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Robin Baker


I had indeed the great pleasure of working for Adastra between 1966 – 73 in the reprographic section alongside Jack Townsend, Bill Hohnen, Ken Kirkness and Bob Killingsworth. As well as the reprographic survey work, Bill Hohnen and myself worked on the newly formed Microfilm section operating a Kodak C7 microfilm camera.

It's funny what memories stay with you after all these years, like Christmas parties in the hangar with the hangar crew setting off acetylene bombs at the most inappropriate times, scaring the hell out of everyone. Lunchtimes at the Botany Bay Hotel (or was it the Captian Cook?) were always memorable (if one actually did) with lots of banter and stories about the company and its members.

Strangely, Adastra keeps popping up in my life. After Adastra, I started work in the microfilm section of the Roads and Traffic Authority, and guess what; eventually I ended up working side by side with Bill Hohnen, the man I started working with at Adastra. Again in 1993 I was in Concord Hospital undergoing spinal surgery and who should end up in the bed next to me but Jack McDonald himself. Ah, but my favourite memory of Adastra is flying a survey run with Lionel as pilot in one of the Hudsons. That run spoilt all other flying for me, it was just such a fantastic experience. I know it was illegal but the memory of flying over Sydney Harbour at 600 feet at sunset, sitting in the bombers bubble and landing at Mascot in said same bubble has stayed with me for a lifetime.

I have just finished reading John McCarthy's story of Adastra and noted his experience of finding Adastra reprogaphics where he had parked in Parramatta. I wish that John would have ventured inside as I was production manager for this company at this time and was still using the original Kodak C7 from Adastra. It would have been a wonderful surprise for both of us.

It is interesting to note that Frank Follett's brother-in-law was one Jack Tanner, of Tanner Middleton fame. I grew up a stones throw from the Tanner Middleton timber yard in Concord and as a child scrounged offcuts from the timberyard to make our backyard canoes and as an adult frequented the yard for much bigger projects.

Reading this site has brought back memories of amazing people and of the great camaraderie that was shared with all that were Adastrians. The author wishes to thank all Adastrians, especially Bill Hohnen, Vivienne Russell, (Maude you know why, nothing sordid), Jack Townsend, Robyn Williams, Lyn Bartlett for being so beautiful, Dorothy Booth and Bill and Mona Chambers, all for being supporting friends in the time I spent with them. I think thanks to Kevin Murray for nicknaming me ‘Bat wing’ (with wings of steel).

It seems to me that there has been a "net of circumstance" involving myself and some phases of Adastra's history all my life, a bit spooky but destiny has a way of playing things out.

Robin Baker
27 July 2008


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