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VK2ATZ Australia flag Australia

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QSL: QSL VIA VK2 QSL BURO AND LOTW PSE

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Please have a look
at our Website at
www.westlakesarc.org.au
This site managed by VK2HV for Westlakes ARC Inc with Full permission

WARC Home of the VK2 National Outwards Qsl Buro

WARC also runs the Westlakes Cup ( Full details on our web page )

WARC hosted VK100WIA from Fri 29th Oct till Sun 31st Oct 2010

VK4XJJ (Jeff's Walk 2) walk from East to West across Australia http://jeffswalk2.com

Westlakes Amateur Radio Club was established in 1964 by the late Keith Howard VK2AKX and has recently celebrated its 45th Year of operation.

Weare the largest Amateur Radio Club in Australia with about 300 members and have our own clubrooms set on an acre of land for members use.

The Clubis located just to the Southwest of Newcastle (QF57TA) on the shores of beautiful Lake Macquarie.

Westlakes members are involved in virtually every aspect of Amateur Radio from Digital Modes SSTV, PSK31 etc to Satellite, MF, HF, VHF, UHF and SHF activity and experimentation.

Members are very involved in Contesting both nationally and internationally on all modes.

Westlakes is a proud affiliate of the Wireless Institute of Australia and is very active in the WIA Education Programme training and assessing in the Australian Foundation, Standard and Advanced Licence Programmes.

Westlakes also hosts a number of broadcasts on various frequencies during the week.

WARC President is SJ BEVERIDGE ( VK2LW ) VK2EO is our Web Master

VK2ATZ WWLH weekend at Norah Head L/H AU-0024

VK4HFO Racks 'em up

Tim VK4HFO of Lamb Island Queensland with the use of Westlakes ARC call sign VK2ATZ/P had a lot of fun last month for 1 week.He mainly operated on CW with a tally of 22 Countries of which 1 was 6V7W,which is fairly rare on 7 Mhz these days.Congratulations Tim on a job well done

WESTLAKES FIRST 46 YEARS
1964 - 2010

We have long heard that the Westlakes Amateur Radio Club was formed in 1964, but the idea actually 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 the yet-to-be-named radio club. In 1964, the school group ceased to be and Westlakes was formed, taking over VK2ATZ as its official call.

Local amateurs became interested in a new club and the first inklings of bigger 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 "Eastlakes".

In April 1964, a meeting was held in the church hall in Railway Street, Teralba. It was then and there that Westlakes 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, one microphone, 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 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. This was of course, a "nom-de -plume. Some readers thought they recognised the writing style of VK2AKX. She also had another column, "/Out and About with Jennifer Cox/". Funnily enough, it always mentioned Westlakes and the time, place, and details of the club's weekly fox hunts.

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 should 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 meagre 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 Avenue, Teralba. This building was certainly larger but very dilapidated. The year was 1969.

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. It was also the time to watch the young students swarming down from the Teralba train station on a Saturday afternoon. Club members would operate portable in the Wattagan Ranges 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 Avenue and York Street. Today, that stored timber forms many of the inside walls of the present clubrooms.

The next two years were to be the toughest in the club's history. It was a 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 same year, a cartoon of a very wet, black cat appeared in the club 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 that had been abandoned at Dora Creek. The club only had to transport it somehow to Teralba.

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 closed 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 the non-existing toilets. A little skulduggery in the right direction saw the local State Member of Parliament gaining the club a government grant to install and connect 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.

In mid-1974, the club shifted from Booragul to Teralba. The building fund which had many slogans "A Drop In The Bucket", No More Snags" etc was very much in the scheme of things. All through 1975, things were on the improve. AOCP classes went on amid the building work. The club's first radio tower, now with the HF log periodic antenna, came from Lake Munmorah Power Station and was erected by their apprentices. The tall tower, down in the swamp, came from up Maitland way where it served as a mast for a radio beacon.

