History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia

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Regulatory chronology edit

1880s edit


1890s edit

Pre Federation edit

Prior to Australian federation, the regulatory framework was vested in the individual colonies and the province of South Australia. Wireless was closely aligned with the important postal and telegraphy functions and each state had its own post and telegraph department, which were merged into the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG) upon federation. Schedule one of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 lists numerous State acts which were superseded by the new act, the key being:

  • New South Wales - "An Act to establish and regulate Electric Telegraphs."
  • Victoria - "Post Office Act 1890."[1]
  • Queensland - "The Post and Telegraph Act 1891."
  • South Australia - "An Act to regulate the construction and management of Electric Telegraphs 1857."
  • Western Australia - "The Post and Telegraph Act 1893."
  • Tasmania - The Electric Telegraph Act 1857."

Earliest wireless experiments edit

The progressive developments in wireless theory and experimentation by Maxwell, Hertz, Marconi and others were not only described in the professional journals, but captured the public imagination to such an extent that each new success was widely reported in the worldwide press. Australia was no exception when it came to this public fascination. The equipment necessary to duplicate the smaller scale experiments was not difficult to manufacture and similar experiments were soon being undertaken in Australian laboratories and then public demonstrations in all Australian states. The experimenters can be categorised into PMG, Military, Academic and Private Experimenters.

  • Post and Telegraph Departments In each Australian colony, the respective Post and Telegraph Departments were actively engaging in wireless telegraphy experiments. The driver was not purely scientific, submarine cables were an expensive technology (both capital and maintenance) to give effect to communication to near-coast islands and across the Bass Strait. Australia's vast open spaces had already proven expensive projects for deployments of telegraph lines. Wireless telegraphy offered the prospect of very substantial cost savings.
  • Military Military applications for wireless technology were clear and present. Ships of war were isolated from communication upon departure from ports immediately visual contact was lost. A mobile army force could not rely upon existing land lines and considerable effort was required to temporarily deploy additional lines, which in any event were exposed to enemy attention.
  • Academia Australia's leading academic institutions were all following the international developments and had the advantage of bringing together our leading theoreticians and leading technologists.
  • Private experimenters Prior to Federation, it is not clear whether formal licensing of private experimenters was required by individual colonies, or if it was whether it was pursued. No individual licences have been reported, while experiments by the PMG and Military would be exempt from licensing, and those by academia usually in co-ordination with the PMG. As always Australian amateur experimenters followed close in their wake, often overlooking the formal need for licensing by the authorities.
New South Wales edit

Richard Threlfall The announcement by Hertz in 1888 of his successful experiments in the existence of free electromagnetic waves created a sensation throughout the scientific world. The Hertz' experiments were repeated in the Physics laboratory at the Sydney the same year.

Philip Billingsley Walker On 10 August 1899, the Postmaster-General, one or two officers of the Department and representatives of the press, were invited to a demonstration of wireless under the supervision of P. B. Walker, Engineer-in-Chief of Telegraphs. The transmitting and receiving aerial wires were suspended on the corners of the roof of the Post Office building with the equipment itself in the laboratory below. The demonstration was entirely a success, though interference was present from adjacent tram lines. Walker stated that he felt there was presently limited commercial application, but nevertheless advised that further experiments would be conducted, with sea trials still to be decided upon.[2] The transmitting was undertaken by Walker and the receiving by Watkin Wynne. All the equipment was manufactured by staff of the Government electrician, principally Mr. Nelson. A 12-inch induction coil was used for transmission and a two-inch coherer for reception. An amount of 150 pounds was stated to have been reserved for purchase of equipment from the Marconi Telegraph Company, with further experiments to proceed upon receipt.[3] However Walker fell ill towards the end of 1899, passed August 1900 and with his passing wireless telegraphy seems to have fallen dormant for many years.[4]

John Yeates Nelson 1900

F.H. Leverrier 1900

Joseph Patrick Slattery is reported from 1900 as experimenting in wireless telegraphy at St. Stanislaus' College, Bathurst with equipment made by himself, but the experiments were considerably extended from late 1903 when professional Marconi equipment arrived from London and were immediately deployed.

South Australia and the Northern Territory edit

William Henry Bragg was working on wireless telegraphy as early as 1895, though public lectures and demonstrations focussed on his X-ray research which would later lead to his Nobel Prize. In a hurried visit by Rutherford, he was reported as working on a Hertzian oscillator. There were many common practical threads to the two technologies and he was ably assisted in the laboratory by Arthur Lionel Rogers who manufactured much of the equipment. On 21 September 1897 Bragg gave the first recorded public demonstration of the working of wireless telegraphy in Australia during a lecture meeting at the University of Adelaide as part of the Public Teachers' Union conference.[5][6] Bragg departed Adelaide in December 1897,[7] and spent all of 1898 on a 12-month leave of absence, touring Great Britain and Europe and during this time visited Marconi and inspected his wireless facilities.[7][8] He returned to Adelaide in early March 1899,[9] and already by 13 May 1899 Bragg and his father-in-law Sir Charles Todd were conducting preliminary tests of wireless telegraphy with a transmitter at the Observatory and a receiver on the South Road (about 200 metres).[10] Experiments continued throughout the southern winter of 1899 and the range was progressively extended to Henley Beach. In September the work was extended to two way transmissions with the addition of a second induction coil loaned by James Oddie of Ballarat.[11] It was desired to extend the experiments across a sea path and Todd was interested in connecting Cape Spencer and Althorpe Island, but local costs were considered prohibitive while the charges for patented equipment from the Marconi Company were exorbitant. At the same time Bragg's interests were leaning towards X-rays and practical work in wireless in South Australia was largely dormant for the next decade.

Victoria edit

George William Selby took an interest in all aspects of the new science of electricity, both in practical experiments and public education. As early as 1878 he was demonstrating an induction coil (a key component of the future wireless telegraphy) and Geissler tube.[12] In July 1897, in response to reports of Marconi's success, he announced that, he had also been successful in his experiments which had commenced some three years earlier (i.e. 1894).[13] While, it does appear that no great distance was traversed, his experiments are amongst the earliest in Australia. At a time when public interest in wireless was extreme, Selby was balancing his time against his business interest in accountancy and progress with his experiments was slow. In June 1899, Selby approached the Victorian Defence Department for approval to conduct experiments between the coast and a warship. Approval was given and successful tests were achieved between HMVS Cerberus, which was moored in Hobsons Bay, and the naval depot, Williamstown. It is stated that the apparatus used was that made by Selby in 1897.[14] In February 1900, it was reported that Selby was now successfully communicating between Malvern and Brighton, a distance of 5 miles, but still well behind Jenvey.[15] In February 1901, he auctioned much of his equipment and thereafter there is little record of further experimenting.[16] However his public education activities and commentary continued, including presentation in December 1908 of a major paper on Wireless Telegraphy to the Victorian Institute of Engineers.[17]

James Oddie acquired considerable wealth during the gold rush period in Ballarat, and used much of that wealth in philanthropic pursuits. He was closely involved in the Ballarat School of Mines and taught there for a period. In the late 1890s he was involved in wireless telegraphy experiments, but detailed records appear limited.[18] Famously, while visiting Bragg and Todd in Adelaide, he learned of their need for a second large induction coil and promptly arranged dispatch of his own unit which greatly assisted their more advanced experiments.[19]

Frederick John Clendinnen was a well-known doctor of medicine practising in Melbourne. He was an early adopter of X-ray technology and in June 1896 published a wide variety of photographs displaying his art.[20] While continuing his work in X-rays, he was also an inventor in electrical fields. In September 1897, he applied for a patent for an improved coin-operated public telephone.[21] In September 1897, a lecture and demonstration by Clendinnen of X-rays included brief work on "Tesla's experiments" assumed to be wireless.[22] A similar lecture and demonstration was given at Kew in December 1897.[23] In February 1899, Clendinnen demonstrated his wireless telegraphy equipment to the Deputy Postmaster-General of Victoria and other officers.[18] His experiments diverged from the usual into remote detonation of fuses by wireless, as reported in December 1899.[24] The wireless detonation of fuses appears to have caught the public attention and this feature was again included in a lecture to the Bendigo School of Mines in August 1900 which principally addressed X-rays. It was noted in the lecture that the induction coil had been manufactured by Edward Hope Kirkby of Williamstown.[25] Thereafter, Clendinnen's professional work with the booming X-ray field became his passion. Sadly, like so many of the earliest workers in the field, the frequent exposure of X-rays on his own body took its toll. At age only 55 years, he passed in London in November 1913, while attending the World Medical Congress.[26]

Henry Walter Jenvey, in late 1896, in explaining "Telegraphy without Wires" to the press, refers only to the leakage and inductive methods.[27] But soon afterwards, he himself was actively engaged in the electromagnetic method. In 1899 his lectures had been extended to include Marconi's system.[28] The successful experiments by Walker in Sydney in August 1899 prompted Jenvey to reveal that for some weeks he had been exchanging messages between the General Post Office and the Telephone exchange at Willis Street, a distance of a half mile. The first message to grace the airwaves of Melbourne was "Long reign Duffy" referring to the Postmaster-General for Victoria.[29] By 1900 he was reporting that an experimental network of wireless stations had been established at the Observatory, Wilson Hall at the University and the General Post Office.[30] As part of the Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Science, on 12 January 1900, Jenvey presented a lecture on the current state of wireless telegraphy in the world at the Wilson Hall of the University of Melbourne. At the conclusion of the lecture, he then sent a request from his station erected in the hall and received in return the word "Melbourne" from his station in the tower of the General Post Office.[31] Jenvey continued his experiments throughout 1900, with regular stations established at Heidelberg and Doncaster. From April 1901, efforts concentrated on Point Ormond, Port Phillip Bay and a station was established with a 155 ft. pole near the shoreline, to take advantage of the better propagation over salt water.[32] From Point Ormond, communication was soon established with Point Cook, a distance of 10 miles, by means of a kite-borne aerial at the latter location.[33] The timing of this extension of transmission distance for Jenvey's apparatus was sublime. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York were to visit Australia to participate in the celebrations of Federation. Jenvey sought and obtained permission from Senator Drake, the Postmaster-General, to erect a facility at Queenscliff to send greetings to the royal party as they approached Port Phillip Bay.[34] In the first week of May, a large tent was erected on the recreation reserve near the fort and the equipment installed.[35] On Sunday evening 5 May 1901, news was received at Queenscliff that the R.M.S. Ophir was off Split Point and the message of greeting was sent.[36] No reply was received, but it was later confirmed that the message was received by the escorting ships, but the absence of a Naval code precluded a response.[37] While the convoy was in port, Jenvey established contact with Lieutenant Trousdale, R.N., of the warship Template:HMS and messages were then regularly exchanged with the Point Ormond station. When most of the convoy departed on 18 May, Jenvey exchanged messages with the St. George on the initial part of her journey. The last message received from the St. George was at a distance of 37 miles, a record for Australia which would stand for some years.[38] He continued his experiments throughout the 1900s, but prioritised the essential work of developing and integrating the telegraphic and telephonic networks of the fledgling Commonwealth.[39]

Henry Lord 1899 Henry Lord, Electrician with the Post & Telegraph Department on 12 September 1899 gave a lecture and demonstration of wireless telegraphy at the Bruce Auction and Jumble Fair. It was reported as follows: "a lecture on Wireless Telegraphy was delivered by Mr Henry Lord, electrician of the Telephone branch, Melbourne. The hall was decorated for the occasion with bunting, and the attendance was very satisfactory. The Rev. Canon Watson presided. The programme was opened by a selection on the Gramaphone [sic], after which the lecturer commenced his discourse. He said wireless telegraphy was not the proper name to give the wonderful discovery of recent years, rather it should be called Hertzean [sic] wave telegraphy, or space telegraphy, because it was absolutely necessary that they should have wires to transmit and receive the messages .... The lecturer at this stage proceeded to give practical illustrations of the working of the discovery by means of instruments placed upon the platform. Sparks were transmitted from one instrument to another without any intervening wires, and a bell on one instrument was rung by the despatch of electrical waves from the other instrument, an exhibition that was received with loud applause. Gramophone selections, and a display of electric light in colored globes followed, after which the musical portion of the programme was proceeded with .... At the conclusion of the programme Mr H. E. Caldecott proposed a comprehensive vote of thanks to Mr Lord, to the performers, and to those who helped to make the Bruce Auction a success.[40]

J. W. Wallace in 1899 was another Postal department figure with a practical interest in wireless telegraphy. The Argus reported on 1 May 1899: "An interesting lecture on the subject of wireless telegraphy was delivered at St. Patrick's College on Friday evening (28 April 1899) by Mr. J. W. Wallace of the Postal department. The lecturer traced the history of telegraphy from its earliest stages down to Marconi's latest triumph, and at the close of his remarks he explained, in response to inquiries, a number of minor features of interest. Mr. Wallace is at present engaged in conducting some private experiments in wireless telegraphy."[41] A very detailed report of the lecture in the Advocate of 6 May makes clear Wallace's deep knowledge of the subject.[42]

Edward Hope Kirkby was a jeweler watchmaker in Williamstown who eventually became a manufacturing electrician making systems of fire protection, in 1908 he invented and patented the first automatic sprinkler alarm.[43] He is first recorded as experimenting with X-ray in September 1896 [44] He is reported as experimenting with the medical staff at Williamstown Hospital later that year</ref> Williamstown Chronicle 28th November 1896</ref> In 1900 Dr Clenndinnen was party to demonstrating X-ray at Bendigo School of mines using a Kirkby manufactured X-ray coil, said by him that it was an excellent one.[45] Kirkby eventually moved to Sydney in 1907 where he set up business manufacturing X-ray apparatus and consulting with the medical profession[46] He was first recorded practically demonstrating wireless telegraphy along with X-ray in 1899[47] He was demonstrating experiments in X-ray and wireless at the Federal Exhibition and Palace of Amusements in 1903 [48] In 1905 on the passing of the wireless telegraphy act he was being interviewed as an expert on the subject of wireless telegraphy as the paper didn't trust the PMG Department to adequately understand it's implications [49] Wormalds Bros manufacturers of fire protection equipment were getting rich at his expense and he dissolved his partnership with them. He was looking for a place to manufacture his apparatus. He was friends with a Catholic Priest Father Archibald Shaw MSC. He and his superior, Father Guis, built a factory for Kirkby on their land at the procure where Kirkby began manufacturing his fire systems of fire protection. The procure was always short of money and Shaw asked Kirkby to make wireless for him. He did and they became very successful forming a company the Maritime Wireless Company of Australasia. [50]

Francis West Chambers was a professional colleague of Jenvey (government electrician, public works department) and conducted experiments in wireless telegraphy during 1900, both independently and in conjunction with him. At a meeting of the Australian Natives Association on 16 May 1901, he presented a lecture on wireless telegraphy wherein he announced that he had been experimenting in the science for some time. Further that he had been regularly successful in communicating between his residence Mount Eagle, Heidelberg and the Doncaster tower, a distance of 4.75 miles.[51] It was to Chambers that Jenvey telegraphed news of a major development in his experimenting on 17 November 1900 and remarkably that telegraph survived and endures. Museums Victoria

Queensland edit

In May 1898, a sole report states that Colonel Howel Gunter, commandant of the Queensland defence forces instructed the conduct of wireless telegraphy experiments at Lytton, to ascertain whether the technique could be utilised for signalling purposes at the forthcoming annual Easter camp. The experiments trialed both the conductive and Hertz wave methods and were reported successful in both instances, however the conductive method was considered more suitable for field use due to utilisation of less skilled men.[52] It does seem likely that immediate supervision of the experiments was with John Hesketh as he definitely supervised the Phonopore telegraphy experiments in June 1898, but this remains to be established.[53]

John Hesketh 1898

Edward Gustavus Campbell Barton was prominent in Queensland in early electric lighting projects, including first electric lighting of the Queensland Assembly.[54] He was appointed as Queensland Government Electrical Engineer in 1886.[55] But by March 1888 he had left the public service and formed a partnership with Mr. C. F. White as Barton, White and Co.[56] Barton had a close association with the Technical College and in a private capacity ran courses with lectures which paralleled the rapid advances in all matters electrical at the time.[57] In July 1891 he gave a lecture at the School of Arts on the topic of induction coils, a key component of wireless and X-ray technology.[58] In April 1899 he gave a comprehensively reported lecture on Wireless Telegraphy at the Technical College and concluded with a demonstration of "Marconi apparatus" including both an induction coil and a Branly detector.[59] In mid-1901, Barton gave an entire series of lectures at the Technical College on the subject of Telegraphy and in May 1901 the lecture was devoted to wireless telegraphy, again concluding with a demonstration of his equipment. It was stated that the system had been imported and consisted of a Righi oscillator, induction coil and Branly coherer.[60] A further series of lectures was conducted in 1902, including one in March 1902 on the subject "Wireless Telegraphy and its Position in Regard to Submarine Cables". The descriptions of the demonstration tend to indicate that the wireless apparatus had not been further developed.[61] Indeed, though Barton's own career continue to ascend, there is little further reference to wireless activities. However, amongst his young students was John Graeme Balsillie who went on to become the inventor of the Balsillie system of wireless telegraphy which was used to deploy the majority of Australia's coastal radio network in the early 1910s.

William Rooke Creswell 1901

Tasmania edit

Thomas Edward Self 1898 At the monthly meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania on the evening of 11 July 1898 in the Art Gallery, Argyle-street, Hobart, Thomas Edward Self read a paper on "Telegraphy without wires", and "made some interesting experiments in the presence of the audience. There were two transmitters, one before the lecturer and the other entirely outside the room. It was shown by the continual ringing of a bell in the apparatus in front of the lecturer that there was continual connection between the two, though the connection was invisible."[62] At a lecture at the Technical School on the evening of 8 August 1898, Thomas Self (instructor at the school) again presented his work on electricity and demonstrated the topic with particular reference to "telegraphy without wires."[63]

Royal Visit Hobart 1901. William Philpot Hallam, Frederick William Medhurst and Frank Prosser Bowden all participated in a successful wireless telegraphy experiment to communicate with the ships of the Royal Party as they arrived at Hobart. None of the group had prior experience in wireless and it appears that Hallam, the leader, was drafted into the exercise.[64] In a newspaper report of 2 July 1901; "The first quickening throb of excitement over the Royal visit pulsated early on Tuesday morning, when a couple of guns, fired from the Queen's Battery, conveyed the lively information that the Ophir had been sighted at 7.30 a.m. in Storm Bay, attended by the St. George and the Juno. When the three vessels were coming up the river, a communication, by means of wireless telegraphy, was successfully achieved between One Tree Point and the St. George, just as the latter rounded a headland above Brown's River. A wireless telegraphy apparatus was fixed on an 80ft. pole near One Tree Point Lighthouse, and as the St. George steamed along about three miles off, Lieut. Trowsdale, from the ship, opened the conversation, with. "Good morning", and then followed this message to the St. George, telephoned to Mr. Hallam, the chief operator (who had prepared and affixed the apparatus), to forward: "Tasmania greets the Royal yacht Ophir and her consorts", which was at once acknowledged, and some other messages followed, whilst later in the day wireless communication was established between the St. George, lying in the harbour, and the Post Office, by means of an apparatus placed on a pole in the Post Office yard."[65]

Western Australia edit

George Phillip Stevens Western Australia, was slow to engage in wireless telegraphy experiments, but there was public outcry in response to a number of marine disasters on the Western Australian coast in 1898. A need for communication between the Rottnest Island lighthouse and Fremantle Port (16 miles) was identified. In January 1899, W. J. Hancock (Government electrician) suggested that wireless telegraphy could be employed for the task at much lower cost than submarine cable and noted that greater distances had already been achieved in England.[66] In May 1899, George Phillip Stevens (Manager and Electrician, General Post-office) announced that preliminary tests had just been completed in a workshop environment and provided a comprehensive description of the equipment which was described as simple.[67] Two further marine disasters of the W.A. coast in July 1899, forced the Government to act immediately and an order for submarine cables was placed.[68] Nevertheless, wireless experiments continued. Various difficulties were encountered in extending transmission distance, but in September 1899, Stevens announced that reliable transmissions were now being achieved across 5 rooms in the basement of the Telegraph Office. It was further announced that attempts would now be made between the General Post-office, Perth and the Windsor Hotel, South Perth (about 1 mile).[69] In October 1899, successful tests were conducted between the Perth Yacht Club and a police launch, out to a distance of 3/4 mile. Stevens was limited by local workshop facilities and his coherer was not able to be evacuated, resulting in loss of sensitivity. He recommended acquisition of Marconi apparatus, but this in turn led to excessive establishment costs and experiments ceased at this point.[70][71] The submarine cable between Rottnest Island and the mainland was officially opened in March 1900.[72] Stevens continued to promote wireless telegraphy through public education activities, including practical demonstrations.[73] As part of the Federal Government proposals in 1906, Stevens made enquiries of the Fremantle Harbour Trust as to their attitude to establishment of a station on Rottnest Island, which was supported.[74]

F. McCormick There is a sole report of limited wireless telegraphy experiments at Coolgardie in June 1899. It is stated that the experiments had initially been confused by building wiring induction, but that had now been overcome and Hertzian waves were now being received at a distance of a few feet. McCormick was working with Messrs. Davey and Griffiths in his experiments.[75]

Marconi patents asserted edit

In the late 1890s the various patents held by Marconi and related companies in the United Kingdom and the Americas, were separately asserted in each of the Australian colonies.

1900s edit

Federation edit

On 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies and the province of South Australia joined together to form a new nation, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia gave federal governments power to make laws with respect to specifically defined areas (section 51). In particular, paragraph 51(v) explicitly identified "postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services". While there was no stated specific power in respect of the press, it was considered that such power fell within the scope of paragraph 51(i) "trade and commerce with other countries and among the states", among others.

Post and Telegraph Act 1901 edit

The generic powers under section 51(v) were enunciated in detail in the Post and Telegraph Act 1901,[76] but the act only received royal assent 16 November 1901 and commenced 1 December 1901. The act delegated those powers to the newly established Postmaster-General's Department ("PMG"). This Act included two key definitions: (1) "Telegraphic" includes telephonic and (2) "Telegraph" or "telegraph line" means a wire or cable used for telegraphic or telephonic communication including any casing coating tube tunnel or pipe enclosing the same and any posts masts or piers supporting the same and any apparatus connected therewith or any apparatus for transmitting messages or other communications by means of electricity.

The Act was silent in respect of the relatively new science of wireless telegraphy, which had not yet assumed commercial proportions but likely fell within the scope of "telegraphic".[77] As wireless telegraphy began to display not only commercial but also defence promise, any possible uncertainty of interpretation was removed by a specific act the Wireless Telegraph Act 1905, which placed these powers under PMG. The possible uncertainty had in no way limited the PMG's interest and participation in the new technology before 1905.

Fessenden's tentative initial experiments with wireless telephony would only commence in the following year, but it too clearly fell within scope of both the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. Nevertheless, once wireless telephony began to shine bright on the commercial and defence horizons, this technology too was deemed to warrant explicit provision and some 14 years later, the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1919 simply amended the definition of wireless telegraphy to include wireless telephony.

Continuing wireless experiments edit

Australian radio hams can be traced to the early 1900s. The 1905 Wireless Telegraphy Act[78] while acknowledging the existence of wireless telegraphy, brought all broadcasting matters in Australia under the control of the Federal Government. In 1906, the first official Morse code transmission in Australia was conducted by the Marconi Company between Queenscliff, Victoria and Devonport, Tasmania.[79] However, it must be noted that some sources claim that there were transmissions in Australia as early as 1897 – these were either conducted solely by Professor William Henry Bragg of Adelaide University[80][81] or by Prof. Bragg in conjunction with G.W. Selby of Melbourne.[82]

New South Wales edit

Joseph Patrick Slattery of St Stanilaus' College, Bathurst had a keen interest in wireless telegraphy and was conducting experiments at the college as early as 1900 and these experiments continued for more than a decade. He was ably supported in these experiments by several of the staff at the college, with at least the President, Maurice Joseph O'Reilly being especially skilled in the field.

John P. King of the New South Wales Postmaster-General's Department in 1904 is reported assisting Slattery at St. Stanislaus' College in his experiments as well as conducting his own private experiments.

Horace Greeley Robinson, also known as Hyman Rabinowitz, in his purported ongoing role as Marconi representative in Australia conducted a series of talks and demonstrations at the Centenary Hall, York St, Sydney during September 1906.[83] Refer mainly to Victoria 1900.

George Augustine Taylor was a prolific experimenter. In October 1909, he was the driving force behind the Great Exhibition of Building and Engineering, conducted at Prince Alfred Park, Sydney. The exhibition included displays and demonstrations of wireless telegraphy.[84]

Charles Dansie Maclurcan and Cyril Lane of the Sydney electrical engineering firm Maclurcan and Lane were granted an experimental licence in 1909 and soon commenced wireless telegraphy transmissions from the rooftop of the Wentworth Hotel (owned by Maclurcan's mother).[85] Maclurcan was to become famous in the broadcasting world in the 1920s when he tranmitted broadcasting programmes from his experimental station with callsign 2CM.

