Westlakes first 50
Years - Part-1
We have long heard that the Westlakes
Amateur Radio Club was formed in 1964, but the idea got
under way a few years earlier at the Central Coast Field
Day at Gosford in 1960. The Idea was promoted by Keith
Howard VK2AKX and it started by forming a radio hobby
class at the Booragul High School.
Classes were held in 1964 with the aid of the Youth
Radio Scheme and the school group used the call VK2AKX.
Two years earlier, in 1962, the call sign VK2ATZ had
been issued to the Booragul High School Radio Club in
readiness for the "perhaps" and yet-to-be-named radio
club. in 1964, the school group ceased to be and
Westlakes was formed, taking over VK2ATZ as its official
Local amateurs became interested in a new club and the first
inklings of better things to come came from those who
attended electronics classes held in the garage of
"Belmont Bob" VK2BOB at Belmont. This group finally
chose the name "Westlakes", but it was very nearly
In April 1964, a meeting was held in the church hall in Railway
Street, Teralba. It was then and there that Westlakes
Amateur Radio Club was officially formed. The club
shared the hall with a kindergarten. Soon aerials went
up, Morse was taught, and the first of the teenage and
adult members got their own amateur licences. Youth
Radio Scheme classes were held on a Saturday afternoon
and the adult classes on a Wednesday night.
It was during these humble beginnings that "Electronics On The Air"
was born. Two operators, two call signs, Keith VK2AKX
and Jan Oostervene VK2BJO, regular call backs were
received from as far away as New Zealand. The broadcast
was carried out on
7.050 MHz. One venture at the Railway Street Teralba
location was the construction of a semi-professional
broadcasting booth. The venture went as far as having
two sheets of glass with an air gap as this was supposed
to minimise the transfer of sound waves through air, it
didn't work! Club member David Russell VK2BSC (an ABC
Broadcasting Engineer) came up with the solution that
one of the panels of glass had to be set at a slight
angle to the other. They could not be parallel.
This was sorted abd the broadcast had a very
professional sound. Another thing which Keith Howard
introduced at the beginning of all official broadcasts
was the sounding (on air) of three gongs from an
xylophone. This set Westlakes aside as a professional
broadcaster until the Authority of the time came down
heavily and said 'no,no,no.
and one transmitter, and "Dorothy Dix" style questions
and answers. This was highly illegal on any amateur
band, but anyone listening would have thought it was
thought a genuine two-way contact.
Another way locals found out about the club was through a column in
the Newcastle Morning Herald. It was called, "News for
Radio Amateurs". The name of the journalist was Jennifer
Cox. I (Paul Linsley VK2BPL) was in fact at the Club in
Railway Street Teralba on numerous occasions when she
came to collect news relative to the Club. On one
particular occasion I had bought my three transistor
super-regerative radio receiver (which was a project for
the Youth Radio Scheme) to the Club and she noticed it
and came and interviewed me about it. The comment
(however small) was in the Saturday morning edition.
Keith Howard was not know especially for coming to the
Club 'in drag' and Jennifer Cox was a very pretty young
girl in her late teens, early twenties so I think I
would have known the difference. Jennifer's father Frank
Cox was a 'full call' Radio Amateur who held a senior
position at the Newcastle Morning Herald. She
also had another column, "Out and About with Jennifer
Cox". Funny enough, it always mentioned Westlakes and
the time, place and details of the club's weekly fox
Westlakes Monthly Newsletter started as a single issue sheet in
1967 and has not missed an issue since. What started as
a simple duplicated sheet has developed today into a
first rate monthly magazine. Its quality and content are
unmatched by any radio club publication in the country.
A name change for the club was a close thing in its first year of
existence. The name "Westlakes" was derived from a
general classification of the local area. As members
were now joining from further afield, many though the
name be changed to "Northumberland" to imply a wider
coverage and influence. It didn't happen.
The first Annual General Meeting was held in late 1964 after a
steering committee had drafted a proposed constitution
and by-laws. After a few years, there was a push by the
local council to upgrade the old Railway Street church
hall in Teralba. This meant an increase in rent and due
to the club's meager funds the search was on for
something more affordable. The committee decided to
accept an offer to be housed in the old "Royal Theatre"
building in Anzac Parade, Teralba. This building was
certainly larger but very dilapidated. The year was
1970 was a very progressive year as the club forged ahead in leaps
and bounds. This was the time that the motto, "Progress
Through Activity" came into being. Club members would
operate portable in the Wattagan Ranges, Mt Munibung and
the Teralba Quarry Hill, during contests
and attend home and away fox-hunt field days. But
"Progress Through Activity" came to a sudden halt in
1972. The Royal Theatre became no longer available.
Every stick of timber the club had erected for partitions and such
was dismantled and placed in storage. That storage area
was the Teralba Hardware Shop (now closed) on the corner
of Anzac Parade and York Street. Today, that stored
timber forms many of the inside walls of the present
The next two years were to be the toughest in the club's history.
It was dismal time as the club had moved to a disused,
cramped church hall in Ranclaud Street, Booragul. This
was the newsletter birthplace of "Mr Vigilance", the
Westlakes cat. During the years until 1973, secret
negotiations were being held with select people at Lake
Macquarie City Council to obtain a most appropriate site
of land at Teralba. Our three "in on the deal" were
Brian Jones VK2BRD, Joe Waugh VK2IQ, and Max McLachlan.
Later that year, a cartoon of a very wet, black cat
appeared in the club's newsletter. The caption read,
"The Cat's out of the bag!" meaning that the deal had
been done and everyone could be told. The "treasure"
land was in York Street, Teralba and was actually a lake
flood plain on an unmade street. The same team located a
disused ex-RAAF Rathmines hut had been abandoned at Dora
Creek. The club only had to transport it somehow to
A donation of $500 by Bill Otty VK2ZL started the "Drop In The
Bucket" building fund. Five more members went guarantors
for a bank loan of $5,000 - a princely sum at that time.
It had taken ten years for Westlakes to get a permanent
home and if you close your eyes, it was beautiful. Our
new building was certainly a blot on the landscape and
there was much work to be done. It would take months for
our supporters who gave their time in droves. A
sprinkling of those supporters are still with us.
During the period before the relocated RAAF hall in York Street was
ready for occupation, classes went on as usual at the
hall in Ranclaud Street, Booragul. Another team, even on
cold winter nights, were toiling away using portable
lighting to get the building into a semblance of order.
The perimeters of the grounds were covered with heaps of
demolition and construction debris and the area soon
degenerated into a local unofficial dumping ground, from
time to time, the mounds of debris were bulldozed free
of charge by somebody who knew someone. It was the
desire of both the club and the Council that the "dump
image" not get out of hand.
An extension to the south of the building was built to contain the
"secretary's office" with a space left for non-existing
toilets. A little skullduggery in the right direction
saw the local State Member of Parliament gaining the
club a government grant to install the toilets. That now
ex-local parliamentarian remains today, a patron of the
club. The original entry to the club was directly
opposite the existing Secretary's office.
Click here to read