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The Australian Public Access Network Association Inc. (APANA®) is a national group of computer network enthusiasts. It is split into regions, each of which is mostly autonomous. Accounting is handled at the national level, but local decisions are made by the Regional Committees (Hunter's Regional Committee is comprised of 6 members of the region elected at the Annual General Regional Meeting held in October of each year). Everyone involved in APANA offers their services to the organisation on a volunteer basis and all APANA regions have a policy of non-commercial use of their network. APANA is a non-profit network.

Most regions maintain an APANA hub-network where members of the region can gain hands-on experience with a 'live' Linux network. Experimentation with or creation and/or testing of new linux-based software is encouraged.

Through the organisation, many individual members are able to provide Community Internet services to a wider range of non-profit organisations and clubs. However membership is available to non-profit organisations as well as individuals.

The Hunter Region is one of the newest additions to APANA®, but has a long history. It was the first public organisation outside of the University of Newcastle to offer Internet access in the Hunter Region. At that time (1991) it was called "The Premier Novocastrian Public Access Unix System", and in fact was the first public access organisation in Australia to become wholly reliant on using Linux. The group was originally formed by Michael Brown and Chris Baird. Michael had sought to start a company, but found that no-one was keen to invest in the 'Internet' back in 1991!

We joined APANA in September 1992 as the Newcastle Region, providing e-mail and Usenet news to our members.

In November 1993 we left APANA to form the Hunter Network Association (HNA). The system continued to expand, under the guidance of Michael Brown, who left in 1995, and Chris Baird, who continued until he moved interstate in February 1996.

The group continued to be heavily subsidised by both Michael and Chris, but after Michael's sudden departure, Chris reformed the group as a co-operative endeavour and the first committee was formed prior to his departure in late February 1996. The hub was relocated to the home of Andrew Glazebrook at that time and Ross Slade and Matt McLeod took over as system administrators. In August 1997 we obtained a co-location agreement with Dragon Internet, giving us a "real" net connection for the first time. In September 2000, Dragon was bought by Comcen and our agreement was voided. A replacement 56K/V90 link was organised with Dingoblue to meet our needs for a backup link. In April 2001, the 28.8K link to Ozemail was upgraded to 56K with Ozemail/UUNET. In January 2004, the link to Ozemail was cancelled and replaced by a 56K modem link to NetCentral. In August 2004, after 3 years of trying, the region finally acquired a 256/64K ADSL connection through NetCentral. This connection was upgraded to a 512/128K connection through SiS Group in March 2005.

In September 1997, the HNA re-joined APANA to become the Hunter Region. Which puts us in the curious position of being both one of the earliest APANA® regions and one of the newest. After rejoining APANA®, Matt continued as system administrator and was elected to the position of Regional Co-ordinator. He continued in these roles until he resigned and moved interstate in September 1998.

In October 1998, the hub was again relocated - this time to the home of Carolyn Baird who was appointed Regional Co-ordinator following Matt's resignation and subsequently elected to that position at the Annual General Meeting held the following month. An Admin Team was appointed to handle system administration on a joint basis and Craig Pickering was designated as leader of that team. Craig resigned as leader in July, 2000 and Ross Slade took over that position. In August 2001, Chris Baird returned to the Hunter Region and resumed the post of leader of the admin team; Carolyn Baird was elected Treasurer of APANA Inc. and Peter Longworth who had been a member of the regional committee since 1997, served as RC for 2 months until the AGRM when Chris Baird was elected to that position. The following year the role passed to Marc Walters who held the position for the 2 years. Ross Slade was the Deputy Regional Co-ordinator during that period. In 2004, Laura Seabrook became RC while Marc Walters was elected to the role of Deputy-RC. In 2005, Carolyn Baird was elected Regional Co-ordinator (after clarification that Officers of APANA Inc. could hold a position on their regional committee with the exception of the position of MC-representative); Marc Walters was re-elected as Deputy-RC while Laura Seabrook retained her role as MC-Representative.

Where we are now...

We currently maintain a 512/128K ADSL connection over which 2 of our Class C subnets are routed by SiS Group.

Our members can use PPP, UUCP, or a shell account to access the network. We now have a fairly complete newsfeed - members can access nearly any group they want, it is no longer limited to just what we have pulled in (except in the case of the UUCP nodes and nn users). Members can request access to any newsgroup they currently participate in and every endeavour will be made to make sure they can have that access regardless of the way in which they access our network.

Our system is currently comprised of 3 Pentium and 2 Pentium II PCs (niggle - the routing machine, bombadil - the main server, giles - the terminal server, kildall - the newserver and cray - the Majordomo list server). Bombadil uses RedHat while all the other machines use Debian as their Linux-based operating system. Member's accounts are currently being served by 5 rotary modems and 2 permanent modem with all lines allowing connections at 33.6k. These will be upgraded as the membership/userbase grows. The facility/capacity already exists to also add more dialin lines if required in the future.