Victoria edit

E. J. C. Wraith is reported at an early age in November 1896, for displays of electrical appliances at the Bendigo Juvenile Industrial Exhibition, where he was awarded a gold and a silver medal.[86] From 1898 to 1903 he was a student at the Bendigo School of Mines and employed by the Victorian Railways Department as an engine driver.[87][88] He displayed interest in electrical science and was encouraged in this by school staff and eventually he was constructing his own wireless telegraphy equipment, being the first to do so in the Bendigo district. In January 1902 he is reported as conducting successful experiments with his self-made equipment of the Marconi type, set up in the Bendigo town hall. Messages were sent from one end of the hall to the other, in the presence of G. V. Allen, the secretary of the Bendigo jubilee exhibition.[89] A public demonstration of wireless was subsequently given at the exhibition in March 1902, with the Registrar of the school Captain G. Alec. Thomson assisting.[90] In June 1902, the roles were reversed with Thomson lecturing and Wraith demonstrating both wireless and X-rays technology.[91] Little of Wraith is heard subsequently, he does not appear in early lists of licensed wireless experimenters. In 1916 he filed an application for a patent for Improvements relating to apparatus for inducing air drifts or blasts.[92]

Horace Greeley Robinson, also known as Hyman Rabinowitz, conducted a lecture and exhibition of wireless telegraphy at Glen's Concert Hall, Collins St., Melbourne in August and September 1906.[93] in his stated role as Marconi representative in Australia was providing, upon request, demonstrations of Marconi wireless telegraphy equipment at the premises of the company Munroe and Munroe, 318 Collins St., Melbourne during August & September 1906. Similar lectures and demonstrations were also offered at Centenary Hall, York St., Sydney.[94] But in an interesting twist, it emerged that the demonstrations had been made to lure investors into purchase of shares in the Marconi company. Large sums were paid but few investors ever saw their shares. Robinson / Rabinowitz was arrested in New York and charged with larceny under false pretences in relation the shares.[95] [96] While it was little publicised at the time, Robinson / Rabinowitz was the recipient of the first experimental licence issued by the Department and was no doubt utilised by him to give an air of legitimacy to his scam.[97]

Telefunken proposals to link Victoria, Sydney, New Zealand, Lord Howe island, Norfolk Island - May 1905

Marconi temporary facility Queenscliff and Devonport across the Bass Strait - 1905-1906

Henry Sutton was an inventor potentially responsible for the telephone, the lightbulb, and front wheel drive automobiles. From 1906 he extended his investigations into the field of wireless telegraphy and even wireless telephony. When the Postmaster-General's Department pointed out the need for a licence for these activities, he circumvented the problem by involving the Defence Department.

"Charles Hughes" is reported as having given a lecture with demonstrations on the subject of wireless telegraphy to the Geelong Lodge of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows in August 1909. He was assisted by T. G. Madden. Hughes is assumed to be the same as C. S. C. Hughes of East Melbourne who appears in the 1914 Wireless Institute of Victoria list of current experimental licences, with callsign XJDU.[98]

Victor Charles John Nightingall was a scientist and prolific inventor. He was an early pioneer of X-rays Victoria, undertook experiments with radioactive irradiation of seeds and soils and invented powerful electromagnets. In a letter to the editor of The Age 12 August 1909 in response to the likely loss of the Waratah, states that he has been experimenting with a new system of wireless telegraphy, nearing completion, with input by typewriter rather than morse key. He states that the system will eliminate the need for a skilled wireless operator with very substantial savings.[99] That announcement was silently received, but subsequently a report in February 1910 from Adelaide that Carnotite, a radioactive ore from the Radium Hill mine was being used by Nightingall with great effect (presumed a new form of contact detector) became national news.[100] These experiments led to detailed scrutiny of the obstacles placed in the way of licensing of wireless experimenters, and eventually to the opening of the flood gates for private experimentation.[101] Nightingall's wireless telegraphy system is fully described and beautifully illustrated in The Leader of 12 March 1910.[102] Nightingall is recorded as licensed with callsign XKK in the 1914 WIV list of experimenters. His stature in the wireless industry was reflected in his election as first president of the reformed Wireless Institute of Victoria in 1919.[103]

Queensland edit

Hesketh / PMG tests between South Brisbane (Naval Stores) and Moreton Island (Tangalooma) 1903

In November 1903, John Hesketh was both Queensland Government Electrical Engineer and President of the Queensland Electrical Association (both positions having been previously held by Edward Barton. As part of the University Extension Lecture program, Hesketh gave a lecture on the subjects of "Wireless Telegraphy" and "Telephony". At the conclusion of the lecture a demonstration of Marconi wireless apparatus was provided using the equipment of the Naval Defence Force, kindly lent by Captain Creswell.[104]

Marconi proposals for Torres Strait islands - April 1904

South Australia edit

Edward Hope Kirkby is reported in August 1907 as demonstrating a complete wireless telegraphy apparatus to a journalist of the Adelaide Advertiser, at the U.S.A. depot, Gawler Place, Adelaide. The set was said to be of the kind used by the large Liverpool-America mailboats.[105] Kirkby was also active his wireless experiments in Victoria in the 1890s and New South Wales 1900s

Western Australia edit

Lloyd's proposal for Rottnest Island 1903

Frederick Soddy's services were announced in April 1904 as having been secured by the University Extension committee (of the University of Adelaide) for a series of popular lectures on the subject of radioactivity, X-rays and wireless telegraphy.[106] Soddy had already won fame in his co-discovery (with Rutherford) of the transmutation of elements, though his many other discoveries and award of Nobel Prize lay in the future. The committee was aware that they were fortunate in having such a notable scientist in their midst and arranged a comprehensive program both for Perth and several surrounding country centres. Soddy had concluded his tenure at the University College, London and was about to take up his newly created position as lecturer in physical chemistry and radioactivity at Glasgow University.[107] Soddy arrived at Fremantle 14 June 1904 on board RMS Australia. In an interesting twist, this vessel was wrecked at Point Nepean less than a week later (fortunately with no loss of life).[108] The lectures were entitled "Radium and Modern Views on Electricity and Matter". The planned schedule of lectures was varied in number and timing through the course of the tour, but in the end included 7 in Perth (one of which was a repeat), 3 in Fremantle, 2 in Kalgoorlie and 1 each in Coolgardie, Northam, York, Albany and Bunbury.

His first Perth lecture was on 20 June 1904 at St. George's Hall, Perth resulted in an attendance of 800, with some 300 having to be turned away.[109] That first lecture included demonstration of a large induction coil for the production of "high frequency currents", but there was no reference to either a Herzian coil detector or a Branly coherer, so it can not be conclusively said that wireless was covered.[110] The lecture was repeated on 23 June at Queen's Hall, Perth (then the largest capacity hall in the State) to try to accommodate the many who had not been able to be granted entry previously. This venue was also used for all the remaining Perth lectures.[111] The "second" lecture was given on 25 June and mainly addressed fundamentals of physical chemistry and electricity, but concluded with a brief treatment of wireless: "Mr. Soddy concluded with an analogous treatment of wireless telegraphy. He gave several examples of electrical resonance, and also an interesting experiment with miniature wireless telegraphy apparatus."[112] It was his third lecture which was of greatest interest in the history of wireless, being entirely devoted to "Wireless Telegraphy". A comprehensive survey was provided of the theoretical studies of Maxwell, the practical experiments of Herz and the realisation of the technology by Marconi. The demonstrations were properly detailed by solely one journalist versed in the technology: "The radiator which he had on the platform gave a wave a hundred feet long, the hall was about a wave length ... An experiment was then shown in which a wave from the radiator on the platform rang a bell in the back gallery of the hall ... He had on the table a receiving set of instruments as utilised in the Lodge-Muirhead system of wireless telegraphy, and with these he had seen messages sent over a distance of 45 miles. Ordinary telegraph instruments could be adapted to this system. The coherer was of a special type. A steel disc revolved in a pool of mercury covered with a film of oil. In ordinary circumstances the oil insulated the disc from the mercury. A wave coming along broke down the insulation, the two metals cohered and a signal passed through the apparatus into the recorder". [113] The fourth lecture was held on 19 July and addressed the discharge of electricity through rarified gases (a repeat of a Fremantle lecture).[114] The fifth lecture was delivered 22 July and was characterised by the theft of one of the spinthariscopes being circulated amongst the audience.[115] The sixth and final lecture on 23 July addressed primarily geophysical and astronomical matters.[116]

The first lecture at Fremantle was given on 21 June at Victoria Hall, which venue was also utilised for subsequent lectures.[117] A second lecture was delivered 27 June.[118] The third lecture on 30 June concluded the series at Fremantle.[119] Further lectures were conducted in each of Kalgoorlie (Her Majesty's Theatre, 5 July[120], 8 July[121]), Coolgardie (Technical School, 7 July[122]), Northam (Town Hall, 12 July[123]), York (Mechanics' Institute, 13 July[124]), Albany (Town Hall, 15 July[125]) and Bunbury (Masonic Hall, 20 July[126]). It is not clear whether the shorter lectures in the country areas addressed wireless telegraphy other than in passing, the focus being upon Radium and radio-activity and it may be that only the instruments were displayed. Soddy's visit to Western Australia caused a significant burst of interest in scientific education in the state and perhaps a trigger for the establishment of its first university The University of Western Australia in 1911. He is recorded as strongly advocating the establishment of a university at the conclusion of his tour.[127] Soddy departed on 27 July aboard the RMS Moldavia for Sydney and thence to North America and Great Britain.[128]

Perth Technical School at its annual demonstration 9 December 1904 included a note: "A very popular resort with visitors was the electrical classrooms, in which interesting demonstrations were given. The apparatus includes some of the instruments used by Mr. Soddy in his recent "Radium" lectures, notably an apparatus for showing high frequency currents."[129] The school's annual report for 1904 reveals incidentally further detail of the Soddy instruments: "Mathematical and Physical Department. During this year the work of this department has largely increased with the influx of students, but Mr. Allen and his assistant, Mr. Clucas, have proved equal to the demands made upon them. The appointment of a second assistant will enable important developments to be made. Indents have just been despatched for further valuable apparatus, and soon this school will be fully equipped for the training of electrical and other engineers. One very important gain to this department last year was the acquisition by purchase of most of the apparatus used by Mr. Soddy in his university extension course on radium."[130] It seems unlikely that the Lodge-Muirhead equipment was included in the acquisition, given that that group also fiercely protected its patents, but equally the core equipment would have been easily leveraged into wireless equipment by the lecturers and students of the school.

Tasmania edit

Lloyd's proposal for Bass Strait 1901

AWA proposal for Bass Strait 1901-1903

Visit of Japanese training squadron 1903 to Hobart was a matter of great public anticipation. The Mercury of 29 May 1903 announced that William Philpot Hallam would be conducting further wireless telegraphy experiments, attempting to communicate with the warships off Cape Pillar with equipment set up at the Shot tower.[131] The warships however arrived a little earlier than expected and messages were only briefly intercepted before the progress of the vessels up the river resulted in hills along the propagation path and consequent signal attenuation.[132]

Hobart Conversazione 1904[133] A Scientific Conversazione was held in Hobart in September 1904. Displays included wireless telegraphy equipment under the charge of W. P. Hallam.[134][135] The Mercury of 19 September reported: "The committee room will be in charge of Messrs. Robert Henry, W. P. Hallam, and Mr. Todd. This room will be fitted up with electrical appliances, including the wireless telegraphy, which will be explained and at work during each evening."[136] A later report makes it clear that the wireless telegraphy equipment was operated by W. P. Hallam, Frederick William Medhurst and C. Hamilton.[137] It was also later revealed that the equipment displayed was the same as that utilised for the Royal Vistit to Hobart in 1901.[138] W. P. Hallam was subsequently granted a wireless experimenter's licence and appears in the 1914 WIV list with callsign XZH. Medhurst also appears in that list with callsign XZD, after WW2 he was licensed as 7AH. Medhurst was never required to pass an AOCP examination, no doubt due to his employment and involvement in the field.

Mt Nelson to Tasman Island 1906. 3/4 February 1906, the prodigious William Philpot Hallam conducted a number of successful experiments using home-made equipment and assisted by his team of co-workers at the Telegraph Office of the Hobart GPO. The report was as follows: "On Saturday and Sunday Mr. W. P. Hallam, of the Telegraph Department at Hobart Post-office, conducted some interesting experiments in wireless telegraphy, between Mt. Nelson signal station and Tasman Island, also between that station and a steamer proceeding down the river. The s.s. Moonah left Hobart in the afternoon on Saturday equipped with a wireless receiving apparatus, and signals were sent from Mt. Nelson, and received on board up to the time the steamer passed out of the river. The next day Mr. Hallam's assistant landed from the s.s. Moonah at Tasman Island, fixed up a receiving circuit there, and he received signals sent by Mr. Hallam from Mt. Nelson, from 9 a.m. till 11.50 p.m.; but not having a transmitting instrument the assistant could not reply. The receiving indicator was one of Mr. Hallam's own design. He states that the trial was very satisfactory as far as it went, and it was only a matter of detail to put wireless telegraphy into regular use between those two places. The main object of the test was in connection with the desire of the Marine Board to establish wireless telegraphy between Mt. Nelson and the lighthouses, and it is evident that this may be done without difficulty, being simply a question of cost."[139]

Merchant shipping edit

While Australia's deployment of a network of coastal wireless stations was lost for a decade in a regulatory policy impasse, individual ships in international service were often already equipped for wireless communication. Facilities were used for reception of weather information by the high power long wave transmitters elsewhere in the world. When more than one such ship was in or close to an Australian port, the "sparkies" communicated amongst themselves.

Many developed countries were contemplating compulsory installation of wireless telegraphy on larger vessels for safety of life reasons. Even Australia which was unable to reach a landing on coastal stations on her own shores, in awarding the England-Australia mail contract for 1909 to Peninsular and Orient Co. made it a requirement that all vessels deployed in the mail service be equipped with wireless.

P & O Line edit

RMS Mantua (Callsign: MME[140]) was custom built for the mail contract and was launched in April 1909. She was the 8th of the Caird & Co "M" class vessels and initial fitout included Marconi wireless.[141] Her first Australian port of call was Fremantle, arriving 6 July 1909 and a local reporter of the Perth Daily News gave comprehensive background on the wireless equipment: "Messages through space; M+aphy installed on RMS Mantua a great success; The P. and O. RMS Mantua, the first English mail boat travelling to Australia carrying the Marconi wireless telegraph, arrived at Fremantle this morning, and great public interest was taken in the skeleton looking apparatus placed on both mast heads. The particular instrument carried on the Mantua has a range of 250 miles, and in this respect differs greatly from the huge liners which cross the Atlantic, but it is considered that this range will more than suffice should emergencies arise during the vessel's progress through the Pacific and Indian Oceans. On the Atlantic liners again two operators are carried, but so far the Mantua has hardly found enough employment for one telegraphist. During the voyage out the Mantua's operator, who is one of Marconi's skilled young men, flashed out messages each day in the hope of gaining connection with some other instrument over the vast expanse of water. When the Mantua emerged from the Red Sea, the first vessels she greeted a la Marconi were two Japanese merchant vessels, which, though scores of miles out of sight, returned the felicitous greetings of the Britisher. Then a prowling English man-o'-war skirting round the shallows of the Seychelles Islands, snapped back a hearty business-like message. During the whole of the journey from Tilbury to Port Said people were sending messages ashore to their friends. It was a novelty, and although costing about 1s. a word to dispatch, with a minimum charge of 6s. 6d., the luxury was largely availed of. The Morea and Malwa, sister ships to the Mantua, are also fitted up with wireless telegraph apparatus."[142] She arrived at Hobson's Bay, Melbourne on 12 July 1909 and it was reported that "The steamer is fitted with the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy, and during the passage out other vessels and people on shore were freely communicated with. Captain F. W. Vibert, who is a well-known visitor to Hobson's Bay, has command of the Mantua."[143] Upon arrival in Sydney, the wireless officer A. F. Goodliffe was interviewed and reported on the problems with obtaining acknowlegement of transmissions with many naval vessels due to protocols in place. But noted that approaching Sydney, communication had been established with the HMS Pyramus.[144]

RMS Malwa 1909 (Callsign: MMD[140])

RMS Morea (Callsign: MMF[140]) though having been launched without wireless telegraphy, was subsequently retrofitted with the necessary equipment. Upon her arrival in Fremantle 18 August 1909, was reported now to be carrying wireless, further that she had been communicating near Cocos Island with the RMS Mantua.[145]

RMS China (Callsign: MMU[140]) On 27 April 1910 it was reported: "The P. and O. Company's R.M.S. China, from London, arrived at Fremantle yesterday morning. The China has recently undergone extensive alterations, and is fitted with a wireless plant.[146]

Orient Line edit

Orient Line shared the Australian Government contract for the Great Britain-Australia mail with the P&O Line. Each company had a vessel sailing from England to Australia every two weeks, resulting in a weekly service of fast mail ships. Five ships were launched in early 1909 and maiden voyages commenced mid 1909. The ships were the RMS Orsova, RMS Osterley, RMS Otway, RMS Otranto, RMS Orvieto.

RMS Orsova (Callsign: MOF[140]) was an ocean liner owned by the Orient Steam Navigation Company. She was built by John Brown & Company at Clydebank, Scotland in 1909 to operate a passenger and mail service between London and Australia (via Suez Canal). The Orient Line and P&O Line shared the mail contract for Britain-Australia. Her maiden voyage was 25 June 1909. It was reported in January 1909 that the ship would be "fitted with wireless telegraphy, and with all modern appliances for securing the safety and comfort of passengers."[147] Immediately prior to her first arrival at Fremantle on 29 July 1909, the wireless facilities were described: "On top of the charthouse is the standard compass and observation platform. Aft of the forward funnel casing, is situated the Marconi house, in which the wireless telegraph apparatus is fitted, and accommodation is provided in same for the operators.[148]

RMS Osterley (Callsign: MOY[140]) was an ocean liner owned by the Orient Steam Navigation Company. She was built by the London and Glasgow Shipbuilding Company and launched 27 January 1909.[149] Despite reports that she was fitted initially with wireless telegraphy, this was not the case, the owners stating that they were waiting for Australian coastal stations to be erected.[150] Finally, upon arrival at Fremantle 6 September 1910 it was reported: "Since the last visit of the Orient liner Osterley to Australia, she has been installed with the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy. On the present voyage out from England the ship was in touch with Poldhu (Cornwall) up to within 24 hours of arrival at Port Said, the world's latest telegrams being received daily, and a copy posted in all classes for the passengers' information."[151]

RMS Otway (Callsign: MOH[140]) At the time of launch, the Otway was stated to be being fitted for wireless telegraphy equipment. Her sister ship the RMS Otranto had actually been so fitted at time of commissioning and there was an expectation that the Otway would likewise. But when the Otway arrived in Melbourne 1 August 1909, it was reported: "Apparently the Orient S.N. Co. is in no hurry to equip all its liners with "wireless" until the establishment of Australian shore stations admits of practical use being made of the system between sea and land. In view, however, of the fact that the Otranto was installed with "wireless" before she left London on her present visit to the Commonwealth, it was generally anticipated that the other liners of the fleet would be similarly fitted in turn before their departure for Australia. This expectation, however, is not being fulfilled, as the Otway, which arrived at Port Melbourne yesterday morning, having left London a fortnight later than the Otranto, is still without a "wireless" apparatus. So far, therefore, the Otranto is the only vessel of the "Orient" line with this invaluable system installed. The Otway berthed alongside the Port Melbourne Railway Pier early yesterday morning, having experienced a quiet and enjoyable trip from London via the usual stages. The passengers comprised about 90 in the saloon and 480 in the third class, all of whom were apparently well pleased with their sojourn on board the fine liner. She leaves for Sydney to-day."[152]

RMS Otranto (Callsign: MOD[140]) Unlike other ships of the Orient line, the RMS Otranto was actually fitted with wireless telegraphy equipment at the time of its commissioning, following its launch 27 March 1909. The Otranto made free use of wireless on her voyage to Australia, establishing communication with shore stations and liners en route. During the maiden voyage of the Otranto, wireless exchanges passed between the liner and the Poldhu station, at Cornwall, England until at a distance of 1,500 miles further contact became impossible. It was noted that items of news received from the land by wireless were greatly appreciated by the Otranto's passengers.[152]

RMS Orvieto 1910 (Callsign: MOJ[140])

Union Line edit

RMS Makura (Callsign: MKU[140]) was a ship of the Union Steam Ship Co of NZ which had the mail contract between Australia and Canada. Being fitted with wireless telegraphy equipment was a major marketing advantage. In December 1909 upon arrival in Sydney it was reported: "Since her last visit to Sydney the R.M.S. Makura, of the Canadian-Australian mail line, has been fitted with a powerful wireless telegraphic apparatus, and on the voyage from Vancouver to Sydney, completed yesterday, many experiments of a highly successful character were carried out. The installation was made at Vancouver, and the apparatus extends from the mainmast to the foremast. The best record established in the daytime was 800 miles, while at night-time communication was carried on at much greater distances — up to nearly 2000 miles. It is claimed that under exceptionally favourable conditions it will be possible for the Makura to despatch messages over a distance of nearly 3000 miles. The wireless system of the Makura is said to be the most complete yet installed in any merchant vessel employed in the Pacific Ocean. The Makura was never out of communication with land during the whole of the passage from Vancouver to Honolulu, and the "wireless" station at Nome in Alaska was spoken from a distance of 1100 miles. On an average about 20 messages were despatched for passengers nightly on the run from Vancouver to Honolulu, and "press" messages were received when 1500 miles from Honolulu containing the news of the world. When two days out from Vancouver the Makura picked up the Lurline, then lying to the westward of Honolulu, 1900 miles away, and five days later the two vessels met at the entrance to Honolulu. The Makura after leaving Honolulu remained in communication with that port for five days, and then the mail steamer was out of touch with land until Tuesday night last. All the way from Suva in Fiji the Makura made repeated attempts every night to pick up vessels on the Australian coast, but it was not until Tuesday evening, when steaming down this coast, that she received a reply, and that came from the P. and O. Company's R.M.S. Morea in Neutral Bay."[153]

RMS Marama (Callsign: MKM[140])was a ship of the Union Steam Ship Co of NZ. In August 1910, in Sydney it was reported: "The Canadian-Australian RMS Marama arrived from Vancouver, via Victoria, Honolulu, Fanning Island, Suva and Brisbane, at 3.40 yesterday afternoon (9 August). She left Vancouver at noon on July 15, and Victoria the following morning. Fine weather and smooth sea were experienced to Honolulu which port was reached on the morning of July 23. Leaving again in the afternoon of the same day, she called at Fanning Island on 26th, and reached Suva at midday on 2nd inst. Between Honolulu and Fanning strong winds and squalls were experienced; thence fine weather to Suva. She departed from Suva at 2.30 a.m. on the 3rd, and experienced fine weather to Brisbane, which port was reached at 3.30 p.m. on 7th. She left again at 4 a.m. on 8th, and experienced moderate sea with occasional rain squalls on passage to Sydney. While at Vancouver the Marama was installed with wireless telegraphy by the United Wireless Telegraph Company and some very satisfactory results were obtained on the passage."[154]

NDL Line edit

SS Bremen (Callsign: DBR[140]) later renamed Constantinople and then King Alexander, was a German Barbarossa class ocean liner commissioned in 1897 by Norddeutscher Lloyd. The SS Bremen was built by F. Schichau of Danzig for the Norddeutscher-Lloyd line. She started her maiden voyage on 5 June 1897 and was sadly most notable for passing through the debris field on 20 April 1912 left by the sinking of the RMS Titanic. On 21 November 1907 it was reported: "The advantage of wireless telegraphy was again demonstrated yesterday, when the N.D.L. steamer Bremen, coming up the coast, communicated with H.M.S. Encounter at Garden Island by means of the "wireless," requesting the commander to convey to the agents of the Norddeutscher Lloyd, Messrs. Lohmann and Co., the fact that the German mail steamer would reach Sydney Harbor at about 5 o'clock. The message was promptly delivered, thus facilitating in a marked degree the arrangements for landing the passengers. The present instance is the first on record of the use of wireless telegraphy by a mail steamer on this coast."[155]

SS Königin Luise (Callsign: DKL[140]) was a Barbarossa-class ocean liner built in 1896 by Vulcan Shipbuilding Corp. of Stettin, Germany, for the North German Lloyd line of Bremen. She is mentioned in a report of November 1909 "After the absence of a few years from the Australian service, the N.D.L. liner Konigin Luise is due at Fremantle on Sunday next from Bremerhaven. Since she was here last she had had wireless telegraphy apparatus installed, and Mr. W. Katsenbuy has charge of it.[156]

Navy, coastal and ships edit

Australian fleet edit

Australian naval warships (more precisely ships of the British navy on Australia station) were increasingly equipped with Marconi apparatus, with communication range often in hundreds of miles.

