year - under the watchful guidance of Gavin and David. It extends the work of the Transmission Lines project.

The jeeps ...

Leo di Rocco has provided more information about the jeeps, as pictured with Paolo Cardinale at the wheel.

... It was great to see the old jeep with Paul at the wheel, I knew him and his whole family. The jeep and many other military vehicles were bought from the Australian army these vehicles were surplus and all American and they were shipped to Australia during the second world war under the lend lease plan. Lets not forget that Hostilities had only ceased 6 years prior to the first men of SAE arriving in Australia.. These vehicles served EPT well into the seventies and eighties. Most were worn out and eventually replaced with the more modern four wheel drives ...

19 January 2011

The men of famiglia Quomi

And still another proud son and nephew ... I'm looking forward to receiving the photographs.

Hi Linda

I was looking through some old photos with my father this morning of when he first came to Australia and then afterwards I decided to do a google search for EPT which brought me to your website. I think your blog is fantastic and I really enjoyed reading through it, especially because he it reminded me of my father’s life. My father came to Australia and worked as a rigger with EPT on many projects before he eventually started his own steel erection company in Sydney which he continued to operate until he retired three (3) years ago. Who knows, your father and my father may have even crossed paths because it looks like they were working in the Snowy Mountains at the same time. I also had two uncles that were working for EPT in the 1960’s also. I’ll scan my father’s EPT photos and send then to you.

I think that it is amazing what these men were able to achieve with so little education and it’s sad that their stories are slowly disappearing as they pass on and therefore information banks such as your blog are an invaluable archive.

Kind regards
Matthew Quomi

Camillo Smargiasso

And here, another proud son, Mario Smargiasso, who wrote to me via facebook, tells me about his father's role in EPT.

My name is Mario Smargiasso, I've just found on the internet a blogspot about the Transmission Lines 1955-1974 page - I was born in 1959 in Wollongong, and lived until 1965 in Lake Heights - Warrawong - Port Kembla area.

My father Camillo came from Italy to work in the EPT company, since 1951 to 1965 in Australia and later on (1966-1967) in South Africa.

I'm still surfing on the blogspot, is it still updated? (some links seem not working...).

I'd like to know more about the whole thing, I could never imagine there's such a wonderful place to let parents recall and sons know.

Just a few days ago my father asked me to find in his empty house a handwritten letter by Vittorio Monduzzi (a true myth for him), and I happened to redisciver hundreds of photographs taken in Australia, many of them regarding the EPT working fields, may they be of any interest for anybody?

Thanks for the attention on the note I'm sending, any reply would very appreciated!!

Kind regards
Mario Smargiasso

I've written to Mario to tell him that the photos are definitely of interest and I would be happy to see if there are any libraries or archives that might take them. I'm also happy to help get them on the blog.

Hi Linda,

thank you for your reply.

About the project, of course any documents may be used in any form, when useful; I'm aware the project is not a meeting point for loose people, so I would try to select and scan only materials showing the efforts made by the EPT workers in the development of Australia as a big country (by the way, unfortunately my parents decided to come back to Italy in 1965), or anything that may be considered close to the project's basic aims anyway; should materials appear non coherent or appropriate, they won't be used, no problem...

It only will take me some time to scan and publish photogaphs or anything else on a reserved page of my fb profile (I'm not so used to do that, I'll ask my sons to help me); I'll follow the news on the site / blog.

Thank you for the attention

Best regards
Mario Smargiasso

18 January 2011

Riccardo Checchi

It's messages like this one from Riccardo Checchi that remind me of the warmth and strong bonds that made EPT such a strong community, an extended family.

Dear Miss Carroli

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Riccardo Checchi. I am also a former EPT man. Actually, I am a bit more than that because I worked at SAE Milano for almost 12 years before moving to Australia in 1967.

During my years with both companies I have accumulated a knowledge of people and stories that could be of interest to those that were associated with EPT.

