History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Stations/VIN Geraldton

Overview edit

The wireless telegraphy station at Geraldon with callsign VIN commenced operation on 12 May 1913. It was the first station in Western Australia constructed by the Commonwealth. VIP Perth / Fremantle / Applecross had commenced previously, but that station was constructed by the Australasian Wireless Company under contract to the Commonwealth. The station provided a vital link between VIP and VIZ Roebourne during the daytime (thence to VIO Broome, VIW Wyndham and stations further North) and particularly when land telegraph systems failed. Operationally the station's duties remained relatively constant for several decades, being essentially a communications link between the huge numbers of ships that hugged the Western Australian coastline as well as the huge mail liners that connected Australia to Europe and ports between. Organisational control however was constantly changing:

  • initially a possibly unwanted part of the Postmaster-General's Department, but with officers professionally classied
  • following the commencement of WW1, increasingly, if informally within the gamut of Defence
  • then, late in WW1, a reluctant transferee to the Department of the Navy as the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service (RANRS)
  • well after the conclusion of WW1, finally transferred back to the Postmaster-General's Department
  • in 1922 bought under the control of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd as it increased its grasp of Australian wireless
  • in 1928 the hard assets of the coastal radio network formally sold to AWA
  • Upon commencement of WW2, again the coastal radio network control vested in Defence
  • in 1946 briefly under the control of the PMG again
  • in 1948 transferred to the newly created Overseas Telecommunications

Precursors edit

In the early 1900s, Geraldton was essentially a port town and saw many vessels both docking at the port and passing nearby on their way to northern Australia and to Europe. But the coastline was not yet well charted and was littered with many small rocky islands and reefs, all of which presented significant danger to the shipping trade. The proprietors of the Geraldton Guardian were well versed in the problem, its pages regularly reporting lost or damaged ships. Equally, with great forethought, they saw the solution to the problem. Following the sad loss of the SS Windsor, in February 1908 they proposed both additional lighthouses and provision of wireless telegraphy stations along the coastline:

LESSONS FROM THE WRECK. The wreck of the s.s. Windsor has pointedly drawn attention to the need of a lighthouse on the Abrolhos Islands, and the equally urgent necessity for a survey of the coast. Master mariners have again and again notified the Government that the coast line, as shown on the charts, is in places as much as twelve miles out of position. Reefs and islands are either not charted at all, or, if charted, the positions assigned to them are erroneous. Only at the entrances to the principal ports have proper soundings been taken. In navigating the coast from Geraldton northwards, master mariners go on the broad principle that the only safety lies in keeping well out to sea. This policy necessitates considerable waste of time and money in unnecessary mileage travelled. An unsurveyed coast line involves higher freights and higher insurance premiums. Since the coast is dangerous and is unsurveyed, it was incumbent upon the Government to pay extra attention to the erection of light houses. The coast from Albany to Fremantle is splendidly lighted with first-class lighthouses which will bear comparison with any in the world, but, north of Fremantle, there is a light on Leander Point, near the mouth of the Irwin River; one at Geraldton; and there are also lights at the mouth of the Murchison River; at Peron Peninsula in Sharks Bay; Onslow, Port Hedland, Cossack, Derby, Broome and Wyndham. Of these ten lights, no less than seven are "port lights" — placed to indicate the entrance to a port — leaving three lights only to guard the dangerous spots of the coast line from Fremantle to Wyndham, 2,040 miles in length. This gives the liberal allowance of one light to each seven hundred miles of coast. The Turtle Dove Rocks, the Abrolhos, the Dampier Archipelago, the Geographe Shoals, the Amphinome Shoals, the Buccaneer Archipelago, and a score of other danger spots, which could be named, have absolutely no light at all. The promised light at Point Cloates, near the Nor'-West Cape, has not been erected. A MARINE GRAVEYARD. The most dangerous spot of all is the Abrolhos, which can, with perfect truth, be described as a marine graveyard. In the early days, when exploring vessels endeavored to roughly map the western coast of Australia, one of two left her bones bleaching on the Abrolhos. This dangerous network of rocky islands, reefs and shoals is situated right in the track of vessels trading to our northern ports, and is only about forty miles off the track of the large steamers bound for Colombo. The islands are the more dangerous on account of an insetting current, which, in a strong westerly gale, is an element of considerable danger. It was probably a westerly gale, is an element of con-insetting current, which drove one exploring vessel after another to her doom. The Batavia, Zuytdorp, Zeewyck and Windsor have all left their bones in this marine graveyard. Two lighthouses are urgently required, one at the north and one at the south end. Each should be equipped with a rocket apparatus. Moreover, this is pre-eminently a station where wireless telegraphy should be established. In foggy weather a light may be invisible, but nothing can block the electric wave which ticks out the warning message. When the Abrolhos Islands are thus equipped, they will cease to be the danger to navigation they now are. If this is not done, as the trade of the north increases, more brave men will go to their doom and thousands of pounds will be poured into Davey Jones' locker. WIRELESS TELEGRAPHIC INSTALLATIONS. At present, the only installation of wireless telegraphy on the Australian continent is that which bridges Bass Straits and places Victoria in wireless communication with Tasmania. It is believed that Fremantle will shortly be equipped with wireless telegraphic apparatus. Geraldton has a good case to demand a similar installation. The lighthouses, which must ere long be erected on the Abrolhos, ought to be fitted with the apparatus, not only to enable them to warn vessels at sea, but to place them in communication with Geraldton. Therefore it is necessary that there should be an apparatus at Geraldton to receive the messages. If the lighthouses are lit by electricity, as they ought to be, there would be very little extra expense in equipping them with wireless telegraphy, for the current, generated in the small electric lighting plant, could also be used for telegraphic purposes. Apart from the cost of generating the current, the cost of a complete set of apparatus for wireless telegraphy, over distances not exceeding fifty miles is under £300. The expense is not great, and is more than counter balanced by the additional safety given to life and property. Moreover, a lighthouse thus equipped can render great service by promptly reporting the passage of vessels inwards and outwards. Provided an operator has attained ordinary skill on a Morse instrument, he only requires instruction in the act of tuning the wireless apparatus in order to make him an efficient operator. The press has urged the Government to open a school of instruction, where this art could be learned, but without avail. Unless the Commonwealth Government trains a number of operators, the advent of the instruments will disclose a great dearth of men capable of using them.[1]

Still in July 1909, at the time of the arrival at Fremantle of the first wireless-equipped merchant ship (RMS Mantua), the Geraldton Guardian was advocating for a wireless station for Geraldton:

Our Perth Letter. The R.M.S. Mantua, which arrived yesterday, was the first vessel, other than warships, which put in at Fremantle, and was equipped with wireless telegraphy. The apparatus on the R.M.S. Mantua is capable of sending messages over a distance of 250 miles. When the Commonwealth instals the wireless telegraphic stations, it is to be hoped that one will be at Geraldton, for wireless communication between the Abrolhos and Geraldton is much to be desired. [2]

In July 1912 the Commonwealth Meteorologist visited Geraldton investigating a number of weather phenomenon unique to the Northwest coast of Western Australia and noted the benefits arising from a wireless station at Geraldton and foreshadowed the establishment of a continent-circling network of wireless stations:

NOR' WEST WEATHER. The Commonwealth Meteorologist (Mr. H. A. Hunt) is at present visiting the Nor' West coast for the purpose of studying at first hand as far as possible, the meteorological phenomena for which those latitudes are noted. He will make it his special business to discuss with the local authorities at each centre visited means of effectively warning pearlers and others who go down into the Northern seas in ships of approaching disturbances such as the willy-willies which have exacted such a heavy toll of human life during the last few years. It is to hoped that all who have any information or opinion in regard to such matters will place them at the disposal of Mr Hunt. There is one way by which useful warning may be conveyed to shipping and that is by means of wireless installations on ships and shore. It would not need a costly installation at Broome and other ports to be of great value, especially if all vessels regularly trading on the coast were compelled to put in a wireless installation. If all the northern ports and all the vessels trading thereto were able to keep in constant touch with each other the danger of those seas would be enormously reduced. It is understood that the Federal Government have in contemplation some scheme for dotting the long stretch of Australasian coasts with wireless stations and it is to be hoped that the necessity of minimising the sudden and appalling dangers which menace the traders of our Northern coasts will be adequately realised. Our own State steamers might well show an example in regard to wireless installation to the companies which are exploiting the Nor' West trade in the interests of private enterprise.[3]

The following month, August 1912, John Graeme Balsille, the Commonwealth Wireless Expert formally announced that the Government was proceeding with the establishment of a network of coastal wireless stations and that Geraldton would be one of the initial locations:

Girdling Australia with Wireless. A STATION FOR GERALDTON. MELBOURNE, Aug. 7. Mr. Balsillie, the Commonwealth wireless expert, stated today that the Pennant Hills (Sydney) station would be accepted by the Federal Government before the end of the year. Stations at Port Darwin, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cooktown, Cape Byron, Cape Nelson, Eucla, Albany, and Geraldton will be completed, making a complete chain of wireless around Australia.[4]

The Geraldton Guardian waxed lyrical in its announcement later in the month of August 1912 of the proposed establishment of the Geraldton station:

WIRELESS FOR THE NORTH. The Commonwealth Meteorologist (Mr. Hunt) was bombarded by interviewers while in the West, but he does not appear to have disclosed anything of his conclusions derived from a study, on the spot, of the "Cock-eyed Bob" of Nor'-West evil fame and reputation. Probably we shall hear later of the means by which Mr. Hunt proposes to "circumwent" this particularly treacherous and malignant form of storm. This State has paid a heavy toll of life as a result of the sudden and unexpected onset of the willy-willy and as trade increases along our long line of Nor'-West coast the toll exacted must become increasingly heavy. If meteorological science can forewarn our navigators of the oncoming of these cyclonic storms which so often lash our Northern seas into volcanic fury it will do this State an inestimable service. The extraordinary feats which wireless telegraphy has accomplished show us one means by which those who go down to the sea in ships may be forewarned against disaster. It is more than possible that the Koombana would not have gone to her doom in the hell of waters off Bedout last March had there been wireless stations dotted along our Northern coast. The Federal authorities have announced their intention of erecting a wireless station at Geraldton. It is to be hoped that Mr. Hunt will be able, as a result of his recent visit to the North to convince the Federal Government of the necessity of establishing stations at each of our northern seaports, and that the "sightless couriers of the air" striding the blast with the speed of light, may be called to give that timely aid which takes the form of foreknowledge.[5]

In September 1912, Balsillie was comprehensively interviewed by a journalist from "The West Australian" and was advised that, following the completion of the capital city stations, priority was now being given to establishment of the WA coastal stations, indeed that the Geraldton station might be commenced as early as three weeks hence:

BY WIRELESS. COMPLETING THE CHAIN OF STATIONS. STATEMENT BY MR. BALSILLIE. According to Mr. J. G. Balsillie, the Commonwealth wireless expert, who is now on a week's visit to this State, matters in connection with wireless telegraphy in the western portion of the Commonwealth are to progress with rapidity. Brief reference was made in yesterday's issue to Mr. Balsillie's visit, wherein it was stated that that gentleman had arrived from the Eastern States to carry out tests at the Applecross station which should not extend over a week and which before the contract would be deemed to have been completed would have to demonstrate that ethergrams could be sent from the station 1,250 miles by day. A statement by Mr. Balsillie to the effect that wireless stations were to be established at Fremantle, Esperance, Roebourne, Geraldton, and Wyndham before the end of the financial year and subsequently at Broome and Eucla, occasioned some comment, and in order to gain further information on the point inquiries were prosecuted yesterday by a representative of this journal. In answer to questions, Mr. Balsillie stated that the information attributed to him was perfectly correct. That will necessitate work proceeding at a greater rate than heretofore, will it not? "Well, we shall not lose any time, in fact, I might say that we have already made a start. One engineer will leave tomorrow (Friday) night to make arrangements at Geraldton, Roebourne, and Wyndham, while another will go south shortly to deal with the Albany and Esperance stations. The material for the stations has already left Melbourne, the apparatus being despatched from Sydney and the rest of the gear from Melbourne. It is hoped that the Geraldton station will be started some three weeks hence, when the gangs of men employed by the Commonwealth at this work in the Eastern States will be available. All these stations mentioned have been approved by the Postmaster-General, of course, and will be proceeded with expeditiously." How long will it be before the stations are completed? "We average from six to eight weeks per station. That is to say, from the time the gangs reach the site till the station is completed we average from six to eight weeks. The Commonwealth is doing its own erection work now, of course. In the past some stations, like Applecross, for instance, were erected by contract. The crux of the matter is that the Commonwealth Government is concentrating its efforts in Western Australia now. We have got the primary chain of stations completed in the Eastern States, and now it is necessary to proceed with the work apace in Western Australia." Australia, Mr. Balsillie stated, would soon be linked up with Great Britain by means of wireless communication between London and Port.Darwin upon the establishment of the station at the northern Australian port. The stations which would pick up the world-travelling messages would be those at Singapore, Aden, and Cyprus.[6]

A few days later, the Sunday Times also interviewed Balsillie who reiterated the short timetable proposed for the Geraldton station. The interview demonstrated Balsillie's straightforward and matter-of-fact manner which is precisely how he proceeded with the establishment of the stations:

A Wireless Wizard — Five Stations for Western Australia. Under middle-age, clean shaven, pleasant-faced, pleasant-spoken, neither fat nor lordly but keen and business-like — that would fairly sum up a flashlight description of Mr. J. G. Balsillie, the man who bosses the Commonwealth wireless system, or the projected system. He doesn't waste time or words. Make an appointment, suggested the interviewer, if you are busy now. "Go right ahead here," he said, as he was ambushed in the corridor upstairs at the P.O. "You've had it all, I think, in 'The Sunday Times,' but ask me any questions, and take a note." With a subject of that sort, you have got to be primed full of interrogations. Well, we should like to know something as to the whole Commonwealth scheme of wireless stations. "That is very simple. We shall encircle the whole continent, and Papua and Tasmania, with a chain of stations that will be in continuous communication." Have you fixed the site of each station? "We have fixed the places. Say we begin at Port Moresby in Papua, the next station will be Thursday Island, then Cooktown, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Sydney, Gabo Island, Hobart, Melbourne, Mt. Gambier, Adelaide, Esperance or Albany, Fremantle, Geraldton, Roebourne, Wyndham and Port Darwin — eighteen stations altogether." All these stations will be for commercial purposes? "Certainly. They will have a complete day and night service throughout the Commonwealth, and within 1000 miles of the Australian coast in all directions." The latter will be for the benefit of shipping? "Yes, and meteorology. We shall be able to receive weather reports from at least 1000 miles out at sea, and probably 1500 miles." When will the other Westralian stations be begun? "The apparatus and gear for three of these have already been shipped from Melbourne. Geraldton will be the first station erected. hen the southern at Albany or Esperance; we haven't decided which yet; and next will be Roebourne. "Of course you know Port Darwin will connect with the Empire scheme either by way of Singapore or Colombo. At Port Darwin there will be two stations — a small one for commercial purposes only and a high-power station for communication with the world." The Fremantle station is one of the most powerful? "Yes, it is exactly the same as the Sydney station, and will have a radius of 1250 miles by day, and 1500 to 2000 by night." When do you take it over? "As soon as we are satisfied that the technical conditions of the contract have been complied with. It must have a day radius of 1250 miles." Will the tests be completed this week? "Ah! we cannot say. They may take three months — even 12 months." Then we may be without benefit of wireless? "No, we shall make arrangements to start commercial operating at once. The station will be opened for public business without delay." What are the rates? "Fourpence per word for shipping and sixpence per word overland, plus the ordinary inland telegraph charges." By the way, Mr. Balsillie, is the whole Commonwealth scheme to be on your own principle? "Fremantle and Pennant Hills are both on the Telefunken principle; all the rest will be on mine." Wireless ought to cheapen communication to the world. "The rates from Port Darwin have not yet been fixed. The Postmaster-General will decide the matter."[7]

Construction edit

As foreshadowed by Balsillie, initial work soon commenced and the project supervisor W. M. Sweeney arrived in Geraldton at the end of September 1912 and quickly identified the Residency site on Francis street as being the most suitable:

Wireless Stations. SITE SELECTED AT GERALDTON. The Federal authorities are at present engaged upon a scheme for constructing a chain of wireless telegraphy stations all round the coast of the continent, the ultimate idea being to have one at practically every port. In connection with the development and carrying out of this scheme, Mr. W. M. Sweeney, the erectional engineer for Western Australia, has been in Geraldton during the past few days inspecting sites for a station and he informs us that he has selected the Residency site, as being the most suitable. The Geraldton station will link up with the stations that are to be constructed at Albany, Fremantle, Roebourne, and Wyndham these being the first instalment for W.A., though it is intended ultimately to have others at various points on the coast, so as to make the chain complete. The station at Geraldton will be both a receiving and transmitting station, and will be available for the reception of public messages. During the day time it will have a radius of about 300 miles, whilst at night, when the conditions are much more favourable, the distance will be increased to about 1000 miles, and under those circumstances it will be possible to get into communication with Adelaide. Mr. Sweeney also informed us that he is proceeding to Roebourne to fix up the site for a station there, and he hopes that by the time he returns it will be possible to make a commencement with the work of erecting the station here. Of course that will depend upon whether the requisite material can be obtained by that time, but it is intended to put the work in hand at the earliest possible moment. The tower will be about 150 feet high, and will constitute a landmark for many miles around. The cost of erecting and equipping the station will be approximately £2000. Since the time the Federal authorities decided upon encircling the continent with a chain of wireless stations, great progress has been made with the work, and at the present time there are five or six in course of construction, and it is intended to push on with the scheme as fast as possible. Probably two or three years will elapse before the scheme is completed in Western Australia. The people of Geraldton will welcome the intimation that our port is to be one of the first to be provided with a station, and when once the work of erection is commenced, it will not take long to complete, a matter of about three months being all that is required. No doubt with the extension of these necessary safeguards for the projection and assistance of shipping, steps will be taken to compel all ships, commencing with those carrying passengers, running on the coast to have the wireless apparatus fitted, for unless this is done, the usefulness of the wireless stations will be to a great extent discounted. Wireless telegraphy must within a short time be regarded as one of the first necessities of a ship's equipment, and it is satisfactory to note that the Federal authorities are alive to the importance of doing their share to provide means of communication between the shore and ships.[8]

Evidently local council was so keen to see the station established that no opposition was raised to the use of the prime site, and materials were already being delivered on site in the first week of December 1912:

The Wireless Station. It is evident that no time is to be lost in erecting the wireless station in Geraldton, of which we gave full particulars a few weeks ago. Some of the workmen have already arrived, and a good deal of the material required is now being delivered at the Residency paddock, where the tower is to be erected.[9]

Construction of the station was proceeding apace towards the end of December 1912 with a team of eight carpenters constructing the 180 foot mast, 21 inches square comprised of Oregon planks steel bolted together:

Geraldton's Wireless Station. WORK PROCEEDING APACE. The paddock at the rear of the Residency is a busy place at the present time as workman are engaged carrying out the work which will constitute Geraldton as one of the links of the chain of wireless stations, which will ultimately encircle the coast of Australia. What the value of such a line of communications will be to the people of Australia it it impossible to estimate. Wireless telegraphy has demonstrated its usefulness time after time, and is now regarded as an absolute and imperative necessity in connection with shipping, and in the course of time it will be possible, when all the wireless stations are built, and all the vessels plying on the coast are fitted with apparatus, to keep in constant touch with them, and acquaint them with possible and probable variations in weather conditions. To Geraldton falls the distinction of having the first of the stations, which the Commonwealth authorities are erecting in Western Australia, for the station at Applecross was erected by a private company before being taken over. Of course the Geraldton station will not be as powerful as the one at Applecross, but it will be capable of doing all that will be required of it, and will be, as stated before, one of the links in a chain of stations, from which news will be passed on. Its effective radius will vary according to conditions. In the day time it will be able to receive and transmit messages to a distance of about 250 miles, whilst in the night time, when the wireless apparatus always works better, its radius will be greatly increased. But to revert to the work of construction which is being carried out under the supervision of Mr. Sweeney the official, who selected the site several weeks ago, and who has also decided upon other sites further up the coast. There are eight carpenters engaged, and at present they are working upon the mast, which will be about 180 feet high, and which will be the outstanding feature of the station, and which will be a prominent landmark for miles around. This will be 21 inches square, and it is constructed of planks bolted together. The core of the mast is first made, and then other planks are bolted on until the mast is made up to the required size, 21 inches square. This will rest on a concrete foundation eight feet deep, and the task of hoisting this into its position will be a very interesting spectacle, The weight of the mast will be somewhere between 25 and 30 tons, and its gradual elevation to an upright position on the concrete foundation will be an object lesson of what can be accomplished by scientific methods. The mast will be kept in position by eight anchors, two on each side, these anchors, which are very weighty, being concreted in holes eight feet deep. On the top of the mast will be the all important apparatus, known as the umbrella shaped aerial, the four branches of which will be fastened down to the four corners of the field, and connected with the receiving and transmitting house, in which will be all the delicate machinery. The house is being erected by the P.W.D., and not until this is finished can the machinery be installed. This concluding part of the work will occupy about three weeks, and Mr. Sweeney expects that the station will be ready for use in about three months from the date of the commencement of the work. The station will cost altogether about £2000, and it is satisfactory to know that all the appliances required are being manufactured in the Commonwealth.[10]

A further interview with Sweeney was published in the Geraldton Express a few days later which provided further detail of the overall construction and layout of the station. It noted that Sweeney was being assisted on site in wireless matters by Mr. Cox and that the mechanical aspects of the construction were being oversighted by Mr. R. D. Munson of the Public Works Department:

The Geraldton Wireless Station. The work of erecting the buildings required for the Geraldton wireless station is proceeding apace, and preparations are being made for raising the mighty mast which will form the most conspicuous and distinctive feature of the new installation. The mast compared with which "The tallest pine, Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast. Of some great ammiral, wore but a wand," is to be 180 feet in height, and will consist of huge oregon planks, 40 feet in length, bolted together on the "Staggering" principle, so that no two joints in the skyscraper will come together. The mast will spring from a concrete base 8ft. square which will be 8ft in the ground and 4ft above the ground. The mast will be stayed by a legion of wire guys radiating from the mast at intervals of 52ft. There will be al-together twelve of these guy ropes which will run from the mast into the ground where they will be attached to large anchors sunk to a depth of 7ft. The mast will be raised during the next two or three weeks and the performance will be worth watching. The mast, of course, has to be raised in one piece. To raise a mast 180ft. in length and weighing 20 tons looks like a difficult piece of work, but the officers in charge appear to have no apprehension of anything untoward occurring. Incidentally and as in some measure justifying the confidence of the officers it may be mentioned that the component parts of this colossal spire will be bolted together with over three thousand bolts and screws. On the top of the mast it may also be noted there will be yards 20ft. in length supporting and being supported by an installation of aerial wires for the receipt and transmission of wireless messages. The buildings to be erected are neither large nor pretentious, They consist of two small brick structures, each containing three rooms. One of these is the transmitting house, consisting of the motor room, the high-tension, or transmitting room, and the operating room. The other, or power house, com-prises a battery room, the engine room, and a room for the use of the operators. The main feature of interest in these buildings is supplied by the transmitting room, from which radiates a multitude of copper wires, which look like streamers from a giant may pole. There are seven miles of these wires which are all connected with the mast, and which all run to earth where they are taken to water level to form the earth circuit. These houses are now being constructed by the Public Works Department of this State, and as soon as they are finished everything will be in readiness for the installation of the machinery and plant. A few weeks will then see the completion of the work. This is the first wireless station to be constructed departmentally in W.A. and the officers in charge fully expect that it will be finished in record time. The work is proceeding under the supervision of Mr Sweeney, Commonwealth Wireless Engineer for this State, Mr. Cox, who is assisting Mr Sweeney, and Mr R D Munson, whose special duty it is to see that the mast is well and truly raised.[11]

Early in January 1913, the Geraldton Express noted that work by the Public Works Department was proceeding satisfactorily and estimated that the buildings would be complete in about three weeks' time:

The Wireless Station. Work is progressing satisfactorily at the wireless station, where the buildings being erected by the State Public Works Department are nearing completion. The powerhouse will be completed in about three weeks from date, and the transmitting-room will be ready shortly afterwards. When these buildings are handed over to the Commonwealth authorities the plant and internal fittings will be put in, and it is not expected that this work will take long. The raising of the mast will be the most interesting piece of work, from the spectacular point of view, connected with the equipment of the wireless station.[12]

Mid January 1913, the new Peak Hill-Nullagine telegraph line was announced as being in service, which led to consideration of the unreliability of the old line & potential risks remaining with the new line. But it was noted that the coastal radio chain being established provided a key alterative route in case of emergencies:

THE PEAK HILL-NULLAGINE TELEGRAPH. The new telegraph line between Broome and Perth, via Nullagine and Peak Hill, has been working satisfactorily for the last couple of weeks. This line has recently been completed as an alternative to the old Northern coastal line of evil fame, which was continually going into conference as a result of dissatisfaction with the working conditions produced by the willy-willies, cock-eye bobs, tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, mere gales, and other high-lows which seem to be engaged in the industry of atmospheric agitation on the grand-scale anywhere between North-West Cape and Broome, from November to April. It has been quite a common thing, we believe, in the past that a man wanting to send an urgent message from Perth to Broome made it his business before lodging the message to inquire whether the Northern line was interrupted. If it was, as was generally the case, he waited for the next northward going steamer, and sent the message per ship. Messages had an irritating way of geting as far as Hamelin Pool and stay-there until something happened, and things didn't happen early or often up there. The new line is expected to obviate a good deal of the inglorious uncertainty which attached to the transmission of messages by the old line. It runs down the coast from Broome to Condon, and thence into the interior, away from the "Willy Willy" affected area, to Peak Hill. The line comes southward from Peak Hill to Cue and thence to Perth. The new line will unquestionably prove to be a useful auxiliary to the old one, and the latter has also been improved, so that complaints concerning the northern telegraphs should in future be marked by less frequency and freedom. The old coastal line and the in-land line have been equipped with new repeaters. Unfortunately the first section of the new line runs along the Ninety-Mile beach from Broome to Condon, and this is one of the most storm driven and cyclone-whipt tracts in the Nor'-West. This fact greatly detracts from the reliability of the new line. During the willy-willy sea-son this section of the line will always be peculiarly liable to catastrophic interruption. Against this there is the fact that this part of the coast does not interpose any obstacle to speedy and safe travel by messenger, say, from Broome southwards. There seems to be every probability that every real blow at Broome will wreck the Broome-Condon section. With the establishment of wireless stations at the northern ports danger of the complete isolation of any of these ports should become practically negligible provided, of course, that the stations be built sufficiently strong to successfully stand against the ordinary cyclone of these parts. When one thinks of a slender spire 180 feet high being attacked by such a blow as that which sent the Koombana to the bottom a few months ago, the capacity of the wireless mast to stand four square to all the winds that blow may reasonably be doubt-ed. Few old Nor'-Westers are likely to believe that such a mast as it is intended to erect at Geraldton will for long withstand the fury of the gale at Broome.[13]

When the coastal chain of wireless stations was first announced, the necessary total number of stations was thought to be about 30, being almost every major port in the nation. But as commissioning proceeded, it became clear that the reliable range for the lower power stations was greater than expected. Carnarvon, about 450km North of Geraldton had been nominated as a likely site, but on 11 January 1913 it was announced that Carnarvon would not be established since Geraldton would be able to service Carnarvon's requirements (in conjunction with the land telegraph system):

THE ROEBOURNE STATION. CARNARVON TO BE OMITTED. Our Roebourne representative wired us on Wednesday: Mr. Tobin, of the Public Works Department, went to Broome by the Charon to start the erection of the wireless station there. When it is well under way he will return to Roebourne and start the same here. He informs me that none will be erected in Carnarvon as Roebourne will pick up Geraldton.[14]

In February 1913, a few months after the fact, the Commonwealth Gazette announced the purchase of Bullivant's Patent Flexible Steel Wire and Bullivant's Galvanized Wire Rigging Rope for VIN as necessary for antenna and mast rigging:

Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General's Department, Ex. Min. No. 55. 21st February, 1913. HIS Excellency the Governor-General, by and with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has approved, in accordance with the provisions of No. 61 of the Treasury Regulations under section 71 of the Audit Acts 1901-1906, of the expenditure of £169 11s. in the purchase from N. Guthridge Limited, 525 Collins-street, Melbourne, Victoria, of a quantity of Bullivant's Patent Flexible Steel Wire Rope and Bullivant's Galvanized Wire Rigging Rope to Lloyds' requirements, for use in connexion with the Radiotelegraph Stations at Gabo Island, Victoria; Townsville, Rockhampton, and Cooktown, Queensland; Mount Gambier, South Australia; and Geraldton, Broome, Esperance, Roebourne, and Wyndham, Western Australia. C. E. FRAZER, Postmaster-General.[15]

In March 1913, further rigging wire was announced as having been purchased for Station VIN:

Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General's Department, Ex. Min. No. 103. 28th March, 1913. HIS Excellency the Governor-General, by and with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has approved, in accordance with the provisions of No. 61 of the Treasury Regulations under section 71 of the Audit Acts 1901-1906, of the expenditure of £109 4s. 10d. in the purchase from W. Waugh, 19 Weston-street, Balmain East, New South Wales, of 4 coils (about 11,900 feet) of Rigging Wire required for the use of the Postmaster General's Department in connexion with the erection of Radio-telegraph Stations at Rockhampton and Cooktown, Queensland; Mount Gambier, South Australia; Darwin, Northern Territory; Roebourne, Esperance, and Geraldton, Western Australia; and Flinders Island, Tasmania. C. E. FRAZER, Postmaster-General.[16]

By mid-January 1913, the jury mast essential to raising the transmitting mast had arrived at Geraldton on the Minderoo and that task was set to commence in a matter of days:

Geraldton Wireless Station. The task of raising the 180ft. mast at the Geraldton Wireless Station to the perpendicular will be begun on Saturday morning, and will probably be carried on throughout the day. The work is one requiring the utmost care and will necessarily be slow. The big jury mast required for lifting the main mast into position was brought to Geraldton by the Minderoo, and is now being placed in position and fitted up for its work. Mr. R. D. Munson, who is in charge of this ticklish bit of work has already supervised the erection of a considerable number of similar masts. [17]

The main mast was raised to the perpendicular on 18 January 1913. The activity in the heart of the town was a visual spectacle that was not equalled for many years and a number of townsfolk turned out to observe (as reported by the Geraldton Guardian):

Erected. MAST AT WIRELESS STATION HOISTED INTO POSITION. Geraldton has now another landmark, and one considerably taller than its two lighthouses. Today this huge 180 feet mast at the wireless station, in the paddock at the rear of the residency, was safely hoisted into position, and from now henceforth it will be one of the most conspicuous features of the landscape for miles around. The delicate operation of getting the huge mast, which is 21 inches square, and which weighs over 20 tons, was watched with the greatest interest by large numbers of people throughout the day, and though the first thought that would probably strike the casual observer was that an extraordinary long time was being taken over the job, a few moments consideration would make him realise that this was an instance of the truth of the old saying "more haste, less speed," and that in this case "slow and sure" must be the maxim to observe. A brief description, divested of all technicalities, of the operation, the first of its kind in Western Australia, may be of interest, and from this it will be seen that Mr. Sweeney, the official in charge of the undertaking had left nothing to chance, and had carefully thought out every detail, so that there might be no hitch in the work. First of all a jury mast, in itself no small thing, for it was 75 feet high, was erected on Friday by means of a derrick, and this was bolted at right angles to the foot of the main mast, which was lying prone. Then half a dozen wire ropes, each capable of standing a strain of seven tons, were attached from the top of the jury mast to the mainmast at distances of 30 feet, in order that the strain might be equally distributed. The hoisting was done by means of a heavy winch and tackle placed at the side of the field, the pulley, connected with the top of the jury mast, being attached to an anchor eight feet deep in the ground. To the uninitiated there seemed to be a multiplicity of ropes, but that was where the beauty and the simplicity of the work came in, and everything was so arranged that every portion of the tackle would perform its appointed work. The ropes and tackles were fixed by a sailor gang of eight men, under Foreman-rigger Munson, and for this kind of work there are no men to approach sailors, as there must be no possibility of knots becoming unfastened, or tackle giving way. They carried out their work thoroughly. Altogether there were 23 men engaged on the job. On Friday evening the tackle was given a trial spin so to speak, and everything was found to work satisfactorily. The actual work of hoisting was commenced at eight o'clock this morning, and though, if one watched the mast closely one could hardly distinguish any movement, yet if attention was taken from it for a quarter of an hour and then directed to it again, the progress made by the huge mast to its upright position could be noted. It was a case of a long pull and a steady pull, and at eleven o'clock the mast has been raised to an angle of 45 degrees. The first lift was equal to a strain of 90 tons, but as the mast gradually rose the weight on the winch gradually decreased. When it reached a certain degree the weight of the jury mast came into play, and eventually was sufficient in itself. In order however, that the upward progress of the mast might not be too quick, there were six guy ropes fixed at the back, and these were utilised in order to steady it and to prevent it going up with a jerk.The foot of the mast rests between two blocks of concrete, but these only form two sides of the solid cement block, in which the foot of the mast will be embedded. In connection with this, special precautions will be taken to prevent the mast being attacked by white ants. The work was completed at 4 p.m., and Mr. Sweeney and his men were congratulated upon the complete success, which had attended, the operation. Deducting the lunch interval of 1½ hours, the mast was hoisted into position in exactly 6½ hours, and as the usual time for such a job is eight hours, they have established a record which no doubt other parties engaged in similar work in Australia will strive to emulate. With the mast in position and firmly secured the other work will be proceeded with, but the installation cannot be completed until the buildings being erected by the P.W.D. are finished.[18]

The report of the activity by the Guardian Express emphasised the nautical flavour added by the eight man sailor gang doing the hard lifting with a liberal spread of maritime dialect as the work progressed: "Brace up the top guy"; Ay! Ay! Sir!; "Ho! Ho! Boy!"; "Make fast"; and finally the mast was "Four square to all the winds that blow.":

The Wireless Station. ERECTION OF THE MAST. The installation of wireless at Geraldton was advanced a considerable stage on Saturday when the mighty mast, 180 feet in length and weighing 21 tons, was raised from the prone to the perpendicular. The mast has been lying already for raising for some time but the jury mast and tackle needed for the work did not arrive from Melbourne until the Minderoo brought it along last week. Preparations were at once made for getting the jury mast and the rest of the necessary equipment into working order. This was completed on Friday, and on Saturday morning at 8 o'clock the work of lifting the mast into position began. There were over a score of men engaged on the job, the most active and indispensable of these being a sailor gang of eight men. When work began on Saturday morning a small crowd of curious onlookers saw as the most conspicuous feature of the equipment a big jury mast bolted to the bottom of the main mast and standing erect. The jury mast was connected with the main mast by a number of stout wire cables at intervals of 33 feet. From the jury mast there led backwards stout tackle connected with a pully below the jury mast and proceeding thence to a winch manned by six men just inside the fence at Francis Street. Guy ropes extended to each side braced to prevent the mast swaying sideways. The whole thing was perfectly simple. Just the fulcrum provided by the jury mast and the needful arrangement of ropes and blocks and pullies. Nothing could be simpler. And yet there may be people who would fail to carry out the job so coolly and successfully as it was carried out on Saturday by Mr. R. D. Munson. Mr. Munson didn't suffer from any nervous strain while the work was proceeding. There was no indication that he was troubled by any apprehensions of failure. No thought of the possibility of the gigantic mast breaking away from its shackles and crashing down on spectators or adjacent houses crossed his mind, though faint premonitions of the possibility of such a thing no doubt quickened the pulse of many of the onlookers. Mr. Munson just smoked the pipe of perfect calm and went on methodically with his work. There was no fuss, no unnecessary ordering about. "Brace up the top guy." Ay! Ay! Sir! Then the sailor gang pulled for a few minutes on the guy, each successive tug following the regular repetition of the rhythmic injunction "Ho! Ho! Boy!" of the leader. Then the sharp rifle shot of an order "Make fast," a few dexterous twists, and the order was obeyed. The men on the winch — there were six of them at first — had no easy task when the "bosun's" whistle sounded the order to begin the lift. The six men turned the handles slowly, the winch-bole began to wind in the rope, and the 180 feet stem began to rise. The men turned the winch laborously, and inch after painful inch was gained and kept. After a few minutes turning the whistle sounded again and the men on the winch rested their muscles while a new adjustment of the balancing guys was made. The work went on with stately deliberation hour after hour until at noon the mighty spar hung half way between the horizontal and the vertical. The heaviest part of the work was now over, for the weight of the great jury mast, hanging at an angle of 15 degr. was now helping to draw the main mast erect. So slow was the lift that it was only by seeing the lifting rope moving through the blocks and pulleys that one was enabled to realise that the mast was rising. The initial strain on the winch was equal to a dead lift of 90 tons, but as the main mast rose and the jury mast fell the strain gradually lessened until nearing the end the smaller spar was doing most of the lifting. As this went on the number of the men on the winch were reduced from six to four, and finally to two who had little more to do than gather in the slowly coming slack. Resuming at two o'clock, after the midday interval, the work of lifting went on steadily, a thought more quickly than before, and at 4 o'clock the mast only wanted a breadth and a half more to attain the vertical. Work latterly had been proceeding with greater caution and every inch was jealously safeguarded. The guy ropes at the rear were now clinging determinedly to the mast, checking its ascent so that there would be no sudden jolting or jerking at the ens. By this time baulks of timber had been built up under the jury mast so that when the last few feet remained to be won the downward tug of its almost prostrate bulk sufficed to keep the big mast in position. Then the winch was once more got to work and inch by inch the mast rose to the vertical. Anxious eyes were watching at all points to note when the spar was exactly vertical, and the tackle was braced up all round in response to calls from this and that quarter. Finally the word "right" was given from all quarters, the last "Make fast" was called and obeyed, and the huge mast stood upright, "Four square to all the winds that blow."[19]