Garden Island naval station A naval coastal station was established at Garden Island with little fanfare prior to November 1907. In November 1907 the volume of messages being transacted through the station to and from naval ships was so high that there was informal discussion between relevant authorities whether the ships meteorological reports could be regularised and publicly distributed.[157] In July 1909 it was stated that communication was established with the RMS Mantua while more than 200 miles from the Heads prior to her arrival on her maiden voyage.[158]

HMS Euryalus was a Cressy-class armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy around 1900. Badly damaged by multiple accidents while fitting out, she was not completed until 1904. She became flagship of the Australia Station that year and was reduced to reserve upon her return in 1905. Having been fitted with wireless telegraphy, she is recorded as attempting to contact HMS Powerful while in Fremantle harbour, immediately prior to her return to Great Britain.[159]

HMS Powerful was a ship of the Powerful class of protected cruisers in the Royal Navy. She was built by Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness and launched on 24 July 1895. The Powerful was fitted with wireless telegraphy equipment and in Australian waters from December 1905. It does appear that the wireless equipment was being continuously refined and updated, as distance being achieved steadily increased. In September 1906 it was reported that "The Powerful left Melbourne for Sydney direct on Wednesday last, and was followed by H.M.S. Cambrian, H.M.S. Psyche, and H.M.S. Encounter. A series of experiments in wireless telegraphy was made on the trip along the coast with great success. Communications were held between the four warships at distances ranging up to 50 miles, and the Powerful, when to the south-ward of Jervis Bay, 90 miles from Sydney, yesterday morning, sent a message to Garden Island, which was received without mutilation."[160] In March 1907, "The following message was received this afternoon at Garden Island Naval Depot by wireless telegraphy from H.M.S. Powerful — 150 miles south. Will arrive 6.30 a.m. tomorrow. Sea moderate. Strong southerly breeze," a new distance record.[161] By September 1909 the equipment had been upgraded and / or refined to the extent that distances almost ten times that were being achieved: "Return of the Admiral, Island Cruise of the Powerful; HMS Powerful, with his Excellency Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Poore and staff on board, reached Sydney at midnight on Saturday from her cruise in the islands. At Port Vila, in the New Hebrides, the Admiral temporarily transferred his flag to the Prometheus, and proceeded, on a voyage of inspection, to all the principal islands of the group. Subsequently the Powerful visited Suva. On the way from Fiji to Sydney heavy weather was encountered, which delayed the Powerful for some hours. Communication was carried on with Sydney by means of wireless telegraphy, over a distance of 1100 miles."[162]

HMS Challenger was a second-class protected cruiser of the Challenger-class of the [Royal Navy. A February 1907 report states "reached Fremantle yesterday morning from Singapore. Commander Tilbits reported that Singapore was left on January 22, the day before the departure of the flagship and Encounter. Connection was made at Java Heads by wireless telegraphy with HMS Pegasus, which had been receiving a new crew at Colombo from H.M.S. Vindictive. The Pegasus was proceeding to Sydney via the east coast of Australia and Batavia. After passing the Straits of Sunda communication was established by wireless telegraphy with the flagship, and continued until Wednesday, when the ships parted company. The Challenger will sail this morning for Albany." [163] In May 1909, focus was on fully bridging the Tasman Sea by wireless between the naval ports at Sydney and Wellington, but the propagation path shielding in the Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour was proving challenging. In a newspaper report it was stated: "Wireless across the Tasman; Another demonstration of wireless communication between ships of the Australian squadron was given during the voyage of HMS Challenger from Sydney to Wellington. The Challenger was able to communicate with the flagship Powerful, lying in Sydney Harbor, over 1200 miles away, right from the time of her departure from Sydney till when she turned in Cook Strait. Only one period of difficulty was experienced, when the high wind flapping the stays against the wires somewhat interfered with the messages. One night the Challenger spoke the Prometheus on her way to Norfolk Island. One of the officers of the cruiser interviewed at Wellington said:— "The Challenger had only two wires aloft previously, now she has eight. And the rigging has all been insulated, cutting off indirect communication with the earth, and doing away with what the wireless men call the 'screening' of messages. These alterations were made while in Sydney, so that these messages were really a test. Other means of improvement have been discovered, and the system will be made more perfect." Official communications to the Commander-in-Chief at Sydney comprised a large part of the messages sent. News of the fever cases on board was also communicated, and news from beyond Australia — of the two-Power standard, the American Fleet, racing topics, etc. — was received."[164]

HMS Pyramus was a Pelorus-class protected cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was laid down at Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Jarrow in May 1896, and launched on 15 May 1897. She served in various colonial posts, including the Royal Navy on Australian station from 1905. In the voyage to Australia in late 1905, she encountered numerous boiler failures and these continued throughout the earliest period of her Australian deployment. She was equipped with Marconi wireless telegraphy and in March 1906 is reported as calling the HMS Encounter from Garden Island to advise of the problems.[165] She was also the first warship to communicate with the RMS Mantua as she ran up the Australia coast towards Sydney on her maiden voyage to Australia.[144]

HMS Pegasus was one of 11 Pelorus-class protected cruisers ordered for the Royal Navy in 1893 under the Spencer Program and based on the earlier Pearl class. Like all of the Pelorus class cruisers, she had numerous boiler issues, but was briefly on Australian service around 1905. She was fitted with wireless telegraphy equipment.

HMS Psyche was a Pelorus-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy at the end of the 19th century. Initially operating on the North America and West Indies Station, the cruiser was transferred to the Australian Squadron in 1903, and remained there until the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) took over responsibility in 1913.

HMS Encounter was a second-class protected cruiser of the Challenger class operated by the Royal Navy and later the Royal Australian Navy. She was built by HM Dockyard Devonport and completed at the end of 1905.

HMS Cambrian was a second-class protected cruiser, of the Royal Navy, built at the Pembroke Dockyard and launched on 30 January 1893.[166] She was the last flagship of the Australia Station. In May 1910 she was a participant in a message which set the Fleet's wireless record. "During the voyage of H.M. flagship Powerful to Fremantle the fleet record for wireless telegraphy in Australian waters was established by the ship. When nearing Fremantle she was able to receive a message form H.M.S. Cambrian in port, at Hobart, a distance of over 1,500 miles away. The Cambrian requested to know if the Powerful had any instructions for her, to which query the Powerful sent a negative reply.[167]

HMS Pioneer was a Pelorus-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy at the end of the 19th century. A brief report in November 1909 stated: "Wireless signals from HMS Powerful in Sydney Harbor have been picked up by the Pioneer, lying at Lyttelton. This is the first time such signals have been projected across the Tasman Sea without retransmission."[168]

Japanese fleet edit

Japanese naval training squadron, Australian visit 1903. In March 1903 it was announced that the Japanese naval training squadron, consisting of the Matsushima, Itsukushima and Hashidate, would be visiting Australia.[169] Rear Admiral Kamimura was in command of the squadron. Note that it was the practice of the squadron for the commander to regularly rotate ship to maximise training effectiveness for all crew, hence the flagship also would regularly rotate. All three cruisers were fitted with Marconi wireless telegraphy equipment. The squadron had left Yokosuka, Japan on 15 February[169] and the tour included Hong Kong, Singapore, Batavia, Perth (Itsukushima, awaiting news of other two cruisers, 4 April to X April),[170] Onslow (Matsushima & Hakidate, unscheduled due to damage to Matsushima during cyclone, X April to X April), Carnarvon (unscheduled due to cyclone dame & resultant need for recoaling, 19 April to 21 April), Perth (22 April to 30 April),[171] Adelaide (7 May to 13 May),[172] Melbourne (16 May to 30 May),[173] Hobart (1 June to 2 June),[174] Sydney (5 June to 14 June),[175] Townsville (????), Thursday Island (1 July),[176] Manila, Amoy, Fusan, Formosa, returning to Yokosuka.[177]

Japanese naval training squadron, Australian visit 1906. In March 1906 it was announced that the Japanese naval training squadron, consisting again of the Matsushima, Itsukushima and Hashidate, would again be visiting Australia.[178] Rear Admiral Shimamura was in command of the squadron. All three cruisers were fitted with Marconi wireless telegraphy equipment. The squadron had left Yokosuka, Japan on 15 February and the tour schedule included Korean ports, Chinese ports, Manila, Thursday Island (18 April to 20 April),[179] Townsville, Melbourne (9 May to 17 May),[180] Sydney (21 May to 28 May),[181] Goode Island (Thursday Island) (10 June),[182] Batavia, Singapore, Formosa, returning to Yokosuka.[183]

Japanese naval training squadron, Australian visit 1907. In March 1907 it was announced that the Japanese naval training squadron, consisting again of the Matsushima, Itsukushima and Hashidate, would again be visiting Australia, albeit briefly.[184] Rear Admiral Tomioka was in command of the squadron. All three cruisers were fitted with Marconi wireless telegraphy equipment. The squadron had left Yokosuka, Japan on X February and the tour schedule included Honolulu (Hawaii), Suva (Fiji) (19 March to 25 March), Wellington (New Zealand) (31 March to 7 April), Brisbane (13 April),[185] Thursday Island, Batavia, Singapore, returning to Yokosuka.

Japanese naval training squadron, Australian visit 1910. In February 1910 it was announced that the Japanese naval training squadron, consisting of the Aso and the Soya would be visiting Australia.[186] Rear Admiral Hikojirō was in command of the squadron. Both cruisers were fitted with Telefunken wireless telegraphy equipment. The tour included Thursday Island (March 3),[187] Townsville (March 7 to March 13),[188] Brisbane (13 March to 17 March),[189] Sydney (March 19 to March 27),[190] Hobart (March 30 to April 4),[191] Melbourne (April 7 to April 16),[192] Adelaide (April 19 to April 23),[193] Albany (April 29 to May 2),[194] Fremantle (May 4 to May 11),[195] Batavia, Suraybaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Formosa, Shanghai, returning to Yokosuka.

Matsushima (松島) (Callsign ?) was a Matsushima-class protected cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was part of the Japanese squadron of three cruisers (initially the flagship) which visited Australia in 1903, all of which were equipped with Marconi wireless telegraphy. In perhaps the first recorded instance of wireless telegraphy being put to practical effect (rather than simple communication) near Australian waters, when the three cruisers of the squadron became separated during a cyclone and the Matsushima damaged her boilers, she announced her plight by wireless telegraphy and the Hashidate came to her aid. The two cruisers then travelled in company to the calmer waters of Exmouth Gulf, where repairs were effected.[196] At this stage the Rear-Admiral transferred to the Hashidate, which then became the flagship for the remainder of the tour. The Matsushima was sunk in 1908 in a terrible accident with the loss of more than 200 lives.

Itsukushima (厳島) (Callsign JUN) was the lead ship in the Matsushima class of protected cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Japanese cruiser became separated from its squadron in the course of cyclonic weather in April 1903 and was the first to arrive at the port of Fremantle, thereby becoming the first vessel of the squadron to make port in Australia. The ship was equipped with wireless telegraphy equipment.[197]

Hashidate (橋立) (Callsign JUO) was the third (and final vessel) in the Matsushima class of protected cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was part of the Japanese squadron which visited Australia in 1903, all of which were equipped with Marconi wireless telegraphy. An enterprising reporter has provided a comprehensive account of the Hashidate while in Sydney Harbour.[198]

Aso (Callsign JRL) was originally the cruiser Bayan, the name ship of the four Bayan-class armoured cruisers built for the Imperial Russian Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She struck a mine and sunk during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05. She was salvaged and extensively repaired by the Imperial Japanese Navy, then renamed the Aso. She served initially as a ]training ship]. She was equipped with Telefunken wireless telegraphy apparatus and visited Australia in 1910 as part of the visit of the training squadron.[199] On 6 May 1910, the Encounter and HMS Challenger were also at Fremantle port, and the Encounter wirelessed an invitation to Admiral Ijichi to attend a dinner with Vice-Admiral Poore on board the HMS Powerful on 7 May 1910, the latter ship being about to enter the port also.[200]

Soya (Callsign JLD) was originally the Russian cruiser Varyag. The ship was badly damaged during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 and scuttled. After the war, she was salvaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy and extensively repaired. She was renamed the Soya and served initially as a training ship. She was equipped with Telefunken wireless telegraphy apparatus and visited Australia in 1910 as part of the visit of the training squadron.[199]

USA fleet edit

The "Great White Fleet" of the USA visited Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Albany) in August & September 1908. The depth of fond sentiment towards the United States displayed at the time of the announcement that the Great White Fleet would be visiting can be gauged by the following:

The Fleet that is Coming to Sydney; An official despatch from Washington states that Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, in charge of the major portion of the battle fleet of the United States, will leave San Francisco on July 6. The fleet will visit Hawaii, Samoa, Melbourne, and Sydney. It will then proceed to the Philippines for the autumn gunnery practice, and return to the Atlantic, via the Suez Canal. The Right Hon. James Bryce, British Ambassador at Washington, supported the Commonwealth's invitation to the fleet to visit Australia. On Saturday evening, at the Centenary Hall, Sydney, when the Prime Minister concluded his address on national defence, he intimated that he had just received a cable message to the effect that the American fleet would visit Melbourne and Sydney. In an instant the hall rang with tumultuous cheering. Mr. Deakin, waiting with uplifted hand, for a lull in the storm, presently shouted: 'The least we can do is to give three cheers for the United States.' The great audience rose en masse, and cheer after cheer was given to the waving of hats and canes and handkerchiefs. The Prime Minister: I venture to say that a welcome such as that fleet has never known, outside its own country at all events, will be given it in Australia. (Great cheering.)[201]

The fleet entered Sydney Harbour on 20 August 1908 with a vast and tumultuous welcome in a "spectacle of unparalleled majesty" viewed by more than half a million people.[202] After a week of celebrations, the fleet departed for Melbourne 28 August 1908.[203] It was less than two days steaming before the fleet arrived at Port Phillip, Melbourne to a welcome on 29 August 1908 only slightly more subdued than that at Sydney.[204] After the scheduled week in Melbourne, the fleet departed on 5 September 1908 with the newspapers of the day publishing patriotic poems about the visit.[205] The fleet's arrival a few hours early on 11 September 1908 at Albany, Western Australia (the then small town with the large harbour), caught the residents and many country visitors literally napping. When the word spread there was a rush of people to the vantage points on the heads and elsewhere.[206] A further week in Albany allowed both coaling operations and celebrations, with the majority of the fleet departing 18 September 1908.[207] While the fleet did not visit any other Australian ports, it closely hugged the Western Australian coastline on its way to Manila and local shipping companies did good business taking tourist out to view the fleet under steam.[208]

For Australia, with wireless telegraphy equipment only deployed to a handful of British naval vessels on Australia Station at the time, the temporary presence of the Great White Fleet meant a 200+ per cent increase in its wireless systems. The vast majority of vessels in the USA fleet were equipped with wireless telegraphy. It is curious that a wide variety of different wireless systems were being utilised by the USA fleet, with no known inter-operability issues. Yet a few years later, Australia remained concerned about the ability of each system to work with the others. The vessels and their wireless equipments were as follows[209]:

  • USS Ajax (relief, callsign BD)
  • USS Connecticut (flagship, callsign DC, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Culgoa (auxiliary, callsign DG, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Georgia (callsign EM, Stone system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Glacier (auxiliary, callsign EN, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Illinois (callsign FL, Fessenden system, wavelength 425 metres, power 1kW)
  • USS Kansas (callsign GF, Stone system, wavelength 425 metres, power 5kW)
  • USS Kearsarge (callsign GI, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Kentucky (callsign GK, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Louisiana (callsign GT, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Minnesota (callsign HO, Stone system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Missouri (callsign HQ, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Nebraska (callsign IE, Telefunken system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS New Jersey (callsign IK, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Ohio (callsign IW, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2kW)
  • USS Panther (auxiliary, (callsign JG, Composite system, wavelength 425 metres, power 2½kW))
  • USS Rhode Island (callsign KA, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 1½kW)
  • USS Vermont (callsign LO, Telefunken system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Virginia (callsign LQ, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Wisconsin (callsign MB, Shoemaker system, wavelength 425 metres, power 3kW)
  • USS Yankton (relief, callsign MK, Telefunken system, wavelength 425 metres, power 1kW)

As the fleet steamed west from Pearl Harbour, its movements were widely reported in the media as "wireless messages" and "Marconigrams". But the implied directness was not representative and the messages had to almost circumnavigate the globe due to the lack of receiving facilities in Australasia, coupled together with the British Admiralty's refusal to communicate with non-Marconi systems:

How Wireless Messages were Obtained. Mr. Henry M. Collins (general manager for Australasia of Reuter's Telegraph Company, Limited) wrote to us under date Melbourne, August 6:— "As a good deal of curiosity has been aroused by the wireless telegrams received by this company from the American Fleet during the past few days, it may be of interest to the public to know how the information has been obtained. For some time past endeavours have been in progress to get into touch with the battleships before their arrival at Auckland for which port they steamed direct from Honolulu. It was at first attempted to establish communication through the good offices of the British Admiral; but it was found on enquiry that H.M.S. Powerful could not exchange wireless messages with the American vessels, presumably because different systems are employed. During last week the United States storeship Glacier arrived at Suva, and on Friday we learned from our correspondent there that efforts would be made to speak with our representative on board one of the battleships on Tuesday, the 4th instant, at a distance of 1,200 miles. Meanwhile it would be sought to establish a chain of communications on our behalf through the United States vessel Yankton, then lying at Tonga, and the Panther, at the coaling station Pago Pago, in the Samoan group. In this success was achieved, with the result that we have been able to place the information so obtained at the disposal of your readers on five days in succession. As the Glacier left Suva today the aerial "chain" has been broken — for the time being, at least."[210]

Prior to the fleet's arrival in Australia, there was only a brief report that Lee de Forest's wireless telephony equipment had been installed in the vessels of the Great White Fleet.[211] However, while the Great White Fleet was in Australian ports, there was surprisingly little reference to the ships' wireless telegraphy equipment. But a month after the fleets' departure, a detailed report was provided stating that all the warships were not only equipped with wireless telegraphy equipment, but also for wireless telephony. This is among the earliest recorded use of the latter technology in the Commonwealth:

All the ships in the American fleet which recently left Australian waters are fitted with a wireless telephone, besides the usual wireless telegraph gear. The success of the installation of this system — invented by Dr. De Forest — has been so thoroughly established that it has been possible to establish communication thereby to distances up to 25 miles. The average working range, however, is about five or 10 miles. The system is a comparatively new one, a successful demonstration of it not having been given until the middle of last year. Seeing the value of such a useful addition to the wireless telegraph, the United States Navy authorities at once ordered trial sets of the instruments to be installed in the battleships Connecticut and Virginia, in conjunction with a shore station. It proved of such value during the grounding of the Kentucky, in Hampton Roads, that it was decided to fit all the ships of Admiral Evans's fleet with it before they left for their voyage round the world. This was done with the utmost despatch, and a month or two later everything was complete.[212]

The article goes on to fully describe the aerial, the transmitting gear and the receiving gear. The lack of detailed reporting on such an important development can be explained by the fact that the US Navy had found the equipment to be too unreliable to meet their needs at all sets were removed upon the fleet's return to Hampton Roads, Virginia.[213]

Land military edit

In August 1909 Major Cox-Taylor gave a lecture describing a portable wireless station, and advocated wide deployment in war time.[214] On the 28th March 1910 at the easter camp conducted at Heathcote NSW, George Taylor organised for the attendance of 3 civilians to bring their own equipment and conduct experiments to show his superiors the practical application of wireless telegraphy in the field. The civilians were Edward Hope Kirkby, Walter Henry Hannam and Reginald Wilkinson who were credited by Taylor in his own written account. [215][216]

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 edit

The United Kingdom enacted it Wireless Telegraphy Act in 1904 and it was considered within Australia that a similar approach should be taken.

While it appeared clear that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia placed responsibility for wireless telegraphy with the Commonwealth rather than the individual States and Territories, to remove any possible doubt, the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905 made this explicit. The Wireless Telegraphy Act, No. 8 of 1905 may be cited as the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 and was assented to 18 October 1905. The initial Act was brief and to the point, being only a single page and even after almost 80 years of amendments, remained equally concise when finally repealed in 1983. The Act[217]:

  • Defined Australia (in the context of the Act) to include the territorial waters of the Commonwealth and any territory of the Commonwealth
  • Defined "Wireless telegraphy" to include all systems of transmitting and receiving telegraphic messages by means of electricity without a continuous metallic connexion between the transmitter and the receiver
  • Was defined not to apply to ships belonging to the King's Navy
  • Gave the Postmaster-General the exclusive privilege of establishing, erecting, maintaining, and using stations and appliances for the purpose of
    • transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy within Australia, and receiving messages so transmitted
    • transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy from Australia to any place or ship outside Australia
    • receiving in Australia messages transmitted by wireless telegraphy from any place or ship outside Australia
  • Provided penalty for breach of Act
  • Provided for forfeiture of appliances unlawfully erected
  • Search warrants for appliances unlawfully erected
  • Gave the Postmaster-General the right to institute proceeding
  • Gave the Governor-General the right to make regulations, prescribing all matters for carrying out or giving effect to this Act

Coastal network proposals edit

In the 1900s there were several unsolicited proposals from major wireless companies seeking to gain a footing in the Australasian market. The proposals were often heavily discounted and strongly guaranteed in the knowledge that initial acceptance would likely lead to further contracts.

Intra-Imperial Wireless Conference edit

In late 1909 a conference was held in Melbourne of all parties interested in the establishment of a chain of wireless stations link Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the southwest Pacific.

The Taylor phenomenon edit

George Augustine Taylor is remembered today mostly for his advocacy for commencement of high power wireless broadcasting in Australia during the mid-1920s through the efforts of his Association for the Development of Wireless in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. But arguably his work in the late 1900s and early 1910s was even more valuable. Within a civilian/military context he was responsible for demonstrations of the practical military applications for wireless. He then went on to demonstrate that wireless could be used in moving railway trains (and associated signalling applications) and transmission of pictures by wireless. Taylor solely driven by patriotic intent and without any commercial motivation. His inventions were claimed by others, sometimes decade or more subsequent. Taylor, although an advocate never invented anything. At his demonstrations and lectures he always used eless equipment manufa and wireless equipment manufactured by him. Taylor's own publication recognises this fact[218]

1910s edit

WIA Established edit

The public at large was fascinated by wireless generally, and individuals with a practical bent were wanting to explore the technology for themselves. While the WT Act 1905 made specific provision for licensing of wireless experimenters, the PMG's Department employed its absolute discretion in the matter to great effect with only a handful of private licences issued before 1910. Robert Scott made much of the secrecy provisions and penalties for interfering with Government communications.[219] George Augustine Taylor was a prominent patriot advocating for the need for more support for aviation and wireless in Australia with a view to its future defence. As early as October 1909 he was publicly stating the need for an institute to represent the interests of private experimenters and particularly to press for relaxation of policy in respect of licensing of wireless experimenters. It was clearly implied that many wireless experimenters were being forced to operate without licences.[220] Hannam was becoming incredibly frustrated, having waited 18 months for his application to be processed and he embarked upon a publicity campaign to try to change the system. His efforts were eventually assisted by solicitor F. Leverrier another experimenter desiring a licence. The timing of the campaign seemed rather more than fortuitous.[221] On 11 March 1910 a preliminary meeting was held with a view to formally constituting an institute. The Daily Telegraph reported the event under the catchcry headline Three Guineas for the use of the Air: Wireless telegraphy experimenters and enthusiasts are beginning to co-operate, and a number met last afternoon in the Hotel Australia in order to take the preliminary steps towards forming an institution. Vigorous comment was made upon the Government's action in regard to experimental licenses, and it was plain that besides a feeling for mutual help and interest, the restrictions alleged had had a large share in hurrying on the movement. Two ladies were among those present. Mr. G. A. Taylor, who was elected chairman, explained the object of the meeting, and touched on the wonderful future ahead of the movement. "It is wise," he said, "to put our heads together and profit by each other's discoveries. Experimenters did not think the authorities were giving them fair encouragement. Every experimenter was at the beck and call of the military, naval, and postal authorities, and was allowed no legal redress if departmental officers thought he was breaking the rules. Mr. Taylor proposed the formation of an institution amongst experimenters and enthusiasts in wireless, for their mutual benefit. The object of founding the institution was to obtain justice, he explained; it would not be founded in opposition to any Government institution or department. Walter Henry Hannam, seconding the motion, repeated the account of his attempts to obtain a Government license. I have had a great deal of trouble with three Postmaster-Generals," said he, "and haven't got my license yet. They're still quibbling. We have all been treated in the same way, but no one has said or done anything until lately. Seventeen months of my time have been wasted since I was ready to erect my plant. Why should we have to pay three guineas for the use of the air, so far as experiments are concerned? The aerial navigation experimenters are charged nothing." One regulation, he complained, penalised an experimenter if the chief electrical engineer of the Postmaster-General's Department should certify telegraphic communication had been interfered with by his wireless appliance used "or intended to be used"! J. H. A. Pike also supported the motion, which was carried, and a provisional committee was appointed to arrange for the next meeting. Later, a general meeting of those interested will be called, and officers elected. It is proposed to assist in the formation of, and perhaps affiliate with, similar organisations in other States. The provisional committee is as follows:— Messrs. J. H. A. Pike, Walter Henry Hannam, F. Bartholomew, W. H. Gosche, F. and H. Leverrier, F. A. Cleary, and A. Garnsey, Major Rosenthal, Captain Cox-Taylor, Dr. Brissenden, and the chairman. Mr. Hannam will act as hon. secretary pro tem. Besides these gentlemen, the Misses Perratt Hill, and Messrs. R. B. Armstrong and J. A. Henderson attended, and gave in their names as prospective members.[222] On 22 April 1910 the first formal meeting was held at the Employers' Federation rooms. There were 36 in attendance and it was announced that membership already stood at 70 persons. The name "Institute of Wireless Telegraphy" was adopted.[223]

Prominent experiment(er)s edit

J. H. A. Pike

Walter Henry Hannam

William Henry Haire


Hotel Australia

Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911–1914

Coastal network Tranche 0 edit

Floating coastal stations edit

The delay of more than a decade by Australia in commencing to establish a network of coastal stations, meant that Australia had failed to keep pace with the deployment of wireless fitouts on shipping. Many shipping lines insisted that the capital and ongoing expense of wireless equipment would not be incurred until at least the high-powered stations in the coastal radio network had been established. But since these ships were often also operating in other regions where coastal stations existed, many ships proceeded with wireless regardless. As a result the large numbers of wireless equipped ships plying the Australian coast at any given time in the early 1910s, meant that ships remote from ports could often relay messages through other ships closer to port, to give effect to communication upon its arrival.