For a while, the "swamp" tower was used as a vertical antenna for 160 metre transmissions until a very high tide took out the tuner box. This tower could be named the /VK2BRD Tower /as Brian Jones did most of the aerobatics during its erection.

In late 1975, the club building had its official opening. A plaque outside the secretary's office marks the occasion. A field day was held for the opening and a giant raffle as well. The day was attended by representatives of local, state, and federal levels. It was also the event of dedicating the W S Otty Training Wing. The sign is still on view today although its use has mainly passed into history.

Within the next three years, the bank loan of $5,000 for which five members had gone surety, was paid back. At the next field day in 1977, the club's pride and joy - a new radio shack - was displayed. it was so irresistible that a beak-in took place by removing the screws from the hallway observation window. Luckily, the gear stolen was recovered by a Maitland amateur.

Meanwhile the Government's amateur radio examiners went on strike. This meant that the first ever Novice Exam was never held. Westlakes had been pushing for the Novice Licence whilst others were pushing for legalised CB. Early in 1976, the cancelled Novice Exam paper turned up in the mail - no one knew from where. It was to be the starting point for a book, /"A Manual of Questions and Answers for the Novice/ /Licence",/ published by Westlakes.

This book by Keith Howard VK2AKX would be in demand for many years and it achieved record sales of more than 30,000 copies. Generous returns from this source made possible the construction of the northern wing containing the QSL bureau, activity room, and the library/meeting room. The club also sold Morse practice tapes fro 5 to 15 wpm. The originals were sent by hand key by Roger Davis VK4AAR. Another publication sold by the club was /"QSO JA Now!"/ The book came with an audio cassette containing common Japanese amateur radio phrases. It was recorded by Etsuko Howard.

A typical Westlakes "trick" was the mysterious arrival of counterfeit copies of the /Amateur Regulations/. These had last produced by the Government Printer in 1978 and were strictly copyright. Unfortunately they were out of print and yet the Department of Transport and Communications continued to hold amateur exams even though there were no /Regulations/ for candidates to study. Westlakes gave away hundreds of copies of the counterfeit versions at the Gosford field day - for a small donation of course. An official enquiry as to the source of the counterfeit copies was a waste of time - nobody knew anything. The only clue was inside the back cover in tiny print, "ME FAT PRINTER H.K."

During 1978, a Westlakes Tuesday night net went to air on 80 metres. It was well supported at first but finally went the way of many good ideas. After CB was legalised, many CB'ers were attending the club's Novice classes and joining the club. Some of these folk had bipartisan ideas and attitudes and so came the fear of existing members.

Westlakes Radio Club decided to become a company, including in its name, the words "Amateur" and Ltd." It would now be run by directors who had to hold an amateur licence. The reason was obvious - to stop "CB boom" members stacking meetings and taking over the club. It was a time of ill-will between amateurs and CB'ers for on midnight on 26 July 1977, radio amateurs lost the 27 MHz band to CB.

Westlakes launched its one and only DXpedition in 1979 to Lord Howe Island and had special Event QSL cards printed. This provided the bureau with year's of work. Whilst on the bureau, Westlakes has run it on behalf of the WIA (NSW) Division since 1980. Just how the club came to that arrangement is a story in itself. It is fair to say the bureau was "hijacked" on its way to Sydney.

Another group in the Hunter had been running the bureau and it had been decided to send it back to the WIA in Sydney. But the hired truck was intercepted, "Dick Turpin" style at Charlestown and the driver told there was a change in plan and to deliver the lot to Westlakes Club at Teralba. One can imagine the amazement and annoyance of those non-club members when they found out that the VK2 QSL Bureau was up and running, not in Sydney to where it was dispatched, but in York Street Teralba! Yet another Westlakes "trick".

The amount of work performed by volunteers sorting QSL cards at Westlakes has been amazing. Alex VK2ZM has dispatched all outwards cards, single handed, since 1979. That was also the year that the club first participated in the Conference of Clubs ideal which still limps along today.

