My CB Life & ACRM NSW
You will all have to bear with me as my memory is fading as the years go on, so the dates are approximate to best of my memory.
I was born in Newcastle in 1956, I have been into CB radio since 1968 when I fried my first 16 channel AM CB in less than 6 hours after I got it. I had swapped a bike I had built for the AM CB, a power supply, a home made bracket to clip onto the house guttering, a 4 foot whip antenna, and a coax & base system. (I thought it was a great deal). But after about 6 hours of operation, with very few operators willing to talk much, the set went dead. I tried to get someone to look at it, but any technician I could find, ran & hid when I mentioned “CB radio”.
In those days it seemed that it was a term that was only whispered in the dark. I finally found another CBer that looked at it for me. “SWR? What is that?”, was my question. (My first lesson in CB’s.)
I made a few friends on air, and a few of my friends got hold of some walkie talkies, so we kept in contact as well.
In about 1972 I moved to Queensland, and again found it hard to get anyone to chat with, though things were getting a little better. It was then I bought my first 23 channel sideband set, a Midland from memory. I had found various ways to hide antennas over the years, but this often was at the expense of signal and output power. I finally bought a very basic short-wave set, so I became more daring with my antenna set-ups.
I moved from Queensland to Victoria, then to South Australia, this was probably in about 1973. Living there for a short time before moving back to Newcastle, where I met and married my first wife in 1976. We had our first child in 1978.
As there was no work in the area, we moved back to Riverland of South Australia to do some fruit picking. Not long after moving back there, I was recruited in A.C.R.M., Australian Citizens Radio Monitors. The main purpose of the group was to monitor the CB radio emergency channel for anyone in need of help. Vehicle breakdowns, motor accidents, farming accidents, tourist information, weather warnings, flood reports, Relaying Messages and much much more. Plus road reports on both the emergency & truckies channels. You must remember, this was long before mobile phones.
Although a lot of incidents were local, probably the greatest amount of calls, were relay calls, often taking calls from many, many kilometres away, even as far away as Western Australia & Queensland. (Skip was great back then).
We also helped with running & cycling marathons, & other local events as volunteers, helping with communications & what ever else they needed.
After only 18 months, we got home sick for Newcastle, so moved back to the Hunter Valley.
Still being a member of A.C.R.M., I had not realized that A.C.R.M. was not ‘officially’ in NSW at that stage. [There were ACRM monitors in NSW from around 1975, but no independent NSW body. Ed.] When I contacted A.C.R.M. SA they convinced me to set up A.C.R.M. NSW. We did much the same sorts of things as I had in SA, but added a number of other things including: searching for lost bush walkers, helping the Bush Fire Brigades & SES, and road patrols on the Pacific & New England highways for people in distress during holiday periods. A.C.R.M. NSW was the first CB group to gain government support so that members who had to take time off work to help in a search or other emergency would still receive wages for the days they had off, and it was not uncommon in those days for A.C.R.M. in the Hunter Valley to be called on by Police to come and help provide communications while they conducted a bush search for missing bushwalkers. We ran a number of raffles and 2 benefit nights, and a number of auctions. All the prizes for the raffles and auctions were donated by the businesses of Maitland and the Hunter Valley.
At our peak we had over 60 A.C.R.M. members in the Hunter Area. After a few years I had started to burn out, until we were informed that another division had been set up in the Dubbo region. After contacting and having a number of meetings with Dubbo A.C.R.M., the two divisions joined to reform NSW A.C.R.M., some of the Hunter members were part of the committee, but the head office was in Dubbo. (less pressure for me).
This was a great relationship, and some structural changes were made to give things a smoother running of NSW A.C.R.M. After some time I wanted to stand down from the running of the Division, and the NSW A.C.R.M. committee, due to my health, and just do monitoring & some field work.
A couple of the other Hunter members tried to run the division, with varying results. Then we were informed that NSW A.C.R.M was looking into affiliating with A.C.R.E.M Qld. (Australian Citizens Radio Emergency Monitors), which had also begun life as an offshoot of A.C.R.M. SA.
A couple of our Hunter monitors left and joined other groups, including CREST who by now had formed in the region, but most either just resigned, or just monitored as individuals for various lengths of time, although I do believe that there were a few that kept A.C.R.M. NSW running, and some that joined A.C.R.E.M. Qld even though they were in NSW.
I never actually retired from A.C.R.M. but in about 1991 I lost interest in CB’s. I had separated from my first wife, and was making a new life, so even though I still had the base station set up at home, and a CB in the car, I seldom used them.
Then early 2009 I got the bug again! I had never converted from the old CB’s to UHF, so I found that things had changed a lot. I contacted a number of monitoring groups, but none replied, then I I was surprised to learn that the ACREM national office was here in the Hunter Valley (strange how life repeats itself), and were now operating in NSW, Qld & Vic.
I filled in an online application, explaining my experience. I must say that I was nervous and excited when my membership was accepted. I was floored and surprised when, at the 2009 AGM, I was made a life member, due to what I had achieved all those many years ago. I am now on the National Executive as National Publicity & Events Officer. The new call-signs are taking some getting used to, but I am slowly changing, even if the old call-sign slips out now & again. Boy things have changed, UHF was the new thing when I left, and we no longer have to print everything out on spirit copier anymore. (no more purple fingers)
The thing that still humbles me, is that ACREM has such respect and ore for A.C.R.M. (the parent so to speak) Since my return, I have brought back 2 of the old A.C.R.M. monitors to the fold, the NSW A.C.R.M. Training Officer, and the NSW A.C.R.M. Events Officer, both of whom were also made life members.
I am hoping that in my new role as National Publicity & Events Officer, that I can gain more knowledge to the public of what we do, increase the support for ACREM from many businesses, and increase our membership. We need CB’s, as not everyone has a mobile phone, and even if they do have one, it can go flat or not have coverage when they need it the most.
I have had a number of CB’s over the years, both AM and SSB, Midland, Kemtronics, Johnson Viking, Sharp, General Electric..., to name only few. But by far my favourite is my ever faithful Pearce Simpson Super Panther, I still have it and it is still in working order! Now I have a Philips UHF as well as a Super Bengal Base AM/SSB.
It is still a bit daunting to get back in the saddle, but it is for the benefit of the Australian community.
Remember, even after all these years, the old A.C.R.M. moto still holds to be true.
“CB RADIO SAVES LIVES”