Coastal network Tranche 1 edit

Hotel Australia edit

The Australasian Wireless Co. had established a low power experimental station at Hotel Australia, Castlereagh St, Sydney. Hotel Australia was at the time, Australia's most luxurious hotel and the destination of choice for the wealthy and famous. The hotel was the venue for the first meeting for the establishment of the Wireless Institute of Australia in March 1910. This station itself, was useful to the company, primarily for testing equipment at its main station at Underwood St, Sydney (the head office for the Bulletin, part owner of the company). It is first reported in the press in November 1910, but this appears to be a major upgrade rather than initial usage. Medium power equipment was transferred at this time from Underwood Street and a large antenna installed on the rooftop of the hotel, at its highest 80ft. above the roof (170 ft. AGL). The wireless apparatus was installed in a room immediately below the roof.[224] The apparatus was of the Telefunken system, the company having the rights to that system in Australia.[225] The PMG allocated the callsign AAA.[226] Despite its brief existence, the station made its mark in history. On 5 December 1910, a journalist of the Sydney Sun conducted an "interview" with world champion sculler Dick Arnst, by means of the Hotel Australia station and the fitted-for-wireless RMS Ulimaroa. This was claimed as an Australian first.[227][228] In a sideline story, the journalist provides an eloquent description of the wireless room.[229] In another triumph, the Hotel Australia station played a major part in establishing that the training ship Mersey was fine when fears were held for her safety at sea.[230]

Due to delays in the establishment of the high power Pennant Hills coastal station, Australasian Wireless Co. (the contractors for the construction of the Pennant Hills station), sought and received a commercial licence to establish at their own cost a temporary facility at Hotel Australia. This new licence was given effect without material change to the technical equipment already installed there. But now the company could advertise its formal approval to solicit communications with nearby merchant shipping, and to charge for the service. The station formally commenced service on 3 June 1911.[231] The service appears to have been an immediate commercial success and daily advertisements offering communication appeared in the local newspapers, together with a list of ships expected to be within wireless range on the day.[232][233] It is telling that the Postmaster-General's Department intervened with the Australasian Wireless Co. to increase the rates for transmission of messages. This was to ensure parity with future charges for the Pennant Hills station.[234]

A controversy enveloped the station 1 January 1912 when Farmer, the operator of the station reported brief wireless contact with the Macquarie Island station of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition immediately after the Island being in communication with HMS Encounter. Subsequently the Encounter asserted that no such communication had occurred and the PMG made definitive statements to that effect. It was considered in the press that Farmer had been the victim of a hoax. But Farmer held to his statements. Hotel Australia was using Telefunken equipment identical to that at Macquarie Island which was distinctive in note. Also the two Macquarie Island wireless operators were Charles Albert Sandell and Arthur John Sawyer. Sandell was formerly a Sydney experimenter while Sawyer was, immediately prior to the expedition, was the chief operator at the Hotel Australia station. Farmer would have been familiar with the "fist" (the distinctive operating style) of either operator, and on balance of evidence it does appear that the contact occurred, despite it being the height of summer in the southern hemisphere.[235][236] Farmer nevertheless promptly responded to Macquarie Island when a message was relayed from the RMS Ulimaroa to Hotel Australia, being a message from Sawyer to his mother. P. Farmer quickly established direct communication with Macquarie Island, which stated that they had been hearing Hotel Australia for some time. Farmer provided a vast amount of Australian news for the Island's crew and indertook to provide daily updates henceforth.[237]

This was an era of rapid repositioning in wireless regulation. Balsillie had been engaged as Commonwealth wireless expert and offered his "Australian Wireless" system gratis to the Commonwealth. The Australian Wireless system was evaluated by an independent expert and found to be more efficient than either the Marconi system or the Telefunken system. The Commonwealth promptly swung its support behind the Australian Wireless system. The first two coastal stations had been contracted to Australasian Wireless Co. but the Commonwealth now swiftly proceeded with new stations commencing with Melbourne (callsign VIM) and Hobart (VIH). Pennant Hills (callsign VIS) was essentially complete, but the Commonwealth would not sign off on "practical completion". Australasian Wireless Co. did not seem entirely unhappy with this system, as it permitted the commercial operations at Hotel Australia to continue for a longer period than envisaged. Finally, on 3 June 1912, the Department gave three months notice of cancellation of the commercial licence, stating that if Pennant Hills was not complete at that time, they would make alternative arrangements.[238][239] Circa 3 September 1912 the AAA equipment was relocated back to Underwood St (becoming callsign ATY).[240] The "alternative arrangements" alluded to by the PMG were made clear on 10 September 1912 when equipment at Pennant Hills failed, only a few days after cancellation of the licence and the outage was covered by wireless apparatus at Father Shaw's wireless factory at Randwick, the facility at Hotel Australia being dismantled.[241]

AAM Hotel Menzies edit

The Postmaster-General approved the establishment of another commercial licence for AWCL at the Menzies Hotel in Melbourne. The callsign AAM[140] was allocated by the PMG's Department, however there appear to be no reports of actual operation by the station, so it is probable that the proposal did not proceed.

Coastal network Tranche 2 edit

The high power government coastal station at Sydney had originally been specified in the contract with Australasian Wireless Co., Ltd. to be at a coastal location. This was with a view to taking full advantage of superior radiofrequency propagation across sea water. But Defence had not been properly consulted and when they became fully aware of the circumstances, they insisted on an inland location to provide immunity from enemy shelling. Eventually the Pennant Hills location was selected and acquired, but in order to be confident of meeting contractual performance requirements, Australasian Wireless insisted that the transmission facility be of greater power. A substantial increase in contracted price resulted.

  • VIS Sydney (commenced xxxx, callsign during testing by Australasian Wireless unknown, then POS for Post Office Sydney, after 1912 convention VIS)
  • VIP Perth (commenced xxxx, callsign during testing by Australasian Wireless MNS[242], initially proposed though never implemented POF[140] for Post Office Fremantle, then POP for Post Office Perth, after 1912 convention VIP)

From 1912, the government progressively established a wide network of low and high power coastal stations to facilitate communications with shipping throughout the Commonwealth. The earlier temporary stations were replaced and the network expanded, eventually consuming the entire series of callsigns VIA to VIZ.

Experimental licensing (a trickle) edit

Experimental licensing (a stream) edit

Experimental licensing (a flood) edit

Coastal network Tranche 3 edit

Following the Government's decision to utilise Balsillie's system for all further deployments in the Coastal network, developments proceeded apace and all capital cities were quickly provided with wireless telegraph stations:

  • VIM Melbourne (commenced 8 February 1912, callsign initially POM for Post Office Melbourne)
  • VIH Hobart (commenced 30 April 1912, callsign initially POH for Post Office Hobart)
  • VIB Brisbane (commenced 2 September 1912, callsign initially POB for Post Office Brisbane)
  • VIA Adelaide (commenced 1 October 1912, callsign initially POA for Post Office Adelaide)
VIM Melbourne edit

(commenced 8 February 1912)

VIH Hobart edit

(commenced 30 April 1912)

VIB Brisbane edit

(commenced 2 September 1912)

VIA Adelaide edit

(commenced 1 October 1912) Balsillie arrived in Adelaide 3 July to undertake preliminaries for the construction of the station. Previously in Hobart, he had undertaken tests of various types earth systems, but stated that the Adelaide system would be conventional. The transmitter site was stated to be Rosewater near Port Adelaide. On 5 July 1912 he proceeded to Brisbane and was to return to Adelaide subsequently with the raising tackle.[243]

International Radiotelegraph Convention 1912 edit

Most countries with existing or proposed coastal radio services participated in a conference in London. The primary work of the conference was to prepare a Convention to govern overall principles of operation of their services as well as a set of Regulations to details specifics of operation and protocols to be adhered to.

Coastal network Tranche 4 edit

From 1912, the government progressively established a wide network of low and high power coastal stations to facilitate communications with shipping throughout the Commonwealth. The earlier temporary stations were replaced and the network expanded, eventually consuming the entire series of callsigns VIA to VIZ. Upon the completion of the capital city stations, work commenced on further stations at commercially and defence-strategic locations and Australia finally had a network capable of servicing all vessels plying their trade in passengers and cargo along its vast coastline:

  • VII Thursday Island, Qld. (commenced 26 February 1913)
  • VIG Port Moresby, Papua (commenced 26 February 1913, callsign later changed to VJZ)
  • VIY Mt Gambier, S.A. (commenced 1 March 1913)
  • VIN Geraldton, W.A. (commenced 12 May 1913)
  • VIR Rockhampton, Qld. (commenced 24 May 1913)
  • VIC Cooktown, Qld. (commenced 12 June 1913, closed circa 1948, callsign later allocated 1960s Carnarvon, W.A.)
  • VIE Esperance, W.A. (commenced 21 July 1913)
  • VIT Townsville, Qld. (commenced 7 August 1913)
  • VIO Broome, W.A. (commenced 18 August 1913)
  • VID Darwin, N.T. (commenced 25 September 1913)
  • VIL Flinders Island, Tas. (commenced 8 October 1913)
  • VIZ Roebourne, W.A. (commenced 26 January 1914)
  • VIW Wyndham, W.A. (commenced 18 May 1914)
  • King Island, Tas. (commenced January 1916)
VII Thursday Island, Qld. edit
T-1912 edit

(commenced 26 February 1913)

T-1926 edit

The seriously ageing transmission plant at the Thursday Island coastal radio station was finally replaced in February 1926:

ILLUSTRATIONS. THURSDAY ISLAND WIRELESS. The new coastal radio transmitting plant for Thursday Island comprises a 7-10 K.W. set, capable of C.W., I.C.W., and (with attachment) telephony. It was manufactured at the radio-electric works of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Limited. The panel on the left hand accommodates the oscillator and rectifier valves, with their associated power transformers, and smoothing circuits. By means of the high tension switching panel, located immediately in front of the valves, it is possible to change the power circuit arrangements to allow for signalling by continuous waves or radio telephony, and tonic train transmission at a frequency of 300 cycles per second. The latter method of signalling is accomplished by connecting the 300-cycle alternating cur-rent supply direct to the plates of the oscillator valves. Below the valves is situated the high tension power trans-former with two 12,500-volt secondary windings, and behind it are the filter condensers, filter reactor, and filament lighting transformer. The power control of this oscillator is taken care by the control panel to the right, which is located in the operating room. The four meters on the top enable the operator to see at a glance the condition of the various power supplies, filament voltages, and plate current; while the other controls and switches are for the regulation of various supplies to the desired valve. To the right of the panel are the transmitting inductances, wound with heavy copper tubing, and insulated to withstand the very heavy frequency potentials to which they are subjected in operation. The engine alternator unit employs a Fordom four-cylinder water-cooled high speed engine, directly coupled to a rotary field 300-cycle, 7.5 KVA alternator which is excited by means of the D.C. generator on its left. This generator, in addition to supplying direct current, has slip-rings for the supply of alternating current at 50 cycles to operate the filament lighting transformers. On the four-cylinder engine a sensitive governor keeps the speed within exceptionally close limits, which is essential on account of the rapidly fluctuating load caused by telegraph signal-ling. Electric starting is also employed, to obviate the necessity of the operator leaving the operating room to attend to this detail.[244]

T-1929 edit

Technology for power generating plant was rapidly progressing in the late 1920s. AWA embarked upon a program of network wide upgrades as reported in February 1929:

NEW POWER-GENERATING PLANT FOR A.W.A. COASTAL RADIO STATIONS. An interesting power plant has recently been assembled to the order of Amalgamated Wireless (A/asia) Ltd., consisting of a 4-cylinder Fordson tractor engine, direct coupled to a 250-volt 500-cycle alternator and a double current 240-volt D.C., 160 volt 60-cycle generator, the whole being mount-ed on a heavy girder bedplate. Special features comprise the fitting of impulsator ignition and a governor, the first-mentioned for easy starting and the latter for consistent speed under varying loads. A starting motor is fitted in order that the engine may be started at a distance by means of a switch from the operating table at the wireless station, another switch being provided to stop the engine when required. The object of the plant is to generate power for operating the wireless transmitters at A.W.A. coastal radio stations. Power units of this description have already been fitted at the coastal radio stations at Thursday Island, Brisbane and Suva. At the latter station duplicate power equipment is installed. Those power units are shortly to be installed at the coastal radio stations at Broome (W.A.) and at Darwin (N.T.).[245]

VIG Port Moresby, Papua edit

(commenced 26 February 1913)

VIY Mt Gambier, S.A. edit

(commenced 1 March 1913)

VIN Geraldton, W.A. edit

(commenced 12 May 1913)

VIR Rockhampton, Qld. edit

(commenced 24 May 1913)

VIC Cooktown, Qld. edit

(commenced 12 June 1913) VIC was originally intended for construction after the VIT Townsville station, but there were difficulties with site acquisition at Townsville and VIC was brought forward. When, in November 1912, supervising engineer A. S. MacDonald arrived at Townsville to arrange onforwarding of the wireless apparatus to Cooktown, there was concern in the town that Townsville would be removed from the deployment programme. Formal protest by the local Chamber of Commerce was made.[246] In late November 1912 it was reported that: "During last week over 20 men were employed in making a passable road to Bald Hill, the site of the wireless station (says the Cooktown "Independent" of 26th November), and on Friday a start was made by Mr. T. E. Thomas , with a team of five horses, in carting the material. On Sunday afternoon quite a large number of people were to be seen climbing the hill out of curiosity to see the site on which the station is to be erected."[247] The wooden mast was hauled into position 8 January 1913.[248] The station commenced 12 June 1913 without florish. In early July 1913 is was reported: "The local wireless station has been sending and receiving messages for the past three weeks. The longest station so far communicated with was New Zealand, a distance of about 2,800 miles.[249]

VIE Esperance, W.A. edit

In September 1912, John Graeme Balsillie was at the Perth coastal station to confirm performance of VIP and stated that Esperance was to be included in the coastal network and would be commissioned before June 1913.[250] The Albany Chamber of Commerce had been seeking the installation of a coastal station at Albany, but in January 1913 the PMG Department advised that Esperance was the chosen location and as the range of that station would be 350 miles, an Albany station would not be required.[251] The oversight of construction of the station was to have been entirely by Mr. Cox.[252] The Western Mail of 24 January 1913 reported: "Work has commenced on the wireless station. Mr. Cox is the officer in charge and Mr. Mason the operator. The site chosen is on Dempster's Head, and has an elevation of about 300ft. with an uninterrupted view of the Southern Ocean, except for a few islands."[253] However at the end of January 1913, Cox was relieved in order to proceed to Wyndham and select a site there and to overcome other difficulties with that station.[254] A detailed progress report on the installation at the end of March 1913 also sheds light on the process of erecting a typical mast of the medium power stations:

The work is progressing (says a correspondent) at the Wireless on Radio Telegraph Station at Esperance, and the mast, one of the principal items of a station, is erected to enable the aerial wires to be suspended at a suitable height, so that intervening obstacles will not obstruct the message. The mast has been built on the site where the station is erected, and is 160 feet in length, having about 5880 superficial feet of oregon, bolted and coach screwed together, and is 21 in. square, its approximate weight being 25 tons. Three thousand bolts have been used in the putting of the mast together. The planning and construction of the mast has been carried out under the supervision of Mr. Mason, of Melbourne, and the work compares favourably with any of the similar masts that have been erected on the Australian coast. The raising of this lengthy and weighty mast is a work requiring skill and experience. Mr. J. Johnson of Melbourne, had this part of the work entrusted to him, of which he is an expert. A derrick, 40 feet in height, was erected first and by means of this derrick the jury mast, which was built on top of the mast as it lay on the ground, was raised to an upright position. This jury mast, 75 feet in height, was built up of oregon planks, to a width of 21 in. square and it weighs about 10 tons. The heel of the jury mast was fixed with stout iron plates and bolted on top at the heels of the mast, and five banjo stays from the top of the jury mast were fixed to the main mast at 25 feet apart. These stays hold the mast all along its length and prevents its buckling. An 8-inch Manila rope, through purchase blocks, was fixed to the top of the jury mast, and to a powerful winch. The winch is geared at 32 to 1, and with this eight men were able to raise the mast from the ground, a lift which is estimated to have a pull equal to a 90-ton load, and in pulling down the jury mast the mast slowly but surely ascended to its height of 160 feet. The time taken in raising the mast occupied five and a half hours, and the mast now stands in the proper position and is quite a landmark, and can be seen for miles around. The mast is erected on an ebbwater position. The surface is of concrete. The foundation on which the mast stands is about 250 feet above sea level. The mast is guyed by 12 wire stays at the four corners of the compass. On top of the mast is a 20 ft. gaff, from which the aerial wires are suspended, and that on which the messages are received and conveyed. The electrical parts of the wireless station are entrusted to Mr. M. L. Lloyd, who has had experience in wireless telegraphy. The buildings in which the engines and receiving stations are to be are in course of construction. The walls are of concrete, and this part of the work is carried out under the supervision of Mr. G. Riley, and with the gang of men under him he will soon, have the buildings completed. The station, when in working order, will be lit up by electric light, generated on the station. The Esperance Radio Telegraph station will undoubtedly be one of the sights of Esperance.[255]

VIE formally commenced operation 21 July 1913.[256] After the commencement of WW1, a brigade of 20 men was despatched to Esperance for the purpose of guarding the wireless station. The Albany Advertiser reported: "On Wednesday morning 20 men of the 88th Infantry Brigade arrived at Albany by train, en route for Esperance. Upon arrival Lieut. Morris, who is in charge, formed the men up outside the station. After being inspected by Major Meeks they were marched to the steamer Eucla, lying at the Town Jetty. The squad are going to Esperance for the purpose of guarding the wireless station."[257] In early 1916, and station of the Austraone of the wireless operators at the Macquarie Island station of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was stationed at Esperance and gave a lecture there about his Antarctic experiences.[258]

VIT Townsville, Qld. edit

(commenced 7 August 1913)

VIO Broome, W.A. edit

(commenced 18 August 1913)

VID Darwin, N.T. edit

(commenced 25 September 1913)

VIL Flinders Island, Tas. edit

(commenced 8 October 1913)

VIZ Roebourne, W.A. edit

(commenced 26 January 1914)

VIW Wyndham, W.A. edit

(commenced 18 May 1914)

King Island, Tas. edit

(commenced January 1916)

AWA established edit

Ernest Fisk (1886–1965) was the dominant figure among numerous pioneers in early wireless developments. Fisk headed Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) (AWA) during 1917–44, when it was a leader in electronics manufacturing and broadcasting.[259]

World War 1 commences edit

Hostilities were declared in 1914 and out of this immense tragedy, the sole victor was technology.

War Precautions Act 1914 edit

The War Precautions Act , No 10 of 1914[260] was an Act to enable the Governor-General to make Regulations and Orders for the safety of the Commonwealth during the present state of war. It was assented to 29th October, 1914. The Act was brief and incorporated into the Defence Act 1903-1912. It was designed:

  • to prevent persons communicating with the enemy, or obtaining information for that purpose or for any purpose calculated to jeopardize the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's forces, in Australia or elsewhere, or to assist the enemy; or
  • to secure, the safety of any means of communication or of any railways, docks, harbors, or public works; or
  • to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm.

The Act was extensively amended through the course of WW1, twice in 1915, again in 1916, and finally in 1918, before being repealed in 1920 by the War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920.[261]

The War Precautions Act itself was silent in respect of specific provisions addressing wireless telegraphy, however the War Precautions Regulations (Statutory Rules, 1915, No 77)[262] of 19 May 1915 rectified this. Section 23 was as follows:

  • No person shall without the written permission of the Postmaster-General, make, buy, sell, or have in his possession or under his control, any apparatus for the sending or receiving of messages by wireless telegraphy, or any apparatus intended to be used as a component part of such apparatus; and no person shall sell any such apparatus to any person who has not obtained such permission as aforesaid; and if any person contravenes the provisions of this Regulation, he shall be guilty of an offence against the Act.
  • If the competent naval or military authority has reason to suspect that any person having in his possession any apparatus for sending or receiving messages by telegraphy, telephony, or other electrical or mechanical means, is using or about to use the same for any purpose prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth, he may by order, prohibit that person from having, any such apparatus in his possession, and may take such steps as are necessary for enforcing the order; and if that person subsequently has in his possession any apparatus in contravention of the order, he shall be guilty of an offence against the Act.
  • For the purposes of this Regulation, any apparatus ordinarily used as a distinctive component part of apparatus for the sending or receiving of messages by wireless telegraph, shall be deemed to be intended to be so used unless the contrary is proved.

Again the regulations were amended several times throughout the course of the war and subsequently.

A typical prosecution under the act and regulations was reported as follows: "Toy Wireless Apparatus; Hapless Owner Pilloried with Penalty of £15/15/-; Henry Albert Livermore, engineer, of 239 Nicholson street, was fined £10, with £5 5s costs, at Footscray Court on Thursday for having in his possession, contrary to the War Precautions Act, certain parts of a wireless telegraph apparatus. Wm. T. S. Crawford, Radio Inspector for the Mail Department, found in a shed at Livermore's place certain wireless apparatus customarily used by an amateur for demonstration purposes. It would be possible with the parts there to transmit messages for a distance of 100 yards, but not to receive them. The P.M. in imposing the fine, said the times were too serious to have wireless plant left lying round, and the penalty was just to emphasise the point that possession of wireless plant must be reported and a licence obtained. The P.M. excused defendant of any illicit dealing. Livermore had, further, to enter into a recognisance of £25 to comply with the regulations.[263] No record has yet been identified of Livermore ever having held a wireless experimenter's licence.

Amateur experiments cease edit

AWA enemy part ownership edit

The AWA company was part-owned by Telefunken and upon declaration of war, shareholdings of all German-based firms were effectively quarantined. The degree of control over the company exercised by Fisk was greatly increased by this action. More than a decade would pass (long after cessation of hostilities) before ownership of these shares would be resolved.

Naval Wireless WW1 edit

The Australian Navy was already well advanced in its use of wireless telegraphy at the time of commencement of WW1. Additional ships were acquired and constructed and deployed in the war effort in unison with the British Navy, with principal deployments in the southwest Pacific. All vessels of any size or war capacity were fitted with wireless which now became indispensable. Australian wireless experimenters were welcome recruits as wireless officers and men, and served with particular distinction.

Military Wireless WW1 edit

The Australian military was not so well advanced in wireless as the Australian Navy, but quickly came up to speed in expanding the numbers of officers and men, as well as acquiring the necessary materials to equip several signals divisions. There were several campaigns, mostly in the Middle East, but the deployment to Mesopotamia was both prominent and noteworthy. As in the case of the Navy, Australian wireless experimenters were welcome recruits as wireless officers and men, and served with particular distinction.

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1915 edit

With the commencement of WW1, the government of the day desired to place all matters relating to wireless telegraphy under defence control while necessary. To this end the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 was amended to provide greater flexibility by replacing the delegation of powers specifically to the "Postmaster-General" to "the Minister for the time being administering the Act." https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C1915A00033

Wireless control to Navy edit

Upon the amendment of the Wireless Regulations to transfer control of wireless from the Postmaster-General's Department to Department of Defence, the entire staff of the PMG's wireless section was transferred to Department of Navy.

World War 1 concludes edit

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1919 edit

Again, while it appeared clear that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia placed responsibility for wireless telephony with the Commonwealth, to remove any possible doubt, the Wireless Regulations of 1919 made explicit provision for this form of communication, recognising the increasing importance of the technology.

First taste of wireless telephony edit

Wireless regulation in Australia remained under the control of the Department of Navy after the close of World War I and licensing was very largely limited to shipping and coastal stations. Wireless telegraphy was almost universally employed for communication due to its efficiency and capacity for long distance transmission. However, there are several reports of telephony transmissions, both music and speech, from international ships visiting Australian ports in the years immediately following World War I. Similarly, enterprising individuals at the coastal stations from time to time provided brief periods of music transmissions. While the equipment was designed for wireless telegraphy, modification to permit telephony was possible. The wireless operators on these ships and coastal stations were often also keen wireless experimenters in private life. The ships were visited by the land-based hams while in port and their equipment viewed in awe. The U.S.A. in particular was years ahead of Australia in use of telephony and their wireless-equipped ships offered rare glimpses of the state of the art for Australian experimenters. At first the listening audience was restricted to other ships and coastal stations, but from 1920, private experimenters were licensed (for reception only).

