Australia - International - AWA.
Coastal Radio Stations in South Australia.



Call sign: VIA  
Opened: 1 October 1912. Closed: Site abandoned in 1963 to move to McLaren Vale.
Location: At Rosewater on Grand Junction Road about 3 km. from the Adelaide CBD.
Transferred to: McLaren Vale to a new station built by OTC.


The Adelaide Advertiser of 23 September 1912 reported as follows:

"The  wireless telegraph station erected by the Commonwealth Government on the Junction Road, near Port Adelaide, is now practically ready for use. Arrangements have been made with the Adelaide Electric Supply Co. for power, and this will be furnished in time to permit of the station being opened for the transaction of commercial business on October 1.

The installation is that of the Balsillie system, adopted by the Federal Government, and in use at Melbourne and Hobart. The masts carrying the aerial wires are each 144 ft. high, with a span of 450 ft. The buildings, constructed of brick on a concrete foundation, comprise a three-roomed office, operating room, high tension room and a power-house.

The plans of the whole apparatus are the same as in use at the other Commonwealth stations, with a slight modification in the shape of the aerials. Mr. F. J. Burgoyne, the engineer-operator who supervised the erection of the station, expects to have no difficulty in communicating with Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney and possibly with Fremantle at night time.

The Commonwealth expert Mr. J. G. Balsillie), who visited the station on Friday while en route to Western Australia, expressed his satisfaction at the manner in which it had been erected and he instructed Mr. Burgoyne to proceed to Mount Gambier to fix upon a site for a wireless station in the South-East.

When the Port Adelaide station is opened, the staff will consist of three operators who will be in attendance in turn from 8 a.m. to midnight each day".


The Adelaide News of 7 July 1927 reported as follows:

Work of Adelaide Radio ROSEWATER STATION.

Towering high above portion of the thousand homes Gardens and forming a landmark for miles around are the twin masts of the local radio station.

Mr. J. Stoyle has been the officer in charge for the past three years.

In the eyes of those who communicate with it, Rosewater Station represents Adelaide and its code call sign is VIA. In like manner, the call signs of Melbourne and Perth are VIM and VIP respectively. Established in1912 by the Federal Postmaster-General's Department, the station has performed valuable work. The two masts, each of 144 ft. high, are set 300 ft. apart on concrete bases. They are kept erect by 12 insulated wire-rope stays. The masts are formed of oregon planks, bolted together and treated with creosote stain as a preservative, which gives them a green color. The aerial is a squirrel cage one of T type with lead into a brick instrument building midway between the masts.

The original plant comprised a quenched gap system designed by Mr. J. Balsillie the then Director of Wireless, and was later replaced by a rotary gap.

About a year ago, a modern valve transmitting set was installed and two large 30-watt valves each 12 inches long of the M.T. type are in use.

Power for transmitting is obtained from the mains of the Adelaide Electric Supply Company and a 200-volt alternating current motor drives a 110 volt direct current generator. The latter in turn operates a motor generator giving 120 volts at 500 cycles and this current is transformed to 4,000 volts and feed to both valve plates which are in parallel.

History of the Adelaide Station: Adelaide Radio was originally erected to communicate with ships at sea anywhere between Cape Otway and the middle of the Bight. This function it has satisfactorily performed for a number of years and among other things, the station has been used from time to time as a means for carrying information in the form of telegraphic traffic between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.

During the war the station was administered by the Naval Department but no alterations of any magnitude were done during that time.

It was taken over, with other coastal radio stations, by Amalgamated Wireless (Australia) Limited in 1922 as a result of an agreement entered into between that firm and the Federal Government and, since that date, several alterations have been made.

As a result of the activities of the beam wireless service between Australia and Britain, Amalgamated Wireless is further modernising the station and is installing a feeder station, to provide direct communication with Melbourne or Sydney as required. This station will operate on the ultra short waves - that is on any convenient wave length below 50 metres. The work is in hand and the company hopes that, in approximately two months, it will be completed.

World-wide Service: When this new apparatus is installed, it will be possible to transmit information to nearly every part of the globe at certain times of the day. In addition to this short wave feeder set, the company is providing for a more powerful transmitting set to communicate with ships at sea. When this overhaul is completed, Adelaide Radio will be in communication with ships no matter where they are between Port Phillip and Cape Leeuwin.

Another important function fulfilled by the Adelaide station is the issue of weather reports and general information concerning navigation.

The method of sending out time signals at 10 o'clock each morning and evening is interesting. A few minutes before the hour, the transmitter is set in operation and switched on to a land line connected with the Adelaide Observatory. A clock there operates a relay which transmits the dot-dash signals in a similar manner to an operator fingering a telegraph key and the impulses are thus sent out into the ether by medium of the high strung aerial wires.

Aids to navigation: As an aid to navigation, the station promptly broadcasts warnings of beacon lights which may not be functioning, alterations in buoys or lights and the existence of wrecks and derelicts. Messages from shipping are received at the station by a four-valve receiving set with two valves of radio frequency, one of audio frequency and one detector.

The operator on duty sits during his hours on watch with telephone at his ears and transmitting key at his hand. Close by is a telephone connected with the exchange.

A telegraph instrument connected by land line with the Adelaide General Post Office is the medium for handling al radio traffic to and from Rosewater station. By this means a person may lodge at any telegraph station in the Commonwealth a message intended for a ship at sea. If at the time, the ship is not in wireless range of Rosewater, the telegram will be transmitted to that radio station in another State which is in touch with the vessel.


Mount Gambier.

Call sign: VIY  
Opened: 1 March 1913. Closed: 1920.
Location: 2 km north of the town.
Transferred to:

The primary function of Mount Gambier was to act as a relay station between Melbourne and Adelaide. During World War 1, Mount Gambier acted as a continuous watch station. It was closed because of the installation of more technologically advanced equipment at Melbourne and Adelaide.

The selection of the site was difficult. A site should be about two acres in area and the soil for the site of a wireless station should be of a clayey character to retain water - or at least the water level should be near the surface. There were many places within a few miles of Mount Gambier with a good clay subsoil, but the town itself did not have this essential character. Mr Burgoyne was sent to inspect the sites and found several places within a mile and half of the town that would be suitable. He also went to Port MacDonnell to inspect the country there. Land near the sea, with the water level near the surface, makes a very suitable site. A good site at Port MacDonnell was apparently available and at a reasonable figure. Mr Burgoyne returned to Adelaide to report to the Federal Parliament.


An example of the interesting amalgamation of the different aspects of telegraphy in Australia occurred in 1948. The Newcastle Morning Herald for 4 November 1948 reported as follows:

Cyclone Wrecks Communications In Nullarbor
ADELAIDE, Wednesday:
"High winds and dust storms tonight handicapped P.M.G. Department lines men in their gigantic task of restoring communications between Western Australia and the Eastern States.

A fierce cyclone today swept the south-western parts of the State, bringing down hundreds of telegraph and telephone lines. The area to suffer most was the Nullarbor Plain. Emergency repair gangs were rushed from Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie and from Port Augusta (S.A.). Urgent messages to Western Australia were sent from Adelaide to Darwin and then through coastal radio stations to Perth.

Heavy seas along the southern W.A. coast have dislocated shipping. The liner Ranchi, due to berth at Port Adelaide to-day, is hove to in the Great Australian Bight".