VLQ Brisbane Anniversary

This article was originally aired over Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” program. Copyright to the author, Adrian Peterson

The regional home service shortwave station VLQ at Bald Hills near Brisbane in Queensland would be celebrating its 61st anniversary next week, that is, if the station were still on the air today. However, station VLQ and its sister unit VLM have been off the air now for more than 10 years. This is the story.

The callsigns VLQ & VLM were originally allocated to two ships in the registry of neighboring New Zealand, and in more recent time, the callsign VLM was in use as a line callsign for one of the transmitters at the temporary Carnarvon site in Western Australia. We might also add that the callsign VLM was also in use for a 10 kW communication transmitter located at Pennant Hills in the pre-war days, and the callsign VLQ was also in use at the same site for international broadcasting beginning in the year 1939.

During the year 1941, work commenced at Bald Hills, twelve miles north of Brisbane, on a new radio base for the two ABC mediumwave stations 4QG & 4QR. One of the major reasons for moving the antennas from the city into the country during the Pacific War was so that the horizon as seen from the ocean would be considerably lower.

The location at Bald Hills is flat and swampy and it was previously in use as a commercial jam factory. In May 1942, station 4QG was transferred from the top of a city building to the new country location.

The first test broadcasts from the new 10 kW STC transmitter were heard on February 14, 1943, and strangely, the test announcement gave the location as Sydney. Three days later, shortwave VLQ at Bald Hills was officially inaugurated and it carried the ABC programming for outback areas.

In 1945, the ABC began a 15 minute daily news bulletin from VLQ for listeners in Papua New Guinea. Some 30 years later, Radio Australia also took the same station, VLQ, into daily usage for a regular five hour service to Papua New Guinea. The channel for this external broadcast was 11885 kHz though no callsign was allocated for this transmission. The Radio Australia uasge of VLQ for the service to Papua New Guinea was terminated in 1976 when the new though temporary station was inaugurated at Carnarvon in Western Australia

A temporary additional unit was installed at Bald Hills for use on a lower frequency for coverage in the skip zone of the higher frequency unit VLQ. This temporary unit was rated at 200 watts and it was opened without ceremony as VLM on September 7, 1949. Two years later, a new 10 kW transmitter was installed and it took over the VLM service.

Back during the pre-satellite era, the shortwave service from the two transmitters VLQ & VLM served a double purpose. It was in use as a direct broadcast service for people living in isolated outback areas, and it was also considered essential as an emergency backup for outages in the tenuous landline feeds to distant mediumwave stations. The VLQ relay service was heard at times from several of the distant ABC stations in Queensland, and also from station 5DR at Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Over the years, a total of four different shortwave transmitters were on the air at Bald Hills, three at 10 kW and one at 200 watts. The three larger units were on the air as VLQ and VLM, and also for the Radio Australia service to Papua New Guinea. The antenna system was made up of two concentric rhombics, two half wave dipoles, and an experimental folded dipole.

The last broadcast from this shortwave station was heard on December 16, 1993 and the newest transmsitter was sold a few months later to the chronohertz station VNG in Llandilo (lan-DIE-low) in New South Wales. However, station VNG has also subsequently gone silent.

Several different QSL cards have been issued for VLQ & VLM during the station’s 60 year existence, including the original PMG card, and four different styles of cards showing maps of Australia and Queensland. For Radio Australia programming, the colourful picture cards showing animals, birds and flowers were issued.

Bald HIlls Shortwave Transmitter Usage

Time Lines

——————————————————————————————-
Year Date Call kW kHz Event
——————————————————————————————-
1943 Feb 14 VLQ3 10 9660 First test broadcast
1943 Feb 17 VLQ 10 Official opening
1949 Sep 7 VLM .2 4917.5 First broadcast
1951 Jan 25 VLM 10 4917.5 New unit inaugurated
1951 Jun 1 VLQ9 10 9660 New numeric designator
1951 Jun 1 VLM 10 4917.5 New numeric designator
1953 VLM 10 4920 Adjustment to operating frequency
1968 VLQ 10 9660 New transmitter installed
1974 May 5 RA 10 11885 New PNG Service from Radio Australia
1976 May 2 RA 10 11885 Brisbane deleted from RA service
1993 Dec 16 VLQ 10 9660 Bald Hills SW service closed
1993 Dec 16 VLM 10 4920 Bald Hills SW service closed
1994 VLQ 10 VLQ sold to VNG Llandilo NSW
============================================================
ABC Home Service on Shortwave – Bald Hills