Initial demonstrations of broadcasting edit

Much was made then (and still is) of the 13 August 1919 demonstration of wireless telephony by Ernest Fisk (later Sir Ernest) of AWA – Amalgamated Wireless. "At a lecture on wireless communication before the industrial section of the Royal Society on Wednesday night, Mr. E. T. Fisk gave a remarkable demonstration of wireless telephony with the aid of an apparatus designed and manufactured in Sydney by the Amalgamated Wireless Company. A gramophone was played into a wireless telephone transmitter at the company's works in Clarence street, and the music was received on a few wires strung along the wall in the Royal Society's lecture-room in Elizabeth Street. The music was clearly audible in all parts of the hall. The lecture was suitably closed with the audience standing while the National Anthem was played by wireless telephone."[2]</ref>

Early concerts and amateur broadcasting edit

Following the successful public demonstrations of broadcasting by the AWA and others, the AWA commenced in 1921 a regular series of concerts that were widely heard all over Australia and laid a framework for the introduction of broadcasting in Australia. The handful of wireless experimenters licensed to transmit at the time also commenced regular and intermittent transmissions of speech and music. A number of amateurs commenced broadcasting music in 1920 and 1921. These included 2CM, Sydney; 2YG, Sydney; 2XY, Newcastle; 3ME, Melbourne; 3DP, Melbourne; 4CM, Brisbane; 4AE, Brisbane; 4CH, Brisbane; 5AC, Adelaide; 5AD, Adelaide (not associated with 5AD which commenced in 1930); 5BG, Adelaide; 7AA, Hobart; 7AB, Hobart. Many other amateurs soon followed.[264] 2CM was run by Charles MacLuran who started the station in 1921 with regular Sunday evening broadcasts from the Wentworth Hotel, Sydney. 2CM is often regarded as Australia's first, regular, non-official station.[264][265]

1920s edit


1930s edit


1940s edit


1950s edit


1960s edit


1970s edit


1980s edit


1990s edit


2000s edit


2010s edit


Topical edit


External territories edit


Australian Antarctic Territory edit


Christmas Island edit


Cocos (Keeling) Islands edit


Coral Islands edit

Willis Island in the Willis Islets was utilised as a meteorological observation station even prior to wireless telegraphy development. Coastal shipping deposited and retrieved observers for annual stints at this lonely outpost off the northern Queensland coastline.

Wireless equipment was first deployed in the 1910s around the time of the establishment of the coastal station network. An already valuable station, it became invaluable with the ability to communicate weather observations of approaching cyclones which would subsequently directly impact the northern Queensland coast.

In later years, many of the observer / operators were licensed radio amateurs and there is at least once instance recorded of one of the hams conducting broadcasts.

Macquarie Island edit

Wireless telegraphy was first established at Macquarie Island in 1912 as part of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The callsign allocated by the PMG Department was MQI, which was a duplicate with that for the SS Saxon of the Union-Castle Line (such duplication was common prior to implementation of the 1912 London agreement).[140]

Following implementation of the agreement, the callsign was changed to VIQ.[266]

Practical equipment of the day was not capable of a direct link between the main base at Cape Denison on the Antarctic mainland and their Hobart main base. Mawson decided to establish an intermediate station at Macquarie Island primarily to relay messages between Cape Denison and Hobart (VIH), but also to originate its own messages. Walter Henry Hannam oversighted the construction and commissioning of the Macquarie Island station, then left the facility in charge of Charles Albert Sandell, in accordance with Expedition plans. Much to his chagrin, the Macquarie station proved effective from the start and continued so, while the Cape Denison station in its first year was problematic at best. The meteorological data from Macquarie was considered so important that upon the relief of the two expedition wireless operators in 1914, the Department of Meteorology provided two further operators to continue the data gathering a further year.

Arthur John Sawyer

Charles Albert Sandell

Nauru edit

During the wireless era, the island country of Nauru saw a variety of colonial rulers. It was annexed by Germany in 1888 and incorporated into her Marshall Islands protectorate. Following the outbreak of World War I, the island was captured by Australian troops in 1914. The Nauru Island Agreement made in 1919 between the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand provided for the administration of the island and for working of the phosphate deposits by an intergovernmental British Phosphate Commission (BPC). The terms of the League of Nations Mandate were drawn up in 1920, but it was not till 1923, the League of Nations gave Australia a trustee mandate over Nauru, with the United Kingdom and New Zealand as co-trustees. Japanese troops occupied Nauru in mid-1942. The Japanese garrison surrendered to Australian troops in September 1945. In 1947, a trusteeship was established by the United Nations, with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as trustees. Nauru became self-governing in January 1966, and following a two-year constitutional convention it became independent in 1968.

N-1908 edit

The earliest reference to the possibility of a wireless station at Nauru is September 1908, when an English syndicate by the name of Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company proposed the establishment of a wide chain of stations across the South Pacific:

LINKING THE PACIFIC. COMPLETE WIRELESS SERVICE. A VALUABLE SCHEME. BENEFIT TO SHIPPING. In the cable news yesterday was an item to the effect that the "New 'York Herald" announced that a plan was taking shape to link the important islands of the Pacific by wireless telegraphy. This referred, no doubt, to the scheme proposed by the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company, an English syndicate, whereby not only would the wireless system be installed on the various islands, but connection would also be made between Australia and New Zealand. The company has been working on the scheme for some months, and it is understood that their suggestions are meeting with the favourable consideration of the various Governments concerned. It is intended to thoroughly cover Oceania. Every island or group of importance will be provided with a radio-telegraphic station. The exact location of all these stations has not yet been disclosed, but it is known definitely that among the points selected are Fiji, Samoa, New Hebrides, Solomon, Marshall, Caroline, Gilbert, Fanning, Sandwich, Tahiti, Tonga, and New Guinea. It is also on the cards that the Pacific Phosphates Company will have the installation carried out on their possessions. Ocean and Pleasant Islands. The promoters of the scheme are meeting with every encouragement, and by the end of the year it is anticipated that a start will be made with active preparations for installing the service. The company is to maintain communication, and for so doing is asking the various Governments controlling the places to be benefited, to support the service. It is understood that the Fijian authorities have proposed to pay a large sum for the installation of the service on the principal islands under their jurisdiction. Other islands have agreed to co-operate with the company, but nothing has yet been decided with regard to the two most important centres, Australia and New Zealand, without which the scheme would be incomplete. The matter has been considered by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the Dominion, and it is an open secret that the proposal has been favourably received. The question will be placed before the Federal Parliament when it meets, and should the scheme be approved of, and New Zealand be willing, no time will be lost in getting on with the work of linking up the scattered groups. It has been decided to make Suva the head-quarters in the Pacific, and from there the messages will be flashed on to Australia and New Zealand. In the Pacific the scheme is being strongly suported, as it is well known that there is little chance of a cable service between the scattered islands being installed. Traders recognise the necessity of a faster means of communication than they now possess, and once the system is started it will not be long before every island of importance is connected. In addition to the scheme proving most valuable from a commercial point of view, it will be of considerable assistance to meteorologists in forecasting the weather, as daily reports can be sent from the outlying parts giving warning of sudden changes, which will enable traders and others to prepare for the hurricanes which prove so disastrous in the islands. Then, again, it is claimed that the system will prove of valuable assistance in the matter of defence, as with stations scattered all over the Pacific, a hostile fleet will have little chance of getting close to Australia without being seen. Apart from the increased convenience to be derived from a radio service through the islands, such an installation will be of financial benefit to the Commonwealth. It is intended to transmit all messages received at Fiji from the other islands to Sydney and New Zealand by means of the Pacific Company's cable. This will materially increase the earnings of that body and the Federal Government will not be called upon to make up such a large deficiency as it does at present. It is not intended to utilise the radio service between Fiji and Australia except as an emergency, as once a cable is installed the wireless system cannot profitably compete with it. However, a wireless station will be put in close proximity to the cable station, and should the latter service be interrupted by any means, communication can be maintained with the new system. Another important feature of the scheme is its value to the shipping industry. With radio stations scattered about the Pacific Ocean and on the Australian and New Zealand coasts, the shipping companies will be able to install apparatus on their boats, and thus be able to maintain communication con-stantly with the shore. In fact, negotiations have been carried on between the Union Steamship Company and the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraphic Company with regard to the installation of the service on their liners, and it is understood that directly the island scheme is settled, all the New Zealand and island boats will be fitted with apparatus. This would prove of considerable convenience to shipping people, besides being a safeguard against such accidents as might easily befall a vessel drifting about disabled, as the Hawea did last month. The system of wireless telegraphy to be used in linking up the islands is the Poulson. This is the latest invention, being an arc system instead of a spark. The company originally used the De Forest idea, but as it found the Poulson to be much more reliable and less expensive, it altered all its stations, and installed the Danish invention. The system has been found to be thoroughly efficient. Several lines of steamers are fitted with it, and messages have been received from a distance of 2500 miles. A thoroughly competent operator can send as many as a hundred words a minute through the air, but the average sending speed is 30 words a minute.[267]

The loss of the Aeon was just one of many shipping losses in the maritime history of the Pacific, but the extraordinarily long time before the loss could be confirmed was used as leverage to progress the proposal of the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company:

The London "Shipping World," in referring to the recent shipping disaster at Christmas Island, says:— "The long delay in advising the loss of the Aeon is likely to have a good effect in hastening the proposal to link up the Islands in the Pacific by wireless telegraphy. The scheme at present is to connect Ocean Island and Pleasant Island, of the Gilbert Group, from which large quantities of phosphate are now shipped to Australia and Europe, with the mainland of Australia, and gradually to bring the various groups of islands in the Pacific into connection. The suggested system will probably include ten or twelve circles, the largest having a radius of 1250 miles. Each station will require an engine of 60 horse power." [268]

Further support to the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company proposal was offered in October 1908:

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY FOR AUSTRALIA. According to a statement made by the Bureau of Manufacturers of the United States, a project is on foot to establish wireless telegraphy among the scattered islands of the Pacific Ocean. Capitalists who are interested in the extensive phosphate operations on Ocean and Pleasant Islands of the Gilbert Group, and in the new works about to be established on the island of Makatea of the Tuamotu Archipelago, are pushing the scheme, and propose to connect nearly all the groups of islands in the South Pacific by the service. It is desired to include in this system the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Fijis, the New Hebrides, the Solomon, Samoan, Cook, Society, and Marquesa Islands, and the phosphate Islands of Ocean, Pleasant, and Makatea. It is expected that the various Governments having possessions in the South Pacific will aid in the establishment of the proposed system. Negotiations have already proceeded so far that the success of the efforts seems to be almost assured. The nearest available ocean cable office to Tahiti is at Auckland, 2250 miles away, from which a steamshlp of the Union line of New Zealand arrives at Papeete once every 28 days, and a direct communication by a steamship of the Oceanic Company with San Francisco, 3658 miles distant, is had once in every 36 days. The name of the proposed concern is the Pacific Islands Radio-Telegraph Company. Of the proposed capital of £70,000 the owners of the phosphate deposits on Ocean and Pleasant Islands have subscribed £10,000. In this radial system there will probably be 10 or 12 circles, the largest having a radius of 1250 miles, and requiring for each station an engine of 60-h.p. It has not yet been decided where the main office of the proposed company will be.[269]

Despite a clear disposition by the Australian Government for a Postmaster-General's Department controlled and operated network of coastal stations, the Government came out, at least in principle, in favour of the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company scheme:

LINKING THE PACIFIC. WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY SCHEME. COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT APPROVES. An important scheme for linking Australia and New Zealand with many of the principal islands of the Pacific has received the preliminary approval of the Commonwealth Prime Minister, and negotiations are now proceeding between Mr. Deakin and Sir Joseph Ward with the object of defining formally the relations of the two Governments and the business men who are backing the project. The scheme is the child of an English syndicate, the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Company, whose representative, Mr. Hamilton, had several interviews with Mr. Deakin when he was in Melbourne a few months ago. The plans of the syndicate are comprehensive, and are said to be viewed with favor by the imperial authorities, as well as by the two Australasian Governments. Every importaunt island or group in Oceania is to be linked with Australia and New Zealand, and the location of radio-telegraphic stations at the principal strategic and commercial centres is already under discussion. It is definitely known that among the islands selected are Fiji, the New Hebrides, the Marshalls, Samoa, the Solomons, the Carolines, the Gilberts, Sandwich, Tonga, Fanning Island, Tahiti, Papua. It is also said to be probable that the Pacific Phosphates Company will have an installation of plant at their depots on Ocean and Pleasant islands. It is further stated that the Government of Fiji has promised to pay a large sum for sub-installations at the small islands under its jurisdiction. The British authorities in other islands have promised similar co-operation. So sanguine are the promoters of success that when certain negotiations in London are complete they propose to make arrangements for the installations to be made early in January, 1909. It has been decided to make Suva the head quarters in the Pacific, and to join the Oceanic wireless services with the cable service of the Pacific Cable Board. Communications have passed between the Union Steamship Company and the syndicate, and it was announced last week in New Zealand that directly the islands scheme is settled all the company's boats will be fitted with wireless apparatus. The New Zealand Government is pressing for an extension of the scheme, so as to embrace the establishment of stations on the Auckland and Chatham Islands. The Australian Prime Minister, when seen on Thursday, said that he was generally favorable to the scheme, but the details had yet to be fully discussed. He had written to Sir Joseph Ward on the matter and expected an answer by any mail.[270]

N-1909 edit

The formation of the Pacific-Radio Telegraph Company was announced in February 1909:

AUSTRALIA AND THE ISLANDS. WIRELESS COMMUNICATION. A COMPANY FORMED. LONDON, Wednesday Afternoon.— The Pacific-Radio Telegraph Company has been formed, with a registered capital of £60,000, to provide inter-communication between the islands in the Pacific and Australia and New Zealand. The "Western Electrician," of Chicago, recently said, with reference to the movement to connect groups of islands in the Pacific by a system of radiotelegraphy:— "It is proposed to include in this system Australia, New Zealand, and the Fiji group, as well as the New Hebrides, the Solomon, Samoan, Cook, Society, and Mar-quesas Islands, and the phosphate islands of Ocean, Pleasant, and Makatea. "It is expected that the various Governments having possessions in the South Pacific will aid in the establishment of the proposed system. Negotiations have already proceeded so far that the success of the efforts seems to be almost assured, says Mr. J. D. Dreher, the United States Consul in Tahiti. As the nearest available ocean-cable office to Tahiti is at Auckland, 2250 miles away, from which a steamship arrives at Papeete once every 28 days, and a direct communication by steamship with San Francisco, 3658 miles distant, is had once in every 36 days, it will be understood how deeply interested the French colony of Tahiti and its dependencies are in the complete success of these negotiations. "The name of the proposed company is the Pacific Islands Radio-Telegraph Company. Of the proposed capital, of 340,000 dollars, the owners of the phosphate deposits on Ocean and Pleasant Islands have subscribed about one-seventh. In this radial system there will probably be 10 or 12 circles, the largest having a radius of 1250 miles, and requiring for each station an engine of 60 horse-power. It has not yet been decided where the main office of the proposed company, will be."[271]

Further detail of the proposal emerged in March 1909:

LINKING THE ISLANDS. The "Wireless" Scheme, STATIONS TO BE FITTED UP. It transpires that the scheme for linking up the islands of the Pacific by wireless telegraph is that of an English syndicate — the Pacific Islands Radio Telegraph Co. Every important island in the South Pacific is to be linked with Australia and New Zealand, and the location of the radio telegraph station at the principal strategic and commercial centres is already under discussion. Among the islands selected are Fiji, the New Hebrides, Marshalls, Samoa, the Solomons, Carolines, Gilberts, Sandwich, Tonga, Fanning Island, Tahiti, and Papua. It is also said to be probable that the Pacific Phosphates Co. will have an installation of plant at their depots on Ocean and Pleasant Islands. It is further stated that the Government of Fiji has promised to pay a large sum for subinstallation at the small islands under its jurisdiction, and that the British authorities in the other islands have promised similar co-operation. When certain negotiations in London are complete, the promoters propose to make arrangements for the installation to be made early in January, 1903 [sic, 1913?]. It has been decided to make Suva the headquarters in the Pacific, and to join the Oceanic wireless service with the cable service of the Pacific Cable Board.[272]

The details of the proposal and its backers were more fully fleshed out in a report of August 1909:

LINKING UP THE PACIFIC. THE WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY SCHEME. Brief reference was made in "The Age" yesterday to a scheme for linking up the South Pacific Islands by wireless telegraphy, Mr. J. T. Hamilton, the representative of the Anglo-Australian syndicate, which, by the way, is backed by Earl Crawford, Sir James Mills, Sir Sidney Hutchison, Colonel James Burns and Mr. J. T. Rundle, is now in Melbourne, and called on several Federal Ministers with the object of placing his plans before them. Ministers are, on general principles, sympathetic, but until the budget statement is delivered on Thursday it is impossible to say how far sympathy is to be supported by action. In its earlier stages the scheme as a whole was watched with interest by the Federal Government, though of course no promises of aid were given. The syndicate has behind it a capital of about £60,000, but it is understood that unless the Australian, New Zealand, German and French Governments interested in the South Pacific Islands extend to its pioneer work some form of assistance its operations will be severely restricted, if not rendered altogether impossible. The scheme put forward for linking up the islands include groups of wireless telegraph stations arranged as follows:— GROUP I.— Proposed Long Distance Stations: Ocean Island, Levuka (Fiji). GROUP II.— Government Stations: Pleasant Island, Tahiti, Raratonga, Tonga, Vila (New Hebrides). GROUP III.— (Other Government stations, not essential to present scheme, but desirable from the point of view of certain Governments): Port Moresby, Samarai, Southport (Queensland), Doubtless Bay (New Zealand). GROUP IV.— (Supplementary Stations: Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Vaya, Pago Pago, Jaluit (Marshall Islands), Tarawa (Gilbert Islands), Herbertshohe (German New Guinea), Ponape, Gavutu (Solomon Islands). Although in due course the project is expected to pay its way on commercial lines, it commends itself to many members of the Federal Parliament on grounds which are far removed from considerations of cash profit and loss. Under present conditions a hostile fleet could hide amongst the South Pacific Islands for months waiting for a chance to descend upon Australia, and the Commonwealth would have no means of learning of the fleet's existence. To link the islands by cable will be impracticable for a generation. To do so by wireless telegraph installations is a matter of a few months.[273]

There was apparent progress with the proposal of the Pacific-Radio Telegraph Company in September 1909:

WIRELESS IN POLYNESIA. Steps are being taken to install the wireless system in Polynesia. News was received by the Canadian mail steamer Marama that Mr. Arundel, one of the directors of the Pacific Radio and Electric Company, recently visited Honolulu in connection with the scheme, and extended an offer to Mr. S. A. Phelps, at present wireless operator, on board the mail steamer Alameda, to go to Ocean Island, Pleasant Island, and the Fijis, and install wireless outfits. Mr. Phelps will probably go to Vancouver and take the Canadian Pacific line to Fiji, where he will establish his headquarters, and within a few months the dots on the map which are now geographical mysteries to the junior class in geography will become as much within the ken of civilised countries as Sydney. Mr. Phelps is one of the most prominent among the wireless operators of the United Wireless Company. Several months ago he broke the long distance record for ship's wireless communication, talking with the Mariposa over several thousand miles of ocean. He will have complete charge of the proposed island wireless system, and will superintend the installation of the various instruments in the various stations.[274]

N-1912 edit

In late July 1912, there were preliminary reports of plans for a chain of high power coastal stations in the German Pacific territories:

GERMAN PACIFIC ISLANDS. WIRELESS COMMUNICATION. Sydney, July 29. The German Government has granted a concession to the Telefunken Company and the German and Netherlands Telegraph Company for the installation and working of four large coastal wireless stations on the Telefunken system for the purpose of linking up the German possessions in the Pacific. There will be two stations in New Guinea and one each at Samoa and Island of Nauru. A company is being formed to work the stations.[275]

More details of the new chain of coastal stations were revealed in September 1912:

LINKING UP THE ISLANDS. BIG WIRELESS SCHEME. The German Government has just granted a concession to the Telefunken Company and to the German and Netherlands Telegraph Company for the installation and working of four large coastal wireless stations, on the Telefunken system, for the purpose of linking up the German possessions in the Pacific. It has been decided that each of these stations shall be fitted with a heavy iron tower 394ft. in height. They will each have a power installation of at least 120 h.p. The object of the new stations is to link together the German South Sea possessions, which so far have no connection by telegraph, of Yap and Rabaul (New Guinea), Apia (Samoa), and the island of Nauru. The new wireless stations will be connected at Yap with the German and Netherlands cable station. A company is to be formed to work the stations, and several engineers of the Telefunken Company will visit Rabaul and Yap at an early date. They will take with them all necessary machines and appliances. It is anticipated that the first two stations will be ready by April 1, 1913. The distances to be covered by the installations are:— Yap to New Guinea, 1367 miles; from Yap to Nauru, 2113 miles; from New Guinea to Samoa, 2486 miles; from New Guinea to Nauru, 1056 miles; and from Nauru to Samoa, 1678 miles.[276]

Again in September 1912, When further details of the German proposal were revealed in the British Press, unfavourable comparisons were drawn with the costs and conditions pf Marconi's Imperial Wireless Telegraph Scheme:

Various questions asked in the House of Commons indicate a belief that the British Government is probably paying the Marconi company too well, both in respect of capital outlay, and royalty, for its services in connection with the Imperial wireless telegraph scheme. An alternative course is shown by the arrangements which Ger-many has just completed for the establishment of similar communication between its island possessions in the Pacific. The undertaking is to be financed, not by the Government, but by a company, which has just been formed with a capital of £650,000. A concession for 20 years — 8 years shorter than the term fixed in the case of the British scheme — has been granted to the company, on which the Imperial post office will be represented by a commissary. The construction work is to be entrusted to the Telefunken company. Four large stations will be built — at Rabaul, in New Guinea; Apia, in Samoa; Nauru, in one of the Marshall Islands; and on Yap, which is one of the Caroline Islands. The latter contains the cable station of the German-Dutch Telegraph Society. A Berlin report in the "Times" states that the inadequacy of communication between the German possessions in the Pacific, which has necessitated the use of cable lines in foreign hands, has long been a subject of complaint in the German press, both on commercial and on strategic grounds. The provision in other German possessions has been rather more satisfactory. There is a wireless station at Swakopmund, in German South-west Africa, and another at Luderitz Bay. Both have a range of 625 miles. There has also been a proposal for the establishment of wireless communication between the Cameroons and Togo.[277]

In October 1912, the foreshadowed shipment of equipment for Nauru was reported:

LINKING UP THE GERMAN ISLANDS. The scheme for linking up the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago by wireless is being pushed on rapidly. A quantity of apparatus has already been landed at New Britain, where the wireless station is now being erected. Nauru Island, the well-known phosphates depot attached to the Caroline Group, will be another station. The appliances, together with a quantity of gear for the station at Nauru, has been shipped by the steamer Australian Transport, which sails from Sydney today direct for the islands.[278]

A December 1912 report in The Sun (Sydney) provided detail of the operating company for the venture:

GERMANY IN THE PACIFIC. BIG WIRELESS SCHEME. A company called the German South Sea Company for Wireless Telegraphy has been formed with a capital of 3,250,000 dollars for the purpose of wirelessly linking up Germany's possessions in the Pacific. The company has obtained a concession for twenty years from the Imperial Post Office, which will be represented in the company by a commissary. The work will be entrusted to a German wireless society. Four large stations will be built at Rabaul in New Guinea, Apia in Samoa, Nauru in one of the Marshall Islands, and Yap, which is one of the Caroline Islands. On Yap is a cable station of the German-Dutch Telegraph Society. The inadequacy of communication between the German possessions in the Pacific, which have been obliged to use cable lines in foreign hands, has long been a subject of complaint in the German press, both on commercial and strategic grounds.[279]

N-1913 edit

In the 1924 report to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, detail as to acquisition of land for the wireless station is given:

The Nauru report for 1924, which the Mandates Commission examined in the presence of Sir Joseph Cook (High Commissioner for Australia), says that the only lands belonging to the State are the Government station and an area required for the wireless station, amounting approximately to 100 acres. The German Government acquired this area by purchase from native owners, and transferred its mandatory power under the Peace Treaty. The area had since been dealt with as the property of the Administration.[280]

In October 1913, the completion of the Nauru station was briefly reported:

WIRELESS IN THE PACIFIC. INSTALLED AT NAURU ISLAND. Nauru Island, a well-known phosphate depot in the Pacific, has been brought into wireless touch with several islands in the Pacific. News was brought to Sydney yesterday by the steamer Ellerlie that the installation on the island was completed at the end of last month, and a wireless expert had taken up his residence on the island.[281]

The official commencement of service (1 December 1913) of the Nauru station was advised as follows:

The new wireless stations at Yap (Carolines) and Nauru (Marshall Islands), which have been erected by the German South Seas Company for Wireless Telegraphy, were opened for service on December 1 of last year. As a result, Nauru is by way of Yap, where there is already a German cable station, now connected with the international telegraph system.[282]

The immediate value of the Nauru wireless station can be seen by the following report of December 1913:

THE FRITHJOF. A wireless message has been received from Nauru stating that the Norwegian steamer Frithjof was to leave there yesterday for Sydney with a full cargo of phosphates.[283]

The following report of March 1914 clearly demonstrates that the Nauru wireless station was operating efficiently, also of the strategic value of the facility:

In November last the German cruiser Nuernberg, when in far eastern waters, succeeded in achieving some remarkable results as regards long instance [sic, distance] communication by wireless. The cruiser obtained perfectly clear messages from the German wireless station at Nauru on the Bismarck Archipelago, that is to say, over a distance of 5000 nautical miles, and similar results were obtained in communicating with the German station at Yap in the Caroline Islands, the distance in the latter case being even considerably larger, namely 6600 nautical miles. Excellent results were also obtained by the German wireless station at Tsingtau when communicating with the German warships stationed in Eastern waters, the distances covered varying between 2800 and rather more than 4000 nautical miles.[284]

N-1914 edit

The ongoing value of the Nauru wireless station was again evidenced by the following report in May 1914:

THE CAIRNHILL ADRIFT. The German steamer Prinz Sigismund, which arrived at Sydney last Saturday from Kobe, via Hongkong and Rabaul, brought particulars of a serious mishap to the British steamer Cairnhill, 4981 tons register. It appears that the Cairnhill left Nauru on the 27th March for Stettin with 7100 tons of phosphates, and all went well until the evening of the 31st March, when the tail-shaft snapped and the propeller dropped off and sank, leaving the vessel helpless. Thirty four members of the crew left the steamer on the 9th April to obtain assistance. Only the captain and four men were left aboard. When one of the Cairnhill's boats arrived at Rabaul, the breakdown of the Cairnhill was reported, and the steamers Meklong, belonging to the N.D.L. Co., and the Siar, belonging to the New Guinea Trading Company, were despatched to look for her. After searching for some days without success, the vessel returned, as their coal was running short. The chief officer of the Cairnhill, D. M. Culloden, left Rabaul on May 6 in the steamer Sumatra, which is making a 23 days' search. The steamer Germania was in Rabaul at the time, and a wireless message was sent by her to Nauru regarding the Cairnhill. The latest news from Rabaul reports that a large steamer was sighted from Nissan Island, which may be the Cairnhill.[285]

The Postmaster-General's Department announced acceptance of telegraphic traffic for Nauru on 21 May 1914 as follows:

TELEGRAPHIC BUSINESS. The Deputy Postmaster-General advises that approval has been given for the introduction from today (21st May, 1914) of weekend cable service between the Commonwealth, India, Burmah, and Ceylon. Tariff 7½d. per word with a minimum of 20 words. Messages are subject to the same rules as those applying to deferred cablegrams, and will be dealt with telegraphically throughout. Delivery to be made on the Tuesday following date of lodgment. Also that wireless traffic may now be accepted for Nauru., Marshall Islands, at the sender's risk, for disposal via Thursday Island, at the rate, of 1s. 1d. per word; porterage charges to be collected from the addressee. Also that a radio station is now open for business at Wyndham, West Australia, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.[286]

In a press report of 6 June 1914, the arrival of Telefunken's Herman Kaspar in Sydney was announced, stating that he would depart shortly to inspect the Nauru station:

WIRELESS IN THE PACIFIC. It was mentioned some days ago that Great Britain is perfecting a chain of wireless stations in the Polynesian Islands, which will give a complete wireless circle. A similar system is being inaugurated by Germany amongst her Pacific dependencies. One of the Principal German stations is at Nauru, in the Marshall Islands, and Mr. Herman Kaspar, a representative of the Telefunken Company of Berlin, has just arrived from Windhuk, in German West Africa (where there is claimed to be the largest wireless station in the world) to inspect the plant which has been constructed at Nauru. Mr. Kaspar expects to leave for the Marshall islands in about three weeks time.[287]

The strategic potential of the wireless station was demonstrated at the outbreak of WW1, as evidenced by this report:

GERMANS IN THE PACIFIC. SMALL BRITISH STEAMER SEIZED. SYDNEY, September 24. The steamer Moresby, which arrived today from the Pacific Islands, brought news of the capture by the Germans of Burns, Philp, and Co.'s small steamer Induna, 699 tons, at Juluit, in the Marshall Islands. The high power wireless station Nauru, since reported to have been captured by the British, enabled the Germans to take precautionary measures long before the British in the Pacific Islands knew of the true position. As soon as the first news of the war was received by wireless at Nauru, the German authorities immediately took steps to warn German traders in the outlying islands. Small German steamers were despatched from Nauru, and these carried news of the war to the Germans in the Marshall Islands and the outlying Caroline Islands. The news also drifted through to Ocean Islands, where the British Government Resident for the Gilbert and Ellice Island is located. The Germans, however, appear to have received the news first at the various groups. It was learned by the Moresby that five vessels were lying at Juluit, namely, the Induna, a Japanese steamer, a German warship, and a couple of small vessels. As far as is known, the Induna was going her usual round in the Marshall Islands, the captain and crew evidently being unaware that war had been declared. She went to Juluit, and was anchored there with other vessels. On September 3 her white crew was all on board, but the native crew had been sent back to their homes in various islands of the Marshall group. What happened at the time of the seizure, and the name of the German warship which probably figured in the taking of the Induna and the Japanese steamer was apparently not learned by those on the Moresby, but no doubt was left, it seems, of the fact that the Induna had been seized. So far as is known here the detained officers of the Induna are:— Captain Webster; A. Pry, chief officer; B. Walford, chief engineer; A. C. Horlock, second officer; S. Carrick, second engineer; W. Howle, third engineer; A. Mumford, chief purser; J. H. M'Murchie; M. Smith, T. O'Connell, A. M'Bride, J. Stanton, E. Scott, E. Elliott, R. Underwood, P. R. Jones, and J. Leonard. It is probable, however, that there were several changes after the Induna left Sydney, men having been transferred to other steamers of the Burns, Philp line.[288]

On 22 September 1914, The Age (Melbourne) reported the destruction of the Nauru wireless station by Australian troops as follows:

LANDING ON NAURU. At dawn on 11th September, contemporaneously with the capture of Rabaul, a landing party of 21 sailors from one of the Australian war ships, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Bloomfield, Lieutenant Cooper and Engineer-Lieutenant Creswell, and Staff-Surgeon Brennand, who acted as interpreter, effected a landing on the island of Nauru without any opposition. In fact, none was expected, as the island is neither fortified nor garrisoned. The only trouble experienced was in getting a boat through the heavy surf. However, this was safely accomplished, and the Governor was called upon to surrender. Possession was then taken, and two wireless operators were arrested. The wireless station, one of the most powerful in the German Pacific chain, and erected at a cost of £25,000, was destroyed. After the station had been destroyed a cruiser cleared out with the two operators as prisoners. The whole wireless chain in the Pacific has now been destroyed or captured.[289]

An interesting, if unverified, addition to the story was reported after the conclusion of WW1:

The Missing Radio-Plant Shortly after the outbreak of war the Australian navy "rushed" Nauru in order to silence the wireless station. On the approach of our warships the Huns in charge, believing that they would soon be in possession of the island again after their raiders had swept our ships off the Pacific, tried to render the station useless to the British by hiding all the essential parts of their wireless plant in a big cave. The entrance to this cave was afterwards closed and hidden with rubbish. Unfortunately for the Germans, a dog watched their work, and when the Australians landed on the island this animal led them to the concealed cave, where it commenced to dig vigorously. The excited animal was soon assisted by a band of helpers, who uncovered the opening and located the missing parts.— "Reef-comber."[290]

N-1915 edit

On 16 January 1915, The Herald (Melbourne) reported on the re-opening of the Nauru wireless station:

WIRELESS STATION AT NAURU; A wireless telegraph station has been opened at Nauru, Marshall Islands, and is now available for the transaction of public business. The rates will be threepence a word radio charges, plus ordinary land line rates, and delivery charges, if any, at Nauru, the latter to be collected from the addressee.[291]

A few days later, 18 January 1915, The Sun (Sydney) provided further detail:

VIA WIRELESS TO NAURU. The postal authorities notify that the wireless station at Nauru, Marshall Islands, is now open for the transaction of public business. The charges are 3d a word radio charges, in addition to ordinary land line charges and delivery charges, if any, at Nauru, the latter charge to be collected from the addressee. The service is limited at present, and is subject to delays, but every endeavor will be made by the department to dispose of traffic as early as possible. Traffic will be confined at present to messages to and from the Commonwealth, no messages being exchanged with ship stations. For the present traffic will be sent via radio, Brisbane.[292]

Again, on 18 January 1915, The Sydney Morning Herald provided additional detail and background:

NAURU. WIRELESS STATION. Communication has been established between Australia and the island of Nauru, formerly owned by Germany, but now occupied by Australian troops. The postal authorities notify that the wireless station at Nauru is now open for the transaction of public business. The charges are 3d per word radio charges, plus ordinary land line charges, and plus delivery charges, if any, at Nauru, the latter charge to be collected from the addressee. The service is limited at present, and is subject to delays, but every endeavour will be made by the department to dispose of traffic as early as possible. Traffic will be confined at present to messages to and from the Commonwealth, no messages being exchanged with ship stations. For the present traffic will be sent via radio Brisbane. Nauru, formerly called Pleasant Island, which lies a few miles south of the Equator, and about 150 miles north-west of Ocean Island, was attached for administrative purposes to the Marshall Islands, although it is not properly one of them. It is an upraised atoll of circular form, about three and a half miles in diameter, the highest elevation being about 150 feet. There are large deposits of phosphates, similar to those on Ocean Island. The right to work the deposits is held by the Phosphates Company, an English concern. Cocoanuts grow well on the Island, and a considerable quantity of copra is annually manufactured. There are about a thousand natives, a number of them having been recruited from other islands. The island formed one of the links in the wireless chain which Germany had nearly completed when the war broke out, and which enabled the residents of this secluded spot to get news as speedily as ourselves. Nauru was wirelessly linked up by Germany with Yap, in the Caroline Islands, which, besides being a central wireless station, was in communication with the outside world by means of submarine cable, and from Nauru messages were transmitted by the Germans to Apia, in Samoa.[293]

Despite WW1 continuing to rage in Europe, the situation in the Pacific had stabilised to the point where Australia sought tenders for a regular merchant shipping service including Nauru in February 1915. It was specified that all ships must be equipped with wireless telegraphy:

Department of External Affairs, Melbourne, 26th February, 1915. STEAM SERVICE TO PACIFIC ISLANDS. TENDERS are invited, and will be received at the Department of External Affairs, Melbourne, until Noon on Friday, the 30th April, 1915, from persons or companies desirous of contracting for the provision of the following steam services between Australia and the Pacific Islands. . . . 3. Gilbert, Ellice, and Marshall Islands:— (а) Three-monthly service from Sydney to these groups. Vessels to call at Ocean Island, Nauru, and all usual stopping places. (b) As in 3 (a), including calls each way at Brisbane. (c) Trunk line service, Sydney to Ocean Island, and limited number of other central ports to be named by tenderers. (d) Inter-island service connecting with (c). (e) Service as in 3 (a), (b), or (c), with Melbourne as terminal port. Tenderers should state the size and speed of the vessels proposed to be employed, the extent of accommodation for passengers, the time to be occupied on the service, and the time of stoppage in each port of call and in the terminal ports. Tenderers may submit offers for all or any of the services required, or may submit alternative proposals combining services to different groups of islands. Tenderers may submit offers stipulating that they will not engage in any trading operations whatsoever in connexion with the service or services. Alternative proposals may be submitted reserving the right to carry on certain trading operations, the nature of which should be stated. . . . 2. The usual conditions as to the conveyance of mails in contracts with the Postmaster-General of the Commonwealth will be adopted, and will form part of the contract to be made with the successful tenderers. 3. Tenderers to furnish full description of the vessels proposed to be employed in each of the services, including information as to cold storage capacity, if any. . . 7. The vessel or vessels to be employed shall be fitted with wireless telegraphy apparatus. . . . 11. In considering tenders, regard will be had to the fact that the services are not only for the conveyance of mails, but also intended to assist in the development of the various islands. [294]

In a publication dated May 1915, "List of Radio Stations of the World" by Frank A. Hart (Chief Inspector, Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America) and H. M. Short (Resident Inspector (U.S.A.), Marconi International Marine Communication Co., Ltd.), the coastal wireless station at Nauru is listed under Marshall Islands with Callsign KBN but no technical details. Control is stated as "Operated and controlled by the Deutsche Sudsee-gesellschaft fur drahtlose Telegraphic, A. G., Berlin, Germany." The authors would have been aware that the station was now in possession of Australia, however the USA at that stage was still neutral and protocol would likely require pre-War status to be reflected. Australia would not have made use of the German callsign series and it is likely that use of the VKT callsign was implemented soon after the capture.[295]

In November 1915, a report in the Papuan Times was reproduced in The Telegraph (Brisbane) which summarised the history of the German coastal radio network and how the Commonwealth had reinstated the facilities and further extended the network, with Nauru as a vital link:

WIRELESS IN THE PACIFIC. Had this great world war not have occurred, Germany by this time would have had a splendid system of communication linking up her various Pacific colonies (says the "Papuan Times" of 27th October). High power wireless stations of a uniform design had been erected for this purpose, and were established at Yap, Nauru, Anguar, Apia, and another in the last stages of completion at Rabaul. The power of these stations made daylight communication possible, and as Yap was lined up with the Eastern Extension Company's cable system, it was possible for any of Germany's Pacific colonies to be in telegraphic communication with the fatherland at any hour of the day or night, a matter of no small importance. The war, however, put a stop to German activity in this direction. It was a well known fact that wireless would play an important part in the war, and on the outbreak of hostilities steps were immediately taken to put out of action the enemy's Pacific wireless stations. The principal station at Yap was the first to go, then Apia and Nauru. At Rabaul the huge mast and plant was destroyed by the Germans themselves. After our occu-pation of these places no time was lost in re-establishing communication, and new stations erected at Freiderich Willhelmshafen (Madang), and Kieta, in the Solomons. A telegraph service has been established between these places and the Commonwealth, the tariff and service comparing favourably to any in the world.[296]

N-1916 edit

N-1921 edit

In a long report describing life and conditions at Nauru in April 1921, brief reference is made to the ongoing wireless facilities:

Away up on a hill about a mile and a quarter distant from the Phosphate Co.'s settlement, is the famous Telefunken high-power wireless station, which keeps in daily touch with the world in general. Daily bulletins of war news used to be issued by the officer in charge to residents, free of charge. The chief engineer of the station is another West Australian named Caisley, who worked his way up from a private to the position he now occupies. The wireless mast at Nauru is much about the same height as the one at Applecross, and can be seen by ships at sea for hours before the island itself comes into view.[297]

N-1923 edit

A single set of test transmissions using wireless telephony between Nauru and Ocean Island was undertaken in January 1923:

RADIO TELEPHONY. IN USE AT NAURU PROSPHATES FOR 200 YEARS. Talking by wireless telephone, Mr. H. B. Pope, Australian Commissioner on the British Phosphate Commission, was distinctly heard at Nauru Island from Ocean Island, and vice versa, and through receiving sets 1600 miles away. Mr. Pope and Mr. A. F. Ellis, New Zealand's member of the commission, are in Sydney conferring as to development of the phosphate industry. During his last visit to the islands, Mr. Pope was accompanied by Mr. Hoskines, a special officer sent by courtesy of Amalgamated Wireless, Ltd. They took a wireless telephony set on the Nauru Chief, and found it so successful that the establishment of wireless telephone stations on the two islands is contemplated, radio telephony having proved so much in advance of radio telegraphy.[298]

N-1925 edit

The News (Hobart) reported in May 1925 upon what is believed to be the first installation of wireless telephony facilities at Nauru:

A half K.W. wireless telephony set recently supplied by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited to the British Phosphate Commission at Nauru, is giving exceptionally good results. Reports to hand state that tests between the set at Nauru and the radio station at Bita Paka (Rabaul). a distance of nearly 900 miles, resulted in good speech both ways during daylight.[299]

It should be noted that this facility was not administratively part of the existing Coastal Radio station VKT (a public traffic facility), but rather a private operation, solely for the use of the British Phosphate Commission with the licence being held by the Administrator of Nauru. It is not known whether the two facilities were co-located with VKT.

N-1926 edit

There were few english language stations to listen to at night on Nauru and the wireless officers would have appreciated the strong new signals from 4QG Brisbane when it increased power from 500 watts to 5kW in March 1926:

For Wireless Fans. 4QG. MORE EXCELLENT REPORTS. ON NEW POWER RESULTS. During the weekend further reports of reception from the new station (4QG) came to hand from many parts of Australia. So heavy was the mail received that it was found necessary to employ the full clerical staff on Saturday and Sunday, acknowledging by card the various telegrams and letters. Sunday's full programme was transmitted on high power, and was the first daylight test from the new station. Yesterday telegrams from the north and western portions of Queensland reported excellent results, and from Sydney and Melbourne clear reception was also reported. As reported in yesterday's "Standard," the wireless officer of steamer Makambo, which at the time was off the New Hebrides, radiogramed station 4QG on Sunday night, to the effect that he was receiving the band concert very clearly, and at great volume, on a single valve set. The radio station at Nauru also wirelessed a report yesterday stating that 4QG was being received at maximum strength.[300]

In October 1926, the RAAF was anticipating major growth in aerial traffic in the Australian territories of the SW Pacific. A full survey of all facilities was undertaken by Group-captain Williams and his staff with a view to assisting with aeronautical navigation:

AID TO AVIATION. The survey of the mandated territory now being made by Group-captain Williams and staff of the Royal Australian Air Force, directs attention to the advantage of wireless to aviation, and the important part it is bound to play in the development of aerial services in the immediate future. As a matter of fact, wireless forms the only means of communication between many of the islands of the Pacific now under the suzerainty of Australia and the outside world. There are in all seventeen commercial and four private wireless stations in the islands adjacent to the Australian coast. In the Australian mandated territory of New Guinea there are seven radio stations controlled and operated by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Limited. These are situated at Rabaul, Morobe, Madang, Aitape, Manus, Kavieng, and Kieta. There are two stations in the British Solomon islands, one at Tulagi and the other at Ocean Island, both of which are operated under the control of the British High Commissioner at Suva. The station in the mandated island of Nauru is controlled by the Administrator of Nauru, who also controls a private station on that island. The Japanese Government controls radio stations at the following points in the Japanese mandated territory of the Caroline Islands:— Truk, Ponape, Jaluit, Saipan, Yap, Paloa, and Angaur Island. A private radio station at Roviana is operated by Rev. Mr. Goldie, of the Solomon Islands Methodist Mission. A private station at Tarawa is operated by Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd.; and one at Vanikoro is operated by the San Cristobal Estates, Tulagi. The station at Rabaul ranks as a high power station, and it receives and transmits all the traffic between Australia and the north and west Pacific Islands, including those of the British Solomons and the mandated territory of Japan in the Caroline Islands. This station was originally erected by Germany, and was captured by the Australians in 1914 under romantic and exciting circumstances. It has been remodelled on the lines of the stations controlled by Amalgamated Wireless, Limited, and is capable of handling almost continuous news and commercial traffic. It will thus be seen that Captain Williams will not be out of touch with headquarters at Melbourne during the period of his survey unless there should be a mishap to his wireless apparatus. His trip will do much to emphasise the commercial importance of radio in the development of the resources of the Pacific islands, as well as the more remote portions of the Australian continent.[301]

This report makes clear the two distinct lines of control for the public traffic coastal station VKT and the BPC's private traffic station.

N-1935 edit

Wireless telephony was utilised in smaller vessels due to its lesser requirements for operating skill, illustrated by the March 1935 report in the Labor Daily (Sydney):

The British Phosphate Commissioners' new motor vessel Triaster, which has started on her maiden voyage to Australia, was in touch, by short wave radio, with the Sydney station of Amalgamated Wireless yesterday from the Bay of Biscay. In view of the circumstances of the phosphate trade, the Triaster has been fitted with facilities for wireless telephony which enables the captain to communicate with his offices at Nauru and Ocean Island.[302]

In May 1935, following the "King's Speech," the Nauruan branch of the Royal Empire Society participated in an empire-wide expression of loyalty, whereby all Society branches despatched messages gathered together by the Sydney coastal station VIS which were then forwarded in facsimile form by the Beam Wireless station and delivered in the United Kingdom:

LOYALTY. JUBILEE ADDRESS. EMPIRE CIRCLE. WONDER OF RADIO. BEFORE its transmission to London by Beam Wireless in facsimile early this morning, the Royal Empire Society's Jubilee address to the King had already circled the Empire — a snowball of goodwill gathering loyal greetings as it travelled. It was a message from an Empire, linked not only by the common bonds of kinship, but by the wonders of modern communication — a message that united East and West, the old world and the new, in a tribute of loyalty to the British Throne. From Sydney to Rabaul, to Hongkong and the East, to Alexandria via India, to Durban and London, and back to Sydney via New Zealand, the message had flashed, returning by picturegram transmission to London this morning. From the New South Wales branch of the Royal Empire Society the idea of the "Around the Empire" message — a striking commentary on the advance made in Empire communication during the King's reign — originated. A message was prepared, with the signature of the president (Sir Hugh Denison) attached, and by means of radio, cable and other means of communication was started out on its long journey round the world. Endorsed By Empire At each Empire centre where the message was received it was endorsed by the following representatives of the Royal Empire Society:— Dr. W. N. Robertson (Brisbane), Sir James W. Barrett (Melbourne), Sir Henry S. Newland (Adelaide), Gordon Thomas (Rabaul), Hon. Sir H. E. Pollock (Hongkong), G. A. Bambridge (Madras), J. A. Tarbat (Colombo), Lieutenant-Colonel J. B. Barron (Alexandria), J. R. T. Cramp-ton (Durban), Professor Sir Augustus Bartolo (Malta), Arthur O. Carrara (Gibraltar), Sir Archibald Weigall, K.C.M.G. (Chairman of the council, London), W. Tees Curren (Montreal), G. Kingsley-Roth (Suva), Professor F. P. Worley (Auckland) , A. E. Flower (Christchurch), Rupert C. Garsia (Nauru). On reaching Sydney again, the messages were assembled and transmitted by Beam Wireless in facsimile to Buckingham Palace. The message reads as follows:— May it please Your Majesty, the fellows of the Royal Empire Society, assembled in their respective domiciles throughout Your Majesty's Empire, pray Your Majesty to accept this expression of their deep affection and unswerving loyalty. They rejoice with all your subjects on the occasion of Your Majesty's Sliver Jubilee, and pray that you may long reign over us. The invisible bonds of kinship which bind the people of the Empire as one family in common allegiance to the Crown have been knit closer by the development of wireless, which has progressed during Your Majesty's reign to the extent of enabling your subjects, wherever they may be, to hear Your Majesty's voice. When this telegram, originating in the southern seas on the sixth day of May, 1935, will have reached Your Majesty it will have been transmitted around the Empire and will have been endorsed on behalf of the fellows by a representative of the society in each of the places named hereunder, the messages having been assembled and transmitted from Australia to England by Beam Wireless facsimile. Ever Your Majesty's faithful subjects nineteen thirty-five. The success of the experiment was made possible by the cooperation with the society with the deputy-general manager of A.W.A. (Mr. L. A. Hooke), who supervised the technical arrangements. The telegrams and facsimile transmission were sent by courtesy of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Ltd., and Cable and Wireless, Ltd.[303]

N-1937 edit

On 2 July 1937, the Nauru coastal radio station VKT was the second last station to hear aviatrix Amelia Earhart and aviation navigator Fred Noonan on their final attempt to cross the Pacific, before the plane disappeared in the vicinity of Howland Island:

Their one year old plane was a modified version of the new Lockheed Electra 10E. The shiny body was formed from a new aluminum alloy, the two wings were painted a strong red, and the identification number NR16020 was screened in bold black lettering under the left wing, on top of the right wing, and also upon the tail. This trustworthy plane had been almost completely readied for the long haul flight on Thursday, and now on Friday morning the two aviators attended to the final last minute preparations. The two major items of radio equipment aboard the Electra were a standard 12 volt aircraft transmitter and a separate receiver, both manufactured by Western Electric. The three channel transmitter, model number WE13C, was rated at 50 watts, and it was factory adjusted for use on 500 kHz, 3105 kHz and 6210 kHz, for communication in both voice and Morse Code. The official American callsign was KHAQQ. The aircraft receiver, model WE20B, was a regular 4 band aircraft receiver, for reception on longwave, mediumwave, tropical shortwave and international shortwave. The main antenna was a V doublet on top of the plane, with stubby masts above the fuselage and on top of the twin tails. Another main antenna was a long trailing wire underneath the plane that needed to be unrolled and deployed when in use. However, it appears that this antenna had been removed before their departure from Lae, either accidentally or intentionally. . . . At 10:30 GMT during the dark hours of the Pacific night, that is 10-1/2 hours out from Lae, Amelia radioed that she saw the lights of a ship, which happened to be the Myrtlebank, en route from Auckland New Zealand to the isolated island of Nauru. Communication station VKT on Nauru heard the call and responded, but apparently Amelia never heard this confirmation call.[304]

