Flashback 1959: Extreme conditions braved to set up live TV Test link
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Flashback 1959: Extreme conditions braved to set up live TV Test link

First published in The Age on January 9, 1959

Braved Blizzards to Set Up TV Test Link

Television field crews braced Alpine blizzards, threats of bush fires and complete isolation in some of the most rugged regions of the continent to put in the temporary Melbourne-Sydney direct TV link.

Australia v England at the 3rd Test played at the SCG in 1959.

Australia v England at the 3rd Test played at the SCG in 1959.Credit:The Age Archives

The link is hoped to be used to beam a direct telecast of the third Test cricket match from Sydney to Melbourne, starting at 3:30pm today.

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Five mountain-top points are linked by microwave links, each beaming picture and sound from one mountain peak to another.

The work of establishing these sites began in earnest in the middle of last winter. Test equipment had to be hauled by ice sledges to the top of Mount Kosciusko.

Australian captain Richie Benaud (left) with bowlers, Keith Slater (center) and Ian Meckiff (right), selected for the 3rd Test.

Australian captain Richie Benaud (left) with bowlers, Keith Slater (center) and Ian Meckiff (right), selected for the 3rd Test.Credit:The Age Archives

One part was lost in dense forest on Wednesday, saved by the chance discovery of a little-known track.

The engineers found that the official maps of much of the Alpine region were inadequate for their purposes, and even hit upon peaks rising several thousand feet which were not mapped at all.

Helicopter

One site covered by impenetrable forest had to be explored by helicopter.

At the Yea site, a huge crane was sent out to mount equipment above a forest of giant trees too large and valuable to cut down.

Groundsmen sweep water off the covers after heavy rains threatened to delay the Test.

Groundsmen sweep water off the covers after heavy rains threatened to delay the Test.Credit:Russell Mcphedran

During actual transmission, the engineers will have to deal with hazards of atmospheric conditions, which could cause violent fluctuations in the micro-wave signal.

The general manager of GTV Channel 9 (Mr. Colin Bednall) said yesterday that Government spokesmen had said a Sydney – Melbourne beam was impossible.

“When the word ‘impossible’ is mentioned, our boys sit up and take notice,” Mr. Bednall said.

A family attend the 3rd Test at the SCG.

A family attend the 3rd Test at the SCG.Credit:D. Beal

Truck Bogged

“It is the engineers who have cracked this one, all credit belongs to them,” he added.

An attempted test of the new temporary link failed last night when a television truck bogged down in rain in the Snowy River area.

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The test was to have been a relay of the ATN Channel 7 program In Sydney Tonight, to the GTV show In Melbourne Tonight.

Mr. Bednall announced during In Melbourne Tonight at 10:30 last night that the ATN truck was hopelessly bogged at Mt. Blackjack, and there was no possibility of its getting into position.

“At this stage it is fair to say we cannot promise to complete the link for tomorrow, but if skill and courage can do it, we will be there,” he said.

Mr. Bednall said the beams between five points had to be transmitted across the line of sight – it could be compared with a searchlight ray.

Up until now, these beams had been transmitted over distances of no more than 40 miles.

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