HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD OIL TO GILES

 

(Courtesy Ian Ogilvie)

 

From 1968 to 1970 Ian Ogilvie worked in Natmapís Aerodist Section. In the field Ian worked mainly in Queensland and the Northern Territory operating an Aerodist Remote unit during line measuring operations. In 1968 Ian and Terry Douglas occupied an Aerodist station on Saumarez Reef in the Coral Sea, some 330km north-east of Gladstone, Queensland.

 

On leaving Natmap, Ian trained as a Meteorological Observer and spent a term at the Giles Meteorological Station in WA. Ianís time at Giles, in 1973, turned out to be more eventful than most as the following from an internal newsletter explains.

 

Giles station in W.A. is generally regarded as being located in semi-arid country, but early this year [1973] it became well and truly isolated after record rainfall. On February 22, 217.2mm of rain fell and the February monthly total of 312.2mm was the highest recorded.

 

The airstrip and roads were severely damaged by extensive flood waters and it became necessary for the station to restrict power usage - from February until a fuel truck arrived on June 30.

 

The station remained operational with the assistance of RAAF Caribou aircraft which delivered fuel and stores during April and early June. The fuel restrictions meant no power or lights after 9pm and the diesel mechanic, K. Gowley, had to get up at 3am each day to start the generators. Observers S. M. Inglis, I. Ogilvie and B. Hewett and cook L. Bartel played an important role in repairing the road and the air strip. Road repairs (which included filling in bog areas with cement) were successfully carried out by the meteorological crew to a distance of 65km away from the station.

 

However, the relief fuel truck became bogged about 200km from Giles and the station grader, with a support vehicle and staff, was sent to its aid. The fuel truck eventually arrived at the station on June 30, two days before the departure of the out‑going staff.

 

SA Regional Director Allan Brunt wrote to Evan Lee, the OIC at Giles, expressing the Bureau's gratitude to all at the station for a job well done under the very trying conditions experienced during most of their tour of duty. Everyone came through with flying colours. Director Bill Gibbs also added his appreciation.

 

Some of Ianís photos are available below. One of the last Natmap field parties to use Giles as a temporary base was the 1979 Laser Profiling party. Photos taken at that time show the region returning to its desert characteristics.

 

Giles looking south to the Great Victoria Desert

The Rawlinson Range to the north-west of Giles

Giles Meteorological Station and airstrip, 1973

Giles Meteorological Station, 1973

RAAF de Havilland (Canada) Caribou aircraft landing at Giles with supplies

RAAF de Havilland (Canada) Caribou aircraft departing Giles after unloading

Bogged fuel truck en-route Giles

Giles Meteorological Station and airstrip, 1979

Giles Meteorological Station, 1979