29 Nov 2012
By Kevin Sadler

Working on the Warrnambool Exchange


I’ve been working on the Telstra network for 38 and a half years and I have never seen anything like the mess I saw when I walked in the Warrnambool Exchange.

Now I live in Millthorpe, just out of Orange in NSW. When I went to work last Thursday I thought I was in for a normal day. Peter, my boss, called me just before midday and told me about the fire at the Warrnambool Exchange and asked if I would help out. I went home, packed a bag and started driving. I overnighted in Geelong and got into Warrnambool Friday morning and got to work on the job  I’d come to do – getting our customers connected.

The first three days were pretty long days, but since Monday we’ve been organised into 12 hour shifts, and I’m pretty pleased that I’ve drawn the day shift, working from 7:00am to 7:00pm. The works pretty tiring because you’ve got to be absolutely sure about what you’re doing, and being spot on with getting it right. You start repairing at the power level, then the high order transmission boxes, then work your way down the chain. You can’t connect a customer’s service back up until you’ve got all the infrastructure rebuilt to connect it in to.

It’s been a real team effort in our repair work. You’ve got construction and maintenance blokes who are working side by side, across each other and even sometimes on top of each other!  The team have just been great – while it’s hard work and we’re all tired I haven’t heard a cross word yet.

The working conditions down here are improving day by day. The aircon came back on on about Saturday and the dehumidifiers were connected up yesterday. Of course this is for the equipment, but it’s making it easier for all the team. A couple of the local techs have taken over the catering – and they’re doing a great job, but I must say I’m getting a little bored of BBQ and Pizza.

The people at the motel I’m staying at are also really good to us. They must have about 20 of us staying there, and they’ve been really helping out with looking after us and checking if we need any washing done and so on.

Right now, I have to say I feel a bit second hand and a bit of free time would be good – but it’s just not possible at the moment. I’m here for another week, and then I’ll head back home for a week – but I’ll be putting my hand up to come back after I’ve had a break. It’s so important that we get this Exchange back up and running. And you know what, this is the sort of thing, and the kind of team that you’ll look back on later on and go “I’m proud I was part of it”.

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Posts: 2


  1. Sega says:


    Thanks for coming down & keep up the good work, pass my sentiements on to the rest of the crew as well. Great story and nice to know about this from an insider. I hope your story gets released by the media crew to the wider local media. Such a big geographical area affected, and mainly rural folk who appriciate this kind of human insight.

    To the PR bods, how about a job offer :-P

  2. Gary Brack says:

    Kevin, we’re not there but we’re with you. Power on. Best Wishes Gary

  3. James (employee) says:

    So proud to be a Telstra employee after reading stories like this. Kevin & his colleagues will never get the thanks they deserve – most people will never know the massive amount of hard work & sacrifice that’s gone into getting Warrnambool back online.

    Thanks Kevin for sharing, and thanks for your efforts.

  4. Katie says:

    Thanks for sharing Kevin – I’m not only proud of what Telstra does day in day out, especially around these types of circumstances, I’m incredibly proud to call you a colleague :)

  5. Steve says:

    As one tech to another, good job. You have a hell of a task in front of you and most people have no appreciation whatsoever of what it takes to rebuild this sort of shattered infrastructure.
    Some of us have a good inkling, and we’re applauding from the cheap seats.

  6. Wade (Employee) says:


    ive got a really close friend who lives in Port Fairy who was directly impacted by this incident- we talk everyday by phone and sms or message on Facebook- so obviously the fire threw a real spanner in the works…!

    We went from not being able to talk at all on Thursday morning to now being able to text and talk and whatever else with minimal delay or service disruptions- and thats only been made possible through the efforts of yourself and your colleagues, and the huge effort undertaken.

    So congratulations and a massive thank you for a job well done to you and all involved- there are at least two people who are very aware, and direct beneficiaries of your efforts… they are hugely appreciated. Thank you!