I am also in possession of documents that could be described as historical, i.e. I have the article of incorporation of the company in Australia, brochures, personal letters etc etc

Since my retirement I have toyed with the idea of writing about EPT.

I am glad that you beat me to it!

In case you wonder, I got your email address and phone number from Leo Di Rocco the last of a generation of Di Roccos working for the company.

Incidentally, after reading your Transmission Lines 1954-1974 I have spread the word around and I can assure you that there is a group of people interested in cooperating with you should you wish to expand the story.

How did I get in touch with others, you may ask? I am the person responsible for organizing the yearly reunion of the "EPT survivors", usually in a nice restaurant because as we say in italian "Tutti i salmi finiscono in gloria"

I take this opportunity to thank you for the marvellous job you have done (I hope it is only a start) and wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

Warmest regards
Riccardo Checchi

I've since been in touch with Riccardo because of his genuine interest in writing a history and preserving the documents. This will mean a different trajectory of work and perhaps some consultation with the library about we might establish an archive. In a later message he said:

as far as I am concerned you can use anything you like to put together an EPT history but............. please just do it.

If there is anything to assist just let me know; I am even prepared to come to Brisbane to receive instructions. People like your father, Perissinotto, Ziliani, Guazzelli and many many others have done a lot not only for EPT but also for this country.

The electricity sparking from the Snowy Mountains Scheme comes from EPT. We watch television in Sydney through Channel 9, another EPT success. And what about Mt. Coo-tha and many many others. I am very passionate about this old company of ours.

The Perissinotto family are good friends of my family and I was glad to see Riccardo's reference to them. My mother continues to stay in touch with Elio and Rita. I remember days spent with the family at their farm in Gympie.

Antonio Cardinale, Paolo Cardinale

A lovely message from Carmen Caridinale via facebook about her nonno and father, former EPT workers Antonio Cardinale and Paolo Cardinale.

Hi Linda.

I came across your blog transmission line and was very impressed! my grandparents migrated from Italy to Marayong. My grandfather Antonio Cardinale worked in EPT for many years as the cook. After working at EPT my grandfather opened up a Caltex Petrol Station opposite marayong railway and continued to live in marayong with his wife Carmela, sons Victorrio and Paolo (my dad).

My dad married my mum and brought a house in marayong also, then i was born (1982), I was even baptized in at anthonys church by padre silvio and also my communion. I can remember dad telling me stories about EPT and he had alot of friends who lived in marayong and worked in EPT. Unfortunately my dad passed away 8 years ago so I can no longer hear the stories.

I love your blog as it reminds me of the past and the importance of culture.

Carmen cardinale

In a subsequent message, Carmen said "It would be great to find out if anyone remembers my nonno or my dad." She also gave me a photo of her father, Paolo Cardinale, at the helm of an EPT jeep, which I believe were ex-military. I remember bouncing around in the back of those things as a kid, when I accompanied my father on site visits.

More pictures from Marco Nanni

I didn't realise that Marco Nanni had posted more photographs to his Flickr photostream including some beautiful photos of the men at work and of life and conditions in the camps, including some encounters with wildlife.

An amazing couple of weeks

It's been a remarkable couple of weeks. Other than my home city being hit by severe flooding, I've received several emails from EPT workers and their families - all promising to share photographs and stories. This has prompted me to think a bit about Transmission Lines and perhaps the need for a more formal approach. This project started out as a bit of an experiment about developing personal/family histories via content sharing, just focusing on my father's life, but it now seems to be turning into a community - rather like the EPT camps which were the focus of so much of our families' lives. I'll be sharing the messages and photographs that have been sent to me and hopefully making some approaches to the State Library of Queensland to help me set up an archive. However, I do intend to retain the project as a personal project focused on modes of storytelling using online media.

I've loved reading the emails from the former workers and their families. And thank everyone who has been in contact. I've felt an instant rapport with each person as they talk about their fathers and grandfathers. Perhaps there needs to be another space for people to gather (facebook?) so that more of these stories can be shared. What a legacy!