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.

01 November 2012

Famiglia Lorieri

Marie Donnelley (nee Lorieri) has emailed to make an inquiry and also to told me a little about her family's story: 

I was browsing the web regarding EPT and found out that you had done some research on EPT as your father had worked for the company in the mid 1950s.  My father came out with the first of the men from SAE in 1951. He was actually flown over from Italy to Australia – we, my mother and my sister and brother followed and arrived by ship in June 1952.  He, too, was a rigger and linesman and was at the original camp at Menai/Engadine and worked throughout Australia until he finally, due to his age, worked at Marayong.  Unfortunately I do not know much about his work history as I was only 6 when we arrived here ...   

Giuseppe Minati

This week I received an email from Sandra Minati, who shared a little of her own family's story. I was thrilled to learn that Sandra's father knew my father and that we shared many of the same memories such as Christmas Parties and long periods of our fathers' absence. It was also heartening to learn that the project has brought some happiness and pride to Mr Minati and wish them both well.

I was so happy and excited to read your website on Transmission Lines as my father Giuseppe Minati worked with your father.

My father worked with your dad on the Channel 9 tower and at Port Kembla and also at Goulburn.

I am now sitting with him and showing him all the photos and videos and he is very excited and interested.

Even I understand like with you the hard work and commitment our fathers gave to the Company.  Dad is now looking at photos that he has kept on quite a few of his job sites and wow it is bringing back memories.

My mother at home looking after us three children on her own and Dad was away sometimes for months at a time.  We were always so excited to have him home even for a short time because he would have to leave soon after to complete another job.  

I remember Christmas Parties and I vividly remember the cooks in the kitchen serving up the food.Our fathers are heroes and I am very proud of him and they will leave a legacy.

Dad is now 90 years old and he has a big smile on his face right now.

Our fathers will leave a legacy and they have made a great contribution to this Country and we thank you very much for bringing the history of EPT to life on your website.

Take Care ...
Sandra Minati

19 January 2012

Luigi Morato

With the EPT conversation occurring across several social media platforms, including the facebook group, the sharing of stories is also more networked. Today, via facebook, I heard from Ginetta Morato, daughter of Luigi Morato. She writes:

My father, Luigi Morato also worked for SAE Bologna before being sent to Australia in 1956. He was employed by EPT for all of his working years in this land, and held the role of Testing Station Manager, Marayong until the company’s closure. Sadly, he passed away just on 2 years ago. Please know that he would have taken great pride and delight in viewing your posts. My mother on the other hand was instrumental, together with Padre Silvio, in commencing the Saturday Italian language courses for children of EPT workers, in which she taught from 1968 until the 1980’s. These programs played an important part in bringing together a community and providing an opportunity for the preservation and maintenance of Italian language and culture in second and subsequent generations.

18 January 2012

EPT Facebook Group

Matthew Quomi has set up a facebook group as a meeting place for former E.P.T. employees and their descendants to share their memories. Some of the content from Transmission Lines, particularly photographs, will be shared with the facebook group. For those not connected to facebook, I am happy to accept comments or emails and pass them on.

EPT in Queensland

Ian Moller has consulted with his colleague Brian Becconsall to compile these notes about EPT work in Queensland. Brian says, "I believe the first steel lines were all built by E.P.T. throughout the 1960’s. I think the only competitor was ASCOM who got 50% of the Gladstone to Brisbane 275kV interconnectors to ensure they were all done on time by 1973 (associated with the establishment of Gladstone Power Station)."

1957- Commissioning of Tully Falls Hydro power station, with 132kV double circuit steel tower lines to Cairns

1958- Interconnection Cairns to Townsville via 132kV double circuit steel tower line

The start of the steel tower system in SE Qld was in the 1960’s

April 1962- the original Rocklea substation established as a switching station (cut in to existing 110kV wood pole Abermain (Ipswich) feeders)

Jan 1963- Stafford substation commissioned with a new 110kV double circuit steel tower line from South Pine substation to Bunyaville substation (Everton Hills) connecting to  2 x 110kV underground cables to Stafford substation

July 1963- West Darra substation commissioned

June 1964 - South Pine substation to Image Flat substation (near Nambour) and northward via a 132 kV double circuit steel tower line, connecting to the Wide Bay Burnett Electricity Board 132 kV network (wood pole lines mostly). (Ian's comment - from memory I believe the SEQ 110kV network interfaced with the WBBEB 132kV network via stepup transformers at Image Flat)

Sept 1964 - South Pine substation (Brendale) to Hays Inlet substation (Rothwell)

Apr 1966 - Swanbank A power station energised, requiring 110kV links to West Darra substation