To show that Westlakes was all /Progress Through Activity/, the club created its own solar-powered 2 metre repeater. Located at the Bar Fire Tower in the Wattagan Ranges, the repeater had lack-lustre performance in most of the planned service area. Several sites were tried but ongoing performance problems led to its demise. It has since been replaced with the excellent service enjoyed today - maintained at no cost to the club by Peter VK2ZTV.

In 1980 came a suggestion from a local gastronome and member, Les VK2AXZ. He offered to write and publish a recipe book containing tried and tested dishes. It was called the /AXZ Cookbook/ and all the income went to the club. One thousand were printed and the cost $2 each. They took 12 years to sell them but they all went out the door - a nice little earner.

Then it was time for more adventurous ideas. Next was to be the Novice Contest. The Westlakes Novice Contest was the inspiration of club member, Paul Linsley, ex VK2NDL, P29PL, and now VK2BPL. His idea was taken up by the club to promote operating skills and experience to newcomers to the hobby. This contest proved so popular that the WIA wanted to take over. The Federal President of the WIA Wally Watkins VK2DEW thought the contest a great idea but stressed that an organisation other than the WIA conducting it might be construed as "dividing the camp."

Westlakes donated its own original perpetual trophy to the WIA to be given to the winner. After several years under the new management, the trophy became "lost". Westlakes donated a second trophy to the WIA - that one was still in use up to 2002, the last year the Novice Contest was ever held. In the club library there hangs two Novice Contest Certificates. One is a Westlakes original, the other is the WIA copy. Pick the difference, if you can.

The AGM of 1984 saw the retirement of the club treasurer, Max McLachlan, after 20 years service. By 1985 much improvement to the clubrooms had taken place, fibro wall cladding, aluminium windows, and false ceilings had been added. Also that year, the club celebrated its 21st birthday with a function at the Lakeside Motel at Warners Bay. The place was packed on a very rainy night by members and guests.

Westlakes was in a period of affluence as never before in its history. Membership was heading towards 400 - easily the largest amateur radio club in the land. It was free of debt and entirely owned by its members. New blood had arrived in the form of dozens of new, younger members made the future bright.

This new generation superceded the high school teenagers who had swarmed to the club two decades before. But after this period the knowledge of radio construction and repair was only average. With the advent of computers, solid state gear, and simplified amateur exams and licence grades, it was inevitable that technical ability would decline. The licence came first and the knowledge came second - if ever.

A good example of this was the benches that lined the main common area. These had been once set up with multiple Scope soldering stations for members to learn

construction techniques and to make things. It all became obsolete in favour of a single soldering iron in the activities room.

By the late 1980's, most of the refurbishing chores were out of the way. Painting, carpet laying, curtain making, and tiling, had kept up the appearance. The finest examples are perhaps the /Keith Howard VK2AKX/ classroom and the /Joe Waugh/ /VK2IQ/ radio room.

In 1985, Westlakes entered a float in the Newcastle Mattara Procession. The float featured the "porcupine" vehicle of Phil VK2IW. Dennis VK2XDW had made an imaginative rotating display for the top of the vehicle and it was seen by thousands on the live television coverage of the procession.

Besides celebrating 21 years in 1985, there was the first of the club logo T-shirts on which personal call signs were emblazoned. These swamped the Gosford Field Day in 1986. Later on that year, we assisted in message handling after the Mexican Earthquake. a certificate for this is on display in the club library. this experience would give club members an advantage in message handling with WICEN - four unforeseen years later.

In 1986, trial exams were held and a Morse induction loop was installed in the class room and a dozen sets of cordless headphones purchased. This exactly simulated the equipment used by radio inspectors when conducting the official Morse exams.

The best supported radio affair at this time was the Thursday Night Net on the club's 2 metre repeater. It was dubbed the /"John and Rudy Show."/ Run by John VK2ZJC and Rudy VK2FIM, it ran for years and was the highlight of the week. Many a scanner listener found their way to the club via these sessions. Like all good things, it slowly came to an end.

