Aunty’s last Tea Lady

Although the original edifice that houses ABC Radio was completed in 1989, the upgraded complex at 700 Harris Street, Ultimo is still a modern, functional building. No mere office block with studios but a spectacular media eco system within a soaring atrium.

Though, over the years, I’d been there several times before, I still found it impressive as I was ushered into, or rather onto, The Dot Strong Terrace – a broad, open space leading to an open courtyard with barbecue and outdoor furniture scattered all around.

When not used for ABC business – in this case for welcoming OzPod guests – it is where staff gather for lunch or a few minutes of R & R.

Another significant area within the  ABC Radio building, the Eugene Goossens Hall, honours the great conductor who contributed much to music in radio’s golden age.

Yet, as a Tea Lady, Dot Strong’s contribution to staff morale was, in its own way, what Sir Eugene Goossens’ was to music. 

Dot was, perhaps, the greatest Tea Lady that ever lived and it is therefore fitting that this staff amenity be named for her rather than some past Managing Director or other bureaucrat.

Below is a picture I took of the plaque that commemorates Dot’s 21 years at Aunty. The last sentence, Those who worked with Dot Strong will never forget her daily reminders that “tea’s on,” nor the less gentle injunction to return all cups after use or have your arm broken gives a clue to the inspiration behind Grahame Bond‘s character, Aunty Jack (left).


 Peter Saxon


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