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BREXIT AND “OUR WORLD” – MEMORIES OF THE FIRST LIVE TV SATELLITE BROADCAST

I watched the Brexit result unfold on TV this past couple of days, as reporters did their live crosses from locations great and small across the U.K and Europe. These days, the live report from remote locations is common-place, and dreadfully over-used by many TV networks.

But it’s not that long ago that the means by which it’s done was breath-takingly brand new. By coincidence, Brexit fell on the anniversary of the first live international TV broadcast in June, 1967, an occasion celebrating, rather than retreating from, international relations.

Our_World_Newspaper_adThat first broadcast was called Our World. It was the first ever live, international television program, going to air early in the morning of June 26 (eastern Australian time). It was largely the idea of the great UK TV producer, Aubrey Singer, and had strong support from the European Broadcasting Union. 14 countries contributed live segments, and the show was seen by more than 400 million people in 30 nations.

Our World is probably best remembered for the UK sequence, which showed The Beatles performing their new single All You Need Is Love for the first time. But it should be remembered for much more – it was a “space age” technical achievement at a time when TV was barely a decade old in Australia.

We could see real time TV from all over the world, at a time when few of us could afford to travel overseas. Soon we would see live TV pictures from the Apollo moon landings, from far away sports events. Our World proved international live TV was possible, and that audiences were excited by it.

It was a complex and expensive production, delivered through control rooms around the world via three geostationary communication satellites (Intelsat I, Intelsat II and ATS-1). Something like ten thousand people worked on the broadcast, using enough broadcast cable to circle the globe several times. Every minute of every segment had to be delivered live – no videotape or overlay vision was allowed. And there were political complexities too – no politicians or heads of state were allowed to appear, and the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc dominions withdrew just days before the broadcast.

COOBY CREEK AROUND 1967

In Australia, the epicentre of Our World was a space tracking station at Cooby Creek, just north of Toowoomba in south-east Queensland. The incoming overseas program was fed from there into the domestic Australian Broadcasting Commission cable network and into our black and white TV sets. And when the time came, at 5.22am on June 26th, live links from around Australia were sent from Cooby Creek into the global broadcast.

Our World opened with the Vienna Boys Choir singing the theme song in 22 languages, followed by segments from Canada, the USA and Japan. The Australian sequence began with ABC reporter Brian King at a Melbourne tram depot, then Eric Hunter at the CSIRO plant growth laboratory in Canberra.

 

There was also a segment at the Parkes radio telescope, in central New South Wales, where reporter Kim Corcoran explained efforts to monitor what was then the most distant object known to us – Quasar 0237- 23. The remarkable Dr Peter Pockley was executive producer of the Australian segment, working out of the old ABC TV headquarters at Gore Hill in Sydney.

ABC TV CREW AT PARKES NSW DURING OUR WORLD BROADCAST

ABC TV CREW AT PARKES NSW DURING OUR WORLD BROADCAST

Our World was a huge leap forward for television. In an era when news took days to travel around the world, TV had showed us we could share our stories in pictures in real time.

I was an eight-year-old boy watching on a cold Antipodean winter morning as this apparently magical event unfolded. And I’ve never forgotten the feeling of being part of something bigger than the sum of its parts – it’s a feeling TV can still conjure. Not often, but when it tries. The better quality reporting of the Brexit result this past weekend, was such an occasion.

Read more about how Australia received and contributed to Our World, and about Australia’s space tracking stations here

And you can find videos from Our World – the Australian version here

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in rd on the road

 

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MORETON TELEGRAPH STATION – LONG BEFORE RADIO, THERE WAS CABLE AND MORSE CODE

YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FAR IN FNQ BEFORE YOU’RE “OUT OF RANGE”. NO MOBILE PHONE SIGNAL, JUST STATIC ON THE CAR RADIO. THE KIDS CAN’T TWITTER, YOU CAN’T HEAR THE CRICKET ON THE ABC, AND WHAT WILL YOU DO IF THE CAR GIVES UP?

If you’re going into remote country, consider getting a two-way radio, either HF or UHF. A satellite phone is a good emergency back-up, but the call costs are way too high for more routine calls. There’s surprisingly good mobile phone coverage around some of the more remote FNQ towns, but only on one network and only for a few kms out from town.

As sparse as the current set-up is, it’s way better than ever before. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that people on Cape York got dialling telephones, about 40 years after the rest of Australia.