The demands on Sweeney's time and resources did not abate but rather increased as the Government relented to local representations and prioritised the Wyndham station for completion also. Sweeney had to juggle available staff and problems with availability of the necessary oregon timbers began to emerge:

Wyndham Wireless Station. In consequence of the representations made to the Federal authorities by the residents of Wyndham with regard to the necessity for establishing a wireless station there with as little delay as possible, it has been arranged that as Mr. Sweeney, the official in charge of the construction work of the State, cannot get away from Geraldton at present, that Mr. Cox, who is starting the station at Esperance, shall be relieved by a man from Melbourne, in order that he may proceed to Wyndham to select a site. Some difficulty is being experienced in obtaining the necessary timber for the construction of the masts, but Mr. Sweeney hopes that the stations at Roebourne, Wyndham, and Broome will be put in hand at no very distant date.[20]

By mid-February 1913 the mast and buildings were complete. While the transmitting apparatus was not operational, the receivers were installed and reception was obtained from the Perth coastal station and two ships in Fremantle port:

Geraldton Wireless Station. Though the apparatus for sending messages has not yet been installed at the Geraldton wireless telegraph station, the receiving apparatus is in wording order, and last night messages were received from Applecross, and the mail steamers Otranto and Morea, at Fremantle. Mr. Sweeney, the engineer-in-charge, leaves for Perth on Friday night to consult with his chief in regard to the Wyndham station.[21]

In March 1913, the PMG's Department called for tenders for the supply of 2,500 gallons of petroleum for station VIN. This would be a continuing requirement for many years until Geraldton had its own electricity supply and the station could be serviced:

Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General's Department, 26th March, 1913. TENDERS FOR SUPPLY OF PETROLEUM. TENDERS will be received at the office of the Secretary, Postmaster-General's Department, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, up to Noon on Tuesday, 15th April, 1913, for the supply of Petroleum as indicated hereunder, namely:— . . . . (e) 2,500 gallons of American, Russian, or Sumatra petroleum, to be supplied in tins, and delivered to the Officer in Charge, Radiotelegraph Station, Geraldton, Western Australia. Tender forms and general conditions may be obtained at the office of the Secretary, Postmaster-General's Department, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, and at the General Post Offices Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart. Tenders must be indorsed "Tender for Petroleum," and be addressed to the Secretary, Postmaster-General's Department, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne; if sent by post the letter must be registered, and the postage thereon be prepaid. A deposit in accordance with clause 5 of the General Conditions of Contract must accompany each tender. The lowest or any tender will not necessarily be accepted.[22]

The transmitter and all equipment for the station was provided by a 15-h.p. "Gardner" Oil Engine, direct coupled to a "Westinghouse" D.C. Generator. The unit was purchased from Noyes Bros. (Melbourne) Propty. Ltd., 499-501 Bourke-street, Melbourne for an amount of £285, as announced in the Commonwealth Gazette of 14 June 1913:

Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General's Department, Ex. Min. No. 235. 30th May, 1913. HIS Excellency the Governor-General, by and with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has approved, in accordance with the provisions of No. 61 of the Treasury Regulations under section 71 of the Audit Acts 1901-1906, of the expenditure of £285 in the purchase from Noyes Bros. (Melbourne) Propty. Ltd., 499-501 Bourke-street, Melbourne, of one 15-h.p. "Gardner" Oil Engine, direct coupled to a "Westinghouse" D.C. Generator (with accessories), required for the use of the Postmaster-General's Department in connexion with the erection of a Wireless Telegraph Station at Geraldton, State of Western Australia. C. E. FRAZER, Postmaster-General.[23]

There was some competition between the various crews erecting the masts and stations. The record set by the Geraldton crew for mast erection did not last long, being announced on 30 March 1913 as broken by the Esperance team with a time of 5½ hours, though the latter mast was only 160 ft. high, compared to 180 ft. for the Geraldton mast:

The Countryman's Column Owing to the delay experienced in getting machinery and material (says an exchange), it is not expected that the wireless station at Geraldton will be completed for another three weeks or a month. The mast of the Esperance station has been safely raised, the time occupied in the operation being five and a half hours, this beating the previous record at Geraldton by an hour. The Esperance mast is, however, only 160ft. high as compared with 180ft at Geraldton. The mast at Roebourne has been constructed, and is waiting the arrival of the tackle from Esperance for its erection, whilst it is expected that the mast for the Broome station will be ready for erection in about three weeks' time. There will be some delay in starting with the work at Wyndham, as a month will elapse before there is a convenient boat going there.[24]

There had been little progress when two months later in mid-April 1913 it was advised that the promised transmitter still had not been despatched from the Shaw Wireless Works and was still "undergoing testing" in Sydney:

A Voice from the Deep.— On Wednesday night the Geraldton wireless station received messages from the White Star liner Suevic, then on her way from Fremantle to South Africa. At the time the message was despatched the Suevic was 1100 miles distant from Geraldton. The station is not yet in a position to transmit messages, owing to the non-arrival of the engine from Sydney. Some time ago Mr. Sweeney received a telegram stating that the engine had actually been despatched from Sydney. After waiting for some weeks he despatched a telegram concerning the delay, and received word back that the engine was undergoing further tests. It will probably be a month at least before the engine arrives. Reverting to the receipt of messages it is possibly not generally known that Mr. Sweeney holds the world's record for long range wireless interchange of messages. He established this record when wireless operator on the Mantua. While at Aden, on one voyage he exchanged messages with Marseilles, a distance of 2,800 miles. On another occasion while the Mantua was outside Port Phillip Heads Mr. Sweeney picked up a signal despatched from Jask, a station on the Persian Gulf 6,249 miles from the Mantua at the time the call was heard. This is, however, only a "freak" record and not a practicable working feat, according to Mr. Sweeney.[25]

With little more to do pending the arrival of the transmitting apparatus, Sweeney returned to Perth on 4 April 1913:

Mr. Sweeney, who has been in Geraldton for some time in charge of the work proceeding at the wireless station is leaving by to-night's train for Perth, he intends returning shortly to see the final touches put to the station.[26]

Finally in early May 1913 the transmitter and ancillaries arrived on the Aeon and completion commenced in earnest:

The Wireless Station. After a great deal of delay the engine and other machinery for transmitting purposes at the Geraldton Wireless station have come to hand, being brought by the Aeon. During the coming week workmen will be busy putting them together, and it is expected that the station will be ready for full use in about ten days time. It had been hoped that the Postmaster-General, Mr. Frazer, would have been able to journey to Geraldton to open the station, but as he is indisposed, it is expected some other arrangement will have to be made.[27]

On 10 May 1913 it was reported that the transmitter had tested successfully on site and official commencement was imminent:

The Wireless Station. During the past week Mr. Sweeney and his staff have been busy installing the transmitting machinery at the Geraldton wireless station, and the capabilities of the machinery have been tested during the last day or so. It is expected that the station will be available for public use during the next few days.[28]

On 12 May 1913, a brief report in the Geraldton Express stated simply that "Wireless.— The wireless station is now ready for public work."[29]

The following day the rate of progress in the coastal radio network was well illustrated. When announcing the commencement of the Geraldton station it was also stated that VIR Rockhampton would commence in three days' time, while VIC Cooktown and VIE Esperance would commence the following week:

New Wireless Stations. The Geraldton (W.A.) wireless station was opened officially yesterday. Rockhampton (Q.) will be ready for business on Friday, and the stations at Cooktown (Q.) and Esperance (W.A.) will be opened next week.[30]

Initial operation edit

Two days after commencement of the station, it was operating commercially, albeit with an underwhelming volume of traffic. Local A. H. du Boulay had the honour of lodging the first commercial radiogram and was rewarded two hours later with a reply from the RMS Malwa. An increase in business volume was foreshadowed following enactment of the Navigation Act. It was noted that VIN appeared to be able to receive ships south of VIP somewhat better than VIP itself:

Geraldton's Wireless Station. BUSINESS COMMENCED. OPERATING AT LONG RANGE. To Geraldton has fallen the distinction of having the first wireless station actually erected by the Commonwealth in West Australia, for though the station at Applecross has been in operation some time, it was erected by contract before being taken over by the authorities. The tall towering mast in Gregory-street, the erection of which was watched with so much interest a few months ago has long been an object of interest, but it is really only a comparatively important, though necessary, part of the whole scheme, and the opening of the station has been held up owing to the delay in getting the transmitting machinery, which only arrived from the East about ten days ago. Since then Mr. Sweeney, under whose superintendence the station has been erected, and his staff, have had a busy few days in assembling the machinery. Everything, however, worked out most smoothly, and by Friday they were able to commence the testing work. This was attended by the most satisfactory results, an excellent tribute to the careful manner in which the operations had been conducted throughout. In fact everything was speedily in full working order, and by Monday the station was ready to embark upon public business. Perhaps had this been generally known there would have been keen competition for the honour of sending away the first message. As it was, however, Mr A. H. du Boulay who has probably seen as many changes in Geraldton, as anybody, secured the privilege of dispatching the first radio telegram, and of availing himself of the aid of this latest wonder of modern science, which has been harnessed to the service of mankind, and which has proved time after time of incalculable benefit and assistance. Mr. du Boulay handed in a message on Tuesday, for transmission to the Malwa, the mail boat, which is on her way to Colombo, and which at the time was fully two hundred miles away. Communication was established, and in about two hours time a reply was received. With the object of obtaining some information with regard to the station, a representative of this paper paid a visit to it yesterday morning, and was courteously received by Mr. Sweeney, and introduced to Mr. J. Lamb, who has come from the Applecross station, to be the chief operator at Geraldton. The two buildings, which are the homes of the machinery, are most unpretentious looking places from the outside, and though internally there has been no money wasted in decorative adornment, the casual visitor is impressed by the exceedingly business-like appearance they present. The building on the right-hand side is the power-house, and here is installed the 17½ horse power Gardner engine, with an 11 Kilowat generator, which drives a 5 Kilowat [sic] rotary converter, from which is obtained the current necessary for the wireless work. The chamber beyond the engine is the battery room. The building on the left-hand side is the one that will have the most interest for the ordinary individual, whose knowledge of electricity is of a neglible quantity, for the first room is the receiving and transmitting room, whilst in the two rooms beyond are different parts of the electrical apparatus, which though exceedingly interesting to the expert serve only to astound and astonish the novice. Mr. Sweeney conveyed a lot of scientific and technical information to our representative, but unfortunately his education in that direction had been sadly neglected, whilst the average reader will prefer to hear something of a general character about the station and its work, rather than a lengthy and technical description. With that object in view our representative questioned Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Lamb regarding the station generally, and they soon imparted abundant information of an interesting character, whilst the demonstrations he witnessed were exceedingly fascinating. Asked what was the range of the station, Mr. Sweeney said in the day-time they could operate up to a radius of 250 miles or a little more, whilst in the night time they could operate over a much wider area, 800 miles being a regular distance, whilst if all the conditions were favorable they might go as far as 2000 miles. In fact the other night Mr. Lamb picked up a signal from the Java station. As if in confirmation of the statement with regard to the day radius, Mr. Lamb at that moment received the signal from a German boat, the Colmar, which had been in touch with the station the previous night about 130 miles south of Perth, and which was proceeding towards Colombo. Getting the vessel's position it was ascertained that she was then about 45 miles or so west of Perth, and about 275 miles from Geraldton. Our representative had the pleasure of hearing the signal, the receiving apparatus, which the operator wears, being somewhat similar to that worn by telephone operators. It was quite distinct and it seemed wonderful that there were 275 miles of water between the sender and the receiver. Mr. Sweeney mentioned an interesting fact that Geraldton seemed able to pick up messages from south of Perth easier than the Applecross station, whilst it was easier to get in touch with vessels coming from the Leeuwin than it was with Applecross. This is one of the peculiarities of wireless, about which there are many theories, though it is an established fact that the aerial waves travel better over water than land. The station, it is expected, will be able to keep in touch with the Colmar for two or three days more, which will give opportunities for testing the radius. A demonstration of the tremendous amount of electrical energy used in sending a wireless message was given, and our representative was warned to take care that in his eagerness to see all that was to be seen he did not accidentally touch any part of the apparatus. There was no need for that, but he inquired what would happen if he did, and was given the cheerful in-formation that if he did his days for taking notes would come to an untimely end. When the engine got up its full power the buzzing was deafening, and after seeing the apparatus spark, our representative was more convinced than ever that it was no place for anyone but expert electricians. Returning to his comfortable seat in the operating room, our representative with his thirst for information still unquenched, proceeded to ask further questions. First of all he enquired what hours the station would be opened, and Mr. Sweeney replied from 7 a.m. until mid-night, to which Mr. Lamb added "Seven days a week." Mr. Sweeney said at present there were four operators, but when they were settled down to the ordinary routine, the staff would consist of three operators. "You are not going to open at night?" "Oh, no," said Mr. Sweeney, "the Applecross station is able to pick up messages practically all along the coast, whilst as most of the ships only carry one operator, they are usually off duty at night, and so there is not much doing." "What is the tariff for radio messages?" "Tenpence per word, in addition to the land charges. That is the charge for sending it from the post office to the wireless station. Of the tenpence the ship station gets 1d. and we get 9d." "Is there going to be any formal opening? "I don't think so. I have had a telegram from Mr. Whysal, the Deputy-Postmaster-General, stating that he will not be able to come up." And so you are going to get to work straight away and take business? "Yes. It is no use wasting time. Any business that is offering we will take. We want the work to roll up." Explaining how ships got into communication with one another, Mr. Sweeney said every line of vessels had their own call, which consisted of three letters. If the operator on any vessel knew the line to which the vessel, with which he wished to communicate belonged, he sent out the other vessels call letters three times, signing it with his own three times, but if he did not know to which line a vessel belonged, he sent out the call letters "C.Q.", signing his own, and any vessel within range picking the call up would answer. The distress signal was "S.O.S." The Geraldton station could pick up the signals from any system so long as they were on the wave length for which they were tuned. Our representative observed that so far there did not appear to be any rush of business, and Mr. Sweeney said that was so, but of course when the New Navigation Act came into force, and all the passenger boats carried wireless installations, there would be more business to do, and undoubtedly in the future practically all ships would adopt the wireless. Mr. Lamb said sometimes operators were asked how long it took to send a wireless message to ships at sea. Well, as the wireless was calculated to have the same speed as light, the problem did not take much calculation, the transmission, once the communication was picked up, being instantaneous. The station is equipped in every detail for the work it has to accomplish, and after spending an interesting hour our representative bade Mr. Sweeney and his staff good morning, and left profoundly impressed with the "wonders of wireless." K[31]

The Commonwealth Gazette of 19 July 1913 advertised vacancies for Officers-in-charge for 12 coastal stations outside the major metropolitan centres. The positions were in the Professional Division following advice by Balsillie and generally reflected superior pay and conditions compared to other telegraphists in the Department:

Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902. NOTIFICATION OF VACANCIES. APPLICATIONS will be received by the Public Service Commissioner from persons qualified for appointment to the positions specified below. Applicants outside the Public Service are eligible for appointment to the Administrative and Professional Divisions, but are not eligible for appointment to Clerical or General Division vacancies, unless they were in the service of a State on 1st January, 1901, or have retired from the service of the Commonwealth or of a State. Applicants who are officers of the Public Service of a State should state the date of their appointment to the Service, present position, and salary. Applicants from outside the Service should state their qualifications for the office they seek. Copies only of diplomas, references, testimonials, or certificates should be forwarded. If the originals are required they will be asked for. Full names and date and year of birth should be stated, and applications must be in applicant's handwriting. Applications should be addressed to the "Commonwealth Public Service Inspector" of the State in which the vacancy exists, and, in the case of officers of the Commonwealth Service, be forwarded through the Chief Officer of the Department to which the applicant belongs. Minimum and maximum salaries where shown indicate the limits of the class or grade in which the position is classified. Subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act appointments may be made at any salary within those limits. Successful appointees must comply with the life assurance provisions of the Public Service Act and Regulations. Officers of the Public Service should note that in any case where the minimum salary of a position in the Clerical Division is not the minimum salary of a Class, and the successful applicant is not eligible for the former by reason of not having received the salary of the next lower subdivision for twelve months, he will be granted an allowance equal to the difference between the salary for which he is eligible and the minimum salary of the position until he can be advanced by annual subdivisional increment to the latter salary. Officers who may be transferred without promotion or increase of salary as the result of an application for an advertised vacancy will be required to pay their own expenses of removal unless the transfer comes within the conditions prescribed in Public Service Regulation No. 54.

