Thank you, Kerry for your always interesting Welcome to Country! I would like to acknowledge the Ngarluma people and their Elders on whose land we are gathered today.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked to say a few words as we open this lovely new ABC radio facility here in Karratha.
When I first came to this town in the 1980s, I was overjoyed to see an ABC studio being constructed in the very visible location on the corner of Searipple Road and Dampier Highway. Having our own radio station – 6KP was just wonderful – a sign of civilisation and connectedness in this very remote part of the world.
The ABC has a special place in the hearts of country Australians and those of my generation, growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, can still remember the famous introductory Theme From Blue Hills and the words “The ABC presents Blue Hills, by Gwen Meredith.” which came on daily and was a sort of rock of security! It didn’t matter if you weren’t at home at the time, because as all the radios in town tuned in at 1 o’clock and you could hear the episode just walking down the street!
Blue Hills went from 1949 until 1976 with something like 6000 episodes, and along with Radio Australia, whose tall broadcasting towers were just outside my hometown of Shepparton, Victoria, it epitomised to many, the closeness to the Australian people the organisation had during that era. The ABC reflected the strengths and struggles, the diversity and heroism of that age as the world suffered then recovered from two devastating world wars and the great depression. My parent’s generation in the 50s just wanted to live a peaceful life away from the hatred and killing that had gone on for nearly 30 years - to build a sweet little nest, somewhere in the West, and let the rest of the world go by. And somehow, the ABC was part of that, too.
Fast forward 50 years and we have seen enormous changes in the ABC, now 90 years old
In 1975, the ABC introduced a 24-hour-a-day AM rock station in Sydney, 2JJ (Double Jay), which was eventually expanded into the national Triple J FM network in 1980.
When 2JJ was launched the ABC chose great Australian group Skyhooks to do the honours playing their signature tune of the time You Just Like Me Coz I'm Good In Bed. This song must have had some significance to the actors/employees of the time – perhaps someone here visiting from Sydney – or Melbourne can help me out here???
Programs like Backroads and Australian Story on ABC TV continue the great ABC Country tradition and the journalists and staff in the country radio stations, I have always found to be terrific people - like here!
So, I was very pleased to hear we are now one of the regional hubs in WA, with more staff and that ABC continues to invest in the country – that part of the nation which actually supports the large majority that buzz around in the City’s utilising the great wealth we produce! Country ABC gets this – the City ABC, like most urbanites – not so much!
Congratulations ABC on this beautiful new studio opening - and thank you! And all the best for a long history here in Karratha doing what the ABC does best!