AWA in Australia: Snowy Mountains Radio

Advertisment from the 1927 AWA Radio Guide

As we mentioned in Wavescan two weeks back, the AWA radio company in Australia published a lengthy document in 1927 under the title, Radio Guide 1927. This document provided some very interesting radio information that was otherwise not known widely in Australia. One of the feature articles in this document tells the story of Snowy Mountains Radio, a small network of communication stations that were on the air in the southern regional areas of the state of New South Wales.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme involved the hydro-electric generation of electric power and the down stream irrigation of water for use in farming areas. The Barren Jack Hydro-Electric Scheme was a significant part of the over all Snowy Mountains Scheme which was the largest engineering project in the history of Australia. The name Barren Jack was the nearest English pronunciation for the Aboriginal name of the area.

During the year 1927, work was underway on the installation of a small network of local shortwave communication stations in the Barren Jack area. The headquarters station was installed in Gundagai a small town that is nowadays quite famous as a tourist destination.

Among the many tourist attractions in Gundagai is the famous statue of the Dog on the Tucker Box, commemorating the faithfulness of a sheep dog back in the colonial era. You can also visit the Pioneer Museum, and the Truck Museum, as well as the reminders associated with the raucous wartime radio serial Dad & Dave with its fictitious radio station 2SG.

The headquarters station for the Barren Jack communication network was 2GI in Gundagai, with the 2 indicating the state of New South Wales, followed by the first and last letters of the familiar town name, Gundagai.

Temporary Wireless Transmission Station – 500 Watts – on Transmission Line Camp.
Gundagai Transmitting Station – 500 Watts.
Temporary Transmitting Station.
High Tension Transmission Tower.

Barren Jack Hydro-Electric Scheme. Photos from the 1927 AWA Radio Guide.

Station 2MM was already installed at Mistake Creek, though that station was soon to be relocated at Murrumburra. The callsign 2MM was the first letter of its two locations, Mistake Creek and Murrumburra.

Station 2CA was already installed at Saw Mill Camp, though that station was soon to be relocated at Cootamundra. The callsign 2CA indicated the first and last letters of its new location Cootamundra.

Plans were also underway for the installation of an additional transmitter at Barren Jack itself, together with five additional mobile transmitters for installation on industrial trucks. The callsign 2BD at indicated the first letters of the first and last names Barrenjack Dam.

All of that extensive transmission equipment was provided by AWA; the Barren Jack transmitter (2BD) was rated at 2 kW, and the other units (2GI, 2MM, 2CA) were each rated at ½ kW. All of those communication units operated on low frequency shortwave, just above the standard mediumwave band.

Even before the entire network was taken into full service, emergency communication was made between 2GI in Gundagai with 2MM at Mistake Creek. Co-ordination was required in the fighting of a bushfire that was nearing Mistake Creek.

This feature was written by Adrian Peterson and originally aired on Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” DX program of February 20, 2022

The complete 1927 AWA Radio Guide is available as a PDF download from the website:

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