In 1987, members were fairly-well split on whether novices should be given access to the 2 metre band. Also the Council donated dozens of tree seedlings which members planted all around the grounds. Then, they were only inches high and today, the resulting trees have to seen to be believed. It was also the year that Westlakes repeater VK2RTZ changed frequency from pager-ridden 147.100 to 146.775 MHz. Specialised monthly lectures were initiated in the club library and were well attended.

1988 was the Bicentennial year. A Westlakes Call Book was created listing members and non-members alike. It had been sourced entirely from our own records to avoid the ire of the WIA who claimed copyright. Even the name was slightly altered and when this was pointed out, threats of legal action ceased. Ours was titled, /"Call Book",/ the WIA version, /"Callbook."/ Westlakes Call Book was produced until 1990 but fell into abeyance.

The Bicentennial Exhibition - an amazing travelling tent show arrived in town and was set up at Broadmeadow. Westlakes was given space and set up a portable station on HF, VHF, and UHF. A team of volunteers made 1,500 contacts, each were awarded a special VK2ATZ Bicentennial QSL card. Also, 4,000 information sheets on amateur radio were handed to the visiting public. It all lasted for five days and was Westlakes largest and longest portable operation.

A special project in 1988 was the club's popular QRP CW kit. A special contest went with it to increase interest. 1 watt out, crystal locked on 80 metres, yet many contacts were made inter-state and to New Zealand. The kits cost $10 and the club sold 200 of them. A good number are still in use today. Later that year, some thought that the end of amateur radio was near ...... novices on 2 metres became a reality!

The popular daybreak Saturday morning Westlakes "Stone the Crows" net first went to air and it still runs today. In 1989, the club's Sunday news segment spread to 7 MHz and in the CW mode too. This lasted almost 3 years before fading away. The year ended with a bang - the Newcastle Earthquake.

Not all moves by the club have been an instant success. In 1990, it was thought a good idea to sponsor a 2 metre repeater on Mount Arthur, near Muswellbrook. The frequency 146.875 MHz and the call sign VK2RZL was obtained from the authorities. The plan was to establish a 23 cm link from VK2RZL to Westlakes main repeater VK2RTZ on the Sugarloaf Range. It was to be thirteen years later, in 2003, that VK2RZL was first heard load and clear from Mount Arthur.

1990 was to witness a tragedy. It was the untimely death of club founder and mentor, Keith Howard VK2AKX. He was 59 years old. The main class room has been dedicated to his memory. During ITU in 1990, a roster of club members spent a total of 3 days, 3 hours, and 27 minutes sending non-stop CW. A claim for a world record was sent to the /Guinness/ /Book of Records/. It has never been bettered.

The club also conducted the first of the deregulated amateur examinations. Many passed the test with the aid of the magic "Westlakes CW Coherer Pills". The year saw the beginnings of "Radio Fests" in the club grounds with the popular "no reserve" auctions. Easter Saturday 1991 was the start of the 8 am "April Fools' Net". It all started as a joke as that Saturday was also 1st April. The net still runs today and gives news of Saturday afternoon club activities. It has been aptly renamed the "Ezybee Net" in memory of its originator, Eric VK2EZB.

The "Back to Westlakes Day", driven by Tom Libbesson VK2AWL, was another real success. Tom's photographs of all those attending now form a prime record of many past members who a now Silent Keys. The cake was cut by Bill Munn VK2BMX and Joe Waugh VK2IQ as our longest-term members. The photographs are displayed today in the club library.

The very successful "Wonder Whizzer" 2 metre antennas, promoted by Joe VK2YJ were another winner for the club. And there was the "Top Band Net" on 160 metres, the Christmas dinners with impromptu entertainment, the lectures, the 1,000 ft high weather balloon long-wire antenna launched fro the club grounds, the 24 hour 160 metre ITU marathon from the club shack that made 104 contacts, the all night contesting for the Remembrance and Novice Contests ...... yes, the late 1990's was certainly a period of Progress Through Activity.

