The Development of Wireless Communication in Australia - The Great Communicator

Angus Slater

Keywords: Broadcasting, Wireless, Communication

Download Full Paper (pdf)

Many people who had committed to a new life in Colonial Australia had little prospect of ever returning to The Motherland and resigned themselves to the tenuous connection of mail from home as the only consolation for their isolation and its attendant loneliness. We trace the origins of broadcasting from news read aloud at the Post Office to the first  transmission of God Save The King by wireless-telephone in 1919.

In March 1930, a radio signal transmitted from Marconi’s yacht the Elletra anchored at Genoa turned on the lights in the Sydney Town Hall. That event might be said to have also illuminated wireless technology’s remarkable evolution with a spotlight on Australia’s inherent willingness to adopt new technology.

We trace the development of wireless technology in Australia from the nineteen twenties as radio and then television broadcasting evolved, noting the eagerness with which  Australians embraced the concept of the great communicator.

There have been some fascinating technical developments in the history of wireless by Australians for Australians. We discover that the contemporary concerns of conveying information with as little outlay as possible, the provision of equal access to communications for all Australians, and the need to regulate and carefully manage radio-spectrum are by no means new concepts.

Western Australia is among the most geographically isolated places in the world yet that isolation has contributed largely to its role in the evolving story of communication by radio. From the establishment of the Applecross wireless station in 1912 to today’s satellite ground stations, this unique location has not only figured prominently in the connection of Australia to the Empire but has continued to play a major part in spanning the rest of the world. Western Australia is a shining example of world wireless communication’s heritage



REFERENCE: Slater, A. 2007 The Development of Wireless Communication in Australia: Broadcasting - The Great Communicator. Fourteenth National Engineering Heritage Conference 2007. Perth, Australia, 18 September – 21 September 2007. The Institution of Engineers Australia: Conference Papers.