References

——————————————————————————————-
Year Date Event Reference
——————————————————————————————
1919 Callsign VLM NZ “Moeraki” AMP RA 634
1919 Callsign VLQ NZ “Warrimoo” YBWT&T 1919
1925 July Work on new 4QG roof Insurance Building WW 77.17 17-70-26 13
1925 Jul 27 4QG launched 500 w 385 m Executive Building WWW
1936 Mar Successful tests from new 4QG already conducted WW 26-3-26 27
1926 Apr New 5 kW transmitter, studios & antenna, Elizabeth/George WWW
1931 Jul 17 New 20 kW VLM Pennant Hills, became VLQ2 then VLI WS402
1938 Jan 7 4QR signed on as 4BR Walker 178
1938 Jan 7 4BR QSL card, 940 kHz 500 w NZDXT 3-02 5
1939 Dec 20 VLM-VK2ME Pennant Hills becames VLQ2 WS402
1941 Construction work at BH began, previously jam factory WWW
1941 Bald Hills flat swampy area 12 miles north Brisbane AMP RA 360
1942 May 4QG transferred to Bald Hills WWW
1943 Jan VLQ Pennant Hills becomes VLI WS402
1943 Jan VLQ call transferred Pennant Hills to Bald Hills R&H 77.10 4-43 42
1943 Feb 14 BH1 VLQ3 9660 heard with Sydney test ancmnt ARW 77.8 3-43
1943 Feb 16 VLQ 7240 heard with Sydney test announcement ARW 77.8 3-43
1943 Feb 17 VLQ opened, water cooled STC large wire cage AMP RA 361
1943 VLQ 7240,VLQ2 11870,VLQ3 9660,VLQ4 7280R&H 79.12 4-43 45
1944 VLQ2 alternative channel 7210 kHz AMP RA 638
1945 VLQ3 to New Guinea 5:00 – 5:15 pm R&H 77.10 2-45 35
1945 2 concentric rhombics for PNG AMP RA 362
1946 Jan 21 VLQ 10 kW 7240 kHz 6:00 am – 10.15 am AMP QSL card
1946 Jan 21 VLQ3 10 kW 9660 kHz 11:45 am – 5.15 pm AMP QSL card
1946 Jan 21 VLQ2 10 kW 7215 kHz 5:30 pm – 11.30 pm AMP QSL card
1948 New 10 kW for Brisbane supplement VLQ RN 4-48 150
1948 VLQ 2 antennas 1/2 wave dipoles & reflectors 310 NQ AMP RA361
1949 Sep 7 BH2 VLM 1st noted 4917.5 kHz low power R&H 79.13 10-49 90
1949 Sep 7 BH2 VLM 4917.5 kHz 200 watts R&H 79.13 10-49 90
1949 New VLM opened recently R&H 70.13 11-49 90
1949 New VLM on 4917.5 RN 1-50 61
1951 Jan 25 Power increase VLM 10 kW RR RQ in Jan MW R&H 77.14 3-51 85
1951 VLM 2 antennas 1/2 wave dipoles 130 SE Q AMP RA 362
1951 VLM antenna also experimental folded dipole AMP RA 362
1951 Jan 25 New VLM 10 kW 4917.5 opened AMP RA 361
1951 BH3 VLM4 4920 kHz 1-1951 10 kW Regular usage ADXN 6-79 8
1951 Jun 1 VLQ3 became VLQ9, VLM became VLM4 AR&E 77.11 6-51 29
1953 VLM 4917.5 kHz changed to 4920 kHz AMP RA 361
1968 BH4 10 kW STC installed AMP RA 361 ADXN 6-79 9
1974 May 5 New RA service PNG 11885 kHz 10 kW 0530-1000 RA Schedule
1976 May 2 On May 2 Brisbane deleted from RA service RA Schedule
1976 May 2 On May 2 Brisbane deleted from RA service ADXN
1976 May 2 RA Brisbane replaced by RA Carnarvon AMP RA 368
1979 Mar 12 Transmitter 3-1968 VLM heard on 4830, half 9660 ADXN 6-79 9
1979 Transmitter usage three units ADXN 6-79 8
1979 SW essential as back up program feed for MW in Q ADXN 6-79 8
1984 No plans to close Bald Hills SW instead will upgrade ADXN 1984
1993 Nov Announcement in Media Network VLQ to close Dec DXO 8-94 72
1993 Dec VLQ & VLM to close at year end AMP QSL card
1993 Dec 16 VLQ & VLM closed on Dec 16 as planned DXO 1-94 61
1993 Dec 17 VLQ & VLM closed on Dec 17 as planned DXO 2-94 64
1994 AMP article on closure Bald Hills & Wanneroo DXO 8-94 72
1994 BH3 (BH4) 1968 STC VLQ sold to VNG Llandilo NSW VNG letter
=============================================================

