1912: Wireless to link New Zealand and Australia

The Mercury (Hobart), 1 October 1912, p 2


Good progress is being made with the chain of wireless stations to link New Zealand with Australia. It will be remembered that when the Melbourne conference was held, at the beginning of 1909, a scheme was inaugurated whereby New Zealand and Australia would be linked up by a number of stations which, day and night, would be in touch with each other. The realisation of that scheme is at hand.

In a few weeks’ time – exactly how long depends a good deal upon weather conditions – the wireless station at Awanui Bay, North Auckland will be in operation. This installation is so far the best thing in wireless which New Zealand has got, and it compares favourably with the Pennant Hills station in Sydney, and the high-powered one at Fremantle. The installation at Awanui is a 30-kilowatt one, and will be able to “speak” to Sydney all day and all night. This station, then, is the northern link in the Australasian chain. The southern link, which will complete the circuit, will be at Bluff, and this is now under construction. It will take some six months to complete, and will be built on almost identical plans as the northern station, and will be of the same power.

In connection with the scheme, there will be three supplementary stations – those at New Brighton,1 on Tinakori Hills, and the one on the new Auckland Post Office. When the scheme was first drawn up it was intended that the New Brighton station would ultimately be used for connection with the Chatham Islands, where it was proposed to install a low-powered plant. As this part of the idea has been delayed, however, the New Brighton station has been left till last, but it will be gone on with when the others are complete.

The Tinakori Hills station is now complete, and in a few days’ time it will be put into commercial use. As soon as it is seen that the plant in this installation is satisfactory, the work of dismantling the temporary station on the Wellington Post Office will be commenced. This is expected to be about a fortnight hence.

At the end of last week experiments were to be made with the plant now being erected on the top of the new chief Post Office at Auckland. It is a low-powered station of 2 1/2 kilowatts, but good results are expected from it. Under good working conditions – on a still night, for instance – it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the Pennant Hills station will be heard, and replied to, quite distinctly. For ordinary shipping purposes, however, the local station will no doubt prove amply powerful enough.

In order to bring the Government’s meteorological station in Wellington in line with the times, arrangements have been made for the acceptance by the Post and Telegraph Department of weather radio-telegrams for the bureau from warships and other vessels equipped with wireless installations. Thus Mr D.C. Bates is now in receipt, every evening,
from the Wellington Post Office wireless station, of messages conveying the latest news of storm areas approaching, breaking, or dispersing round the coast of the Dominion, and particularly from the Tasman Sea, from which direction most of our rough and stormy weather travels.

At the conference at which this Australasian scheme was set on foot, it was pointed out that the installation of these stations would be a great aid to the defence of all parts of the Commonwealth and New Zealand. It will be possible for the news of an approaching enemy to be flashed, from Fremantle to Auckland within one hour provided, of course, that atmospheric conditions are not abnormal. The messages would be transmitted first to Adelaide, thence via Pennant Hills to Auckland. The scheme will ably assist the Imperial defence idea. Lord Kitchener has expressed his admiration of the idea for the furtherance of a great object.

Editor’s notes:

  1. The New Brighton station was not built