Progress Through Activity

WESTLAKES
Amateur Radio Club Inc.

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Westlakes first 50 Years  -  Part 4

   But it did not take that long for the elimination of Morse to take place. From 1 January 2004, the ACA announced that Morse qualifications ceased to be needed for access to the HF bands under 30MHz. This was the biggest change to the hobby since the introduction of the Limited Licence or Novice Licensees gaining access to 2 metres.

   So welcome to 2004 and Westlakes 40th Anniversary year. A Function Committee was formed to plan of activities for this milestone. Special coffee mugs in black and gold commemorating the year were procured, a 40 Year Radio Contest was held Australia-wide, and a 40th Anniversary Christmas Dinner was organised. The venue was the public hall on the waterfront at Marmong Point. The event was a great success with 66 members attending and enjoying a spit-roast dinner. At this function, a special presentation award was made to ?The Clubman of the Year". It was won by Neil VK2KYG.

   The ACA was not the only body to make 2004 a year of change. The Wireless Institute of Australia underwent a radical restructure after a grass root movement from its members. The State based divisions were dissolved and a "One WIA" or a single National WIA emerged. Part of the change was the commencement of a weekly National News Broadcast using the callsign VK1WIA and a imminent change was flagged that would affect Westlakes - the creation of one National QSL Bureau.

   In August 2004, the decision was made for the club to enter the International Lighthouse/ Lightship Weekend Contest. Ten members participated, operating from a donated caravan which was parked near the Norah Head Lighthouse at the Norah Head Search and Rescue Base. Using the club call VK2ATZ this group made 225 contacts including 24 lighthouses and a maritime museum.

   2004 also saw the revitalisation of mid-week activities at Westlakes. What started as dribble of newer members on a Tuesday evening, developed into a solid, regular group of up to twenty or so who were busy in all manner of radio operation and repairs. Together with the bumper attendances on Saturday afternoons, the club had never been busier.

   Next came the restoration of the 85 ft radio mast in the swamp, last used many years before as a vertical antenna for 160 metres. It had fallen into an unusable condition through lack of maintenance and the ravages of time. Paul VK2BPL , Col VK2YP, and Brian VK2BI set to work and with a new matching network and coax feedline it was back on air in October 2004, relaying the club?s weekly news sessions. But within three months, the Lake Macquarie City Council started the much-needed ?5 Bridges Road? duplication which raised the water level in the ?swamp? and the tower base and matching network went underwater. The 160 metre antenna was quickly turned into an inverted V dipole. And at the beginning of 2005, the ?Stone the Crows Net? chalked up session No. 833.

   2005 was the year which was seen by some as the "beginning of the end"
and by others as the start of something great for amateur radio. The event was the introduction of only three licence classes - Foundation, Standard, and Advanced. The Foundation Licence was the greatest change and a radically new method of assessment. Awkward four-letter ?F? call signs were introduced for the Foundation folk

   In 2006, the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend was attended by club members for the third year in a row and it was the best one yet. The venue was the lighthouse at Norah Head and Central Coast Tourism assisted by producing flyers, local ABC radio broadcast interviews, and a television news crew from NBN televised the event. It was great publicity for Westlakes and amateur radio.

   There have been eleven life members at Westlakes. The first was J B McLachlan in 1984, Eric Brockbank VK2EZB in 1987, Greg Smith VK2CW in 1996, and Paul Lorentzen VK2ATR, Alex Efimov VK2ZM, Les Payne VK2ZPA, Frank Mike VK2ZL, in 2002, David Myers VK2RD,

Geoff Clark VK2EO, Peter Sturt VK2ZTV (honorary), all in 2008, Frank Lusa in 2009.

   Most of us take club activities for granted. Examples are the local Sunday news broadcasts which attract twenty-plus call backs every week. Another is our monthly magazine - and there is a lot of work to produce that. The burden for both these tasks fell on Frank VK2FJL who proved to be a real "find" and Westlakes Magazine improved out of bounds during the five years of Frank?s editorship.