EPT built all the steel 110kV around the SE Qld, and the first 275kV lines out of Swanbank as follows;

Apr 1970 - Swanbank B commissioned- first 275kV lines to South Pine substation

Feb 1971 - Swanbank B to Belmont substation 275kV double circuit steel tower

Dec 1972 - Swanbank B to Mudgeeraba 2x 275KV single circuit steel tower lines energised at 110kV initially

Then the construction of first major 275kV lines from Brisbane to Gladstone was shared - I think EPT did the southern half, ASCOM the northern half (subject to confirmation)

Nov 1972 - South Pine substation to Gladstone Power Station - 2 x 275kV single circuit steel tower lines energised via new substations at Woolooga and Gin Gin

Christmas Party at Marayong

Marayong Camp

17 January 2012

Cables, Patent Testing

St Anthony's EPT Marayong

In earlier correspondence, Giovanni Venturi wrote that his father had a church built in the 1950s for EPT workers and their families. He sent some early footage of the church, camp and community at Marayong.

Television Tower

Giovanni Venturi has sent some film footage shot in the 1950s. EPT workers constructed several television towers across Australia. This video, the first of several, shows the construction of TCN Channel 9 Tower at Gore Hill.

11 January 2012

Pandora to archive Transmission Lines

PANDORA is Australia’s Web Archive based at the National Library of Australia. They have been in touch requesting inclusion of Transmission lines 1955-1974  in the PANDORA Archive. This means the Library retains the project in the Archive and provides public access to it in perpetuity. It will be re-archived periodically to record significant additions and changes.

The Library will take the necessary preservation action to keep Transmission Lines accessible as hardware and software changes over time. The Library will catalogue it and add the records to the National Bibliographic Database (a database of catalogue records shared by over 5,200 Australian libraries), as well as to our own online catalogue. This will increase awareness of Transmission Lines among researchers using libraries. It also means these fragments of the story of EPT will be more readily found as part of Australia's history.

08 January 2012

Ian Moller

I received an email recently from Ian Moller who worked in the electricity industry in Queensland for 40 years (as an electrical engineer - mainly in transmission) before retiring in 2007. He wrote:

I recall EPT doing a lot of transmission line construction in Qld but I would be hard pressed to identify which lines were built by EPT. But I think some of the early 275kV lines built for SEAQ and NEAQ were done by EPT amongst many others. I have some old NEAQ house magazines so it is possible they mention EPT. (late 60's into the 70's)

The reason I'm contacting you is that I have just accidently stumbled across a metal EPT identification plate. It measures roughly 150 mm wide by 90mm high. It has two towers with the letters "EPT" between them. The towers and letters are kind of cast into the plate, so it is very readable.

Some years ago, my Church purchased a secondhand shipping container which we use as a mower shed etc. It was only very recently, I noticed the EPT plate rivited to the bottom beam of the container and thought this was historically significant. 

Ian is a member of the Queensland Electricity Museum and will be donating the plate to the Museum. He has kindly provided images of the plate, which he retrieved and repainted:

05 January 2012

More than power lines

From Matthew Quomi

Hammersley Iron, Dampier, WA

I have been busy asking my father questions and so far I have discovered only the tip of the iceberg, there are so many interesting and amazing stories. I have quickly scanned a few images that my father has to show you a different side of EPT away from the building transmission lines such as building the Ramshead chairlift in Thredbo by hand (cranes were not used to lift those heavy steel lift towers into position) and using a tower crane to lift a mobile cranes 30 metres up into the air!


Yallourn Power Station, Victoria

Nino Guido

Matthew Quomi met with another passionate Eptiano, Nino Guido.

He told me that every year they organise a reunion and last year’s event was attended by 200 odd people. I have also heard about another E.P.T. reunion that takes place every year in Italy. The man that I met with yesterday has an amazing archive of photographs which mostly illustrate the E.P.T. camp in Port Kembla. Two (2) of his photographs were of particular interest to me. These photographs illustrate the king of all E.P.T. vehicles which was a 1937 Morris that the E.P.T. welders and mechanics in the Port Kembla workshop converted into a 12 seater jeep that was affectionately known as La Carolina! Above is an image of the vehicle in question.

That vehicle was originally purchased by six (6) E.P.T. employees however it came off second best in an accident with two (2) freight trains which left the four (4) occupants seriously injured. The car was bent into a U-shape but instead of being turned into scrap metal, it was taken to the workshop at Port Kembla where the E.P.T. mechanics used their ingenuity, oxy torches and pieces of metal plate found at the steelworks to convert the wreck into a jeep for the soccer team. It’s a beautiful piece of E.P.T. history.

