Halls Creek Aeradio - c.1941-42
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The Halls Creek Aeradio Station was established by DCA in 1940 to support the air routes in the Kimberly region of north-western Australia, especially the strategically important air link between Perth and Darwin. An Aeradio/Met building (above, in 1941) was constructed at the aerodrome, which was 9 miles from Halls Creek township.

Charlie Mabbit was the first OIC and installed the radio equipment, which comprised one AS9 ex-aircraft HF transmitter and two AWA-built HF receivers. It is thought that the standard AWA Aeradio equipment was orignally scheduled for Halls Creek, but that the RAAF impressed it following the beginning of the Second World War. Point-to-point communications with Wyndham, some 300 miles to the north-west, were conducted on 333 kcs whilst air-ground communications were received on 6540 kcs and transmitted on 6565 kcs. Later, in 1941, a field telephone was installed to provide communications with the Halls Creek Post Office, which had a telegraph line to Wyndham.

Charlie Mabbit was relieved as OIC by Alan Hanrahan and, after serving 6 months, was in turn relieved by Norm Valentine. Norm only stayed 3 months before he was relieved by Bruce Acland, who was previously stationed in Darwin. Norm was in ill health and it was considered that part of the problem was the lack of a suitable diet at Halls Creek. Bruce Acland was relieved by Keith Alston in July 1941.

It was a harsh existence at Halls Creek, the aerodrome being isolated from the small town of 16 people. Diet was very basic. The Aeradio men baked their own bread, and meat was obtained from the local Hotel-keeper and kept in a kerosene refrigerator. Attempts to grow lettuce were thwarted when kangaroos ate the crop.

During the early War years there was very little aircraft activity. Initially the weekly Perth-Darwin service by MMA Lockheed 10 landed at Halls Creek, but later the route was altered to follow the coast via Broome and Derby. Interestingly, this service operated in syncronisation with the QEA flying boat service through Darwin, with which it connected: if the flying boat was delayed a day, so was the MMA service.

Even though the Lockheed did not land at Halls Creek, the Aeradio operators were still required to be on duty for the duration of its flight. They were also required to provide regular weather reports, the first morning report being required at 6 am. Following the change to the Perth-Darwin service Halls Creek was served by a DH84 Dragon, normally flown by Reg Bagwell.

Below: Aeradio staff on the steps of the Aeradio building at Halls Creek, 1941-42. L-R John Tapper, Charlie Boileau, Frank Thomas.


(Photos: K.W. Alston collection)

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