The Braybrook Radio Centre was
a large operation, located on 4 acres of land, at what is now 170-180 Ashley St, about 8 km west of central Melbourne. It
included a large factory employing hundreds of people assembling radio receivers, electrical devices, and electronics equipment,
and a transmitting site. A similar AWA Centre operated from La Perouse, in Sydney.
The transmitting site occupied the western area of the land, about 660 feet (200
metres) by 600 feet (200 metres).
The transmission facilities commenced on October 9, 1924,
carrying programming from the Melbourne station 3LO, which at that time operated on longwave,
174 kHz, 1720 metres. In July 1925, this was changed to mediumwave,
Programs were sent to Braybrook via PMG equalized landlines from the 3LO Control
Centre in the Cambridge Building, Collins St, downtown Melbourne.
3LO was part of the Australian Broadcasting Company, which migrated to the newly
formed Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1932.
Prior to the official starting
date for 3LO, a single low-powered 500 W transmitter was used for testing purposes on longwave. When 3LO officially commenced,
power was raised to 5 kW.
In 1926, a second transmitter commenced from this
site, carrying the Melbourne VIM ship radio, on longwave, which had been transferred from a site located in central Melbourne.
In 1927, a new shortwave service commenced, with 3LO
programming, known as the Voice of Australia, intended mainly for Europe and America. The callsign for this was VK3ME, later
changed to 3ME.
This shortwave service continued until 1939, when it was closed down by the Government
at the outbreak of WW2.
The transmitter had six high-powered tubes, using between 8000 V and 1000 V HT,
controlled by a master oscillator. Everything was enclosed in metal mesh panels, with interlocking devices on the doors. A
red alarm light would be activated if there was any significant change in frequency.
There were two masts, 130
metres high, at each end of the site, 200 metres apart. These were steel lattice, weighing about 7.5 tons each. The transmitter
building was midway between the masts. There were two antennas supported by the
masts – a 5-wire horizontal cage for longwave/mediumwave, and a vertical shortwave antenna for future use. The feeders
for both antennas were about 60 metres ft long.
There was an artificial earth mat supported on poles beneath the masts. This
was a counterpoise ground screen arrangement.
From inception in 1924,
the site was originally owned by AWA, and the Australian Broadcasting Company leased the transmitting facilities and antennas
for 3LO programming.
In 1938, when 3LO moved to the new site at Sydenham,
with 3AR, the AWA lease on the transmitter facilities was terminated.
In 1946, AWA became part of the newly formed Overseas
Telecommunications Commission, which also included Cable and Wireless, and AWA factory operations at Braybrook ceased.
The transmitter site was then managed by OTC until 1950 when it was dismantled
– the transmitter building was retained.
On November 28, 1950, a terrible tragedy occurred
– two riggers were killed when the mast they were dismantling collapsed. At third rigger was serious injured