Matthew Quomi

From Matthew Quomi

I’ve been speaking with quite a few former E.P.T. employees and they are all very passionate about documenting the history of the company and stories of the workers and the projects that they built before it is too late. Hopefully through your wonderful blog, my E.P.T. Facebook group and other social media platforms, other members of the E.P.T. family can share their stories.

My interest in E.P.T. is a lot wider than your specific niche which I suppose is a result of my family wasn’t ever involved with transmission lines but rather the more general construction activities of the company. E.P.T. was a construction powerhouse which it seems was only rivaled by Transfield. I want to look at all aspects of the company from the steel fabrication workshops and transmission line activities to the famous cooks and the construction of power stations. As far as I know, my family was never involved with transmission line construction and instead my father and uncles built chairlifts, wharfs, conveyors for mines, silos, sewers systems, roads, bridges and of course, power stations. They travelled all over Australia during the 1960s and 1970s working on amazing projects and living in the famous E.P.T. work camps. My two (2) uncles have long since returned to live in Italy however they still speak affectionately about their experiences with E.P.T. in a wild and untamed land, far away.

My father arrived in Australia by ship in 1962 as a 21 year old with only a suitcase in his hand. A job with E.P.T. at Port Kembla was arranged before his departure from Italy and when he arrived at Circular Quay, his eldest sister and her husband were waiting for him. Without having any decent education or construction experience but with a strong will to work hard, the circumstances that he found himself in at the E.P.T. meant that he was to become a rigger. When he got the hang of it, he decided that he wanted a better position and eventually became a crane driver. He continued to work with E.P.T. until just after I was born in 1977. In fact the only reason that I was born in Victoria is because E.P.T. sent my father there for a project and as part of the deal, the company provided a house for my parents for the duration of the construction. My parents then moved back to back Sydney in time for the birth of my younger sister.

Upon returning to Sydney, my father decided that the constant moving around due to his employment with E.P.T. wouldn’t be good for his young family and therefore he decided that he wanted to work for himself. Initially he was in partnership with a couple of other Italians until the mid 1980s when he started his own steel erection business by himself. With a few Italian employees and a couple of classic Australian Holden 1 tonne utes, he started off his own enterprise. They worked very hard and the business continued to grow. During those early days of my childhood, I barely saw my father because he was always working however I can clearly remember the 1 tonne utes with the tool boxes and oxy bottles on the back. Those utes also had a particular smell inside them which was a complex combination of dust, sweat, aftershave and cigarette smoke. The business continued to grow and he eventually had enough money to buy a crane. At the time I would have been about nine (9) years old and I clearly remember the excitement as I waited after school for the new crane to arrive at our home on the outskirts of Sydney. Finally I heard a roar pierce the silence of the rural landscape as I saw this huge piece of machinery driving down the road towards me. To me that crane seemed like the biggest thing that I had ever seen. Even though we lived on acreage, the crane was so big that they had to build a new driveway.

As I got older, I would sometimes go to work with my father on the weekends and because I was a shy, I would stay in the ute all day. However it was very enjoyable for me because I would watch my father and his workers as they climbed effortlessly up columns like monkeys and danced across rafters high above the ground like ballet dancers, all done without safety harnesses and in unison. Most of the workers were Italian with names like Oscar, Mario and Alberto. The crane driver was named Emilio and he previously worked for E.P.T. erecting transmission line towers. There were a couple of guys who weren’t Italian however they all learned the language because that was the only language that was spoken on the job. I remember that would have “smoko” and they all bring wonderful smelling food that their wives probably cooked for them the night before. There were never any meat pies or Chiko Rolls. Instead they brought pots and containers filled with things like pasta or cooked meat and vegetables. From their eskies they would take out bread and blocks of Provolone and Asiago cheese which they would cut with huge kitchen knifes that they would bring with them. They would use the same knifes to cut up their fruit before they quickly got back work. They worked rain, hail or shine, on the weekends and sometimes every at night. They were amazing workers however when my father retired a few ago, most of his workers did too. It was the end of an era.

My father’s story can be echoed by probably hundreds or maybe thousands of other migrants who after working for E.P.T., went on to create their own reduced version of E.P.T. or in Transfield’s case, a major rival. All those migrant stories are wonderful and the marvelous thing is that they all have the common underpinning of E.P.T. Without E.P.T., so many of those migrants wouldn’t have even come to Australia. Even though the vast majority of migrants to Australia during those days were unskilled labour, a company like E.P.T. gave so many migrants the opportunity of a better life. E.P.T. believed in the work ethic of those migrants and in return those workers sacrificed so much for the company in order to get the job done. Hard work was repaid with good wages and career development was available for those workers who wanted a new challenge. Therefore they didn’t have to leave E.P.T., in fact often the company would create a new position in order to keep the employee and in return these employees were very loyal. When it came to the time that someone wanted to start their own business, they often became subcontractors to E.P.T. These new Australian owned companies mushroomed and blossomed because they were run and based one the ideals that they had learnt through the time spent with E.P.T. All of those migrant business owners each created their own unique E.P.T. empire and they should be very proud of what they achieved. It is with a feeling of melancholy as I look back on the legacy created by E.P.T. and its workers because the important role that the company played in the development of post war Australia is not recognized by the general public. Therefore I hope that through your blog and my research that all of those hard working E.P.T. employees will one day get the recognition that they rightfully deserve.

