Uniting the Empire: the Australia Beam Wireless Service

David Moloney

Keywords: Beam, Wireless, Radio, Fisk, Fiskville, Ballan, Rockbank

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Together with aviation, ‘wireless’ was the marvel of the early twentieth century.  For isolated Australia, its promise of international communication was acutely felt. Its location, the greatest distance possible from Britain, saw it play a critical part in tests for long distance communication.  Australia may have initiated at least one of these historic trials, and then raced the world to apply the short-wave system for marine and broadcasting services. Politically also, Australia pushed the boundaries. Its unyielding opposition to a conservative British Imperial Wireless Chain proposal, in which it would be at the mercy of a series of vulnerable relays, was inspired by the vision of ET Fisk of AWA.  Australia’s ‘one hop’ solution was accepted, and the 1927 opening of the Beam Wireless established the world’s longest distance radio link. While the Fiskville (Ballan) and Rockbank stations arrays and equipment no longer survive, remarkably intact landscaped accommodation quarters and Spanish Mission buildings remain as testament to this achievement.

REFERENCE: Moloney, D. 2007 Uniting the Empire: the Australia Beam Wireless Service. Fourteenth National Engineering Heritage Conference 2007. Perth, Australia, 18 September – 21 September 2007. The Institution of Engineers Australia: Conference Papers.