Postmaster-General's Department. RADIO-TELEGRAPH BRANCH. Western Australia

Position: Officer in Charge, Class E; Locality: Geraldton, W. A.; Division and Salary per Annum: Professional, £216 to £240*. Application Returnable: 2nd August. * Less £3 for rent if the one room which is provided is occupied. Applicants for the above positions in the Radio telegraph branch must — (1) be capable of working at 25 words per minute, sent and received, on telephone; (2) possess an elementary knowledge of electricity and magnetism, as also basic principles of Radiotelegraphy; (3) possess a general knowledge of precedents of working in Radiotelegraphy as contained in "Handbook for Wireless Telegraphists," issued by the British postal authorities; (4) be experienced in working of internal combustion engines; and applications should be forwarded to The Secretary, Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, Customs House, Melbourne."[32]

Following the exciting times of station construction and initial operation, ordinary life soon set in and in October 1913 a local resident was complaining about the fire risk of long grass in the station paddock:

CORRESPONDENCE. A DANGER FROM FIRE. (To the Editor.) Sir,— With the approach of summer I would like to call the attention of the persons controlling the Recreation Ground and Wireless Telegraph Station to the danger from fire which the prolific crop of grass in both enclosures presents. The danger is real and should be removed at once. It can be done inexpensively with a flock of sheep (or as a last resource) the town herd or the Health Inspector's horses. At any rate I hope the officer in charge of the Fire Brigade will look into the matter at once and serve the necessary notices on the persons responsible.— I am, etc. FIRE! FIRE![33]

Towards the end of January, Mr. Lamb, officer in charge of the Geraldton Wireless Station was reported returning from his holiday.[34]

In May 1914, Mr. Lamb concluded his period as officer-in-charge of the Geraldton station and was transferred to VIP Perth. He was replaced by Mr. Mortimer:

Mr Lamb, who has been in charge of the Geraldton wireless station al-most since its inception, has been transferred to Applecross, and lea-ves for the metropolis on Monday. Mr Mortimer will assume control of the Geraldton station.[35]

World War I edit

On 3 August 1914 the Minister for Defence notified the imposition of censorship on all radiotelegraphic traffic within the Commonwealth:

Department of Defence, Melbourne, 3rd August, 1914. ESTABLISHMENT OF CENSORSHIP OF CABLE COMMUNICATIONS. HIS Excellency the Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has been pleased to approve of the establishment of censorship of all cable and wireless telegraph communications throughout the Commonwealth, being proclaimed as from Five o'clock p.m. of 3rd August, and the following form of notification issued. E. D. MILLEN, Minister of State for Defence. FORMS OF NOTIFICATION OF THE SUSPENSION OF TELEGRAPH AND RADIO-TELEGRAPH SERVICE TO, FROM, OR IN TRANSIT THROUGH THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA. 1. Notification of General Suspension of Telegraph and Radio-Telegraph Services. The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia find themselves under the necessity of availing themselves of the power reserved under Article 8 of the International Telegraph Convention and Article 17 of the International Radio-Telegraph Convention to suspend the transmission of telegrams and radio-telegrams to and from or in transit through the Commonwealth of Australia, and to and from or in transit through any Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia, save and except such telegrams and radio telegrams as are on the service of His Britannic Majesty's Government, or the Government of the Com-monwealth of Australia, or of any State of the Common-wealth, or of any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, or of any other British Possession or Potectorate. With a view, however, to minimise inconvenience to the public, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia will, until further notice, and as an act of grace, permit the transmission of such telegrams and radio-telegrams in plain language as foreign Govern-ments or the public choose to send, provided that such telegrams and radio-telegrams are written in English or French, and on the understanding that they are accepted at the sender's risk, and subject to censorship by the Commonwealth authorities; that is, they may be stopped, delayed, or otherwise dealt with in all respects at the discretion of those authorities and without further notice to the senders; and that no claims in respect of them, whether for the reimbursement of the sums paid for transmission or otherwise, will be considered by the Government of the Commonwealth in any circumstances whatever. It is, moreover, essential that such telegrams and radio-telegrams should bear the sender's signature at the end of the text, otherwise they are liable to be stopped until the signature is notified by paid telegram. Registered abbreviated addresses will not be accepted, either as addresses or as signatures. In this notification the term "telegram" is applied to radio-telegraph messages sent from shore to shore, as well as to those sent by cable or land line; and the term "radio-telegraph" is used to denote messages exchanged between ships and shore.[36]

Following the commencement of World War One in August 1914, the local authorities were quick to point out that the wireless station was both a key target and quite defenceless:

GERALDTON'S DEFENCE. The absolute defenceless position of Geraldton has been the subject of considerable discussion during the last few days. The removal of the Railway coal supply to Narngulu indicates that at least in the minds of the authorities there is the possibility of an unfriendly vessel calling here to replenish her bunkers. On the other hand the Military authorities evidently think there is no need for preparations for the defence of this place, as they have taken away all the ammunition which was stored for practice by the Rifle Club and Senior Cadets. We understand the Mayor has wired to the authorities in Perth pointing out the defenceless state of the town. He has drawn attention to the unprotected state of the wireless station. In other parts of the State public meetings are being called for the consideration of questions of defence. Perhaps it would be a good idea to do the same here. At all events there are hundreds who would be glad of an opportunity of preparing them-selves for the defence of either their own town or any other part of the State. Given a rifle the man in these parts could do as well as the best.[37]

A few days later the Geraldton Mayor advised that the WA Premier had communicated to him that the matter of protection of the wireless station had been referred to the military authorities:

The European War. Cr. Goldberg mentioned the present war, and asked if it would not be advisable to call a public meeting to see if assistance could not be given in some way. Perhaps a fund could be opened. The Mayor said he had communicated with the Premier to see if it were not possible to get authorative information in regard to war. He had also drawn attention to the unprotected state of the town, and particularly the wireless station. The Premier had replied saying that the matter was in the hands of press agencies, but if anything of importance should come through from the authorities, he would see that it was sent to Geraldton. He had referred the question of Geraldton's defence to the military authorities. On the motion of Cr. Meadowcroft, it was decided to call a public meeting for the purpose of discussing matters in connection with the war.[38]

On 18 August 1914 Lieut. Gibbings received instructions to mount a guard at the wireless station comprised of one officer and 20 men:

WIRELESS STATION TO BE GUARDED. Instructions were received this morning by Lieut. Gibbings to take steps to mount a guard at the wireless station. The guard will be maintained day and night, about 20 men of the local military forces being requisitioned for the purpose. The men will be provided with a tent, which will be set up in the station grounds. The Mayor received a telegram from Mr Sam Elliott, M.L.A., which read as follows: "Instructions issued by Commandant to mobilise one Geraldton infantry company, one officer and 20 men to protect your wireless."[39]

Unfortunately the military reserve utilised for guard duty were mostly youthful and not fully convinced of the seriousness of their task. Within a week of commencement their shenanigans drew comment in the Geraldton Express:

Guarding the Wireless Station. A letter dealing with the conduct of the young soldiers on sentry duty at the wireless station, has reached this office. The epistle is so strong that we fear to publish it lest we should come into contact with the business end of a bayonet. The writer in his mildest moments, in his letter says that by the antics of some of the youths on duty one would imagine they were practising a part for a performance of an amateur comedy company. Still mildly, our correspondent states that when passing the wireless one morning on his way to business, one stupid young fellow, looking most fierce, loudly exclaimed that he (our correspondent) would make a blanky good German to practise on. After this the mildness of our correspondent melts, and the remainder of his letter we must indicate by strokes, as it is unprintable.[40]

Within a few weeks the station guard had cause to draw bayonets and an intruder was apprehended at the station. Under questioning at the local court it became clear that the culprit was having a psychotic break and he was remanded for medical assessment:

At the Wireless Station. AN INTRUDER CAPTURED SINGULAR AFFAIR. The monotony of the members of the guard at the Geraldton Wireless Station was relieved on Tuesday night by a capture. About half past nine o'clock the sentry on the west side saw a man coming under the shadow of the north wall. He promptly challenged him, but got no reply, and the repetition of the command was similarly ignored. Eventually the man was stopped by the sentry presenting the bayonet to his chest, and a file being called out he was taken before Lieut. Gibbings. He told the lieutenant that his name was Frederick James Kempton, but beyond the fact that he wanted to see the boss of the wireless station, he could get nothing satisfactory out of him. Kempton was marched to the lock up, and was there charged with being unlawfully on the premises of the wireless station. P.C. Buckey, on searching him, found £2 13s 6d in cash and a cheque for £8 10s on him, but no papers. The charge was explained to him a dozen times, but he was not satisfied. Yesterday morning prisoner was brought before Messrs E. F. Sander and J. Mills at the police court, and after evidence to the above effect had been given. Sert. Thomas said he saw the prisoner at the lockup that morning, and asked him what he was doing at the wireless station. Prisoner replied that he went there to see the boss, but he would not say what his business was. Witness pressed him, pointing out that if he was not there for an unlawful purpose it would be best for him to give a satisfactory explanation. Prisoner then said the reason he wanted to see the boss was because the operator had been talking to him in the bush somewhere in the Mullewa district, where he, the prisoner, was fencing. He added that the operator had been accusing him of all sorts of things, and he wanted to see him about it. He further stated that he intended to see him after he got out. Witness asked him how he could hear the operator when out in the bush, and he said: Oh, I had a whistle in my ear." Sergt. Thomas then asked for a remand for eight days to enable the defendant to be medically attended, and the application was granted, defendant asking what the doctor had got to see him for.[41]

Generators supplied power to the station, but these were typically used primarily to charge a bank of batteries for actual equipment operation. Maintaining battery charge was an ongoing issue and significant supplies of sulphuric acid were required to achieve this. A single tender in September 1914 called for 2,490 lbs of sulphuric acid across 10 stations:

Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General's Department, 7th September, 1914. VICTORIA. Tenders for 2,490 lbs. Sulphuric Acid for Radio-Telegraph Stations. TENDERS will be received at the office of the Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, until Three p.m. on Tuesday, 13th October, 1914, for the supply and delivery at Radio-telegraphy Stations, at Sydney, Brisbane, Cooktown, Thursday Island, Port Moresby, Darwin, Perth, Broome, Esperance, and Geraldton, of Sulphuric Acid, as per Schedule No. 1,126. Tenders Forms, Specifications, &c., may be obtained at the General Post Offices, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart. Tenders must be indorsed "Tender for Sulphuric Acid, Schedule No. 1,126," and be addressed to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne. They may be deposited in the Tender-box at the General Post Office, Melbourne; if sent by post they must be prepaid and registered. A deposit in accordance with clause 5 of the General Conditions of Contract must be enclosed with each tender. The lowest or any tender will not necessarily be accepted. AGAR WYNNE. Postmaster-General.[42]

By November 1914 it became clear that the number of persons at the station was causing a sanitary problem and the matter was brought to the attention of council:

The Wireless Station. Mr T. C. Holmes wrote complaining of a nuisance caused by the lack of proper sanitary accommodation at the wireless station, and the Town Clerk said Lieut Everett had promised to apply for an extra service, but had not done so. It was decided that as the matter was under the control of the Medical Officer, that he be written to stating that the annoyance complained of must be abated.[43]

Lieut. Everett, the commanding officer of the station guard, sought to keep his men engaged and participation in local sports events were regularly reported:

The Aquatic Carnival Two yacht races will be conducted by the Yacht Club in the afternoon, and, during the day, the wireless station military guard will compete in two events, promoted by Lieut Everett.[44]

In February 1915, Commander of the guard (Lieut. E. S. Everett) departed for the Osborne School of Instruction and was replaced by Second Lieut. Hutton:

Wireless Station. A change is about to be made in the command at the Geraldton Wireless Station Guard. Second Lieut E. S. Everett, who took charge when Second Lieut Gibbings went to the front, leaves on Monday to attend the school of instruction at Osborne. He will be succeeded by Second Lieut Hutton.[45]

On 27 January 1915 Arthur McDonald of the wireless station staff married local girl Rose Ethell at St. John's Church, Geraldton:

A Geraldton Wedding. A popular wedding was solemnized by the Rev John Enright, at St John's Church, on January 27th. The contracting parties were Mr Arthur McDonald, of the Wireless Station, and Miss Rose Ethell. Mr C. Meadowcroft acted as groomsman, and Miss Ethell and Miss Gilling as bridesmaids, whilst Mr Chas. Chapman gave the bride away. The church had been very prettily decorated by the lady friends of the young couple, and as the bride entered leaning on the arm of Mr. Chapman, the choir and congregation sang "The voice that breathed o'er Eden," very tastefully. Mrs Mulgrue acted as accompanist. Subsequently a numerous party sat down to the "breakfast," held in the Odd-fellows' Hall, at which the usual toast list was gone through. The display of gifts on the side tables was varied and interesting, and evidenced of the popularity of Mr and Mrs McDonald. The dance which commenced at 8 o'clock, was continued till the small hours of the morning. The honeymoon was spent in Perth. The bride's dress was of cream charmeuse, made over heavy Jap silk, the bodice being of the American magyar style, with vest and medici collar of Arabian lace, over palest shade of shell pink taffeta and minon, finished with seed pearls, and long girdle collar of charmeuse over pink taffeta, caught with pearls. The long sleeves were of the new puff design, finished with wide accordian pleated frills, and orange blossom buds, the bodice being finished with sprays of orange blossom at the waist. The skirt was of the Russian effect, with flowing tunic of charmeuse, finished at the top with wide heading, and falling over and under tunic of Arabian lace, a smaller girdle at waist with pearl finishing, the dress being completed with a long tongue train, lined on the palest shell pink taffeta, and caught around with seed pearls, the train being finished with a spray of orange blossom on the left corner. Her long tulle veil was made in American effect, the hem caught around with seed pearls and finished with orange blossoms. Miss Maude Ethell wore a dress of pale coral pink crepe de chine, the bodice being of loose magyar design, With vest, Gainsbrough collar of Venice lace, long straight sleeves, finished with deep points on the hand, the bodice being finished with pink pearl buttons to match. The skirt was made with long pleated open tunic, over a plain straight skirt, and yoke top falling over, pleated tunic finish, with buttons en suite the dress being made over cream silk. A swathed belt and Japanese bow at back of satin to match Miss Nancy Gilling wore a dress of shell pink silk crepe, with long tunic and loose magyar bodice of cream shadow lace finished with ninon kiltings. The dresses and veil were made by Miss Andrews, of Messrs Hardwicke and Co, Marine Terrace, Greraldton.[46]

In March 1915, Mark Mortimer was appointed as Officer-in-Charge at the Geraldton wireless station:

POSTMASTER-GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT. Ex. Mins. Nos. 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 101, 103, T.92. Central Staff. Appointments on Probation without Examination. William Hart Holloway has been appointed, on probation, without examination, as Officer in Charge, Class E, Wireless Telegraph Station, Flinders Island, with salary of £216. from date of commencing duty. Mark Mortimer has been appointed, on probation, without examination, as Officer in Charge, Class E, Wireless Telegraph Station, Geraldton, Western Australia, with salary of £216 from date of commencing duty.[47]

Again in April 1915, the tom-foolery of the young guards was cause for comment in the Geraldton Express:

Guarding the Wireless. PLAYING AT SOLDIERING. (Contributed.) At the outbreak of the war, when the scare was at its height, the local wireless station was at once closely guarded, as were other stations in the State, as well as important railway bridges, water works, etc. At first the guard here was drawn from the young fellows of our citizen forces, under one of their officers. Altogether there are about 15 or 20 young soldiers engaged, and the question is often asked: Is there really any need for the heavy expenditure which must be entailed? Many are of opinion that the Defence Department is unnecessarily lavish in this respect. The object of this article, however, is not to cavil at the expenditure so much, but to draw the attention of the officer in charge to the apparent lack of discipline existing amongst his men and the tom-foolery carried on. For instance, it is not an uncommon occurrence for the neighbors to be awakened at all hours of the night by the sound of a rifie shot, sometimes followed by roars of laughter, indicating that someone is having a joke. Recently a soldier returning to camp at night was challenged by the sentry. Foolishly or otherwise, he declined to reply or halt. The next act on the programme was a rifle shot. In which direction it was fired goodness knows, but anyone with a knowledge of nickle-pointed bullets knows how easily it is for them to be turned in any direction, possibly to the danger of persons in the vicinity. Anyhow, a soldier returning to camp refusing to answer the challenge shows lack of discipline, and should be punished, but there is no need to fire on such occasions, any more than there was for a rifle to be fired on April 1st, in order, apparently, to fool the camp. Again: Recently some of the lads were having rifle practice on the beach, trying their skill on sea birds. This should be absolutely against all rules, as the rifle range is the place for practice where squads should go, but only under a responsible person. At one time it was noticed that the lads were taken for swimming exercise in proper order. Now they are seen strolling down in twos and threes, in various stages of undress. Again: The language used in camp has been at times almost vile, although of late things in this direction has improved. It might also be pointed out it is against all rules of discipline for a sentry to be hanging over the fence yarning to civilians, including young girls. In referring to these matters the officers and soldiers can rest assured the writer has no idea of adopting the role of a captious critic. He sees a great improvement in the deportment of many of the lads, who instead of slouching along the street as of old, are now upright and smart. It must be remembered, however, that many of them will probably volunteer for active service. It has been found necessary by the military authorities to give the raw volunteers about six months' training before they are fit for service. Why, then, should not the time of those guarding the station be utilised in fitting them for their place in the ranks, instead of just playing at the game of soldiering. Even if the lads never volunteer, the discipline and training would stand them in good stead in the future.[48]

The staff of the wireless station recognized their community responsibilities and in April 1915 donated £2 9s. to the Moore Benefit:

The Moore Benefit. We have to acknowledge the receipt of £2 9s. collected at the Geraldton Wireless Station by Mr C. Numan on behalf of the above fund. [49]

The brief return to Geraldton in April 1915 of local boy Lieut. Gibbings on leave from the war was cause for joy and direct news of the war in several arenas in the town:

Back from Egypt, LIEUT. GIBBINGS IN GERALDTON. When the war broke out Second Lieut. Cecil T. Gibbings was the officer commanding the militia in Geraldton, the home of his childhood. The strength of the company was about 70 men and it speaks volumes for patriotism of Geraldton's sons when we state that over one third of the company have volunteered and been accepted for the front. Of course, many from outside the ranks have also gone from Geraldton. Lieut. Gibbings was amongst the first to volunteer for active service and for a short time was was in command of the guard at Geraldton Wireless Station. Proceeding to Perth later on he left with the First Expeditionary Force from Australia travelling in the transport Militiades. Most of the W.A. contingent were on the Ascanous. He was selected with ten other officers three of whom were from W.A. to proceed to England with the Imperial Reservists. These men were landed at Plymouth, and Lieut. Evans (formerly Town Clerk of North Fremantle), Lieut. Gibbings and the other officers afterwards went on to London, landing at Victoria Docks, to await orders. After a fortnight in the world's metropolis Lieut. Gibbings was ordered back to Egypt and soon after his arrival he was amongst those told off under Major Jeffrey and Lieut. Foulkes to accompany the invalided and discharged contingenters back to Melbourne in the Kyarra. On arrival he applied to be attached to one of the West Australian regiments. His request was granted and on returning to this State he applied for and obtained leave of absence, and came up to Geraldton. He intended returning to Perth on Monday morning, but owing to the illness of Mrs Gibbings he was obliged to extend his stay. Chatting to a representative of the Guardian, Lieut. Gibbings, who looks fit and feels well, gave an interesting account of his travels. During the six months he has been away from Geraldton, he has been four months on the water. Whilst in the Mediterranean the vessel on which he was travelling was stopped several times by French torpedo boats which appeared to be very active. In London, he says, men in uniform, and placards urging enlistment are every-where to be seen. He put up at Williams' Hotel, Cheapside, where he was informed that thousands of motor vehicles had been taken off the streets of London for service abroad. This statement Lieut. Gibbings found difficult to credit, as it seem-ed to him that there was hardly room for another such vehicle in the street, so congested was the traffic. He left England in the troopship Ashay. Soon after leaving Southampton, the lights were put out, and everyone was ordered below as aeroplanes were reported to be hovering about. He disembarked at Cairo, and was not long in coming across his fellow contingenters from Geraldton. He found them all fit and well, as hard as nails, anxious to be on move again, and thirsting for a fight. Amongst those he mentioned were Sergeants Vincent Allen, Oxlade, and Roy Thompson, Privates J. G. Clarke, Hethersay, Bardwell, W Fathers, E Kendrick, Gordon Gunn, Frank Dwyer, Warren, Whittle, Pridmore, Elliott (2), C. Thompson, and Brown, all of whom have relatives or friends in Geraldton. It was about the end of January that he saw them. From these men, and his sister, Miss Gibbings, who is a nurse at the Heliopolis base hospital, at Cairo, he got his first news of Geraldton since he left West Australia. Although numerous letters had been sent to him every week he has not up up to the present time received one of them. The return journey was uneventful. They did not see anything of the brush with the Turks whilst traveling the Suez Canal, but the patrols were noticed to be everywhere. There were approximately 300 men on board the Kyarra. Half of these were being returned for breaches of discipline, and half were suffering from the results of accidents, pneumonia, rheumatism, etc. Only one was from W.A. There was practically no trouble with any of the men during the voyage, and the officer in charge, Major Jeffry, Lieut. Foulkes, and Lieut Gibbings, and the two medical men, found their duties very light. Lieut. Gibbings hopes to be appointed to D. Co., W.A. 24th Bat, on his return to camp. Half of this company will be comprised of West Australians and the rest from the Eastern States. Lieut. Gibbings expected to be able to leave for Perth by this morning's train.[50]

