Toppled tower end of an era

Jon SolmundsonMidwest Times
VideoThe last of the old Brown Ranges radio towers, just outside of Carnarvon, is demolished - after 46 years of service. Video: Powerfone

One hundred metres of metal came crashing down outside Carnarvon last week, as the final old Radio Australia tower at Brown Range came toppling down.

Powerfone Communications managing director Joe Santo said the tower had “passed its expiry date”, and taking it down made way for a new communications mast that would take the old tower’s place.

The demolition effort was handled by Powerfone and Vinsan Demolition, who brought the tower down about 9.30am last Wednesday.

Demolition contractor Frank Di Angelo said they had been preparing for a couple of days before felling the tower, but had not notified the media or Carnarvon locals to avoid accidentally putting anyone who came out to watch in danger. The tower was brought down through “induced collapse”, which Mr Di Angelo said involved some incision cutting into the base struts of the tower, then pulling it over with cables attached to earthmoving equipment.

The towers were erected in 1975, on the grounds of the old NASA tracking station, which had operated in the 10 years before, to assist manned space flight and satellite tracking (including the moon landing in 1969).

Radio Australia used the towers after cyclone Tracy disabled their Darwin facility on Christmas eve of 1974.

The five-tower site sported four hanging “curtain antennas”, hung between the towers, and broadcasting began on December 20, 1975, continuing until the station closed on July 31, 1996.

Although the tower stopped functioning as a broadcast station, it was used as a mobile communications tower, a job which has since been replaced by a slimmer vertical mast at the same site.

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