When you travel on Cape York Peninsula, you’ll get insights into communication remote-area style now and way back then. Mail used to come on pack horses, now much of it comes by air – small planes doing mail runs to land on bush strips and drop off the mail bags. Many telephones operate by radio link, people get their Internet by satellite, two-way radio is widely used.

Long before these things were invented, there was telegraph. A sort of 19th century text message system that relied on long stretches of cable strung from posts, along which electrical signals were sent in Morse Code. Short and long beeps, dots and dashes, were assigned to each letter of the alphabet. Messages could be sent over vast distances, as long as there was a telegraph line to send them on.

In the mid 1800s, colonial bosses in Brisbane felt the need for a means of communicating with Queensland’s remote and sparsely populated north. Surveyors explored a route to the top of Cape York and on to Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait. The Telegraph Line was built and fully operational by the mid 1870s. The present day road to the Tip largely follows the route of the Telegraph Line, although there’s nothing much left of the Line itself. It carried its last Morse message, a telegram to Thursday Island, in 1964. It was shut down in 1987 at age 100.

There were seven repeater stations along the Line, and some of those have survived. One of the key stations was at Moreton, on the banks of the Wenlock River. These days, Moreton is in the tourism business, offering accomodation, local tours and stories of the old days.

It’s a lovely spot, but like a lot of places on the Peninsula, it gets cut off during the wet season. The Wenlock River can rise up to ten metres above the road bridge. Even during the dry time, the river has some big sea creatures in it. Bull sharks and sting rays are regularly seen near the station, about 140 kms from the sea!

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO HEAR CATHY SHOW YOU AROUND MORETON TELEGRAPH STATION

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Lots of info and history at http://www.moretonstation.com.au/index.html

Another former telegraph station at Musgrave is also in the tourism business  http://www.musgraveroadhouse.com.au/history.html

More on the history of telegraphy at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegraphy

The language of telegraphy was Morse Code http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_code

There were telegraph facilities all over FNQ in the old days. Visit the old Cardwell station, on the road between Townsville and Cairns http://www.csc.qld.gov.au/?page_id=97

 
 

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TRAVELLING WITH CASSOWARIES – BY SATELLITE

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CASSOWARY IN THE WILD? ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN FNQ IS GETTING TO SEE CASSOWARIES ON A FAIRLY REGULAR BASIS.

The emu may be taller, but the cassowary is much better-looking. They occur only in FNQ and Papua New Guinea. These endangered flightless birds are solitary creatures, living in and journeying through our rainforests. 

Their proper scientific name is the Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii). There’s a pretty good chance you might see one in the wild when you’re bush-walking in FNQ, especially in the Daintree and Cassowary Coast regions. If you do, give them room to move. Those long pointy toe nails can kill — and cassowaries will kick when they feel threatened.

DAD TELLS THE KIDS ABOUT FOOD MISSION BEACH 2011

Cassowaries face many dangers. Urban sprawl, dogs, wild pigs, roads. And cyclones. When a tropical cyclone hits a rainforest, the canopy gets damaged, the balance of nature shifts for a time, and food becomes scarce. In recent years, people have set up feed stations deep in the rainforest, leaving fruit and vegies to keep the cassowaries going through lean times.

When Cyclone Yasi slammed into FNQ in February 2011, a group of cassowaries were in a rehab centre at Garners Beach, not far from where the cyclone made land-fall. The centre looks after sick and injured cassowaries.

Some of the cassowaries have since been released back in to the wild near Tully, Innisfail and Cape Tribulation. They went home fitted with satellite trackers, so their carers could see how they were doing. And the news sent back via GPS is good. The birds are still alive and appear to be doing very well.

Graham Lauridsen is the vet in Tully – he had the job of fitting the cassowaries with their trackers. He says the results are very encouraging.

AUDIO: GRAHAM LAURIDSEN EXPLAINS HOW CASSOWARIES ARE TRACKED BY SATELLITE

C 1 CASSOWARY DOING THE ABC NEWS

Learn more about cassowaries at http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/threatened_plants_and_animals/endangered/cassowary.html

And read about one of the organisations working to protect cassowaries http://www.savethecassowary.org.au/

Also check out C 1 Cassowary at his home page https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/see-one-cassowary/

AT HARTLEY'S CREEK NOVEMBER 2011

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, wildlife and animals

 

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