Application of the War Precautions Act resulted in minimal news of the wireless stations themselves, but Broome's "Nor' West Echo" took a broad interpretation and reported on how a merchant ship was able to evade the Emden thanks to news of its movements broadcast by the Broome station:

Wireless Worth. From a man who was a passenger it is now learned that the Broome wireless station saved at least one valuable ship from being sunk by the Emden just before the latter was sunk by the Sydney. News of the Emden's movements was heard from the Broome station and the ship was enabled to alter her course just in time to evade capture. It was also one of the Westralian stations which the Sydney picked up the S.O.S. from, conveying the news that the Emden was approaching Cocos Island. These facts are worth knowing, as the sealed secrecy of the various wireless stations covers each with a veil of darkness which obliterates their real value to Australia.[51]

With the sinking of the Emden, the German threat to the Northwest coast was greatly diminished and early in May 1915 it was announced that the wireless guard to the Geraldton wireless station would be demobilised:

THE WIRELESS GUARD. TO BE DEMOBILISED. We understand instructions have been received by the officer commanding the guard at the Geraldton Wireless Station to demobilise the guard on Wednesday next. It is understood a similar step is being taken at most of the wireless stations throughout Australia.[52]

Two of the wireless station staff, Pell and Hooker, volunteered for war service in June 1915 and were expected to depart the station shortly:

Personal Items. Messrs. Pell and Hooker, of the Geraldton Wireless Station, have volunteered and been provisionally accepted for service at the front. It is probable they will be attached to the Signalling Corps, and if so they will have to proceed to Melbourne in the course of a week or so. Mr. H. Pilgrim, the contractor, has also volunteered.[53]

A few weeks later it was reported that A. E. Pell would be departing on 9 July for training at the Blackboy Hill camp and thence to the Wireless Troop in Melbourne. Hooker was to follow as soon as a relieving officer was available:

Personal. Mr. A. E. Pell (of the Wireless Station, Geraldton) received a notification by wire this morning from his chief in Melbourne that leave has been granted him to join the Expeditionary Forces. He leaves for Blackboy Hill camp on Friday, July 9th, and will afterwards proceed to Melbourne to join the Wireless Troop section for the front. Mr. Hooker, another official of the Wireless Station, will also be taking his departure to join the forces as soon as a relieving officer is available.[54]

A. E. Pell was replaced early in July 1915 by Mr. Broomhill:

Geraldton Wireless Station. As notified in our personal column Mr Broomhill (sic, A. E. Pell) of the wireless staff, had received permission from headquarters to join the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force, we are now informed that his successor is a Mr Broomhill (transferred from the Perth Station), who will arrive in Geraldton on Wednesday next, and take up his duties forthwith.[55]

In September 1915 both A. E. Pell and B. Hooker, having joined the service were still at the signallers camp at Broadmeadows, Victoria training new recruits in the art of wireless telegraphy:

Personal Items. Messrs. A. E. Pell and B. Hooker, who resigned their appointments at the Geraldton Wireless Station to enlist, are still at the signalers camp at Broadmeadows, Victoria, where a large number of men are engaged learning signalling. Mr. Pell is in charge of the wireless apparatus there, which was recently inspected by the Governor General. Mr Hooker, who is a grandson of Sir Joseph Hooker, recently had a brother wounded at the front.[56]

The Commonwealth Gazette of 31 August 1916 noted that Clement George Benger Meredith was now the Wireless station Officer-in-Charge.[57]

Royal Australian Naval Radio Service edit

The transfer of officers and staff from the Wireless Branch of the Postmaster-General's Department to the Department of Navy was not supported by the personnel. Issues were a loss of professional status, modest loss of pay, loss of general terms and conditions of service and being subject to military discipline. In June 1916 a large deputation of staff met with the Minister for the Navy to air their grievances:

NAVAL WIRELESS SERVICE. COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYES' OBJECTIONS. CONDITIONS OF TRANSFER. Some time ago it was decided by the Commonwealth Government to transfer all the work of the wireless branch of the Post Office to the control of the naval authorities. On Thursday a large deputation representing the staff of the Government radio service waited upon the Minister for the Navy to protest against the reorganisation scheme, which places the personnel under naval discipline and conditions. The deputation was introduced by Mr. Chanter, M.P. The deputation was held in private, but subsequently a statement was issued by the Minister. Members of the deputation pointed out that the wireless staff objected to signing on, under the new scheme, as chief petty officers, as by so doing they would lose the social status they enjoyed as officers of the professional division of the public service, and claimed that they should be given the rank of warrant officer. They also objected to the minimum salary offered. Engineer operators had responsible duties, censoring messages and dealing with secret and confidential matters, and the minimum salary should be for men now in the service £204. Under the Naval Board's proposal many men would receive less than their present total salary. Men entering the service in future should receive a minimum salary of £180. They also asked that increments should be paid annually instead of biennially. as suggested, and urged that the allowance for uniform, £7, was not nearly sufficient. They asked also for better hospital conditions, as it was not desirable that officers should have to occupy the same quarters as the colored population. They also objected to the working of overtime without pay; to the fixing of the retiring age at 57, as against 65 in the public service, and to other conditions pertaining under naval control. The Minister, in reply, explained the various advantages of the department's proposal, whereby officers who were now in practically temporary positions in the public service were being given an offer of permanent employment in the Royal Australian naval radio service. The salary of no officer was being reduced, and to compensate for the loss of overtime and Sunday pay each officer was being placed on a higher sub-division of salary. In his opinion a generous offer was being made to employes, and they could rely on getting fair treatment in the administration of the new conditions. It may be pointed out, in connection with the above, that wireless employes are to be ranked in the naval radio service as follows:— Lieutenants, £350 to £425; commissioned warrant officers, £255 to £325; warrant officers, £222 to £254; chief petty officers, £156 to £216. They will wear the naval uniform of their yank, and work under general naval discipline and conditions.[58]

In September 1916 A. E. Pell recounted his war experiences by letter to a local friend, noting that after 6 months in Melbourne as a wireless instructor he had been sent to Persia and was presently in a Bombay hospital recovering from fever:

WITH THE WIRELESS OPERATORS. Wireless Operator A. E. Pell, who was formerly engaged at the Geraldton Wireless Station, writes a chatty letter to Mr. R. W. Greville, recounting his experiences since he left Geraldton. For the first six months he was acting as wireless instructor at Melbourne, with the rank of S.S.M., after which with other wireless operators he was sent to Persia. The voyage was very interesting, and calls were made at Ceylon and Bombay. After landing in Persia, he continues. "I have been from one country to another, and have been caught in a bit of a scrap several times, and have often been obliged to live like a rabbit underground. At present I am in the Victoria War Hospital, Bombay, and for the last seven weeks have been endeavouring to recover from a bad attack of fever. I am then being sent to England to start chapter II of my war history."[59]

A sad and brief report in March 1917 was to effect that Corporal W. Pass, formerly of the wireless station guard had made the ultimate sacrifice in France:

Personal Items. There appeared in the 275th casualty list amongst those killed the name of Corporal W. Pass, who was the youngest brother of Mrs Warburton, of du Boulay Street and brother of Mrs Gibson, Greenough Road. While in Geraldton he was one of the first boys to guard the Wireless Station. He played football for the Queens Park Rangers, and worked for Sargood Bros. He enlisted in January 1915, saw service in Gallipoli, where he was wounded and was sent to England, afterwards going to France to do his duty.[60]

The Commonwealth Gazette of 6 September 1917 announced the abolition of the position of Officer-in-Charge, Geraldton wireless station, Postmaster-General's Department (together with all other positions associated with the coastal radio network), associated with the transfer of control to the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service.[61]

After much debate and prevarication, the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service was finally created in March 1917 as part of an overall restructure of the Navy, following on from the review by the Naval Board. As a result all pertinent staff of the PMG were transferred to Department of the Navy's RANRS:

NAVAL FORCES. DETAILS OF REORGANISATION. MELBOURNE, Monday.— Effect has been given to the recommendations of the Naval Board in regard to the reorganisation of the Commonwealth Naval Forces, and complete details of the new organisation are now available. It has been decided that the organisation of the Commonwealth Naval Forces shall in future be as follows:— 1. Permanent naval forces, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Naval Brigade Staff, the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service, members appointed for special service on shore. 2. Citizen naval forces: The Royal Australian Naval Reserve, the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, members appointed for special service. The Royal Australian Naval Brigade staff will be composed of the present naval and administrative and instructional staff, including district naval officers and sub-district naval officers. The officer appointed for administering the Naval Reserve Forces (formerly known as the Director of Naval Reserves) will in future be known as the Director of Naval Auxiliary Services, and will, subject to the control of the Naval Board, be charged with the administration of all matters relating to the Australian Naval Brigade staff and Australian Naval Brigade. Promotions in the sea-going list of the Royal Australian Navy will only be made of officers who possess the qualifications for advancement laid down in the King's regulations and Admiralty instructions for officers of the Royal Navy. In order to provide an avenue for further continuous employment to officers due for retirement, and to officers who may wish voluntarily to retire from active service at sea, provision has been made for such officers to be eligible for selection in the auxiliary services, provided the degree of their unfitness is not incompatible with service on shore. Officers at present on the unattached list of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve will in future be shown as officers of the Naval Brigade (unattached). No more appointments to this list will be made.[62]

In August 1917 the impact of the war on the Western Australia coast was diminishing and domestic matters assumed greater attention. Odd noises emanating from the vicinity of the wireless station were variously attributed to secret activities therein:

Capricious Carpings. (BY "LE GRONDEUR.") It is now some considerable time since the growler has attempted to irradiate the pages of the "Express" in any way. This ominous silence during so many months has not been owing to any lack of subjects to growl about, but on account of the superabundance thereof. Fact is, the Editor (a great stickler for "economy" in all things (except truth) remorselessly uses the blue pencil whenever this innate grumbler takes up undue space in dilating upon various matters, shrieking for stern criticism, and ruthlessly bob-tails any effort to take up a whole column in d—g something which could be sufficiently anathematised in an inch or two. It being impossible, therefore, to refer to all the items which demand attention, "Le Grondeur" is reluctantly forced to confine his lucubrations (while the war is on, and paper so atrociously dear) to a few carps on minor matters. A few days ago residents in the fashionable west end of the town were disturbed (and some of them seriously alarmed) by most extraordinary sounds evidently emanating from the Wireless Station. An ungodly din resounded, strongly resembling the nerve-shattering clamor of Professor Nathan's side-car contraption when something goes wrong with the works — which is fairly often. No one (outside the station at all vents) could tell what it was. "They're sending important messages," said one. "No fear," declared another, "they're receiving some." "Fat lot you know about it," interjected a third; "they're only charging the accumulator." And so on. But whatever the infernal row was, the citizen who had the misfortune to live near Messrs. Meredith and Co.'s. long pole had their sleep banished for hours at a stretch, and their consciences burdened by the extra profanity they were obliged to use to relieve their feelings. The carper dunno what caused this abominable disturbance, not being well up in Marconi matters. But if it's necessary in the conduct of the wireless service, why in thunder can't the staff perform the duty in daytime when most people are awake? The scribbler is reminded that there is such a thing as the "War Precautions Act," and that in these days it's dangerous to comment upon any military matter at all. Anyhow he will risk a domiciliary visit from Inspector Holmes and consequent appearance before R.M. Gee, and say that if peaceable and patriotic citizens, sick folk, little children, insomniacs, and others can be subjected at the sweet will of anybody whatever to this kind of disturbance at night time, it's nothing but a sham dame.[63]

Further enquiry revealed that the offending noise from the wireless station was simply a nearby failing windwill:

An Overworked Mechanical Servant "Distracted Nerves" writes complaining of the annoyance caused by a certain windmill which stands defiantly screeching night and day within a furlong of the wireless station. According to our correspondent, this disturbance has been going on for months past, the aermotor thereby making the night hideous by its disorderly conduct, and in many instances making it impossible for the residents in the locality to get any sleep. He is of opinion that the ill-treatment of this old and willing quadruped — so to speak — is a matter for the S.P.C.A. to take up, as its owner has permitted it to work persistently without a rest, and without the necessary food, since before the December moon. The aggravated one assures us that up to now he has lived a peaceful life. He is, however, doubtful if this record will be maintained much longer, as he has been tempted towards the wee hours of the morning during the past week, to scale the surrounding fences and either put the mill out of action with a sledge hammer, or, fight a duel with its thoughtless keeper. He suggests that each owner of windmills within the radius mentioned, before retiring tonight, examine his conscience for the purpose of ascertaining if he is the delinquent. And when he adjudges himself guilty of the offence complained of, all that the neighbors ask by way of retribution, is that he takes prompt action to obviate further annoyance to a body of citizens who never did him any harm.[64]

Another former member of the wireless station guard, Private George Compton, gave the ultimate sacrifice in July 1918:

Personal Items. Word was received yesterday, through the Rev A. Craven, that Private George Compton, son of Mr C. E. Compton, the Geraldton gaoler, had been killed in action on July 8th. Deceased, who was only 23 years of age, was in the employ of Messrs J. H. Scott and Co., plumbers. When war broke out in August, 1914, he was mobilised for guard duty at the Wireless Station, and on January 31st, 1915, he enlisted for active service. He left Australia with the 5th Reinforcements to the 11th Battalion on April 25th, 1915, and saw active service in Gallipoli, being seriously wounded in the region of the liver and lungs on July 31st, 1915. This was followed by eight months treatment in hospital in London, and on his recovery he was posted to Dorchester Barracks for picquet duty. He left England again on March 25th, 1916, for retraining in Egypt, and was transferred from there with the 48th Battalion to France, and took part in the first battle of the Somme in 1916. Since then he had been in many other engagements, and, like many other brave Australians, he has made the supreme sacrifice. The greatest sympathy will be felt with the sorrowing members of his family.[65]

Post World War I edit

Mr H. Selfe, of the Wireless Station Staff was reported departing on holidays in May 1920:

Mr H. Selfe, of the Wireless Station Staff, is leaving by to-night's train en route for Sydney, on a two months' holiday.[66]

Business Change. Mr. H. H. Opie, who arrived in Geraldton yesterday, has just completed the purchase of the drapery business known as the Elite Supply Co. Mr. Opie is not a stranger to Geraldton, having had charge of the Wireless Station guard here prior to going to the front. He is well acquainted with local requirements, having represented Messrs. Goode, Durant & Co., Ltd, Perth, with whom he was associated for twelve years. His knowledge of the trade is very extensive, and his experience of buying in the home and foreign markets will, he claims, enable him to secure goods at the lowest market price, to compete with the Perth retail houses. He is advertising his opening sale to commence on Thursday.[67]

The Royal Australian Navy Radio Service was formally disbanded on 28 October 1920. The appointments of all the officers were terminated:

DISBANDMENT OF R.A.N. RADIO SERVICE. THE Governor-General in Council has approved of that portion of the Permanent Naval Forces of the Commonwealth (Auxiliary Services), known as the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service, being disbanded on 28th October, 1920. Further, the appointments of the following officers of the Royal Australian Naval Radio Service are terminated on the disbandment of the Force:— Radio Commander Frank Gillespie Cresswell; Radio Lieutenants Arthur Frederick Newman, (Acting Radio Lieutenant-Commander) George James Weston, Donald Macdonald (Retired List), William Tamillas Stephen Crawford, and George Archibald Scott; Commissioned Telegraphists William George Clarke, John Michael Martin, Charles Edward Tapp, Julian Leslie, George Frederick Chilton, Francis James Burgoyne, Jack Bickley Stoyle, James Joseph Wiseman Lamb, Henry Freeman Coffey, Maitland Glen Pope, and Sydney Trim; Warrant Telegraphists Mark Mortimer, (Acting Commissioned Telegraphist) William Hart Holloway, Harold D'Arcy Reader, William George Chapman, Arthur Montague Howlett, Gordon George Phillips, Ellis Henry Smellie, (Acting Commissioned Telegraphist) Frank John Claude Bridges, Charles Edward Lemmon, Gerald Willis Walters, (Acting Commissioned Telegraphist) Charles Calvert King, Frederick Charles Mulligan, Joseph Murray Johnson, Austin Fletcher, Leonard Mowlem, Sydney Rolls, Ernest Richard McDonough, Allen Grafton Cox, John Henry Leverett, Hamilton Bennett Wolfe, William James John Wing, Louis Alfred Fontaine, Griffith Benjamin Evans, George Foot, William Jessop, George Henry Brown, and (Acting) Harold Roy Deneen. W. H. LAIRD SMITH, Minister for the Navy. (Ex. Min. No. 71.)[68]

PMG control resumes edit

The Commonwealth Gazette of 21 April 1921 announced a partial restructure of the Radiotelegraph Branch including the abolition of the position of Radio Station Master, Geraldton:

Radiotelegraph Branch. New Office Created.— Radio Telegraphist, King Island. Offices Abolished.— Radio Station Master, 3rd Class, Esperance and Geraldton; Radio Telegraphist, 4th Class, Esperance, Mount Gambier, Geraldton, Port Moresby (two), and Roebourne (three); Radio Mechanic, Roebourne and King Island.[69]

AWA control edit

Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) was never reticent in claiming records and exceptional performance, and a December 1922 report advised of a record daytime reception by the Geraldton station of the SS Katoomba at sea of over 1100 miles:

Radio Records. During the last few months Amalgamated Wireless coastal stations have effected several long distance radio records, and it appears that such consistent long range transmission is not equalled by wireless stations of similar power in any other part of the world. These results are not confined to one State, but are regularly reported throughout the Commonwealth. One of the most interesting was that of August 2, when the Makaru — whilst at a distance of 3,168 miles — received messages direct from Sydney wireless station. On June 26, whilst on her great circular track, signals were exchanged with the s.s. Argyllshire by Adelaide, 4,547 miles distant. One of the best daylight results was effected by the well-known coaster Katoomba in working the Geraldton station at over 1,100 miles.[70]

In June 1923 the Geraldton station was the first to receive messages concerning the loss and subsequent search for the Trevassa:

THE LOST TREVASSA. THE UPTURNED BOAT. MORETON BAY CONFIRMS GERALDTON REPORT. Perth, June 9. It is reported here that the Geraldton wireless station received a message stating that one of the Trevassa's boats had been found bottom upwards. Applecross has not received any message referring to an upturned boat. The Moreton Bay arrived yesterday and confirmed the Geraldton report. [With regard to the above message, we were informed on inquiry, by Mr. Fontaine, the officer-in-charge of the Geraldton Radio Station, that at 1.7 p.m. (local time) on Wednesday, June 5, the s.s. Trevean sent out a message stating that one of the Trevassa's boats had been found bottom upwards. This message was passed on by the s.s. Moreton Bay to the Geraldton station, as the Trevean was then beyond Geraldton's daylight range.— Ed.][71]

In fact, those first reports from the Geraldton station about the loss of the Trevassa were initially doubted in Perth. But the arrival of the SS Moreton Bay at Fremantle, the ultimate source of the initial reports, quickly dispelled those doubts:

METROPOLITAN MEMS. As the days pass without news of the crew of the ill-fated Trevassa, hope for their safety is dwindling. The fact that the Geraldton wireless station picked up and correctly read the message referring to an upturned boat being found is certainly a feather in the cap of that station or of the men who staff it. When this report was received in Perth its genuineness was doubted because Applecross knew nothing about it. In fact the Deputy Director of Navigation, interviewed on the matter, said he had made enquiries concerning the authenticity of the report, and he had received information suggesting that a message had been misread by the Geraldton Wireless Station. When the s.s. Moreton Bay arrived at Fremantle the report concerning the upturned boat was confirmed, so in these circumstances a layman who knows nothing whatever of the technicalities of wireless may be pardoned for hinting that if any inquiries are to be made, as the Deputy Director stated, they should be transferred from the station which received the message (Geraldton) to the station which knew nothing about it (Applecross). In the incident the provincial station certainly scored over the much-boomed metropolitan one.[72]

Auction Sale. Notice is drawn to an advertisement in this issue notifying the auction sale of furniture and effects of Mr. E. W. Tymms, of the Wireless Station, which will be conducted by Mr. N. Bartlett. The sale will take place on Thursday next at the house, Marine Terrace, West, and in addition to valuable furniture and effects, there will be a host of sundries offered.[73]

Death of Mr. R. C. Goodland. A large circle of friends in Geraldton will regret to hear of the death of Mr. Reginald Charles Goodland, of the staff of the Geraldton radio station, which occurred this afternoon. Deceased was taken ill on Sunday, and on Monday entered the Rosella Hospital. He became much worse this morning, and his heart failing, he died this afternoon. A native of Burton, Somerset, England, he saw services in the war as a wireless operator, for after being stationed at Calcutta and Bombay, he was transferred to Basra, and later was in charge of a wireless station in the Persian Gulf. He came to Geraldton on January 8th, 1924, and made many friends here, being a prominent member of the R.A.O.B. He was 30 years of age, and a single man. His father lives at Burton, Somerset, whilst he has a sister at Weston-super-Mare. The funeral will take place tomorrow at the Anglican Cemetery.[74]

By the 1920s Australia's capacity for weather forecasting and reporting had greatly improved. The northwest coast of Western Australia regularly saw intense cyclone activity during the summer months of the southern hemisphere and the coastal radio network played a vital role in distributing weather information to coastal shipping. In the April 1926 cyclone, the Geraldton station served both to broadcast weather information from the Weather Bureau to coastal shipping and to collect weather reports from shipping in the region to assist the Bureau in their forecasting and reporting:

WEATHER REPORT. The Commonwealth Weather Bureau reports:— The period March 17th-24th saw the development of two tropical depressions in the Western Australian region. The first was of minor importance. The second was of a much more vigorous character, and presented features of the willy-willy type, although, so far as is known at present, it did not develop extreme violence in any part of its history. On the 18th it was evident that a deep depression lay somewhere between our northern coasts and Timor, the normal south-easterly wind at Koepang, on that island, being replaced by a moderate westerly. All northern ports were advised accordingly, and broadcast warnings to shipping were sent out from the wireless stations at Darwin, Broome, Geraldton and Applecross. The next day the indications were more pronounced, and heavy rain had set in at Wyndham. During that afternoon and night, and the morning of Saturday, 20th, the steamer Centaur, proceeding northward from Broome, reported very suspicious conditions, the barometer and wind readings, and the swell of the sea, pointing to a storm-centre to the eastward of the vessel, between the northernmost point of Western Australia and Timor. The centre showed little definite movement until Monday morning, 21st, when it was evident that it had passed inland over the East Kimberley. Apart from heavy rain, no serious results are re-ported to date, but the returns from the Drysdale River Mission Station, in the extreme north of the Kimberley, will be awaited with interest. The stations in telegraphic communication which were affected registered the fol-lowing total rainfall:— Wyndham 7.14 inches; Turkey Creek 3.62; Hall's Creek 2.76; and Fitzroy Crossing 0.10. The subsequent history of the storm is of interest, although this State was no longer affected. It gradually traversed the Northern Territory and Western Queensland, and, at the time of writing, was entering New South Wales, with its rain-bearing activity undiminished. It was expected finally to pass out to the Tasman Sea, where stormy weather should develop.[75]

A secondary role for the coastal radio network was as an emergency alternative telegraphic route when the land telegraph system sustained damage. This occurred in July 1926 when land telegraph lines along coastal Western Australia were severely damaged by storms and the Geraldton wireless station became a vital link in the telegraphic network:

BUSY TIME AT WIRELESS STATION. Owing to the serious interruption to the telegraph service on Tuesday and Wednesday in consequence of the storm there was a big rush of business at the Geraldton Radio Station, about 9,200 words being handled in the two days. This creates a record for the station.[76]

The Geraldton station operated with power from its own diesel generator for more than 13 years. Finally the local electricity supply had expanded to the point where it could support the station and it was connected to the town grid in November 1926:

The Late Shopping Night. An application for current to be supplied at the wireless station came before the Municipal Council last night, and the electricity manager recommended that in view of the fact that they would have the new plant in operation early in the New Year the application be granted. Cr. Davis said at present they could not give them the power they required on Friday evenings. Cr. Hall said although not definitely settled it was pretty certain that the late shopping night would cease in about a month's time. Cr. Davis: In that case we can supply them. The application was then granted.[77]

Sale of Station to AWA edit

On 2 November 1928 the prospect of agreement by the Commonwealth government to the sale of the coastal radio network to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. was cause for the firm to postpone its annual general meeting by one month:

AMALGAMATED WIRELESS. A circular letter has been issued by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. to its shareholders informing them that, in view of very important negotiations being conducted on behalf of the company, it is desirable to postpone the holding of the general meeting and the issuing of the directors' report for approximately a month. It is expected that the negotiations will be advanced sufficiently to enable the directors to convey the results to the shareholders at the annual general meeting.[78]

The Commonwealth Gazette of 8 November 1928 formally detailed the sale of the coastal radio network to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) and listed 17 Australian and 9 Pacific stations:

SALE OF WIRELESS STATIONS TO AMALGAMATED WIRELESS (AUSTRALASIA) LIMITED. HIS Excellency the Governor-General in Council, pursuant to section 63 of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916, has approved that authority be granted for the disposal of all the estate, right, title and interest of the Commonwealth of Australia in and to the wireless stations enumerated in the schedule hereunder (reserving where required the reservations set out in the Crown grants) by sale to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, for the sum of £39,574, such stations being no longer required by the Commonwealth for any public purpose. W. C. HILL, Minister of State for Works and Railways. (L. & S. 26/2619.) Schedule. The Wireless Stations at — Thursday Island, Cooktown, Townsville, Rockhampton, Pinkenba, Pennant Hills, Melbourne, Flinders Island, King Island, Hobart, Adelaide, Esperance, and Fremantle (Applecross), Geraldton, Broome, Darwin, Port Moresby, Samarai, Morobe, Madang, Aitape, Manus, Kavieng, Bita Paka, Kieta and Willis Island.[79]

The following week it was formally announced that all of the Australian and Pacific Island stations of the coastal radio network including the cornerstone Applecross station had been sold to AWA for an amount of £39,574. It was confirmed that this was in accordance with the original 1922 agreement between the Commonwealth and AWA:

VALUATION COMPLETED. Sale of Wireless Station. SIR G. PEARCE EXPLAINS. It is officially reported from Canberra that the sale of the Government wireless stations in Australia and the Pacific Islands, including Applecross (W.A.), has taken place to the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Ltd., for £39,574. Asked to comment on the report today, Sir George Pearce, the Federal Government's representative in this State at the present time, said that the sale was the outcome of the original agreement. "Some years ago," he stated, "in the time of the Hughes Government, when we entered into the agreement with the wireless company, it was agreed that the company should take over the stations at a valuation to be arrived at. "Since then we have been trying to reach a satisfactory valuation, and it looks as If this has been done at last," added the Minister.[80]

A further statement detailed the specific list of stations with 17 services in Australia (including the Geraldton station) and a further 9 in the Pacific Islands:

WIRELESS STATIONS. COMMONWEALTH'S INTEREST. Sold to Amalgamated Wireless. (FROM OUR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE) CANBERRA, Thursday.— Authority has been given by the Federal Executive to sell to the Amalgamated Wireless Co. the right, title and interest of the Commonwealth in the following wireless stations:— Thursday Island, Cooktown, Townsville, Rockhampton, Pinkenba, Pennant Hills, Melbourne, Flinders Island, King Island, Hobart, Adelaide, Esperance, Fremantle (Applecross), Geraldton, Broome, Darwin, Port Moresby, Samarai, Morobe, Madang, Aitape, Manus, Kavieng, Bita Paka, Kieta and Willis Island. The amount to be paid by Amalgamated Wireless is £39,574. The official reason given for the sale is that the stations are no longer required by the Federal Government for any public purpose. Where it in considered necessary, army reservations set out in the Crown grants are withheld.[81]

George Franklin Cook had spent some years at the Geraldton wireless station circa 1927, but returned to Fremantle circa 1928. In February 1929 he was gathering firewood with his brother and fell from a tree, sustaining serious injuries. He died at the Fremantle hospital some weeks later:

WIRELESS OPERATOR'S DEATH. FATAL FALL FROM TREE. An inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of George Franklin Cook (33), wireless operator, formerly of the staff of the Geraldton Wireless Station, who died on March 27 as the result of injuries received when he fell from a tree on February 9, was conducted at Fremantle on Monday, by the Acting Coroner (Mr. Angus McLeod, J.P.). In the course of evidence, Mr. H. B. Caulfield, S.R.M.O. at Fremantle Hospital, said Cook was admitted to the hospital on February 10. On examination he was found to have a fracture of the right thigh and signs of a head injury. His condition remained the same for a considerable time. He was operated on for his leg on February 26. His mental condition made it impossible for the leg to heal. On the day of his death the doctor in charge decided, with other doctors to operate with a view to relieving the pressure on the brain. The patient died after the operation, which revealed contusion and laceration of the brain. The cause of death was cerebral contusion as the result of head injury and fracture of right thigh, sepis and exhaustion. The injuries could have reasonably been caused by a fall from a height. John Cook, brother of deceased, said that on February 9 he and his brother had left their home about three o'clock in the afternoon to chop wood in the bush south of the radio station. They had separated and when deceased did not make an appearance, despite witness's wait for him, witness made a search. At 12.45 a.m. the next morning deceased was found lying under a jarrah tree, suffering from injuries which had been caused apparently from a fall from a tree. Witness thought that his brother had overbalanced after cutting a limb through. The Acting Coroner found that deceased came to his death as the result of injuries caused through accidentally falling from a tree whilst cutting firewood.[82]

The Abrolhos Islands off the coast of Geraldton displayed both extreme natural beauty and horrific risk to coastal navigation. To explore the possibilities for tourism, Geraldton council despatched a party to visit the islands for ten days in June 1929. Harold Cox was the senior wireless officer at the Geraldton wireless station and accompanied the group, providing wireless communication facilities:

THE ABROLHOS ISLANDS. THEIR ATTRACTIONS FOR TOURISTS AN INVESTIGATION TRIP. With the object of making personal investigations into the possibilities of developing the Abrolhos Islands as a tourists' resort, an enterprise which has been strenuously advocated by the Municipal Council on several occasions, Mr. S. T. Hayward, Director of the Government Tourist Bureau, who is accompanied by Mr. Balmer, a Government photographer, will form one of a party, organised by the Municipal Council, which is due to leave tonight to spend about ten days on the islands. A small launch will be taken to enable visits to be paid to the smaller islands. The Town Clerk (Mr. D. R. Moffatt), Crs. Davis and Shepheard, and Mr. Harold Cox, officer in charge of the local wireless station, will be members of the party, and in order to keep in touch with the outside world Mr. Cox has obtained permission from Amalgamated Wireless to equip a small transmitter and receiver, from which daily reports of their experiences will be sent to the Geraldton Station and then telephoned to the "Guardian and Express" for publication. The aerial will consist of two bamboo poles about thirty feet high, with about 130 feet length of wire. An experiment carried out under a dual conditions, yesterday, indicated that the apparatus had an effective range of 150 miles, so that there should be no difficulty in keeping in touch with Geraldton. It is hoped that as the result of the visit some definite steps will be taken in the near future to make the islands available for tourists.[83]

AWA dominated the market in Australia for wireless fitout on ships in the late 1920s, and in June 1929 at the time of the maiden voyage of the "Westralia," provided a comprehensive summary of its work undertaken which included coastal radio equipment, lifeboat equipment and broadcast band repeaters. Daylight communication with the Geraldton station was established at distance ranging from 800 to 1000 miles:

MARINE WIRELESS. On the maiden voyage from Glasgow to Melbourne of the "Westralia," the new Huddart Parker steamship, wireless communication was effected with Perth Radio the day after leaving Aden, traffic being exchanged for nearly an hour at a distance of 4300 miles from Perth. More remarkable is the fact that this exchange of traffic was heard by Townsvllle Radio at a distance of 5500 miles from the "Westralla." In addi-tion the Australian Press bulletins transmitted from Perth Radio were easily read at that distance, demonstrating the efficiency of the Australian manufactured wireless equipment installed on the "Westralia" at Glasgow by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. Daylight communication was established with Geraldton, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney radio stations at distances ranging from 800 to 1000 miles. When in the Great Australian Bight, the "Westralia's" operator was in communication with all the coastal radio stations round the Australian continent. The "Westralia" is equipped with one of the latest lifeboat sets, and during the voyage the opportunity was taken to demonstrate it with the result that in the Mediterranean communication was effected with other ships at varying distances up to 70 miles — this despite heavy interference. Off Suez the life boat set was in communication with Alexandria radio station at a distance of 178 miles overland, The "Westralia's" band repeater equipment for the reception and reproduction of broadcast programmes, and also for the reproduction of ship's music in different parts of the vessel, was put to good use during the voyage. A broadcasting concert in Colombo, 1260 miles distant, was reproduced on the band repeater equipment, also broadcast programmes from 6WF, Perth, at 1100 miles, and 3LO, Melbourne, at 2000 miles distant. Passengers took part in the church services broadcast from broadcasting station 6WF, Perth, and the dance music from both the latter station and from 3LO, Melbourne, was utilised for dancing on board.[84]

N. D. Pusey was on the staff of the wireless station in January 1930 and had the misfortune to be involved in a car accident which resulted in the other driver being charged with negligent driving:

Negligent Driving. As a result of a collision on January 24, between a car driven by N. D. Pusey, of the Geraldton Wireless Station, and another driven by Benjamin Alexander Bray, the latter appeared in the Police Court this morning on a charge of having driven his car negligently. Traffic Inspector Smythe stated that Pusey's car came from Fitzgerald Street into Eleanor Street, and Bray's car collided with it. Bray was travelling along Eleanor Street. Defendant pleaded guilty. Upon submitting his driver's license to the Clerk of Courts, the latter discovered that defendant's driver's license had expired in June, 1928. The traffic inspector stated he questioned defendant on the day of the accident concerning his license, and he assured him he had a driver's license, but that he did not have it with him. Defendant stated he only came into town occasionally, and he went to the police station about six months ago to have his license renewed, but there was no constable there. The R.M. pointed out to defendant that he had ample time to renew his license since 1928, and advised him to get one immediately. Defendant was fined £5, with 3/- costs.[85]

Station modernised edit

By late 1930 the work of the wireless station had expanded to the point where building additions were required and these wre approved by council in September 1930:

MUNICIPAL WORKS. A meeting of the works' committee of the Geraldton Municipal Council was held on Wednesday evening and at a subsequent meeting of the Council the following minutes were read:— The Mayor (Mr. G. A. Houson) presided over Crs. Lester, Davis, Kendrick, Askew and Hollings. . . . Cr. Kendrick brought the matter of additions to the wireless station forward and it was recommended "that provided the additions are 60 feet back from the roadway the same would be permitted."[86]

The original 180 ft. timber mast which had served the station faithfully for more than 17 years was by the end of 1930 no longer economically maintainable. It was finally lowered on 6 November 1930. Operation at the station was maintained using a temporary mast for several days until a replacement steel mast was installed the following week:

Wireless Mast Lowered. For a few days the mast at the Wireless Station, which has been a landmark for several years, will be missing. It was successfully lowered this afternoon under the superintendence of Engineer Trim, of Amalgamated Wireless. The mast, which is of oregon, was 165 feet in height. It will be replaced by an all-steel mast, which will be hoisted into position next week. In the meantime the business of the station is being carried on with a temporary mast.[87]

The new mast was of tubular steel and a telescopic design. Despite the improvements in technology over the years, the process of raising the mast using a jury mast and winch was closely similar to the task undertaken in 1913. The work was undertaken by supervising project engineer Sydney Trim and mechanic S. Broomehall

GERALDTON RADIO STATION. NEW MAST ERECTED STEEL REPLACES WOOD. The lofty wooden wireless mast, which has been a familiar landmark at the Geraldton Wireless Station in Francis Street for many years, was taken down recently, and has now been replaced by a tubular steel mast of a telescopic design. The reason for substituting a steel mast, for the wooden one was to obviate any danger of the destruction of the wooden mast through fire. Such an occurrence has been experienced in the tropics, where masts have been known to catch fire and come down. Consequently it has been decided to have steel masts erected throughout the Commonwealth. The project in Geraldton was the last, it is understood, with the exception of Esperance, to be undertaken. The new mast, although by no means as impressive as the old one and perhaps in consequence not so impressive looking, has the one important feature which justifies its replacing the wooden one and that is its durability. Its span of life by reason of the fact that it is of steel is expected to far exceed that of its predecessor. Although it weighs about three tons and is 162 feet in height, about three feet less than the old one, the method adopted in hoisting it was comparatively easy when explained by those engaged in the undertaking. The steel mast, prior to being raised from the ground, was attached to a jury mast, the latter being in a perpendicular position to the main mast. At the base of the jury mast and connected with the main mast was what is called a heel rope and this served to keep the main mast in position when being hoisted. On the side of the jury mast, opposite the main mast, was a five ton winch, and from the main mast to the jury mast and then on to the winch, were five sets of wire stays by means of which the winch gradually hoisted the new mast to its upright position, simultaneous with the lowering of the jury mast. The main mast is comprised of six sections, while the stays also are divided into sections by non-conductive insulators which are fastened at equal distances on the mast and then extended to heavy anchorages, which are sunk in the ground to a depth of eight feet. In all there are eight anchorages, and on the outer set there are two guys and on the inner set three sets of guys. A departure from the old squirrel type of aerial has also been made and in its place is the single wire aerial. In all there are four aerials, consisting each of three seven-sixteenths stranded copper wire to a length of 95 feet. The new mast was successfully hoisted into position on Tuesday afternoon. The work was undertaken under the superintendence of Engineer S. Trim of Amalgamated Wireless, while he was efficiently assisted in the work by Mr. S. Broomehall, mechanic, and others. Mr. Trim is supervising the work of erecting the steel masts throughout the Commonwealth, and prior to coming to Geraldton he had carried out similar tasks at Broome, Cockatoo Island and at Applecross, where he installed a new wireless set for the police. After leaving Geraldton he will proceed to Esperance, where he will complete the last of the undertakings of this nature.[88]

