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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan 447, July 27, 2003

Early Shortwave Stations in Australia

Regular radio broadcasting on mediumwave got going in the United States about the year 1920, and soon afterwards in Europe, New Zealand and Australia.  Over in Europe and Australia, longwave broadcasting was also introduced around the same time, though in Australia a few years later all of the longwave stations moved into the standard mediumwave band.

In the second half of the 1920s, experimental broadcasting on shortwave was introduced in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  In Australia there were three different organizations that were on the air shortwave in that era, and they were:

        The semi-government AWA company;
        The government ABC network; and
        A series of commercial stations.

On previous occasions we have covered the story of the AWA stations with the callsigns VK2ME, 3ME and 6ME.  Next week we will take a look at the shortwave operations carried out by some of the commercial stations in Australia, and on this occasion, we delve into the story of the ABC shortwave stations, or, more correctly, the ABC stations and those that were subsequently taken over by the ABC.            

During a three year period running from 1926 to 1928, Australiaís first radio broadcasting station, 2BL in Sydney, ran a series of shortwave broadcasts using the amateur transmitter 2YG.  The amateur station 2YG belonged to the chief engineer at 2BL, and he ran these experimental relays from his home in suburban Coogee.  Soon afterwards, he transferred the transmitter to the empty home of a relative in another suburb, Roseville.

The two major stations in Sydney, 2BL and 2FC, were amalgamated in 1928.  The shortwave broadcasts from 2BL were then carried for a very short period of time by the well known VK2ME at Pennant Hills, after which they were then discontinued.

However, a new series of broadcasts began from the Pennant Hills transmitter using the programming from the other mediumwave station 2FC. These were on the air for a couple of years, in 1927 and 1928.

Down in Victoria, the programming of the mediumwave station 3LO was on the air shortwave from a 3.5 kw unit co-sited at outer suburban Braybrook.  These broadcasts were on the air for about three years, stretching from 1927 to 1929.

Then there was the ABC experimental station VK3LR which was on the air during scheduled hours with a relay from mediumwave 3LO and 3AR, and outside scheduled hours with test programming as VK3XX.  This was a 600 watt unit at Lyndhurst which was later increased to 2 kw and subsequently absorbed in 1939 into the new network for "Australia Calling."

Over in Western Australia, similar experimental broadcasting on shortwave was carried out by Wally Coxon, using his amateur transmitter 6AG.  He began in 1925 at Maylands, and moved in 1927 to Mt. Lawley, and in 1928 he co-sited the shortwave transmitter with the mediumwave unit on the rooftop of the downtown building of Westralian Farmers.

Four of these stations, 2BL and 2FC in Sydney, 3LO in Melbourne, and 6WF in Perth, were subsequently absorbed into the ABC network, and, of course, 3LR-VLR was established as an ABC relay station.    

The programming of all five of these stations was heard at times in Europe, North America and throughout Oceania.  QSL cards were issued by all of these shortwave stations, and cards known to be in existence are from 2FC shortwave and the old VK3LR.