N-1938 edit

The Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney) in a prophetic call for development of a Nauru emergency evacuation plan, made disparaging reference to the current state of the wireless station (noting that the plan sought only to address the European community on the island):

NAURU. Nauru Island is a mandated territory, the mandate of which is divided between Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Since the mandate went into effect it has practically been controlled by the Australian Government, neither of the other mandatory parties interfering. Replying to a question in the House of Representatives yesterday, a question placed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Forde, the Prime Minister stated that plans were being formulated to protect the inhabitants of the island of Nauru, in the event of an emergency. It can well be understood that this small community would be in serious danger of being cut off, captured, bombarded, bombed or other incidents of war, with little hope of relief at that distance and with only a very imperfect wireless station on the island, kept going only by the careful nursing of the wireless operator attached to it. Plans, therefore, for the evacuation, any how of the women and children, from the island should be a matter of some consideration to the higher authorities responsible for the mandate.[305]

N-1940 edit

On 8 December 1940, the Nauruan wireless station kept Australian authorities informed of the shelling of a merchant ship with visual reports from the island:

SHELLING SEEN FROM SHORE. Mr. Hughes summarised the reports as follows:— "On Sunday morning last a vessel was sighted on fire shortly after daylight. She was a few miles off shore, awaiting favourable weather to proceed into port to load. Visibility was bad at the time, and shortly after she was seen the vessel was obscured from the shore. In spite of a careful watch being kept, nothing further was seen until the afternoon, when the weather cleared, and a ship was seen to be on fire some distance from the land. Another vessel was in her vicinity, and was apparently firing on her. Both vessels disappeared from view shortly afterwards. A number of other vessels was known to be in the vicinity of the island the unfavourable weather having caused an unusual concentration of shipping awaiting an opportunity to proceed to loading berths. On receipt of the reports from Nauru, all shipping in the area was instructed to disperse and make for other ports." NO REPORTS FROM OTHER SHIPS "Since the incidents seen from Nauru on Sunday, no further ships have been sighted from the island, which has been in continuous wireless communication with the mainland. This, however, was to be expected in view of the instructions to shipping to give the island a wide berth. The fact that nothing has been heard from the ships concerned is not necessarily of significance, as they would not use their wireless for fear of giving their positions away to any possible enemy. Information is likely to be received from them when they reach another port. Such information is now awaited."[306]

Within a week of the reported shelling it was confirmed that all 5 merchant vessels that had been in the immediate vicinity of the island of Nauru at the time of the shelling, were lost, either sunk or captured.[307]

The wireless station played a role (if passive one) in the first German attack on Nauru:

HOW RAIDER ATTACKED NAURU. Made Signal, "Do Not Use Wireless" SYDNEY, December 28.— In a statement this afternoon Mr. Hughes said, "Later reports from Nauru describing the attack on the island on the morning of December 27 state that an enemy raider bearing a Japanese name arrived off the island shortly before daybreak and signalled the island by name with a Morse lamp. "The enemy then signalled Nauru, 'Do not use your wireless or I shall shoot the mast down. I am going to shoot at the phosphate loading jetties in order to save the destruction of human life and property.' "The instruction not to use the wireless was complied with and at 6.40 a.m., Nauru local time, the raider opened fire on the essential potash store and loading gear, the cantilever loading jetty, all the oil storage tanks and cantilever shore storage. "The mooring gear, store and other phosphate buildings were shelled at close range but the mooring buoys were destroyed by pompom fire. The oil fuel tanks were still burning last night. The wireless station, however, remains intact as also does the power station. Private houses were not fired on. "It is now stated by Nauru that the raider hoisted the Nazi flag before opening fire." Mr. Hughes added that this confirmed the suspicion that the raider got within safe range and ascertained that no war ships were in the vicinity before revealing its identity.[308]

N-1941 edit

In April 1941, following the release of a New Zealand report into merchant shipping losses made allegations against the Nauran wireless officers, but shortly thereafter greatly moderated the charges:

HUGHES' SPY CHARGE. From Our Special Representative. CANBERRA, Wednesday. "The suggestion that spies are not at Nauru is one which, in view of all that has come and gone, I cannot entertain," said the Minister for the Navy (Mr. W. M. Hughes) to-day. The Minister's statement was inspired by the report of the Royal Commission which inquired in New Zealand into the sinking of the Holmwood, Rangitane, Komata and the Vinni, and the Commission's criticism of the "inexplicable failure of the Nauru Island authorities to issue a warning." Earlier today Mr. Hughes had said that when the wholesale sinkings of merchant ships occurred off Nauru last December, there were on the island some spies, traitors, or paid agents of Germany or of whatever Power was responsible for the sinkings. This, he said, was the only explanation for the failure of the Nauru Island authorities to give warning of the approach of a ship using the Japanese flag as a disguise. "We have made inquiries, and that is the only explanation," he declared. Later this afternoon Mr. Hughes made the following statement:— "Sound And Loyal" "The inquiry which I mentioned this morning was made by an officer of the Navy Department who was sent to Nauru for the purpose. He interrogated various people concerned. "The result was that he could discover nothing to suggest that anything was wrong with the wireless people at Nauru. "But it was conceivable, according to the report, that a leakage of information arose out of messages sent by Bentley's code on behalf of the Phosphate Commission. This would be enough to indicate what shipping movements were going on. "Then, again, the issue of meteorological reports to the effect that westerly winds were blowing would indicate that ships were lying off the island. "Our inquiries go to show that the personnel of the wireless station was competent, sound and loyal. "Message Delayed" "Further, as to whether the people were negligent in not keeping watch for signals, the report of the Triadic's distress signal was actually heard at Ocean island. The operator on watch at the time seems to have been incompetent, since he took no steps to broadcast this message immediately. "It was not until an hour later that he attempted to pass on a garbled version of the message to Suva radio. This is confirmed by the New Zealand officer who investigated the matter." Mr. Hughes said he thought it right to supplement this report by repeating what the captain of the Rangitane had said to him during his recent visit to Australia. When the captain on the raider intimated to the captain of the Rangitane that he was going to Nauru again, the captain of the Rangitane expressed the opinion that the cruisers would have been warned, and that the raider would be running into trouble. The captain of the raider said, "Oh, that is all right. Everything has been fixed." "The captain of the Rangitane took that to mean that effective warnings of the former visit of the raider had not been broadcast," Mr. Hughes said. "Greatly Impressed" "I know nothing of the thing myself, but I was greatly impressed with what the captain of the Rangitane said. "He was a man of excellent reputation in command of a ship of 17,000 tons, and I could not but believe that he was repeating what he had heard the captain of the raider say." Asked how this information affected his statement made earlier today in which he referred to spies, traitors and paid agents at Nauru, Mr. Hughes said: "I expressed my opinion. It would appear that the suspicions I entertained in regard to the negligence or incompetence of the wireless operators at Nauru are not confirmed. I spoke at the time as I felt, but that there has been negligence — although in another quarter, at Ocean Island — has been abundantly proved." "But what about the spies you mentioned?" he was asked. "If you ask me that," said Mr. Hughes, "I will ask you, 'Where is there a country where spies are not to be found working tirelessly in the interests of our great enemy?' " "The suggestion that spies are not at Nauru is one which, in view of all that has come and gone, I cannot entertain."[309]

A few days later the professional Radio Employees' Institute expressed clear support for the reputation of the radio officer of the Nauru coastal radio station:

RADIO MEN FIRM IN LOYALTY Mr. L. A. McPherson, general secretary of the Professional Radio Employees' Institute, writes:— "The governing council of the Professional Radio Employee' Institute of Australasia has considered a Press report of a statement made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) in regard to the sinkings of merchant vessels which occurred off Nauru in December last. It was felt that the reference to the radio staff at Nauru constituted a most unjust attack on a member of this institute, and might well lead the public to suspect the loyalty of professional men engaged in providing services, which in the present emergency are of special importance and involve the strictest confidence and discretion." "At this meeting," Mr. McPherson said, "the following resolution was carried unanimously:— "That this Council views with deep concern and resentment the reported statement of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. W. M. Hughes) that 'spies, traitors or paid agents were either in charge of the Nauru wireless or in a position to influence personnel.' This statement places a member of the Institute under suspicion of treachery, and we consider that, in justice to this man whose loyalty has been impugned, and in justice to other members of the Institute who, on land, sea and in the air, are performing services of great national importance, Mr. Hughes should either withdraw his statement or announce that he has been misquoted, and that no stigma attaches to the officer in charge of Nauru radio station." STAFF EXONERATED "Mr. Hughes has since indicated that the report of the naval officer who conducted an investigation at Nauru completely exonerated the radio station staff. He did little, however, to make amends for the injury to the reputation of a thoroughly trustworthy officer. "I shall be pleased if you will publish this letter for the information of those members of the public who have been misled by the earlier report."[310]

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and Hawaii of 8 December 1941, that immediately brought the United States into WW2, is well known. But in the hours immediately following there were numerous other attacks across the Pacific and south-east Asia. Nauru itself was bombed at this time.[311] On 9 December 1941, the New Zealand Government reported that Nauru had been bombed for a second time.[312] On 10 December 1941, Nauru was bombed for a third time by a single aircraft, according to a BBC report.[313] A fourth bombing raid was reported summarily with a prophetic reference to possibility of Japanese occupation:

FOUR AIR ATTACKS ON NAURU. Four separate raids have been made on Nauru Island by Japanese aeroplanes, according to official advices received in Melbourne. These may be based in the mandated Caroline Islands about 300 miles distant. First raid was made on Monday when one of the attackers was reported to be a 4-engined bomber. The second was made by one plane, the third by 2, and the fourth on Thursday by 3 planes. Extent of the damage has not been disclosed and no loss of life has been reported. Because of the repeated attacks it is feared that an effort may be made by Japanese to take possession of the island although no information has been received of any attempt to make a landing.[314]

All the newspaper reports of the day were silent as to the target of the bombing raids, but it later became clear that the focus had been on the wireless station itself and that the station had been destroyed:

Japanese forces launched simultaneous attacks against US, Australian, British and Dutch forces, on 8 December 1941 (7 December in the western hemisphere). That same day, a Japanese surveillance aircraft was sighted above Nauru.[315] The first attack took place on 9 December; three planes flying from the Marshall Islands bombed the wireless station at Nauru,[316] but failed to cause any damage.[317] The Nauruans, warned by observers on Ocean Island 350 kilometers (Template:Convert/nmi mi) to the east, managed to seek shelter before the attack.[317] The following day, another plane made a second attempt on the radio station. The third day, four planes made a low-altitude strike and finally destroyed it.[317] During these three days, 51 bombs were dropped on or close to the station.[317] The governor of the island, Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Chalmers, sent a message to Canberra stating that he thought the Japanese had not destroyed phosphate production facilities because they intended to occupy the island for its resources.[317] All maritime contact with the rest of the world was interrupted.[318]

It is interesting to note that there do not appear to have been any contemporaneous Australian newspaper reports of the occupation on Nauru by Japanese forces:

Operation RY was the name given by the Japanese to their plan to invade and occupy Nauru and Ocean Island. The operation was originally set to be executed in May 1942, immediately following Operation MO (the invasion of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands), and before Operation MI (the attack on Midway).

The first attempt to occupy Nauru began on 11 May, when an Imperial Japanese invasion force consisting of a cruiser, two mine-layers and two destroyers, with Special Naval Landing Force units, under the command of Rear Admiral Shima Kiyohide, departed Rabaul.[319] The task force was attacked by the United States Navy submarine Template:USS, leading to the loss of the minelayer Template:Ship. Attempts by the rest of the task force to continue with the operation were called off after Japanese reconnaissance aircraft sighted the American aircraft carriers Template:USS and Template:USS heading towards Nauru.

A second invasion force departed Truk on 26 August, and three days later, a company of the 43rd Guard Force (Palau) conducted an unopposed landing on Nauru and assumed occupation duties. They were joined by the 5th Special Base Force company, which departed Makin on September 15 and arrived at Nauru two days later. By October 1942, there were 11 officers and 249 enlisted Japanese soldiers on Nauru.[320] On 7 March 1943, Captain Takenao Takenouchi arrived to take command of the garrison (known as 67 Naval Guard Force); he, however, was ill and bed-ridden throughout his tenure, and command was effectively held by Lt. Hiromi Nakayama, who had led the initial landing force. On 13 July, Captain Hisayuki Soeda arrived to replace Takenouchi as commander of 67 Naval Guard Force, a position he held until the end of the war.[321][322]

The re-establishment of wireless communication facilities would have been a major focus of the occupying force, particularly in view of the ultimate size of the contingent.

N-1945 edit

Immediately following the surrender of the Japanese forces on Nauru, Australia re-established civil administration and a radio station (likely a temporary facility) was placed into service:

Civil Administration on Nauru Island. SYDNEY. Sunday.— Civil administration has been re-established on the mandated territory of Nauru, rich phosphate island in the Central Pacific, which the Japanese occupied in August, 1942, and who surrendered to Australian naval and military forces on September 15, said the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward). Mr. M. Ridgway, formerly Accountant and Collector of Customs of the Nauru Administration, has been appointed Administrator. Very considerable damage had been caused to all buildings and equipment on the island, and it would be some time before all facilities of the former civil administration had been restored. A commercial radio station had been re-established for service between Nauru and Australia.[323]

In a brief statement, in The Argus (Melbourne) of 23 November 1945, the essential resumption of a wireless telegraphy service to Nauru was announced:

RADIO SERVICE TO NAURU The wireless telegraph service between Australia and Nauru, suspended during the war, is again available for public communications. Messages will be accepted at the Beam Wireless office or at any telegraph office.[324]

N-1946 edit

In August 1946, communication between Australia and Nauru was again extended with the provision of a radio-telephone service:

RADIO-TELEPHONE. SERVICE TO NAURU. CANBERRA, Tuesday.— The Postmaster-General, Senator Cameron, announced today that a radio-telephone service between Australia and Nauru was opened yesterday. The service was being run in conjunction with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Limited. Calls would cost 10/ a minute, with a minimum fee of 30/.[325]

N-2007 edit

In April 2007, a new FM radio service "Radio Pasifik Nauru, Triple 9 FM" was established at Nauru, it was funded by a grant from the Fiji-based University of the South Pacific:

Radio Pasifik Nauru begins on a wave of success. The Pacific’s newest radio station promises to assist USP Nauru students and their community with a blend of modern technology and traditional broadcast media. Radio Pasifik Nauru, Triple 9 FM, began broadcasting on 2 April. It is a sister station to USP’s main student and community radio station, Radio Pasifik, Triple 8 FM, located at the Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji. The Nauru project was initiated by Linda Austin, Media Resource Coordinator in the USP Media Centre, and Alamanda Lauti, USP campus director in Nauru. The pair envisioned a solar-powered educational radio station as a way to both assist USP students in Nauru and foster the development of a community-based radio service. For many reasons, students in Nauru face unusual problems that impact their study success. Frequent power cuts, scarcity of transportation and fuel, and some social disruption caused by Nauru’s unstable economy all hamper student performance and motivation. The proposed radio station is designed to initially broadcast recorded lectures and tutorials in course with high enrolment, such as foundation English, Maths and sciences. Technically, the equipment used includes a 30-watt FM "radio in a suitcase" designed by the Commonwealth of Learning and Wantok Enterprises of Canada. To overcome unreliable electrical power supplies, the radio station is supported by a solar power system capable of operating the station for at least six hours a day. Funding for the project includes a research grant from the Pan Asia ICT R&D Grants Program (AUD$35,000) and from the USP Campus development fund (FJ$21,000). The project’s research component will investigate the useful of such blended technology to regional distance students. The radio station’s inaugural broadcast was to include speeches from government and civil dignitaries as well as programs on piggery operation, coconut recipes, love stories and other traditional tales, and local music. However, about 90 minutes into the festivities, Nauruans received a tsunami warning as a result of the 2 April earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands. Scheduled programming was curtailed and the Radio Pasifik Nauru team focused instead on broadcasting emergency evacuation information, weather updates, and helpful tips for families before they themselves headed to higher ground and safety.[326]

New Guinea edit


Norfolk Island edit


Papua edit


Biographies edit

John Graeme Balsillie edit

B-Biographical edit

DISTINGUISHED QUEENSLANDER SELECTED. The news that Mr. Balsillie had been selected in London by the Prime Minister as wireless expert for the Commonwealth gave rise to a good deal of satisfaction in Brisbane yesterday. The selection brings yet another honour to the State of Queensland, where Mr. Balsillie was born. John Graeme Balsillie, who is now about 27 years of age, was born at Toowong, and was educated at the Normal School for boys, whence he passed on to the Brisbane Grammar School. He also attended classes at the Brisbane Technical College, where he was a pupil of Mr. E. C. Barton. The study of electricity led him to a keen interest in wireless telegraphy, and some five or six years ago his mother, a widow, left Brisbane for London, with her two boys, in search of that wider sphere for their abilities which the Old World promised. Mr. J. G. Balsillie, the elder of the two, was first employed by a wireless company, for whom he did work at Oxford, Cambridge, and other centres. He was then sent to Russia, where he spent two years, and afterwards he visited China, in connection with wireless operations. After his return to London he was asked to again visit China, but by this time he had patented wireless methods of his own, and a company was formed to work them.[327]

J. G. Balsillie - A Brilliant Young Australian. "Now, look here, Mr. 'Sunday Times,' " remarked Sir Rupert Clarke on board the R.M.S. Orontes last Tuesday, "if you want to meet a real good fellow, go and interview Mr. J. G. Balsillie. He's a fine fellow, and a good Australian." This recommendation sent our man post-haste below deck in search of Mr. Balsillie. We were surprised at his youth. This man, who has secured the important post of chief wireless expert to the Commonwealth Government, is only 27 years of age, and yet he is one of the foremost men in the world of radio-telegraphy. This is his thumbnail autobiography: "I was born in Queensland 27 years ago. Always had a taste for electrical matters, and radio-telegraphic work interested me tremendously 10 years ago. Couldn't find a vent for my enthusiasm home, so I migrated to Europe. Then, I was 17 years of age. Studied under the best professors of the science — a science then but little known. Attended the lectures of such scientific brilliancies as Dr. Seibt and Dr. Rosenthal. When once I had acquired the knowledge, the rest was easy. Soon I was entrusted with the work of the British Radio Telegraph and Telephone Company. I travelled to such out-of-the-way places as China, Russia and Siberia for the purpose of erecting wireless stations." Were not the Russians suspicious of the fact that you were a foreigner? "Not at all. It was a very uneventful trip; nothing exciting happened at all. I never even had an adventure. The only experience I had was the frightful cold. With the temperature at 20 degrees below zero, I often wished for sunny Australia." Mr. Balsillie is a fine conversationalist, and can talk on most subjects. He is a thin young man with a strikingly intellectual forehead and keen grey eyes. Besides being a wireless expert of the first degree he is actually an inventor of one of the twelve wireless systems of the world, a system named after himself, the "Balsillie." "I had a great deal of litigation over this system of mine," continued the expert, "Signor Marconi claiming that I had infringed his patent. Look at this (pointing to a mass of legal documents). There is all the result of the legal proceedings. In the end the Court found that an infringement had been committed. The world of radio-telegraphy is even now throbbing with litigation. Actions are pending everywhere. No, the science will not progress until all this litigation is settled." And then? "Ah! then, who shall know its bounds? No, I don't think it will permanently take the place of the land wire — at least, not for years to come, if it comes at all. Radio-telegraphy will be useful when the upkeep of the land wire is too great. No, I think that wireless will have its own field in the same manner as does the cable and the land wire." It won't become so domestic as the telephone? "I don't think so. Of course, there are people who even now experiment with toy instruments, but these are of very slight range, and are of no commercial benefit." By the way, this appointment of yours must be gratifying to you? "It is. I feel it a great honor, both on account of my profession and also because I am an Australian born. They have said, haven't they, that a man receives no honor in his own country? I am young — I shall not be 28 years of age until the day I reach Melbourne. I have been engaged by the Commonwealth Government for a period of three years, receiving a remuneration £600 a year. Yes; it is very gratifying." Mr. Balsillie did not know until the Orontes touched at Fremantle that he would be required to break his journey. He is now residing at a well-known Perth hotel, and intends during his fortnight's stay here to inspect the wireless station now being erected on the south side of the Swan. It is very evident that the Federal Government intends to push on with the completion of this very important work, as every week complaints are received from the incoming mailboats that no connection can be made with the shore. "I am not sure," concluded Mr. Balsillie, "where my headquarters will be, or what system is to be employed. I am anxious, however, to get into harness."[328]

"WIRELESS" IN AUSTRALIA. ARRIVAL OF FEDERAL EXPERT. The newly appointed Federal wireless expert, Mr. G. G. Balsillie, who was selected from eight applicants by the High Commissioner, reached Melbourne from London yesterday. Mr. Balsillie has been appointed for three years, at a salary of £600 a year. He is a native of Queensland, 27 years old, and has spent ten years in Europe in the study and operation of wireless telegraphy. Ten stations have been erected by him in Europe, and several in China and Siberia, but his principal work has been that of inventing. His inventions were controlled by the British Radio-Telegraph Company, of which he was manager. The famous Parker judgment, holding that a certain combination of oscillator and radiator infringed the Marconi master patent, caused the amalgamation of Mr. Balsillie's company with another. Mr. Balsillie fought the case through the court. Mr. Balsillie has a great belief in wireless telegraphy. It has advanced far enough, he states, to eliminate the duplication of cables. Wireless telegraphy, which costs only one-tenth or one-fifteenth of cable telegraphy, will work a while longer beside the cables. While naval stations employ wave lengths of 1600 metres or more, proceeded Mr. Balsillie, when interviewed, commercial stations employ a 600-metre wave. The exceptions to this are the large coastal stations. The trans-Atlantic stations employ even 6000 or 8000 metre waves. Many European countries are legislating for the carriage of wireless equipment by all large passenger ships. At present only 45 per cent. in European waters are equipped. Europe is discovering new uses for wireless — that, for instance, of transmitting electric power. Australia lags behind, but Mr. Balsillie will prepare a general scheme for the Government, and portion of its cost will be provided on the new estimates. In Fremantle Mr. Balsillie inspected the new high power station, which is nearing completion. He will also report on the Sydney station this month.[329]

