John Milton H29
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Jmilton2.jpg (5696 bytes) I finished my apprenticeship in February 1965 and only lasted 10 days in the W.R.E. Radio Workshop before putting in my resignation (nobody begged me to stay). 

I had one day of unemployment before starting work for Hawker-Sidley Dynamics doing RAAF contracts around Australia.  In June that year I transferred to the ELDO trials team at Woomera until November that year when I got a job at Orroral Valley Space tracking Station in the A.C.T.

I was met on that first day by the Station Manager’s secretary who was very critical of the standard of spelling on my application form.  Her name was Rosie, she wore a white pleated skirt and had the greatest pair of suntanned legs I had ever seen in my life.  Eighteen months later I was lucky enough to marry her.

I worked at Orroral Valley Tracking Station for the next nine years during which time Rosie and I became very keen skiers and I became a part-time ski patrolman at Thredbo.   Thankfully the job at the Tracking Station turned into an operational one which I loved however my career at the end of a soldering iron and a cathode ray oscilloscope was over which is just as well for I had no talent for it.

During my nine years at the Space tracking Station Rosie and I had two kids. Jennie, born in 1971, was the youngest Thredbo ski instructor at the age of 15 and is now is an extremely successful business woman who runs the family business in Canberra.  My son Michael was born 2 years later in 1973. Michael lost his left leg to bone cancer at the age of 9.  After a very bad year, constantly in hospital and on chemotherapy in Sydney, Michael bounced back and was on the slopes skiing at the age of 10 on one leg using ski outriggers. Michael represented Australia in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Paralympics.  He won an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship which allowed him to train and compete overseas for the next 11 years during the winter seasons.  In 1992 he was Australian Junior Skier of the Year and Australian Skier of the Year in 1993 and 1994.  In 1993 he was awarded an Order of Australian for sport, being the first Australian to win a gold medal in a winter competition. Michael is currently in his third year of a teaching degree and works part-time as a ski race coach and for the A.I.S. in their Drugs in Sport programme.

In 1973 the Space tracking programme started to scale back.  With my intimate knowledge of 6V6’s in push-pull and my skill at wiring P.M.G. terminal blocks and W.R.E. intercoms I no longer felt equipped to be on the cutting edge of technology, so at the age of 30 I had a complete change of career direction from electronics to retailing.

In 1973 Rosie and I mortgaged our house to the hilt and opened Canberra’s first complete ski shop (equipment, clothing, hire, workshop etc.).  We were lucky enough to have three good seasons in a row and we were firmly established by 1977.  We bought our own building in 1983 and started importing ski gear in 1985.

We built our first off-shore yacht in 1980 (36’ sloop) in which we cruised the N.S.W. coast with the kids and a couple of times in the company of Peter Leaney and his wife.  In 1986 we bought a 46’ 22-ton cutter rigged ketch called Leeanda.   She is a bit of a handful in our middle age but is equipped with roller and hydraulic furling on all sails and Rosie and I have sailed her for 15 years in all conditions up and down the N.S.W. and Queensland coasts, going away for up to 3 months at a time.  It was during one of these trips in 1989 that we discovered Raby Bay in Queensland.  We fell in love with the place and bought a waterfront property allowing us to keep Leeanda on a dock at the bottom of the garden.

 Since 1990 I have only returned to Canberra for the four months of the ski season.  We do 75% of our business during this time and I can still squeeze in at least one day a week to go skiing.  In summer we loaf around Raby Bay sailing, playing golf and our latest passion is share trading on the internet.  We enjoy a good social life which is a problem because I can no longer fit into the suit I got married in.  In an effort to keep the waistline under control I ride my bike 15 km every morning and do laps of the pool and row my dinghy about 6 km every evening.  However I am fighting a losing battle – hope some of you guys have the same problem.

After 33 years of marriage Rosie has turned out to be much more than just a nice pair of suntanned legs.  She has been a great wife and mother, a superb business woman and a great mate and navigator who never once said she was scared during our trips offshore up and down the coast.

Public apology to Dayle Redden

I’m the one who stuck that solder box full of a lethal mixture of acetylene and oxygen under your nose during a welding course and asked you to flash it.  I am happy to see that your eyebrows and lashes have grown back and that any facial scarring caused by the blast has been covered by a handsome beard.  It may be 40 years too late but please accept my apology. 

John Milton

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