First published with The Courier –

It was cold during the harsh Ballarat winters and even worse inside the Nissen huts.

It’s been 50 years for Postmaster-General Training College graduate Ian McKenzie, but he remembers those frosty mornings in the hut clearly.

Memories he recalled at the recent college’s reunion.r96_158_849_595_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

The Nissen huts were military buildings brought from England after the second world war, initially used as a migrant hostel in the 1940s and accommodation in Ballarat for rowers competing in the 1956 Olympics. PMG (the company which eventually became Telstra) turned them into a training college for technicians in 1957.

A STEP BACK IN TIME: Postmaster-General workers on their way back to Ballarat in 1949.

Ian spent five years training at the college before being posted to work with PMG in Ballarat where he worked for 48 years.

He says the training college was an important part of Ballarat’s history.

“The only training PMG had in those days was either in Melbourne or Ballarat. It was a unique opportunity in those days, especially for those wanting to go to trade school who had a bent for electronics,” he says.

“It was really the only opportunity in the telecommunications area to be able to pursue other than the training schools in Melbourne.”

The college operated from 1958 to 1992 at Gillies Street, Wendouree, providing service to regional and national communications.