A couple of giant things from my life.
Although I was only a youngen at the time one of the first giant things I remember was the beast below. It was marketed as the SUPERBOARD and it was installed by a Chicago company at what was then called VFL (Victorian Football League) Park, the home of football in Victoria. Later on the ground would be renamed to Waverly Park and ripped down the money making entity that rips fans off would change their name to Australian Rules Football League (AFL).
The main reason I remember this thing so fondly is not because it changed football for spectators but because it was my dad’s job to keep the thing running. In 1980 when it was installed it was state of the art, it used banks of 40 watt globes to produce a monochrome moving picture. There was about 40,000 globes in the 14x6m screen, they were installed in banks, all operated by computers that had less power than what you’re using now to read this screen, and the globes blew often enough that the board required 6 men to keep it running on game day.
There is a lot of stories floating around as to what happened in that board every Saturday. The things that needed to be done to keep it going and the effort some people put in are quite comical and not really for me to prove their inaccuracies. (Search for stories of the day the power went out at VFL Park, and you’ll find one of the greatest fairy tales ever told because very few of the “real stories” about that night actually happened). However from my point of view as a youngen wandering around this massive light globe driven scoreboard and watching the football game from a position very few others saw it was brilliant. It was my second favourite job of dad’s to go too.
One other giant thing from my life which was also a part of my dads job was the lighting of 8 chimneys. Pictured below is Hazelwood Power station and as a part of the 30 year celebrations back in 1996 my dad and a few others were responsible for marketing the station and a huge 30th birthday party for the place. One of the ideas my dad came up with was lighting up each of the 8 chimneys.
By ‘96 I was an adult and as such brought in as a contractor for the 30 year celebrations so as well as filming a history of the station which is now stored in the national archives I also worked with dad to get those towers lit. Anyone who has been to a power station knows these places aren’t small and to light a chimney from the base to the tip is no mean feat. I don’t remember the exact specs on the lights themselves, other than they needed to be installed with the help of a crane and that each light cost in excess of $20K each, but we got it done.
The above is not the best picture of the lights (my dad has that framed at home and no one will ever see that on the internet) but it gives an idea of what we did. Because of the height the towers need the standard beacon lighting for air crafts but other wise until dad brought up the idea of lighting them these huge concrete structures had stood unlit for nearly 30 years. Sadly though the lights only lasted about 5 years before subsequent private owners stopped upkeep in an effort to save money and the lights were one of the first things to be ignored.