Balsillie, the Rain-Bringer. You very rarely see a real, downright, bad Scot. Sometimes he gets bad enough; but it is not innate, as a rule. In Greenock they swear that the old joke about beer applies to Scotchmen — there are none bad; simply some are better than others. It is a characteristic of Lowlands men, anyhow, that, like pimples and growing pains, the badness mostly develops itself in early youth. In Aberdeen, now, where in prewar conditions the dram was dearly loved on Sunday mornings, the chief public offence of the male population lay in its eccentric efforts to go straight home — nothing more. You seldom hear of a murder in Dumfries, in the South. If the devil is in a Scot, it shows out inevitably in his teens; after that, either he or his keepers succeed in exorcising it — as a rule. A Fair Young Imp. Twenty-two years ago or so, in Brisbane a youngster with a Scotch accent was shoved reluctantly under the notice of Head Teacher Kerr, of the Normal School — an academy of State education, by-the-way, round which this writer has been belted more times than he cares to remember. The "Scotch kiddie," they called him; but he wasn't Scotch any more than that the taste of it was in his mouth, so to speak. He was Brisbane born, but his father and mother were Scotch, with the burry accent like Andra Fisher, and the boy tasted of the same spoon. Anyhow, he proved a fair young rip, did the "Scotch kiddie." He started off by saying "Sha'n't" to everything they bid, told, or asked him. After that brief period of recalcitrance he upended a tack on the absent master's chair, and when the harrowing result came about he roared so heartily in Scotch that they felt instinctively that he deserved the biggest hiding that old Kerr had dealt out since the year before last. But, with all his bodily tenderness, next day he stuck two boys to the form with cobbler's wax, and made another's nose bleed in the dinner-hour. Teachers reported that he could be neither led nor driven. He would not learn. Through many tannings, he was impervious to the cane. What on earth was to be done? His First Job. Who was this impossible youth, anyhow? His name had been entered on the roll as John Graeme Balsillie. The school admitted that, like a fractious thoroughbred, there was pace all right in Graeme if he could be got to show it. So his uncle, who had cared for him since his father's death when he was an infant, sent him to the Brisbane Grammar School to try him out. At fifteen years the boy conceived an ambition to be a civil engineer. He almost promised to be good if they would let him satisfy this desire; but just at that period the family resources were running out, and one morning the schoolboy found himself transformed into a messenger and generally useful in a warehouse. This, indeed, was the unkindest cut of all. From the sublimity of his ambition as a successful professional man, and even inventor, to the ridiculous realism of sweeping out the boss's office and posting the letters! It made a deep impression on the mind of young Balsillie, and at the end of the first week he went home and thought long and moodily. A year or so earlier he would have kicked over the traces and broken something — perhaps somebody — at being pushed into this deadend occupation, but this knock sobered him up. He lit out on a course of study of his own. From that point he had cast out his boyish devil. Things Move. From that hour John Graeme Balsillie looked the world squarely and resolutely in the face. An opportunity came for him to visit England, where his cousin was in charge of the Forest Hill Public School. For three years the youth studied by day and stewed by night. He longed to be an inventor of something that would not only make men talk, but would provide him with a monument by reason of its world benefits. In this direction he made something of a start at nineteen years, when he invented a magnetic detector, which is used widely in radio telegraphy to-day. In the same year he joined the British de Forest Wireless Company as engineer, and as he was entrusted with the erection of stations in England for that concern, he began to feel that he was locating the high road towards the goal of his early ambition. He must have been something in the way of a prodigy, at all events, for at twenty years he was putting up wireless stations in Russia, and twelve months later saw him in laboratories in Berlin under such high authorities in radio telegraphy as Drs. Seibt and Rosenthal and Baron von Traubenberg. It is strange that a change so rapid should have come over this highbrowed young devil who five years previously had imagined that the only aim in life was to kick and avoid being kicked. But there it was unquestionably — he was full steam ahead on the main track. Germany, Russia and China. Balsillie was now unalterably tied up with wireless, and his activities radiated from and reached various parts of Germany. In his twenty-third year he was demonstrating the Poulsen system to the German military authorities at Schmargendorf, and six months later was at Russian headquarters establishing wireless. Soon after this the Chinese Government heard of the alert young Britisher with the hair brushed back like a Yankee dude, and it sent for him to knock down a few of the old pagodas at Pekin, Tientsin, and Pastingfu, and put up wireless stations instead. All the pig-tailed old "bugs" of Canton made their obeisance to him when he had finished the job, and generally treated him with all the respect due to a thunder god or a wooden joss. Then he went back to Britain, where the Radio Telegraph Company was formed to operate certain of his patents. Although the system based on these patents was used extensively, it was held to be an infringement of the Marconi system. Australia's Turn. It was when Andy Fisher was in London at the Imperial Conference of 1911 that that shrewd Caledonian heard there was a coming man in the wireless world. As it happened, Australia at the time was badly in need of a wireless expert. Other countries of less standing than the Commonwealth had absolutely lost us in this direction; so that when Balsillie, a Queensland native, was introduced to Fisher, a Queenslander, what more natural than that they should discuss the position, with pointed reference to Balsillie's suitability for the job of expert to the Federal Government? So it came that the engagement was made which brought out to Australia for important scientific work a lad of twenty-six. It looked like a bit of an experiment, but the lad had papers in his pocket to prove that it was nothing of the kind. When he himself heard of these doubts he simply moved his pipe from one jaw to the other and remarked — "What I can do for the Chinese I can do for my own people, surely to heaven!" No Business Nous. As a matter of fact, the young experimenter had reached the top in wireless, and felt, under his feet in Australia a springboard to higher achievement. He was not quite ready to take a running jump into further success — a leap that at that stage might have only led to futile notoriety; so he "lagged in," with the ardour of youth and the confidence of experience, for four and a half years to satisfy the radio telegraph needs of the Commonwealth. It was his own system that he installed, and the Government did him proud by adopting it as this country's system. On his part, he did the Government a generous turn by refusing to sell the system, but in giving the Commonwealth free use of it. "You'll never be a rich man, young fellow, if you conduct all your transactions like that," remarked a business man, reproachfully. "You should have got five figures out of it." And, as a matter of fact, when Charley Fraser was Postmaster-General he expressed the opinion that £10,000 should be handed over for the use of the system. Which shows that Balsillie's brains are limited, after all, in the ambit of their activities. The Rain-Maker. But the public just now is much less concerned with Balsillie's wireless than it is with himself as a rain-making professor. When, a couple of years ago, he announced that he held the cards for bringing down at will anything from garden showers to water-spouts — or something to that effect — they reckoned that his name should be spelt Bally-silly. Maybe; but the dapper little gentleman with the backward swept hair has not dealt his cards yet. If it should prove that he holds the joker, or even the right bower, he is destined to become easily the really greatest man Australia has produced. Any person who, by a magic wave of his hand, can "cause the artificial precipitation of aqueous particles in suspense in the atmosphere" — in other words, who can produce rain; can obviate or break an Australian drought — is "some" scientist. But this rain-maker does not lay entire claim to the credit for his recipe. With that disclaiming modesty which is supposed to characterise successful scientists, he points out that he is only collating the work of others. "I will accept all the distinction," he remarks, "when the climax comes, and I think I am just 'It.' So far, I am not 'It.' " This retiring attitude is right enough, but some credit seems due to the man who, from collation or his own direct discoveries, can make it rain when Jupiter Pluvius is away on the loose. Practical, If Pretty. Whatever the result may be of all this coaxing of aqueous particles to earth, it cannot be said that Balsillie has outstayed his welcome. His effective wireless work was shown after the out-break of war by the activity of the Australian stations, which successfully "jambed" many messages from one enemy boat to another. Soon after the war burst out, also, he offered the use of his system free to the Allies, and was told in effect, after being thanked all round, that he was indeed "the" one. And although there is still sufficient of youth in him at thirty-one to dictate a preference in the colour of socks and the cut of a suit, all such considerations go by the board when there's a practical job to be done. When, for instance, the steamer Werribee was ordered to be fitted out with wireless before leaving in search of the trawler Endeavour, Balsillie took a gang of men to complete the job in the quickest time on record. The hands say to this day that the way the mild-faced little toff jumped into his overalls, squeezed himself into impossible places, and did all the practical as well as the thinking part of the business was a treat. All that, however, is by the way. The salient thought to-day, and the inspiration for these remarks, is that if Balsillie becomes a successful rain merchant we'll all be on a glorious wicket. Mr. Punch is one of those, however, who want results before they start to cheer. Old hands remember how hoarse they have often become through shouting out of their turn.[330]

B-1909 edit

Wireless Telegraphy. Sir John Quick has authorised Captain Collins to secure an expert report on the value of the Balsillie system of wireless telegraphy. In so doing the Postmaster-General has acted wisely. A revolution in telegraphy is coming, or, should it be said, has come? Mr Marconi informed the delegates who attended the Imperial Press Conference that "all the ships in the North Atlantic service are fitted with wireless telegraphy apparatus." He explained that the Mediterranean, the coasts of Great Britain, of Ireland, of the United States, and of Canada are so well supplied with stations that the ships find the apparatus invaluable. He expressed the opinion that the route to the East could and should be as fully supplied. At the date of his utterance, July last, Mr Marconi said that, when possessed of the necessary stations, his company would be prepared to forward press messages from England to Canada at twopence a word. The cost of the stations he put down at L50,000 each, and the capacity of a single service at 25 words a minute. In reply to Mr Bruce Smith, Sir John Quick last week informed the House of Representatives that the Tasmanian cable cost L127 per nautical mile, and that from 15 to 20 words per minute is a fair speed for cable messages. Clearly, then, when long distances are in question, there is a splendid future for wireless telegraphy. That the system can be adopted for the transmission of messages, press and other, between England and Australia, Mr Marconi has no doubt. Indeed, he stated certain grounds for supposing that "a message at the Antipodes might be received better than one half-way to the Antipodes." It would seem that we are within measurable distance of realising Mr Henniker-Heaton's dream of penny messages throughout the Empire, New Zealand is alert. Sir Joseph Ward, in his Budget statement last night, declared that his Government would wait twelve mouths, as great improvements in "wireless" are likely within that time, and then adopt a vigorous policy which will forge new links between the Dominion, Great Britain, and Australia.[331]

B-1911 edit

In the late 1890s, Marconi had assigned his patents to the Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company and that company had assiduously registered those patents in most of the developed nations of the world, including all the individual states of Australia. Numerous systems of wireless telegraphy were developed by competitor individuals and companies, and all claimed sufficient novelty to be independent inventions. The Marconi company asserted patent infringement in most instances, but it was not until 1910 that specific action was taken and that was against the Radio Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited with which Balsillie was associated. Indeed the system being used by the latter company was one invented by Balsillie himself and referred to as the "Balsillie System." Marconi's action relied upon three of its patents and failed in all except its first in 1900. However that successful patent was so broad that the "Parker Judgement" sent shockwaves throughout the wireless world.

QUESTION OF PATENTS. MARCONI CLAIM UPHELD. LONDON, Feb. 21. An action has been heard in the Chancery Court, before Mr. Justice Parker, in which Mr. Guglielmo Marconi and Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co. (Limited) proceeded against the British Radio Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited, alleging infringements of the plaintiffs' three patents with reference to wireless telegraphy. The patents were taken out in the years 1900, 1902, and 1907 respectively. The claim made by the 1900 patent was for improvements in apparatus for wireless telegraphy, comprising — "(1) A transmitter for electric wave telegraphy, consisting of a spark producer, having its terminals connected through a condenser with one circuit of a transformer, the other circuit being connected in a conductor and to the earth, the time period of electrical oscillations in the two circuits being the same or harmonics of each other; (2) a system of electric wave telegraphy in which both the transmitter and the receiver contain a transformer, the time period of electrical oscillations in the four circuits of the two transformers being the same or harmonics of each other; (3) a system of electrical wave telegraphy in which both the transmitter and the receiver contain a transformer, one circuit of which is a persistent oscillator, and the other a good radiator or absorber of electrical oscillations, all four circuits having the same time period or being harmonics of each other; (4) apparatus for wireless telegraphy substantially as described and illustrated in the drawings." The defendants' system was called the "Balsillie system of Radio-Telegraphy," and it was complained that they offered for sale under this system apparatus constructed according to the plaintiffs' patents. Mr. Justice Parker has upheld the Marconi claim in respect of the 1900 patent.[332]

It is intriguing that the Prime Minister in selecting a wireless expert for Australia to advise upon a wireless system for Australia, selected Balsillie who admittedly was likely the most competent Australian expert in the field, but who had also been recently most intimately involved in action by the Marconi company and wh's own system had been the subject of the patent litigation.

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY. INSTALLATION FOR AUSTRALIA. AN EXPERT ENGAGED. [From Our Special Representative.] MELBOURNE, June 28. Mr. Hughes, on being seen today regarding the difficulty that has arisen in connection with the installation of wireless telegraphy in Australia, said that he hoped in a little while that certain steps would be taken which would remove the obstacles. "The whole difficulty arises under the Parker judgment in the Radio Telegraphy Patent Rights case," said Mr. Hughes. "That judgment seems to go so far as to practically preclude any other system of wireless being operated than the Marconi. I should not like to say that that is actually so, and only with very great reluctance would I come to such a conclusion; but if it be so, the facts have to be faced. Wireless telegraphy is almost as much a necessity in these days as air and light, and therefore Australia will have to get it under any circumstances." In reply to a question as to what was the estimated amount for which the Marconi rights might be acquired for Australia, Mr. Hughes said that inquiries were being made from the holders of the various systems as to what they are prepared to dispose of them for if the Commonwealth desired to acquire them. If such a step were decided upon the rights will be acquired, not only for naval and military purposes, but for commercial and general use. The Postmaster-General received a cable message today from Mr. Fisher, stating that he had selected Mr. Balsillie as a wireless expert for Australia. He added that Mr. Balsillie was educated in Australia, and had been closely associated with practical wireless telegraphy since 1905. He was one of those recommended as suitable by the experts who were consulted. In official circles in Melbourne it as stated that the Mr. Balsillie referred to is the inventor of the wireless system which bears his name. He is 27 years of age, and is regarded as a capable wireless engineer. His salary will be £600 a year.[333]

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY. ARRIVAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH EXPERT. Among the passengers by the Orontes from England yesterday was Mr. M. G. Balsillie, the radio-telegraph or wireless telegraphy expert for the Commonwealth. M. Balsillie is himself an Australian, and was born in Queensland less than 30 years ago. Nearly half his life has, however, been spent in the study of "wireless," and until recently he had a company of his own, by which several wireless stations were in-stalled in Germany, Russia, and other coun-tries. He is making a stay in Western Australia of about a week with a view to thoroughly inspecting and reporting upon the wireless station site adjacent to Lucky Bay, on the Swan River, and to pay-ing a visit to the goldfields. In conversa-tion with a representative of the "West Australian" yesterday Mr. Balsillie stated that so far as he could see at present the local station was well situated, and was probably far enough inland to prevent any possible enemy on the seaboard from blow-ing it to pieces at any time. It was, of course, to be used for defence purposes, and as such had to be protected as much as pos-sible. It is common knowledge that great. strides have been made in wireless tele-graphy during the past two or three years, Marconi having lately been able to demon-strate the fact that he can make a paying proposition of the transmission of wireless messages for a distance of over 2,000 miles. Mr. Balsillie himself stated yesterday that he believed at no very distant date, say 10 years, it would be found that all present cable distances would be bridged by "wire-less." The advantages of being able to use wireless telegraphy instead of a cable ser-vice were great if merely from the economic side, for two communicating stations, at a distance of about 2,000 miles apart, would only cost something like £1,000 apiece to install. He believed that the local station would under favourable conditions be found to be capable of communicating direct with Sydney, but that feat might not, of course, be possible in the immediate future.[334]

A report of Balsillie's return to his Australian homeland showed that the Parker Judgement was still weighing heavily on his mind. But he had little time to contemplate this as a message received from the Department requested that he stay in Western Australia to review the construction of the Applecross installation.

RADIO-TELEGRAPHY. Queenslander's Appointment. PERTH, September 6. Lodged Sydney 8.30 a.m.; delivered 9.35 a.m. Yesterday at Fremantle by the Orontes there arrived Mr. J. G. Balsillie, who is to take charge of the radio telegraphic department of the Commonwealth. He is a Queenslander, and has been engaged for three years at a salary of £600. He left Queensland ten years ago in order to study wireless systems, and underwent a thorough course with the best German professors of science, attending lectures by such men as Dr. Seibt and Dr. Rosenthal, who were then leading lights in the radio telegraphic world. Mr. Balsillie afterwards was sent all over the world to such places as China, Russia and Siberia, for the purpose of erecting wireless stations. "Where will be your headquarters?" he was asked. "That I am not sure about yet. All I know is that I am requested to stay in this State a fortnight, to look at stations." Asked what he thought of the future of radio telegraphy, he said that he did not think that there would be much of a future tor it, until there came about a solution of the legal aspects of the business.[335]

Balsillie's arrival in Australia could not come soon enough as the Government was being attacked in both Houses for the inordinate delays in establishing the Telefunken stations and that arrival was used to deflect, at least in part, some difficult questions.

The Government's failure to get its wireless telegraphic stations in order during the long recess has brought a crop of questions down upon the Postmaster-General. Replying to Mr. Hedges in the House of Representatives yesterday, the Minister stated that he "was unable to say definitely" at what date the Fremantle station would be ready for public use. Nor was he aware that a station erected on Cocos Island was put up and in use three days after the arrival of the steamer which carried the apparatus. He comforted members with the news that Mr. Balsillie, the wireless expert being imported by the Government, reached Fremantle on Tuesday.[336]

The newly-engaged wireless telegraphy ex-pert (Mr. G. G. Balsillie) arrived in Melbourne last week. He is a native of Queensland, and, though he is only 27 years of age, has been engaged for ten years in the study and practice of wireless telegraphy and the construction of apparatus. He has erected a number of stations in England, Europe, and Asia. While at Fremantle he inspected the station now in course of erection. Mr. Balsillie will take up his work at once, and will make recommendations to the Government on the subject of medium and low-power stations, with which it is intended to supplement the so-called "high power" stations now being built at Sydney and Fremantle.[337]

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  321. Yuki Tanaka. "Japanese Atrocities on Nauru during the Pacific War: The murder of Australians, the massacre of lepers and the ethnocide of Nauruans  太平洋戦争中のナウル島における日本軍の残虐行為−−オーストラリア人殺害、癩病患者大量殺戮、ナウル人文化根絶 :: JapanFocus". Retrieved 23 December 2014.
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Further reading edit

Books, theses & major articles edit

  • Bastock, John. Ships on the Australia Station, (Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd, Frenchs Forest, 1988) ISBN 0-86777-348-0
  • Branch, Lorayne. Henry Sutton, The Innovative Man, Australian Inventor, Scientist and Engineer, (to be published) online
  • Burger, David. Callsign History Australia - Australian Amateur Radio Callsigns, (IEEE, 2014) online
  • Carty, Bruce. Australian Radio History (4th ed. Sydney, 2013) [3]
  • Crawford, Robert. But wait, there's more...: a history of Australian advertising, 1900–2000 (Melbourne Univ. Press, 2008) [4]
  • Cunningham, Stuart, and Graeme Turner, eds. The Media & Communications in Australia (2nd ed. 2010)
  • Curnow, Geoffrey Ross. "The history of the development of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia to 1942, with especial reference to the Australian Broadcasting Commission: a political and administrative study". online
  • Durrant, Lawrence. The seawatchers : the story of Australia's Coast Radio Service (angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1986) Trove NLA
  • Elliot, Hugh. "The Three-Way Struggle of Press, Radio and TV in Australia". Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (1960) 37#2 pp: 267–274.
  • Geeves, P. "The Dawn of Australia's Radio Broadcasting". online
  • Given, Donald Jock. "Transit of Empires: Ernest Fisk and the World Wide Wireless". (Melbourne, 2007) [5]
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget. Changing Stations the story of Australian commercial radio [6]
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget. "Australian Commercial Radio, American Influences—and The BBC". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (2010) 30#3 pp: 337–355. online
  • Griffen‐Foley, Bridget. "From the Murrumbidgee to Mamma Lena: Foreign language broadcasting on Australian commercial radio, part I". Journal of Australian Studies 2006; 30(88): 51–60. part 1 online;
  • Hadlow, Martin Lindsay. "Wireless and Empire ambition: wireless telegraphy/telephony and radio broadcasting in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, South-West Pacific (1914-1947): political, social and developmental perspectives". (Martin Hadlow, Brisbane, 2016) [7] [8]
  • Harte, Bernard. When Radio Was The Cat's Whiskers (Rosenberg Publishing, 2002) [9]
  • Hewitson, Peter. Australian MCS; A brief history of the Australian Coastal Radio Service (Website) [10]
  • Inglis, K. S. This is the ABC – the Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932–1983 (2006) [11]
  • Inglis, K. S. Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983–2006 (2006) [12]
  • Johnson, Lesley. The Unseen Voice: a cultural study of early Australian radio (London, 1988) [13]
  • Johnstone, James. Coastal Radio Stations (Webpages) [14]
  • Johnstone, James. Beam Wireless (Webpages) [15]
  • Jolly, Rhonda. Media ownership and regulation: a chronology (Canberra, 2016) [16]
  • Jones, Colin. Something in the air : a history of radio in Australia (Kenthurst, 1995) [17]
  • Jose, Arthur W. The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918; Volume IX, The Royal Australian Navy (Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 9th Ed, 1941) Online (especially Chapter XIV: Sundry services: Radio-Telegraphy, Censorship, Coaling, etc.)
  • Kent, Jacqueline. Out of the Bakelite Box: the heyday of Australian radio (Sydney, 1983) [18]
  • Langhans, Ron. The First Twelve Months of Radio Broadcasting in Australia 1923–1924 (R. Langhans, 2013) [19]
  • Mackay, Ian K. Broadcasting in Australia (Melbourne University Press, 1957) [20]
  • MacKinnon, Colin. Australian Radio Publications and Magazines (Ian O'Toole, 2004) online
  • Martin, Fiona (2002). "Beyond public service broadcasting? ABC online and the user/citizen". Southern Review: Communication, Politics & Culture. 35 (1): 42.
  • Moran, Albert, and Chris Keating. The A to Z of Australian Radio and Television (Scarecrow Press, 2009) [21]
  • Muscio, Winston T. Australian Radio, The Technical Story 1923–1983 (Kangaroo Press, 1984) [22]
  • Petersen, Neville. News Not Views: The ABC, Press and Politics (1932–1947) (Sydney, 1993), Emphasizes newspaper restrictions on broadcasters [23]
  • Potter, Simon J. "‘Invasion by the Monster’ Transnational influences on the establishment of ABC Television, 1945–1956". Media History (2011) 17#3 pp: 253–271.
  • Potts, John. Radio in Australia (UNSW Press, 1989) [24]
  • Ross, John F. A History of Radio in South Australia 1897–1977 (J. F. Ross, 1978) [25]
  • Ross, John F. Handbook for Radio Engineering Managers (Butterworths, 1980) [26]
  • Ross, John F. Radio Broadcasting Technology, 75 Years of Development in Australia 1923–1998 (J. F. Ross, 1998) [27]
  • Sanderson, Doug G. On Air (History of the NBS in Qld and PNG) (D. G. Sanderson, 1988) [28]
  • Semmler, Clement. The ABC: Aunt Sally and Sacred Cow (1981) [29]
  • Shawsmith, Alan. Halcyon Days, The Story of Amateur Radio in VK4, Queensland (Boolarong Publications, 1987) [30]
  • Thomas, Alan. Broadcast and Be Damned, The ABC's First Two Decades (Melbourne University Press, 1980) [31]
  • United States, Navy Department, Bureau of Steam Engineering. List of wireless telegraph stations of the world, 1912 (Government Printing Office, 1912) Online
  • Walker, R. R. The Magic Spark: 50 Years of Radio in Australia (Hawthorn Press, 1973) [32]
  • Ward, Ian (1999). "The early use of radio for political communication in Australia and Canada: John Henry Austral, Mr Sage and the Man from Mars". Australian Journal of Politics & History. 45 (3): 311–330. doi:10.1111/1467-8497.00067.
  • White, Thomas H. Early Radio Station Lists Issued by the U.S. Government (Website) Online (includes HTMLs of all known copies of Wireless Telegraph Stations of the World 1906 to 1912 with, inter alia, lists of merchant ship and shore station callsigns)
  • Wireless Institute of Australia (editor Wolfenden, Peter). Wireless Men & Women at War (Wireless Institute of Australia, Melbourne, 2017) [33]
  • Young, Sally (2003). "A century of political communication in Australia, 1901–2001". Journal of Australian Studies. 27 (78): 97–110. doi:10.1080/14443050309387874.

Periodicals edit

  • "Sea Land and Air". (1918 to 1923) [34]online
  • "Wireless Weekly". (1922 to 1939+) [35]online
  • "Australasian Radio Review". (1923 to 1924) online
  • "Radio in Australian and New Zealand". (1923 to 1928) online
  • "Queensland Radio News". (1925 to 1933) online
  • "Listener In"
  • "Broadcasting Business" & "Commercial Broadcasting". (1934 to 1947) online
  • "Australasian Radio World". (1936 to 1950) online
  • "Radio and Hobbies". (1939 to 1965) online
  • "Radio Science". (1948 to 1949) online

Annuals edit

  • "Radio Trade Annual of Australia". (1933 to 1937) online
  • "Broadcasting Business Year Book". (1936 to 1939) online
  • "Broadcasting and Television Year Book". (1958 to 1990+) online

Regulatory edit

Oversight Department

  • Australia, Postmaster-General's Department. "Annual Reports 1910–1975" NLA
  • Australia, Department of the Media. "Annual Reports 1973–1976" NLA
  • Australia, Postal and Telecommunications Department. "Annual Reports 1978–1980" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Communications (1). "Annual Reports 1981–1987" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Transport and Communications. "Annual Reports 1988–1993" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Communications (2)
  • Australia, Department of Communications and the Arts. "Annual Reports 1994–1998" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. "Annual Reports 1999–2007" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. "Annual Reports 2008–2013" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Communications (3). "Annual Reports 2014–2015" NLA
  • Australia, Department of Communications and the Arts (2). "Annual Reports 1999–2007" NLA

Subordinate Agencies

  • Australian Broadcasting Control Board. "Annual Reports 1949–1976" NLA online
  • Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia). "Annual Reports". 1965–1973 NLA 1974–1981 NLA 1982–1984 NLA 1985–1991 NLA
  • Australian Telecommunications Commission T/as Telecom Australia. "Annual Reports". 1976–1991 NLA 1993-Present NLA
  • Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. "Annual Reports 1977–1992" NLA online
  • Australian Telecommunications Authority T/as AusTel. "Annual Reports 1990–1997". NLA
  • Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. "Annual Reports" 1992 NLA
  • Australian Broadcasting Authority. "Annual Reports 1993–2005" NLA
  • Australia, National Transmission Agency. "Annual Reports 1993–1996" NLA
  • Australia, Spectrum Management Agency. "Annual Reports 1994–1997" NLA
  • Australia, National Transmission Authority. "Annual Reports 1997–1999"
  • Australian Communications Authority. "Annual Reports 1998–2005" NLA
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority. "Annual Reports 2006–present" NLA


  • Australian Broadcasting Commission. "Annual Reports 1933–1983" NLA
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Annual Reports 1984–present" NLA
  • Special Broadcasting Service. "Annual Reports 1979–1991" NLA
  • Special Broadcasting Service Corporation. "Annual Reports 1992–present" NLA

Related Government

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Year Book Australia 1908-2012" online 1908 has material back to Federation, refer Transport & Communications