At this time another new breed joined the committee and quickly instigated much needed repairs and upgrading of club buildings. Thanks to a major effort by Geoff VK2EO a new colorbond steel roof replaced the original leaking asbestos one. Entrance doors were replaced and the front entry was completely rebuilt. The Westlakes shack was modernised, relined, and rewired, the classroom was refurbished, a concrete rear entry ramp constructed, ceramic tiles laid in the foyer, and a new air conditioner installed in the library.

The club buildings received their first ever coat of paint. Gone was the dull bare fibro cement cladding, replaced by heritage colours, cream and green. Next came the long-awaited and much-talked-about rear awning. It was constructed, running the entire length of the north-east wing and finished off with full-length seating underneath. Shade and weather protection at last! Many helped with this work but all knew that the brains and major toiler was Neil VK2KYG.

Many worthwhile savings initiatives were adopted by the new committee, prompted no doubt by the escalating cost of all the repairs. Separate repeater licences were combined, and VK2ZL was relinquished leaving VK2ATZ as Westlakes original, and now only, call sign. The long-standing auditing firm was changed as was the club's insurer - both at a lower cost.

It was back to the future when the club purchased a ride-on mower to eliminate the need for a commercial lawn mowing contractor. Terry VK2KTD took over that job. More savings came with technology when the monthly magazine was offered via email. Many chose this option which cut printing and mailing costs.

A big change took place in 2001. The CB boom had long passed and the fear of a takeover had faded into memory. So, "Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Ltd" became "Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc". The benefits of becoming an incorporated body were thought to be many. Some members thought they would have a direct say and a vote on how the club was to be run rather than just the company directors. But it would have paid those members have read the ?fine print? in the new constitution. But on a brighter side, the change meant that annual accounts and reports no longer had to be filed and fees paid to the Australian Securities Commission. Overall, it was a complicated change of the club?s affairs which was deftly handled by Dave VK2RD.

In late 2001, came sad news. Life member, Eric VK2EZB, passed away after a short illness. Eric had contributed so much to Westlakes progress in those early years when it struggled for existence. He served as Secretary and Editor - punching out the newsletter every month on a battered typewriter. His "Faceless" cartoons will be long remembered.

Then in 2002, a run of vandalism occurred at the Teralba premises. This was the first ongoing serious problems of this type that anyone could remember. Luckily, insurance covered most of the repair expenses but the repeated attempts of break-ins forced the club to install upgraded locks and doors as well as a state-of-the-art coded security and surveillance system.

Also in 2002, the club's Packet BBS received a change of location. It had been run an located at the Tanilba Bay QTH of Alan VK2CZZ since 1989. The new location was at East Maitland where the sysop was Bruce VK2EM. But it seemed that Packet had run its race and lack of activity saw the BBS close down in 2003. All the hardware was returned back to the club perhaps to be revived on another day.

2003 got off to a bad start with news that long-term member Les VK2AXZ had passed away. He kindly left his radio equipment to the club which no doubt prompted the committee to assess all of the equipment owned by the club. It was a long list but all of it was aging and some items barely usable. After a survey of all members, it t was all sold with the intention of refitting the radio room with new radios and modern accessories

On Australia Day 2003, Geoff VK2KEA led a team to mount a display of amateur radio in Speers Point Park. There were dozens of other groups and displays in the park and the event was sponsored by Lake Macquarie City Council. Another fine idea came from Les VK2ZPA who thought a meat tray raffle would be popular every Saturday afternoon. Was it ever! Perhaps the interest may wane but years later, these raffles were as popular as ever and make a tidy profit.

Satellite communications arrived at the Teralba clubrooms thanks to a donation of equipment by Dennis VK2DOR although it would take twelve months before the spectacular tracking antennas and their installation were completed. In another year, the idea lay abandoned.

In October 2003, the club's Saturday morning 6am 80 metre "Stone the Crows" net passed its 750th session and participants received a special QSL card. The net had been run from its inception by Ted VK2UI.