   Then there are the radio theory classes run several times a year. Countless local amateurs hold the licences today thanks to theses courses. There have been many lecturers over the years, Keith VK2AKX and Paul VK2ATR being the foremost. The task of Education Office was taken over by Paul VK2HMV and then Keith VK2PKT. In 2004 the club moved to a course of video lectures by Ron Bertrand VK2DQ which proved very popular.

   Not many will know that the nightly slow Morse practice sessions on 80 metres was run entirely by Westlakes members 7 days a week, 365 days a year, operating as VK2BWI on behalf of the WIA. These operators gave their time willingly for 15 years to help others pass the dreaded Morse code. Unfortunately time took its toll and most of the operators became silent keys leaving the slow Morse practice reduced to two nights a week.

   By 2006, the Foundation Licence had arrived and training had dramatically changed. Keith VK2PKT took over the role of Education Officer and within three months, there were 16 new club members sporting four letter ?F? calls, including Jessica Cobby VK2FJES, who at 9 years of age was the youngest licensed amateur in New South Wales.

   In March 2006, one of our life members - Frank Mike VK2ZL passed away suddenly only a few hours after attending Westlakes sorting QSL cards. Frank was a popular figure at the club and carried out much work behind the scenes. At the AGM of 2006, our President, Geoff VK2EO, retired from the position after many years of outstanding service. Unanimously elected as President was Frank VK2FJL as well as is role as Broadcast Officer and Editor.

   Another facility awaiting members at the club is the Store where all manner of bits and pieces - new and second hand - await a good home. A lasting service has been the canteen. It has gone through and burnt out a gamut of dedicated helpers. In 2006, a new Canteen Manageress, Gloria Brown, took charge of affairs - a welcome upgrade all around. You can get hot pies, cold drinks, ice creams - never missed until they are not there. The canteen has provided lavish spreads after each AGM, tasty specials each month, and everyday tea and coffee.

   At the AGM in 2007, another shake-up for the club occurred. Virtually all previous office bearers were displaced and a new team set out to administer the affairs of the organisation with new zeal and a fresh interpretation of the Westlakes Constitution. Although these changes were not popular with some members, there was no denying that the new management team was democratically elected with an overwhelming mandate. Results and time would judge the wisdom of the change.

   It did not take long for the biggest upheaval and upset in the club?s history to take place. The AGM of 2008 could be best described as a ?Donnybrook?. The election results of office bearers, the conduct of the ballot, the proprietary of the Returning Officer - all were called into question. Solicitors, legal action, and heavens-knows-what else were promised. 2008 seemed destined to become the worst year in Westlakes 44 year existence.

   In 2009 things settled down - they had to. A new team of office bearers took over, and the club adopted a new constitution and operating procedures that would ensure the drama of the previous year could not reoccur. The long-standing standing treasurer of 11 years, Les VK2ZPA, did not seek election at the AGM of 2009. After years of promises, air conditioning finally arrived for the canteen and the store much to the relief of those occupants. The club?s Field Day in November was voted the best ever - our radio club was ?on the rails? once more.

   Westlakes could never have been sustained if not for the support of its members. Every one of the hundreds of faces have played some roll in the club. Although some individuals have contributed so much, it is the multitude that has kept it al together and ticking over.

   The club has mutated over time from a purely radio orientated organisation to something more diverse today. Many attend the club just for a chat and a social retreat. Something is always happening. Talk can range from slow scan television, computers, IRLP technology, radio propagation, chooks, and football.

   Then again, that's what a good club is all about - it's fun to be there. The amazing thing is that the camaraderie seems stronger than ever and Westlakes thrives on it. Remember, /Progress Through Activity/ and enjoy your club into the future.


Written by:
Eric VK2EZB, years 1964 to 1985 - Greg VK2CW,years 1986 to 2014

Updated: 29-11-2014, additional information by Paul Linsley VK2BPL, who joined the club in it's inaugural year 1964.

 

 

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Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc. York Street, Teralba NSW