Project Overview

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites


I compiled this Project mainly as an endeavour to bring together a large amount of historical print and on-line material essentially for my own interest, concerning the development and evolution of shortwave radio in Australia.

My interpretation of the term "shortwave" is "high frequency", for radio transmisssions in the range 2 to 26 MHz, intended for general audiences.

As the Project evolved, I decided to make it “public access”, rather than leave it buried in my own system, so that anyone, anywhere, could access it and learn from it.

My initial research quickly led me to the conclusion that the project would benefit by the incorporation of additional content concerning the invention and development of land-based telegraphy, and the subsequent discovery of wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony.

It is my view that an appreciation of the early development of non-shortwave wireless broadcasting technologies is important in gaining an understanding of the manner in which shortwave transmission evolved.

I have also included material concerning Australian Shortwave Military Broadcasting, which occurred during the years of WW2. The Army and Air Force had set up many transmitting and receiving bases in locations in and close to Melbourne, some being integrated facilities with the US and British military. The Melbourne region had been selected by the Government as it was believed that this location constituted the least threat to airborne attacks as compared with areas further north.

Radio Broadcasting History in the Media
The advent of the Internet made it possible for just about anyone to produce many textual articles about “Radio Broadcasting History”, with a lot of it written by people with little or no knowledge of radio transmission technologies, with much of this material being cut-and-pasted from other texts.

It suffers from a huge lack of imaging, even though there is an enormous range of out-of-copyright graphic material now available through the on-line collections at Libraries, and other public organizations.

There has been negligible attention given by many non-technical researchers to the holistic relationships and interactions which existed, and still exist, across those technologies.

It is my hope that the present project will address and clarify some of those deficiencies, and provide a structured and orderly treatment a very complex subject, whose history began in the late 19 th century.

Project structure
The Project attempts to set down the principal events and discoveries over a time-span of more than 100 years, and the Chapter structure is chronological, acknowledging that some overlapping of topics will inevitably occur.

General history of shortwave radio
Prior to about 1920, most radio experimentation took place on long wavelengths, in what would become the longwave band. Activity then moved to shorter wavelengths, in what would become the mediumwave bad.

In the mid-1920s, it was realized that much shorter wavelengths could be used for long-distance propagation, which resulted, in 1926, of the introduction of Shortwave High Speed  Beam Wireless Telegraphy stations around the world, using relatively low power, and directional antennas.

In the late 1920s, transmission and receiver technology had advance to support shortwave telephony broadcasting, and the early 1930s was marked by a massive expansion of shortwave stations worldwide, mainly constructed by Governments.

These stations delivered content consisting of information, intended mainly for diverse expatriot audiences in other continents, and for presentation of news, music, and entertainment for the general worldwide community.

The 1930s was also represented by the appearance of the “Cold War”, with the rise of Fascism, Communism, and other non-democratic institutions of varied political persuasions.

This fuelled the use of international broadcasting for the delivery of propaganda supporting a multitude of ideologies, and for a plethora of religious organizations, which endure to the present.

The 1960s was also the era when international shortwave broadcasting began to be disseminated by stations which became known as “Clandestine”, transmitting from secret, unknown or undisclosed locations.

Australia on shortwave
In our own backyard, regular international shortwave broadcasting appeared in the mid-1920s from Melbourne and Sydney, where programming was delivered by low-powered transmitters carrying relays of parent domestic stations.

In 1927, the “Voice of Australia” emerged on shortwave, from transmitters operated by the AWA company in Melbourne and Sydney, with the callsigns VK3ME and VK2ME. Programming was from the AWA itself, which commanded a substantial worldwide audience.

In 1939, those stations were closed down by the Government, and the ABC then established its “Australia Calling” international shortwave service, using a Post Office transmitter at Lyndhurst, SE of Melbourne, with the callsign VLR. In 1944, the new Shepparton facility became operational, and the name “Radio Australia” was introduced.

Radio Australia was originally set up as a propaganda broadcaster, to support Australia’s and the British Empire’s involvement in WW2.  English language broadcasts were targeted to South Asia, the Pacific, North America, Africa and the Europe/British Isles. Non-English languages were also broadcast.

In the 1940s, the Government introduced a range of shortwave transmitters for serving the Australian outback and the Pacific Islands – these were sites in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

By that time, it had become known throughout the world that the use of wavelengths on 60 or 90 metres were ideal for delivery of content over shorter distances, and this resulted in a flurry of activity to set up stations in regions straddling the equator, and generally stretching between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. This spawned the term Tropical Band Broadcasting, to augment mediumwave coverage in the Tropical countries to inland regions.

The term survives until the present!

Australian Government's Policy Decisions
In the 1960s, the Australian Government made a major policy decision that it would progressively abandon its services for areas outside of the Asia/Pacific region.  This was a consequence of a decision that RA would provide a ring of shortwave services into neighbouring countries, a policy which survives to the present.

For many years, I provided part-time engineering support and consultancy to Radio Australia, when it was part of the Post Office, as well as preparing scripts and tapes for the various Communications programs, including DXers Calling. 

In those years, I was privy to many proposals and plans, which at the time were classified confidential, and were neither divulged nor released to the outside world.

That included Policy Papers concerning RA’s refusal to permit any foreign broadcasting service to use the Shepparton facilities, in the “national interest”

A related policy concerned the Govt's decision not to allow the construction of any international broadcasting facility on Australian soil, except in very special circumstances.

The decision to allow HCJB to set up its station at Kununurra, Western Australia, in 1975, came as a complete surprise to many of us in the industry, which was a complete about-face of an established policy.

It was well known that it took several years for approval to be handed by the Govt to set up the new station.

The establishment of RA’s new facility at the Cox Peninsula, near Darwin in 1969 also came as a surprise, as the policies of the time did not support the building of such a facility so close to our northern neighbours.  There was already a large military communications facility at North West Cape, at Exmouth, Western Australia, and concerns had been raised at the reasons for setting up a RA station so close to a facility which had been believed to be a prime target for airborne terrorist attacks

Just as surprisingly, the Government’s decision to abandon the Cox Peninsula station in 1996 came unexpectedly, which had been triggered by growing political unrest and turmoil across
Southern Asia.

(By Bob Padula)

See the Coverage Map below!

Radio Australia - target areas

Enter content here

Enter supporting content here

Contact the author at this Email link