The next month, the Australian Communications Authority released "A Review of Amateur Service Regulation" - and were there some surprises! It dealt with proposals to eliminate Morse from amateur licensing, a Foundation Licence, changes to call signs, changes to reciprocal licensing, and a new interference policy. After an extensive consultation process, the ACA expected to bring in the changes by early 2005.

But it did not take that long for the elimination of Morse to take place. From 1 January 2004, the ACA announced that Morse qualifications ceased to be needed for access to the HF bands under 30MHz. This was the biggest change to the hobby since the introduction of the Limited Licence or Novice Licensees gaining access to 2 metres.

So welcome to 2004 and Westlakes 40th Anniversary year. A Function Committee was formed to plan of activities for this milestone. Special coffee mugs in black and gold commemorating the year were procured, a 40 Year Radio Contest was held Australia-wide, and a 40th Anniversary Christmas Dinner was organised. The venue was the public hall on the waterfront at Marmong Point. The event was a great success with 66 members attending and enjoying a spit-roast dinner. At this function, a special presentation award was made to ?The Clubman of the Year". It was won by Neil VK2KYG.

The ACA was not the only body to make 2004 a year of change. The Wireless Institute of Australia underwent a radical restructure after a grass root movement from its members. The State based divisions were dissolved and a "One WIA" or a single National WIA emerged. Part of the change was the commencement of a weekly National News Broadcast using the callsign VK1WIA and a imminent change was flagged that would affect Westlakes - the creation of one National QSL Bureau.

In August 2004, the decision was made for the club to enter the International Lighthouse/ Lightship Weekend Contest. Ten members participated, operating from a donated caravan which was parked near the Norah Head Lighthouse at the Norah Head Search and Rescue Base. Using the club call VK2ATZ this group made 225 contacts including 24 lighthouses and a maritime museum.

2004 also saw the revitalisation of mid-week activities at Westlakes. What started as dribble of newer members on a Tuesday evening, developed into a solid, regular group of up to twenty or so who were busy in all manner of radio operation and repairs. Together with the bumper attendances on Saturday afternoons, the club had never been busier.

Next came the restoration of the 85 ft radio mast in the swamp, last used many years before as a vertical antenna for 160 metres. It had fallen into an unusable condition through lack of maintenance and the ravages of time. Paul VK2BPL , Col VK2YP, and Brian VK2BI set to work and with a new matching network and coax feedline it was back on air in October 2004, relaying the club?s weekly news sessions. But within three months, the Lake Macquarie City Council started the much-needed ?5 Bridges Road? duplication which raised the water level in the ?swamp? and the tower base and matching network went underwater. The 160 metre antenna was quickly turned into an inverted V dipole. And at the beginning of 2005, the ?Stone the Crows Net? chalked up session No. 833.

2005 was the year which was seen by some as the ?beginning of the end?

and by others as the ?start of something great? for amateur radio. The event was the introduction of only three licence classes - Foundation, Standard, and Advanced. The Foundation Licence was the greatest change and a radically new method of assessment. Awkward four-letter ?F? call signs were introduced for the Foundation folk

In 2006, the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend was attended by club members for the third year in a row and it was the best one yet. The venue was the lighthouse at Norah Head and Central Coast Tourism assisted by producing flyers, local ABC radio broadcast interviews, and a television news crew from NBN televised the event. It was great publicity for Westlakes and amateur radio.

There have been eleven life members at Westlakes. The first was J B McLachlan in 1984, Eric Brockbank VK2EZB in 1987, Greg Smith VK2CW in 1996, and Paul Lorentzen VK2ATR, Alex Efimov VK2ZM, Les Payne VK2ZPA, Frank Mike VK2ZL, in 2002, David Myers VK2RD,

Geoff Clark VK2EO, Peter Sturt VK2ZTV (honorary), all in 2008, Frank Lusa in 2009.