The Marconi School of Wireless was a significant part of the AWA wireless combine and played a major role in training interested individuals for future roles in the Navy and military, as well as wireless operators for shipping and coastal stations, also broadcasting. In more remote areas such as Geraldton, the local coastal station participated in the recruitment and tuition of its students:

Wireless Tuition. Elsewhere in this issue will be found an announcement to the effect that new pupils are now being enrolled for the Marconi School of Wireless, particulars of which will be supplied on application to the officer-in-charge of the Geraldton Wireless station. The course embraces the theory of electricity, which would undoubtedly prove most helpful to any person handling electrical apparatus of any kind whatever. Intending students are advised to make early application for enrolment.[89]

In February 1931, the wireless station was added to the Council's rate book, no doubt as a result of the change of ownership of the property:

Additions to Rate Book. At the meeting of the Municipal Council last week the Town Clerk said the authority of the Council was required for certain additions to the rate book of properties that had not been included, and of new properties. One of the additions was that of the wireless Station in Francis Street. The necessary authority was granted by resolution.[90]

In March 1931 there was a change in senior staffing at the wireless station. Mr. H. E. Cox, the officer in charge for some years departed for Sydney. His duties were assumed by Mr. E. H. Smellie who had been at Geraldton for about one year, while Mr. H. B. Wolfe was to assume Smellie's former duties in short order:

PERSONAL. When Mr. H. E. Cox, who has been in charge of the Geraldton wireless station for some years, leaves on Friday for Sydney, the direction of the station will be taken over by Mr. E. H. Smellie, who has been in Geraldton about twelve months. Later on Mr. H. B. Wolfe will join the staff.[91]

Sydney Trim, the AWA engineer charged with renovating and upgrading the coastal radio network, returned to Sydney in July 1931 after a two year journey circumnavigating Australia visiting most of the coastal stations. Trim had oversighted the replacement of the VIN mast in November 1930 during that tour. Other projects included VIO Broome (replacement mast, replacement 5kW main transmitter & new emergency transmitter), Cockatoo Island (new wireless telephony system), VIN Geraldton (replacement mast, replacement 2kW main transmitter and new emergency transmitter), VIE Esperance (replacement mast and replacement 2kW main transmitter), VID Darwin (replacement mast, replacement 5kW main transmitter and new emergency transmitter), VIA Adelaide (replacement masts, complete station refurbishment) and VIP Fremantle / Perth (new police communications system):

COASTAL RADIO SERVICE. Stations Modernised. Mr. S. Trim, installing and inspecting engineer of Amalgamated Wireless, has returned to Sydney, after having circumnavigated Australia, inspecting and modernising the coastal radio stations which maintain wireless telegraph communication between ships' passengers at sea and their friends on shore. When the coastal stations were handed over to Amalgamated Wireless from the Postal Department in 1922 the company agreed that at the end of a certain period the stations would be completely renovated and equipped with the most efficient of modern wireless appliances. This work has been going on over a period of eight years, and Mr. Trim has been absent from his headquarters in Sydney for two years, placing the finishing touches on the stations. Australia can now claim to have a chain of radio stations around the coast numbering 19 in all, of greater or at least as great efficiency as any similar chain of stations in the world. At Broome the white ants had started at the base of the old wooden mast and worked their way 180 feet to the top. Mr. Trim replaced the mast with one of tubular steel 160 feet high. He also installed a new five-kilowatt standard coastal transmitter with modulator and an emergency transmitter known as type "R." These little emergency transmitters use power of only 25 watts — less than an ordinary electric light; yet when required they give an effective range of communication to ships of one thousand miles or more. From Broome Mr. Trim journeyed 200 miles to Cockatoo Island, a speck in the Indian Ocean, leased from the West Australian Government by the Australian Iron and Steel Co. The island is almost a solid mass of rich ore, but the company was inconvenienced by the absence of means of communication with the mainland. Mr. Trim bridged the gap by establishing a wireless telephone transmitter similar to that used on the trawlers on the coasts of New South Wales and Victoria. At Geraldton he dismantled the old wireless equipment provided in former days by the Postal Department, and installed a standard two-kilowatt transmitter and the type 'R' emergency set; a new tubular steel mast 160 feet in height was also erected. The old spark apparatus formerly in use at Esperance was dismantled and replaced with a two-kilowatt transmitter; here also a new mast was erected. The Darwin radio station was provided with a modern five-kilowatt transmitter and emergency plant. A new tubular steel mast has been provided for Darwin, but so far it has not been placed in commission, the present galvanised iron mast being still in use. At Adelaide a general overhaul was given the station, and two 160 feet steel masts were set up in place of the original wooden masts, which, after 18 years, were showing signs of decay at the base. On this trip, Mr.Trim installed the police wireless equipment at Perth. This transmitter, as is well known, is operated from police headquarters, and it communicates with the crews of the police patrol cars, which are fitted with both transmitters and receivers. Mr. Trim brought back some excellent stories of the efficiency of the Perth wireless patrol. He has told his principals that on several occasions the patrol cars have received timely notification of acts of burglary in progress, and have arrived on the scene before the thieves have had time to escape with their booty.[92]

Wolfe's recent arrival was confirmed in July 1931, noting he had previously been at VID Darwin for 3½ years and was much appreciating the change in climate:

PERSONAL. A recent appointment to the staff of the Geraldton wireless station is that of Mr. H. B. Wolfe, who has been transferred from the station at Port Darwin, where he spent three and a half years. The change to the Geraldton climate is very much appreciated by Mr. Wolfe.[93]

AWA had rather recently expanded its sphere of operations beyond solely manufacture and retail of broadcast transmitters into ownership and control of individual broadcast stations. 4TO Townsville was to be the newest addition to the group, commencing in October 1931. Harold Cox, recently senior wireless officer at the Geraldton station had been successful in being appointed chief engineer at 4TO:

LOCAL AND GENERAL. Radio enthusiasts and residents of Geraldton generally will be interested to learn that Mr. H. E. Cox, who was until recently in charge of the local wireless station, will be opening a new broadcasting station of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited at Townsville (Queensland) on Monday next at 6 p.m. (Geraldton time) on a wave length of 238 metres. Having been constructed by Australia's leading radio experts and of good power, it is anticipated that this station will be heard locally. It is the intention of the officials of the wireless station at Geraldton to communicate with Townsville immediately the programme is picked up, and reports of reception will be welcomed by them as soon after 6 p.m. as possible in order to permit of the message being read out from Townsville before closing down that evening.[94]

Newman Pusey had been on staff at the wireless station for several years, but in July 1933 received notice of his transfer to VII the Thursday Island station. He was to marry in August 1933 and depart for the north shortly afterwards:

PERSONAL. After a residence of several years in Geraldton as a member of the staff of the local wireless station, Mr. Newman Pusey will be leaving Geraldton about the middle of next month to take up permanent residence at Thursday Island, to which centre he has recently received notice of transfer. Mr. Pusey, who is at present on holiday leave, will proceed to Perth by this evening's train for a fortnight, and then upon his return to Geraldton, his marriage to Miss Freda Hammond, fourth daughter of Mrs. Hammond, of Forrest Street, will take place at Christ Church on August 16th. The following day, in company with his wife, Mr. Pusey will embark on the m.v. Koolinda for the north, and after a fortnight's honeymoon at Darwin will leave by the "Mangola" on September 14th en route to Thursday Island.[95]

Newman D. Pusey's formal wedding announcement was made the day before the wedding:

PERSONAL. The marriage of Mr. Newman D. Pusey to Miss Freda Hammond, fourth daughter of Mrs. Hammond, of Forrest Street, will take place to-morrow evening at Christ Church, Geraldton, and on Thursday they will leave by the m.v. Koolinda for a fortnight's honeymoon at Darwin. Mr. Pusey, after a residence of about seven years in Geraldton as a member of the staff of the wireless station, has been transferred to Thursday Island. Following their honeymoon in Darwin, Mr. and Mrs. Pusey, whose departure from Geraldton will be regretted by a host of friends, will embark on the liner "Mangola" on September 14th for their new home at Thursday Island.[96]

The Pusey-Hammond wedding was comprehensively reported in the local newspaper and it was noted that over 100 guests attended the wedding reception:

A GERALDTON WEDDING. PUSEY-HAMMOND LARGE GATHERING AT CEREMONY. Christ Church, Geraldton, was the scene of a pretty wedding ceremony on Wednesday evening of last week, when Freda Jean, fifth daughter of Mrs. M. E. Hammond, of Forrest Street, Geraldton, was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Newman Dobson Pusey, second son of Mrs. N. Kelly, of Havelock street, West Perth. The officiating clergyman was the Rev. R. W. Laurie. The bride, who was given away by her mother, entered the church to the strains of the Wedding March, and looked charming in a frock of peach peau d'ange lace over satin, the skirt fitting closely over the hips and falling softly into flares; capelets fell over the shoulders and were edged with white fur, while she also wore an exquisite veil of peach tulle caught into folds with tiny sprays of orange blossom. A sheaf of lilies, which she carried, completed a most arresting toilette. The bride was attended by her sisters (Hilba and Melba), who were gowned in picture frocks of peach organdie over satin, and wore turbans of satin and gold tissue. Both carried muffs of organdie. Pattie Higgins (niece of the bride), was the little attendant, wearing an ankle-length frock of peach organdie over satin, and a mob cap of peach tulle and leaves. Mr. Harry Bell officiated as best man, while the groomsman was Mr. Leo. Shier. Subsequent to the wedding a reception, at which Mr. Stewart Garland presided, was held in the dining room of the Victoria Hotel, over a hundred guests assembling to extend felicitations and congratulations to the newly-wedded couple. The guests were received by Mrs. Hammond, who wore a smart frock of dull Burgundy marocain with a lisere straw hat to tone, Mrs. Hammond being assisted by Mrs. Kelly (mother of the bridegroom), who was smartly gowned in black satin and georgette, the bodice of the frock being studded with diamente. A black hat of lisere straw completed her toilette. At the breakfast the usual toasts incidental to the occasion were honoured, and later, the large gathering spent a most delightful evening in dancing to the strains of music dispensed by an orchestra of instrumentalists. The following day the happy couple embarked by the motor vessel Koolinda to spend a fortnight's holiday in Darwin before continuing by the "Marnola" to Thursday Island, where they will take up their future residence. A large crowd gathered at the new wharf prior to the departure of the vessel to bid farewell to the happy couple, the bride travelling in a smart frock of red flat crepe marocain, the high neck being finished with a slash of tartan. A hat of black celtagel straw, with an eye-veil and black gloves and bag completed an attractive ensemble. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pusey enjoyed well-merited popularity amongst their friends in the town. Mr. Pusey has been transferred from the staff of the local wireless station to Thursday Island. Prior to their departure several enjoyable social evenings were tendered in their honour. Mr. Pusey was the guest of his fellow members of the Mercantile Club recently in the club rooms, and after a most delightful programme of vocal and instrumental items had been contributed by a number of artistes, a travelling trunk was presented to the guest of the evening as a token of appreciation from his fellow club-members. In making the presentation, the president of the Mercantile Club (Mr. W. Hollings) tendered the congratulations of the whole gathering to Mr. Pusey. Messrs. Bert Webb, H. W. Bell, Stewart Garland and J. Stewart feelingly endorsed the president's remarks.[97]

It was announced in October 1933 that E. H. Smellie, after some 3½ years at the Geraldton station, had been transferred to VIO Broome and would depart the station in the following month:

PERSONAL. General regret has been expressed by residents of Geraldton at the news of the impending departure from the town of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Smellie, the former having been in charge of the local wireless station during the past three-and-a-half years. Mr. Smellie recently received notice of his transfer to the charge of the wireless station at Broome, and will be leaving Geraldton about November 30th by the coastal vessel Koolinda, in company with his wife and family, to take up his new duties. During their sojourn in Geraldton both Mr. and Mrs. Smellie have evinced a keen interest in various local organisations and the former has ably fulfilled the duties of secretary of the Parents and Citizens Association during the past year.[98]

The coastal radio stations provided generally excellent alternative communication lines during outages of the land telegraph system. But Murphy's law could come to bear and during the an outage near Coolgardie in April 1935, when Geraldton wireless was called to assist, it was found that that station itself was unavailable due to a battery recharge being underway:

TELEGRAPHIC INTERRUPTION. A break occurred in the telegraph line 20 miles south of Coolgardie at 9.30 a.m. yesterday, cutting off telegraphic communication with Norseman and Esperance. It is believed that several poles were levelled. Portion of the business was handled by the railway telephone system, and an endeavour was made to secure the help of the Geraldton wireless station in transmitting other messages to the Esperance wireless station. Unfortunately, however, contact could not be made until 5 p.m. yesterday because the battery of the Esperance wireless station received its periodical recharge during the day.[99]

The Geraldton wireless station was fully integrated into the post office telegraphy network which in September 1935 included some 160 stations and 800 substations linked by over 13,000 miles of landlines. The ability to communicate directly with VIP Perth, 24 hours a day, provided invaluable redundancy with the landline network and this capacity was only matched by one other coastal radio station being VIE Esperance:

PERTH'S NERVE CENTRE. A Visit to the Telegraph Office. A visit to the telegraph operating room of the G.P.O. in Perth, and the contemplation of the services performed by the heterogeneous collection of machines there, is sufficient to convince the observer that here is the nerve centre of Perth. The average number of messages dealt with daily is over 10,000, and the speed at which these messages can be sent and received may be gauged from the fact that the staff of the department numbers only 156. The first impression a visitor receives on entering the operating room is upon the eardrum, for the din of the 41 telegraph sets used there is terrific. Those 41 sets include composite, duplex, quadruplex duplex, repeater, simplex and polarised machines. The room is connected directly with 160 stations in this State, giving access to 800 substations and direct communication to the Applecross, Esperance and Geraldton wireless stations. The connexions in Western Australia alone involve about 13,000 miles of telegraph lines which cover the State in a huge network. A conversation with some of the older men in the operating room makes it clear that telegraphists are born, not made, for a person not adapted to the work might still be anything but an expert after many years of training. Some men "break down" after a few years of the work, and have to resort to other means of making morse signals, such as the pendograph, an instrument which is fitted to the telegraph key and manipulated sideways with the fingers instead of by vertical movement of the wrist. The telegraphists in Perth are expert men, and on hand-lines can transmit and receive up to 50 messages per hour for the whole shift of six hours. The average sending rate is 25 words per minute, the average number of signals for each letter is three, and the average number of letters to the word is five, so that 375 movements of the wrist per minute mean 135,000 movements in each shift. Modern Methods. These details refer to hand telegraphy; but for handling business between busy points there are modern machines which can handle at least twice the business that can be dealt with by hand. Murray multiplex machines operate between Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, working on electrical impulses through one pair of wires that cross the continent along the trans-Australian railway. This one pair of wires may be called upon to carry, simultaneously, all the telegraphic business between Perth and Melbourne, a telephonic conversation, and perhaps a wireless relay as well. In addition, extra channels for telegraphic work can be invoked on these wires at peak periods. The Murray multiplex machine has a keyboard similar to that of a type writer. As a letter is pressed down on the keyboard, a combination of signals is punched out on a strip of rice paper tape. This tape runs through the transmitter at any speed up to 50 words per minute, and the signals come out at their destination, typed upon the telegraph form that is delivered to the addressee. A similar machine, except that the use of tape is eliminated, is the teletype, which is used between Fremantle and Perth and Perth and Kalgoorlie. This machine types the letters at the destination of the message at the instant they are typed on the transmitter, and can handle up to 100 messages per hour.[100]

F. H. Chrismass of the Geraldton wireless station was reported holidaying in Perth during November 1935:

PERSONAL. Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Chrismass, of the wireless station, accompanied by Mrs. McGuiness and daughter (Peggy), of Francis Street, left by car this morning for Perth, where they intend holidaying during the next three or four weeks.[101]

The location of the wireless transmitter within the body of the town was certain to cause blanketing interference to local broadcast receivers due to high levels of radiofrequency signals. But the people of the town seemed to accept the interference as a necessary consequence of this vital service. The residents were less tolerant however of the electrical interference resulting from unsuppressed electrical motors in the town and the matter was raised at a Council meeting in March 1936:

MUNICIPAL COUNCIL. RADIO INTERFERENCE. The Mayor (Mr. G. Lester) presided at the meeting of the Municipal Council last week, at which there were present Crs. Rowland, Dunn, Askew, Davenport, Edwards, Prior and Carson, and the Town Clerk (Mr. R. W. Carter). Apologies for absence were received from Cr. Foster, who was out of town, and Cr. Briers, who was indisposed. Radio Interference. A letter was received from Mr. C. Lapp with regard to radio interference. and expressing the opinion that the report made some time ago by an inspector of the Radio Department should be followed up with the object of eliminating interference to reception by radio sets. The report made by the inspector was produced, and in this it was suggested that if the manager of the electricity works was provided with a portable testing set it would be of the utmost value in facilitating the work of detecting interference. The Mayor said during the last four months he had experienced more interference with his set than during the previous six years. He thought it would be a good idea to provide the electricity manager with one of these testing sets. When people spent any thing from £40 upwards on an installation something, he thought, should be done to prevent this interference. He would suggest that in future when the Council installed any motors they should be fitted with suppressors, which would remain the property of the council, and for the use of which a small charge could be made. That would prevent any persons taking them off, which he felt sure some people were now doing. Cr. Carson said he thought the average person who owned a motor would be willing to assist those who had wireless sets, but he understood they had no power to insist on suppressors being fitted. The Commonwealth received all the fees in connection with the matter, but under the constitution could not interfere with anything within the States. The only interference he got was from the wireless despatching. The Mayor said he did not think there were many motors not fitted with suppressors. Cr. Askew said he would like the electricity manager who was a wireless enthusiast himself, to present a report on the matter. Perhaps he would be able to suggest some solution. Personally he thought the wireless station was causing a fair amount of interference. The Mayor said he would get Mr. Currie to make a report. Cr. Edwards said he would not be in favour of the Council going to any expense. The Commonwealth received all the fees. They reduced the fees recently by about 3/6. It would have been better, be thought, if they had retained this amount and used it in suppressing this interference. The Council might decide to insist on all new motors being fitted; he would be opposed to going through all of them. The Mayor said it was not intended to do so. Cr. Edwards then moved that the letter be received, and that it be an instruction that in future no motors be fitted unless equipped with a recognised suppressor. Cr. Dunn seconded and the motion was carried.[102]

In September 1936, wireless staffer Mr. R. C. Anderson was reported briefly hospitalised:

SOCIAL AND PERSONAL. Mr. R. C. Anderson, who has been a hospital inmate for the past couple of weeks, resumed duty to-day at the wireless station.[103]

In July 1938 it was announced that VIO Broome and VIN Geraldton had been fitted with higher power main transmitters. Stated reason was to improve communication between Broome and Perth at times of land telegraph outages, however better communication in the event of war would also have been a factor:

COMMUNICATION WITH BROOME. Mr. A. E. Green, M.H.R., has been informed by the Acting-Chief Inspector of Wireless (Mr. J. M. Martin), Postmaster-General's Department, that Amalgamated Wireless (A/asia), Ltd., has now installed additional wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony equipment at the coastal radio stations at Broome and Geraldton. The new equipment provides for the use of much higher power than previously, and it is hoped will enable satisfactory alternative communication to be carried out between Broome and Perth on occasions when the landline services are subjected to interruption. Mr. Martin added that the matter was being kept under close observation with a view to the adoption of any further measures which might be found necessary to improve communication.[104]

World War II edit

Even prior to the declaration of World War 2 in September 1939, the Geraldton militia mounted a guard at the wireless station, emphasising its strategic importance:

NEWS IN GERALDTON. PUBLIC'S RESOLUTE ACCEPTANCE GUARDS TO BE MAINTAINED. After a week of strain and expectancy, the fateful news that the British Empire and France were at war with Germany was received in Geraldton last night shortly before 7 o'clock. Since the receipt of the news on Friday that Germany had invaded Poland, rumours and reports, many of which proved to be groundless, have been in circulation, and when yesterday morning it was learned that failing the receipt of a reply from Germany to the Anglo-French ultimatum by 7 p.m. (local time) a state of war would exist between these countries, a feeling of resignation to the inevitable appeared general. At sporting fixtures held during the day, the sole topic of conversation appeared to be the almost certainty of the outcome of the issue. The news was received quietly, many learning of it as they made their way to the churches for the evening services. In the terrace people gathered and discussed the tragic news. Everywhere was to be heard appreciation of Britain's efforts to maintain peace, and sympathy with the British Prime Minister (Mr. Neville Chamberlain) in the making of the only decision open to him. Today business proceeded as usual, with everyone anxious to learn of the latest moves overseas. Again Dame Rumour has held sway, with the public keen to discuss the slightest of reports. Captain Skinner, officer commanding "B" Company of the 11th Battalion, stated today that he was in receipt of no new instructions regarding the Geraldton militia unit. The guards which had been maintained at the wireless station, the oil depots and the aerodrome would be continued. A guard is also mounted at the Customs House.[105]

Security at VIN Geraldton was further enhanced in January 1940 by the passing of the National Security Act which imposed severe penalties for, inter alia, photographing or sketching wireless installations:

DEFENCE WORKS. NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED REGULATIONS ISSUED. Canberra, January 10. Stringent orders to prevent the photographing or sketching of fortifications, aerodromes, wireless stations, and numerous other defence works, were issued by the Minister for Co-ordination (Mr. R. G. Menzies) under the National Security Act today.[106]

In August 1940 Mr. R. C. Anderson, wireless officer at VIN Geraldton for the previous four years, received advice of promotion to officer-in-charge of VIO Broome and was to leave Geraldton the following month:

SOCIAL AND PERSONAL. Mr. R. C. Anderson, who has been attached to the staff of the Geraldton Radio Station for the past four years, has received notice of transfer as officer-in-charge of the wireless station at Broome and will leave for the north-west port about the middle of next month. At the present time Mr. Anderson is acting as relieving radio officer on one of the coastal vessels, but he is expected to return to Geraldton early next week.[107]

December 1940 saw the arrival of C. Lemmon at VIN, having transferred from VIO Broome and he quickly became involved in community activities in Geraldton:

SOCIAL AND PERSONAL. Mr. C Lemmon, who has been transferred to Geraldton as a member of the staff of the wireless station, arrived in the town this week in company with his wife. Mr. Lemmon was formerly stationed at Broome and has been on leave for the past two or three months. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lemmon are interested in the activities of the Missions to Seamen, and on Tuesday evening last spent a brief period at the local institute in company with His Lordship the Bishop of the North-West (Right Rev. J. Frewer).[108]

The years 1941 through 1944 saw a dearth of information in contemporary publications due to the application of the National Security Act, but increased in mid-1945 as Japanese forces were finally pushed back. Prime Minister Chifley was particularly proud of the part Western Australia played in its defence and again developments in coastal radio were singled out for praise. It was noted that the Geraldton station maintained communications with coastal shipping as well as broader monitoring duties:

DEFENCE OF W.A. From Singapore. On OFFICIAL RECORDS. Statement By Mr. Chifley. A preview of what history will record of the defence of Western Australia against Japanese aggression was given in Perth yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr Chifley). It is a factual account affording glimpses of the strategic and tactical issues that had to be faced by the defence and Government authorities. Having in mind the comparison since made by the late Prime Minister (Mr Curtin) that Australia is a country as big as Europe with the population of Belgium, the revelation of the measures taken for the protection of the western third of the Commonwealth is an enthralling story. "It is now possible," said the Prime Minister (Mr Chifley) yesterday "to give, in detail, the picture of the grave threat to Western Australia for a long period after Japan came into the war, of the steps taken to ensure the State's security in accordance with the overall strategic plan for Australia and the South-West Pacific Area, and of the manner in which that security was eventually secured. "Immediately following the fall of Singapore many small ships from the old China Fleet and Dutch ships from the East Indies arrived at Fremantle. HMAS Vendetta, which was refitting at Singapore, was towed to Fremantle by the Ping Wo in an epic tow of 2,223 miles. The Australian corvettes, Toowoomba, Wollongong, Goulburn and Ballarat, after transferring army units from Sumatra into Java, were almost the last ships to leave the Dutch East Indies. HMAS Yarra was accompanying the Nanking and was unfortunately caught by a Japanese squadron and sunk after having left Sunda Strait. '"The immediate effect of the threat to the Indian Ocean was to enhance the importance of Fremantle tremendously. America became responsible for the strategic defence of Australia as a whole during 1942 and based a large force of submarines, auxiliary vessels and aircraft on Fremantle and Albany. They also allocated the USS Phoenix to assist with the ocean escort of important ships and convoys. "The arrival of the American forces made it necessary for the construction of repair facilties and storages. Oil fuel tanks were built at Fremantle and at Onslow. A minor base was developed at Exmouth Gulf. Seaplanes were operating from all ports on the west coast. The US forces never maintained heavy units in WA, but certain RAN cruisers and the Dutch ships Van Heemskerk, Van Galen and Tjerk Hiddes assisted with the defence of trade operating from Fremantle. It was during one of these operations that HMAS Adelaide and the Van Heemskerk intercepted and sank the German blockade runner Ramses on November 28, 1942. Harbour Improvements. "Side by side with the development of facilities in Fremantle for the Americans, certain building was initiated to allow British ships to operate from and be supported by Fremantle. A lot of dredging was done which included the entrance of Cockburn Sound and deep berths alongside some of the piers in Fremantle to take heavy ships, and also a site in the river for a floating dock. The buildup for the RAN and the Royal Navy included such works as a torpedo depot and a naval depot with medical and other stores and boatshed with small slip-way, a motor launch base with attendant slipway, signal tower and jetty at Rockingham. "Wireless facilities in Western Australia had to be expanded tremendously. In December, 1941, Royal Australian Naval communications at Fremantle consisted of a signal centre at the Naval Office, a port war signal station at Rottnest Island and port visual and wireless facilities near Fremantle Harbour. The Amalgamated Wireless (A/sia), Ltd station at Applecross was used for communications to and from merchant ships. Certain items of naval equipment were installed at Applecross. "When the US naval forces arrived in Fremantle in the early part of 1942 the American authorities decided to establish a naval wireless station in the Perth-Fremantle area. This station was equipped with US naval transmitters and receivers, and buildings were obtained at Perth University and Queen's Park in which to install this equipment. Shortly after this station was in operation it was merged into the Allied Naval Wireless Organisation of the South-West Pacific Area and carried out important naval communication duties on behalf of all Allied warships. Towards the middle of 1942, it was decided to establish a naval office with its own communication centre in Perth. This was necessary to effect close co-operation with Army and Air Force headquarters. The naval office at Perth was connected by teleprinter with the Navy Office, Melbourne, and to various outlying naval areas in the Fremantle area. In June, 1945, this office was discontinued. Wireless Installations. "In 1943, the new AWA receiving station at Bassendean was completed. This station then took over all the receiving duties previously carried out at Applecross. The latter station is now used to accommodate the transmitting equipment which is remote-controlled from the receiving station at Bassendean. "Naval duties had, for some time, been carried out from the Harbour Board Signal Station at Cantonment Hill. However, on completion of the Australian Wheat Board's wheat silo at North Fremantle it was decided to erect a naval signal station on the roof of the silo. This station commands an excellent view over Fremantle Harbour and the Gage Roads and south to Cockburn Sound. Besides visual watch, certain naval services are now operated from the silo signal station. Employment of the harbour signal station at Cantonment Hill was given up on the transfer of naval signalling activities to the silo. "Consequent on the decision to establish naval facilities at Cockburn Sound, the necessary communications of this base were planned, and cable for telephone and teleprinter circuits was laid by the Postmaster-General's Department between Fremantle and Cockburn Sound. Additional telephone and telegraph circuits have been provided at most of the Fremantle wharves to give adequate communication facilities for visiting warships and important merchant ships. The AWA coastal radio stations at Esperance, Geraldton, Broome and Wyndham carry out certain wireless duties on behalf of the navy. These duties consist primarily of communication with coastal vessels which maintain watch on medium frequencies.[109]

Post World War II edit


OTC edit

In February 1947 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) assumed control of all external telecommunications services previously operated by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. This included the entire Australian coastal radio network:

Telecommunications Commission. On Saturday next the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) will take over the control of all external telecommunication services previously operated by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. These include the Beam Wireless Services to Great Britain, America, Canada, India, Java, the Islands adjacent to Australia, the Coastal Radio Services which operate to ships in Australian waters, and the Overseas Picturegram Service. The Commission will also undertake the technical operation of the Overseas Radio Telephone Services, but as at present the calls will be booked with the Postmaster-General's Department. The head office of the Commission will be at 47 York Street, Sydney, with another office in Melbourne and coastal radio stations in all States of the Commonwealth.[110]

In May 1948, tenders were called for general repairs and painting of the buildings at the Geraldton radio station:

TENDERS. COMMONWEALTH of Australia. Department of Works and Housing. Tenders, closing with the Director of Works (Commonwealth), Department of Works and Housing, G.P.O., Perth, are invited for the following services, returnable at noon, 18/5/48: (1) Balingup Post Office, painting and repairs and sound proofing of telephone cabinets (Job No. 1784); (2) Boyup Brook Post Office, general repairs and renovations (Job No. 1783); (3) Broome Customs House and Quarters, alterations, repairs and renovations (Job No 1777); (4) Geraldton O.T.C. Wireless station repairs and painting (Job No. 1782); (5) Swanbourne Fort, install fire mains and hydrants (Job No. 1781). Returnable at noon, 25/5/48; (6) Carnarvon Post Office installation of septic tank and erection of lav. block (Job No. 1760); (7) Cottesloe Telephone Exchange, installation of 6-ton air conditioning system (Job No. 1759); (8) Esperance Radio Station, repairs and painting (Job No. 1762) (fresh tenders) (amended specifications); (9) Maylands Aerodrome, road construction and tarmac maintenance (Job No. 1785); (10) Tranby Buildings, Wellington-st., Perth, external painting (Job No. 1789). Returnable at noon, 1/6/48; (11) Pinjarra and Bunbury P.M.G., erection of line depot bldgs., ex Spencers Brook (Job No. 1787); (12) Wagin Post Office, painting and repairs to post office and quarters (Job No. 1772); (13) Yalgoo Post Office, repairs, painting and minor alterations (Job No. 1788). Plans and specifications are obtainable at Room 26, sixth floor, G.P.O., Perth, and (1) postmasters, Balingup and Bunbury post offices, and (3) postmaster, Broome Post Office and (4) postmaster, Geraldton Post Office, and (6) postmasters Carnarvon and Geraldton post offices, and (8) postmasters, Norseman and Kalgoorlie post offices and O.I.C./O.T.C. Radio Sta-ion, Esperance, and (11) post-masters, Pinjarra and Bunbury post offices, and (13) postmasters, Geraldton, Mulewa and Yalgoo. No tenders necessarily accepted. Nelson Lemmon, Minister for Works and Housing. [111]

From June 1948, the Geraldton station was the key station in a radiocommunications network with 4 smaller stations located at different islands in the Abrolhos Islands. The network was to assist exchange of messages of both a commercial and personal nature with the mainland:

Abrolhos Islands. Telecommunication Plan. A VALUABLE SERVICE. On the weekly run from Geraldton to the Abrolhos Islands tomorrow morning, the m.v. Batavia Road will carry two of five ex-Army telecommunication sets, which have been acquired by syndicates comprised of local fishermen and others concerned in the industry. It is planned to have a set in operation on four different islands for the purpose of transmitting and receiving messages to and from the mainland. The Amalgamated Wireless Association's station in Francis Street will be utilised as the mainland headquarters and messages will be received at this station from fishermen on the islands, or transmitted to the islands by the station's operators. When in operation, this new service will provide an invaluable link with the mainland. The fishermen who have bought the sets, which are actually Army field telecommunication transmitters and receivers combined and worked from a battery, have had to obtain special operation licenses, which have been issued from Melbourne by the Postmaster-General's Department.[112]

The Mangrove Island station of the Abrolhos Island network proved invaluable when the Starling ran aground in Whales Bay in October 1950. Enabling communication with the mainland and rendering of emergency assistance upon his return to Geraldton:

Fisherman's Experience. Aground at Abrolhos Islands. AN EVENTFUL VOYAGE. During the rough weather experienced in the northern regions last week it is reported that the high winds reached a velocity of about seventy miles an hour at the Abrolhos Islands and were responsible for the 28-feet fishing boat Starling dragging her anchors during Tuesday night and running aground off the shallows of Whales Bay in the southern group of the islands. The vessel is owned by Mr. Colin Ashcroft, who was the only occupant at the time of the occurrence; he refloated the boat next morning and then found that he was unable to immediately cope with the intake of water. However, he chopped up a quantity of sisal rope, which he held over the leaks until fine pieces were sucked into the gaps to lessen the leak-age. Mr. Ashcroft then had a radio message despatched to the mainland through a wireless set operated by Mr. M. B. Finlayson on Mangrove Island seeking some assistance when he reached Geraldton. The Starling, which is not equipped with an engine, set sail for Geraldton at about 2 p.m. on Saturday last and reached the port about ten hours later after having battled against adverse winds on a most uncomfortable voyage. On the journey Mr. Ashcroft was kept occupied in bailing the water out of the boat, having with him a dinghy tied astern and fitted with an outboard motor for use in the event of the Starling foundering. On arrival at Geraldton he was met by two local fishermen, who assisted in grounding the boat in shallow water in order to prevent sinking. It is understood that a quantity of fish in the ice box was all ruined by sea water and will be a total loss to the owner of the boat.[113]

Closure edit


Participants and staff edit

Design, construction, maintenance edit

  • John Graeme Balsillie, 1913, Commonwealth Wireless Expert who designed the wireless system deployed and oversighted the network establishment
  • Walter Moss Sweeney, 1913, construction project supervising engineer for the Postmaster-General's Department
  • R. C. Cox, 1913, assistant project engineer for the Postmaster-General's Department
  • R. D. Munson, 1913, project foreman-rigger for the Public Works Department's portion of the construction project
  • Sydney Trim, 1930, mast replacement project supervising engineer for Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd.
  • S. Broomehall, 1930, mast replacement project mechanic for Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd.

Station staff edit

  • James Joseph Wiseman Lamb, senior wireless officer, March? 1913 to May 1914
  • Mark Mortimer, senior wireless officer, May 1914 to ??
  • Arthur McDonald, wireless officer, circa January 1915
  • A. E. Pell, wireless officer, ?? to July 1915 (leave for war service)
  • B. Hooker, wireless officer, ?? to August 1915 (leave for war service)
  • Broomhill, wireless officer, July 1915 to ??
  • H. Selfe, wireless officer, circa May 1920
  • Louis Alfred Fontaine, wireless officer, circa Jun 1923
  • E. W. Tymms, wireless officer, circa April 1925
  • Reginald Charles Goodland, wireless officer, January 1924 to December 1925
  • George Franklin Cook, wireless officer, circa 1928
  • Harold E. Cox, senior wireless officer, circa 1929 to March 1931
  • Newman Dobson Pusey, ??, 1926 to August 1933
  • E. H. Smellie, wireless operator, 1930 to March 1931; senior wireless operator, March 1931 to November 1933
  • H. B. Wolfe, wireless operator, March 1931 to ??
  • F. H. Chrismas, senior wireless officer, circa November 1935 to May 1949+
  • R. C. Anderson, wireless officer, circa September 1936 to September 1940; relief January 1949 to May 1949
  • C. Lemmon, ??, December 1940 to ??

Station guard WW1 edit

  • Second Lieut Gibbings, guard commander August 1914 to ??
  • Second Lieut E. S. Everett, guard commander ?? to February 1915
  • Second Lieut Hutton, guard commander February 1915 to ??
  • Corporal W. Pass, guard troop, died France February 1917 "no greater love"
  • Private George Compton, guard troop August 1914 to January 1915, died France July 1918 "no greater love"
  • H. H. Opie, guard commander ?? to ??

Further reading edit

  • Bastock, John. Ships on the Australia Station, (Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd, Frenchs Forest, 1988) ISBN 0-86777-348-0
  • Burger, David. Callsign History Australia - Australian Amateur Radio Callsigns, (IEEE, 2014) online
  • Carty, Bruce. Australian Radio History (4th ed. Sydney, 2013) [1]
  • 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
  • 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) [2]
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget. Changing Stations the story of Australian commercial radio [3]
  • 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) [4] [5]
  • Harte, Bernard. When Radio Was The Cat's Whiskers (Rosenberg Publishing, 2002) [6]
  • Hewitson, Peter. Australian MCS; A brief history of the Australian Coastal Radio Service (Website) [7]
  • Johnstone, James. Coastal Radio Stations (Webpages) [8]
  • Jolly, Rhonda. Media ownership and regulation: a chronology (Canberra, 2016) [9]
  • Jones, Colin. Something in the air : a history of radio in Australia (Kenthurst, 1995) [10]
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Muscio, Winston T. Australian Radio, The Technical Story 1923–1983 (Kangaroo Press, 1984) [11]
  • Ross, John F. A History of Radio in South Australia 1897–1977 (J. F. Ross, 1978) [12]
  • Ross, John F. Handbook for Radio Engineering Managers (Butterworths, 1980) [13]
  • Ross, John F. Radio Broadcasting Technology, 75 Years of Development in Australia 1923–1998 (J. F. Ross, 1998) [14]
  • Shawsmith, Alan. Halcyon Days, The Story of Amateur Radio in VK4, Queensland (Boolarong Publications, 1987) [15]
  • Umback, Rick. Constituting Australia's International Wireless Service: 1901-1922 (Rick Umback, 1916, Canberra) Online (PhD. thesis, focus on Beam Wireless and its origins with emphasis on wireless telegraphy era, detailed analysis)
  • 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) [16]
  • 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) [17]

In-line citations edit

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