Pilgrimage to Marayong

From Matthew Quomi

I made a pilgrimage to Marayong, deep into western Sydney. I easily found the E.P.T. chapel incongruously hidden in a small industrial estate, within walking distance of the Marayong train station. I parked on the street, just in front of the church and as I got out my mind started to spiral back over time to fifty (50) years ago. I tried to contemplate what it was like when E.P.T. first arrived; why did E.P.T. select that particular site, what did the Italian workers think about their new surroundings and what did the locals feel towards these migrants. Through some of Sig. Venturi’s photographs that I saw on your blog, I have an appreciation for the physicality of the site however it is impossible to recognise it today. Socially Marayong has changed dramatically and what I saw yesterday was a suburb which is in desperate need to some love and attention from the government. The pocket of Marayong that I visited felt abandoned. It was quite sad.

However amongst the industrial building and adjacent to the rear of the property on which the chapel resides and being an architect, I found a curiously sited, solidly built, red brick house. The building has long since seen better times however in its day it would have been an extremely elegant and prestigious home. The building is now utilised as an office for a small powdercoating business which operates out of a small factory of similar age at the rear of the site. This factory building is accessed by a driveway down the western boundary of the site. As I was taking photographs, a multicoloured vehicle with part of an old ute mounted on its roof, slowly drove drown the driveway and with suspicion, observed my movements. As I attempted to depart in my car, my egress from the street blocked as the strange vehicle cut off my access. I then tentatively put down my window and proceeded to be questioned by the two (2) interesting characters inside the vehicle. After I convinced them that I was a good person and was not from the NSW Police of the local Council, they cleared my path to leave. However I then started to question them and as it turns out, it seems that they lease the subject premises from the current Indian owners. These two (2) guys then mentioned that they remembered hearing stories from a couple of the local elders at the local pub of the “power company” that used to own and operate a large business on all the surrounding property and were responsible for building the chapel. They then added that “Transfield had bought the company” and that the red brick house was full of marble. I asked if I could have a look through the property to which they replied, “no worries, just say that Ray said that it was ok.” We then said goodbye and in their unusual looking vehicle, the two (2) men departed in a northerly direction towards Marayong train station. I parked my car again and approached the side driveway on foot.

As I approached, my attention was caught by another man standing at the entry to the site in overalls, who it seemed had been observing my confrontation on the corner. As we made eye contact, he made me aware that “those two are mad.” I acknowledged his comment with a smile and made my way up the driveway which was strewn with all types of things such as old cars, a forklift, lengths of steel tube on racks, 40 gallon drums, etc. Since I didn’t know where to go to announce my arrival on site, the open roller door to the rear factory seemed like a good place to start. However as I entered the building, the two (2) men working there seemed oblivious to my presence. Obviously the consent given to me by the man who identified himself as Ray didn’t mean much to the two workers who were happy to ignore my presence. I walked around the building and again using my architect’s eye, I noticed that the steel angle used for the roof trusses looked remarkably similar to the gauge used for transmission line towers. As I exited the building to the courtyard which separates the factory and the red brick house, I again met the character in overalls. I asked if I could look inside the house and he said that the ground floor was open and that I could find the secretary inside. Upon opening the screen door, I bumped into the friendly secretary who was a thin, chain smoking, blonde haired, fifty (50) or so year old woman who was scantily clothed in tight jeans and a singlet, which left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She welcomed me into the office which even though it was extremely dilapidated, I discovered some wonderfully beautiful terrazzo floors. Unfortunately she couldn’t access the first floor but she said that it could be organised by Ray, who it seems is the head of that peculiar organisation.

Therefore considering its age, design and vicinity to the chapel, I wondered whether these two (2) two buildings were built by E.P.T. to form part of the Marayong complex. I have attached a few images which illustrate my memorable adventure. Ray said that I am welcome to visit at any time and that I should track down a local by the name of Dave at the local pub. Apparently this Dave character has lived in the area for over forty (40) and therefore will definitely be able to assist with my research. I was hoping that through your blog, some of my questions could be answered. Maybe some of the people who have connected you may be able to recognize the building.