My name’s Jarrad Radke and thought I’d share a day in the life of a Remote Communications Technician during a decent ‘Wet Season’ in the East Kimberley, Western Australia.
My job for the day was to attend the Spring Creek Station radio tower on the Kununurra swing radio system to determine why the site wasn’t working – or what we call in the business, ‘isolated’ – leaving the residents at Spring Creek Station without service.
We were in the middle of what was shaping up to be a pretty good wet season here in the Kimberley and as such we had plenty of rain. Most of the unsealed roads we use in the dry season to access remote customers and infrastructure are closed, so when faults occur we have to use alternative transport to get to these places.
For this job we used Helispirit, the helicopter operator we use, which provided a LongRanger Helicopter to get technicians like me to the radio infrastructure sites servicing the Spring Creek Station.
For me, flying is always a big day requiring plenty of preparation to ensure you give yourself every chance of resolving the issue you’re inspecting. Remote technicians quite often head to the site with limited information and equipment, because the aircraft can only carry a limited amount of weight – so we need to consider what it is we need when it comes to parts, test equipment, tools, and interim satellite units.
On this particular day, after conducting various tests at both radio sites, we determined that an Omni Antenna had failed due to a suspected lightning strike at the site. A potential issue was also discovered with the feeder cable between the radio equipment and the antenna.
Both issues require specialised radio lines riggers to rectify them, so until they attend and resolve the issue with the external plant we needed to provide some form of interim service.
In this instance, the site was quite remote and had no mobile coverage so an Interim Satellite unit was installed at the Spring Creek Radio Station using the site’s 12v solar/battery power and a connection to the copper line between the radio and the homestead.
With assistance from our WA Radio SME Kev Donnellan, we diagnosed the fault, located it, raised the appropriate work orders to get this customer’s normal service rectified and provided an interim service.
After what turned out to be a long, extremely hot and humid day we headed home skirting around the eastern edge of Lake Argyle and through some normal afternoon storm activity, which is typical for this time of the year.
The view from the helicopter was amazing and the weather provided some spectacular scenery. There was water everywhere, all the creeks were running and waterfalls appeared out of the rocky mountain ranges along the Upper Ord River.
I hope this offers some insight into what it’s like as part of Telstra’s remote infrastructure network as well as the logistics involved in maintaining it.
An added bonus is the scenery around the sites I help maintain and I’m proud to be able to share these images with those who are unfamiliar with this remote part of Australia. Want to see more? Check out where my career has taken me before.
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