  7. Chris Anderson says:

    As an ex technician in the geelong region and doing my training in the late 80′s installing and repairing excahnge equipment I commend you guys for what you are doing. I recently attended the OCC2 session in melbourne and have recently briefed my team on OCC2. My Telstra Stories are all about how the people in this company making it happen in times of need. Well done.

  8. Jon says:

    Guys – from one cabler to another – well done! I haven’t worked at that level for 10 years but know first hand what frustrations, conditions and feelings of satisfaction you’re experiencing. Glad to see there’s still some of us that can work on copper!


  9. Putros Malki (employee) says:

    What a sensational effort, and a terrific example of the commitment and dedication of Telstra employees doing what is needed to get our customers connected. Well done Kevin to you and everyone that has been involved. Thank you.

  10. Lee Hayhoe says:

    Thank you to All who are onto this and getting us back to be able to be connected

    I am amazed at the speed of how it has progressed considering the damage

    All the Best to the Crew

  11. Les Martin says:

    Good on you Bloke ! Just the great Aussie worker spirit ! The peeps of Warrnambool should get a committee of catering going for you! Surely that can be done ? Good old home cooking , Nanna’s cakes etc ….

  12. Geoff Dridan says:

    Don’t know if you guys are aware but Camperdown phones are now off and have been for a day now. We were able to make local calls up to yesterday. I worked with NDC at the end of last century and spent a fair bit of time working in the Warrnambool Exchange on the AXE and the Optic fibre systems. From what I have seen you have a huge job in front of you. Your efforts are appreciated, keep up the good work boys/girls!!!

  13. charles says:

    To all the techs at the warrnambool exchange,
    as a telstra customer running a small business in the Warrnambool region, I really appreciate the amount of effort, time, and resources you guys are throwing at this. to get such a mammoth task undertaken so quickly and with so little fuss from a customer’s perspective it really is amazing.

    I dips me lid to you all.

    • Gary Brack says:

      Hi Charles, as one of the many Telstra staff watching and supporting our team at the site I’m sure your comments will undoubtedly lift the spirit. Thanks so much for your understanding and uplifting words. Best wishes for the season, Gary

  14. Lee Thompson says:

    As a former exchange tech and colleague I salute the fantastic work that is going on down in Warrnambool. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks are very rare these days but you and your co-workers deserve more that you will get.

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Alistair says:

    Kevin, what can we say? Yes we are struggling with our business big time communication wise. We have had great help from a local tech (Bill), WCC, and eResources to get what we have back. We know our other services will be a few weeks but blokes like you Kevin put in all in perspective. My only wish is that the rest of Australia could read your blog and realise that there is such a huge problem in our area. When this is all repaired, I hope Telstra together with the whole community can have a community gathering (BBQ) with all you technicians to thank you for everything you have all done. Merry Xmas to you all.

  16. Elizabeth (Employee) says:

    Thanks for sharing Kevin. Amazing work.

  17. Sue Single says:

    Very proud of you Kevin and all the hard work you and your team are doing to get Warrnambool back on line.

  18. Alan says:

    Reading these comments and seeing the pictures of the devestation reminds me of the drama back in 1961 when the CIVIC Exchange in Canberra burnt to the ground. Being one of a hundred or so PMG technical staff relocated to Canberra to help restore services to the city.
    50 yrs on, I never thought that it could happen again.

  19. Richard says:

    As an Ex Tech, thanks for all the work you guys are putting in. Can you tell us what the cause of the fire was?

  20. Adrian Van Der Byl says:

    This certainly brings back memories of the days I was in NDC. That kind of infrastructure will take a while to rebuild.

  21. Giles (employee) says:

    Hello Kevin,

    As a PM in the TEG stream I witnessed how Telstra dealt with the Queensland flood disaster recently, and am so proud to work for this company because of the faith I have in the “can-do” professional Telstra tech attitudes I have experienced.
    It shouldn’t take a disaster for your team to get recognised…I recognise you do this stuff everyday.

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