Saturday 12 May 2012: morsecodians
Today I spent a fantastic few hours at the Pickering Brook Show, a stone's throw down the road .
A 'true' country show in terms of machinery displays, local fruit and veggies, honey displays, 'Old MacDonalds farm' and the, now, usual side show alley. With scary faced gaping clowns and dodgems, stomach churning whizzy dizzy rides, show bags , a dinkum Punch and Judy Show, a Dianetics display ( now that was not expected) and beer tent there was something for everyone.
Highlight for me was the 'wood chop' which is HUGE and potentially bloody! deserving a blog of its own though I missed the 10kg Apple toss and tug-of -war which would have ranked right up there. Next year perhaps.
However the Morsecordians Fraternity display really took my fancy. A quartet of likely lads had set up two tables at opposite ends of the tent and those interested could write out a message, have it 'morsed' and receievd at the other table where a fellow morsecodian typed out the message on an Imperial ('not a bit of plastic in this' )typewriter in upper case Gothic font.
Also known as telegraphists, the last official message was sent by morse in Aus in 1961. Between Wyndham and Derby, here in WA, 1000km of distance was covered by 12 guage fencing wire strung on a variety of tree trunks and poles with two stations at Fitzroy Crossing and Turkey Creek where the linesmaen were stationed.
When the line went down, these guys trekked off to find out why, borrowing horses at local properties when rivers were impassable by vehicle. These, now, towns, are still isolated and must have been incredibly so in the early days of the telegraph.
When there was no electricity, car batteries were use and charged chemically, a full time job.
All this to get the message through and of course with the 'repeater stations' along the way, when the message was received and resent there was always the possibilty for slight alterations.
Amazing and these morsecodains I spoke to had all worked in way out of the way places and just LOVED it.
And the message I sent, across all of 20m!, was "Hello to the Languedoc from Pickering Brook Show".