Most of us take club activities for granted. Examples are the local Sunday news broadcasts which attract twenty-plus call backs every week. Another is our monthly magazine - and there is a lot of work to produce that. The burden for both these tasks fell on Frank VK2FJL who proved to be a real "find" and Westlakes Magazine improved out of bounds during the five years of Frank?s editorship.

Then there are the radio theory classes run several times a year. Countless local amateurs hold the licences today thanks to theses courses. There have been many lecturers over the years, Keith VK2AKX and Paul VK2ATR being the foremost. The task of Education Office was taken over by Paul VK2HMV and then Keith VK2PKT. In 2004 the club moved to a course of video lectures by Ron Bertrand VK2DQ which proved very popular.

Not many will know that the nightly slow Morse practice sessions on 80 metres was run entirely by Westlakes members 7 days a week, 365 days a year, operating as VK2BWI on behalf of the WIA. These operators gave their time willingly for 15 years to help others pass the dreaded Morse code. Unfortunately time took its toll and most of the operators became silent keys leaving the slow Morse practice reduced to two nights a week.

By 2006, the Foundation Licence had arrived and training had dramatically changed. Keith VK2PKT took over the role of Education Officer and within three months, there were 16 new club members sporting four letter ?F? calls, including Jessica Cobby VK2FJES, who at 9 years of age was the youngest licensed amateur in New South Wales.

In March 2006, one of our life members - Frank Mike VK2ZL passed away suddenly only a few hours after attending Westlakes sorting QSL cards. Frank was a popular figure at the club and carried out much work behind the scenes. At the AGM of 2006, our President, Geoff VK2EO, retired from the position after many years of outstanding service. Unanimously elected as President was Frank VK2FJL as well as is role as Broadcast Officer and Editor.

Another facility awaiting members at the club is the Store where all manner of bits and pieces - new and second hand - await a good home. A lasting service has been the canteen. It has gone through and burnt out a gamut of dedicated helpers. In 2006, a new Canteen Manageress, Gloria Brown, took charge of affairs - a welcome upgrade all around. You can get hot pies, cold drinks, ice creams - never missed until they are not there. The canteen has provided lavish spreads after each AGM, tasty specials each month, and everyday tea and coffee.

At the AGM in 2007, another shake-up for the club occurred. Virtually all previous office bearers were displaced and a new team set out to administer the affairs of the organisation with new zeal and a fresh interpretation of the Westlakes Constitution. Although these changes were not popular with some members, there was no denying that the new management team was democratically elected with an overwhelming mandate. Results and time would judge the wisdom of the change.

It did not take long for the biggest upheaval and upset in the club?s history to take place. The AGM of 2008 could be best described as a ?Donnybrook?. The election results of office bearers, the conduct of the ballot, the proprietary of the Returning Officer - all were called into question. Solicitors, legal action, and heavens-knows-what else were promised. 2008 seemed destined to become the worst year in Westlakes 44 year existence.

In 2009 things settled down - they had to. A new team of office bearers took over, and the club adopted a new constitution and operating procedures that would ensure the drama of the previous year could not reoccur. The long-standing standing treasurer of 11 years, Les VK2ZPA, did not seek election at the AGM of 2009. After years of promises, air conditioning finally arrived for the canteen and the store much to the relief of those occupants. The club?s Field Day in November was voted the best ever - our radio club was ?on the rails? once more.

Westlakes could never have been sustained if not for the support of its members. Every one of the hundreds of faces have played some roll in the club. Although some individuals have contributed so much, it is the multitude that has kept it al together and ticking over.

The club has mutated over time from a purely radio orientated organisation to something more diverse today. Many attend the club just for a chat and a social retreat. Something is always happening. Talk can range from slow scan television, computers, IRLP technology, radio propagation, chooks, and football.

Then again, that's what a good club is all about - it's fun to be there. The amazing thing is that the camaraderie seems stronger than ever and Westlakes thrives on it. Remember, /Progress Through Activity/ and enjoy your club into the future.

Written by : Eric VK2EZB years 1964 to 1985

Greg VK2CW years 1986 to 2010

Link to logbook online below

 
 
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