Bald HIlls Shortwave Transmitter Usage

Callsign & Frequency Usage

——————————————————————————————-
Call Unit kHz kW In Out
——————————————————————————————-
VLQ 1-1943 7240 10 1943 1946
VLQ2 1-1943 11870 10 1943 1943
1-1943 7210 10 1944 1944
1-1943 7215 10 1943 1946
VLQ3 1-1943 9660 10 1943 1951
VLQ4 1-1943 7280 10 1943 1943
VLQ9 1-1943 9660 10 1951 1980s
VLQ9 4-1968 9660 10 1968 1993

VLM 2-1949 4917.5 .2 1949 1951
VLM 3-1951 4917.5 10 1951 1951
VLM4 3-1951 4917.5 10 1951 1953
VLM4 3-1951 4920 10 1953 1993

RA 4-1968 11885 10 1974 1976
============================================================


ABC Home Service on Shortwave – Bald Hills

QSLs

—————————————————————————————–
Callsign kHz kW Year Date Holder Description
—————————————————————————————–
VLQ 7240 10 1946 Jan 21 AMP PMG card
VLQ2 7215 10 1945 Mar 17 AMP PMG card
VLQ3 9660 10 MTM PMG card
VLQ3 9660 10 1945 Mar 4 AMP PMG card
VLQ3 9660 10 1945 Sep 23 AMP PMG card
VLQ9 9660 10 1959 Sep 27 AMP White small map
VLQ9 9660 10 1977 Jun 17 AMP Small Queensland map
VLQ9 9660 10 1982 Apr 12 AMP RA sheet
VLQ9 9660 10 1982 Jul 16 AMP Blue small map
VLQ9 9660 10 1990 Sep 11 AMP White large map
VLQ9 9660 10 1991 Nov 19 AMP White large map
VLQ9 9660 10 1993 Nov 3 AMP White large map

VLM4 4917.5 10 1951 Jul 28 AWR White small map
VLM4 4920 10 1954 Jun 15 AMP White small map
VLM4 4920 10 1974 Apr 21 AMP Small Queensland map
VLM4 4920 10 1977 Jun 17 AMP Small Queensland map
VLM4 4920 10 1982 Jul 18 AMP Blue small map
VLM4 4920 10 1992 Apr 12 AMP RA sheet
VLM4 4920 10 1993 Nov 1 AMP White large map

RA 11885 10 1974 May 3 AMP Flannel Flower
10 AMP Kangaroo QSL card

VLM 6000 250 1993 Jul 3 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
VLM 9510 250 1992 Nov 11 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
VLM 9540 250 1992 Oct 20 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
VLM 11660 250 1994 Apr 6 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
VLM 15465 250 1990 Aug 29 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
VLM 21525 250 1993 Jul 4 AMP Form letter Carnarvon
===========================================================

Bald HIlls Transmitter Usage – 1979

By Callsign

—————————————————————————————–
Call kHz Transmitter kW On air Usage Off air Maintenance
—————————————————————————————–
VLM4 4920 1-1951 10 Regular Tue 2235 – 0055
3-1968 10 Tue 2235 – 0055 BH-3 fill in for BH-1

VLQ9 9660 3-1968 10 Regular Wed 2235 – 0055
2-1943 10 Tue 2235 – 0055 BH-2 fill in for BH-3
2-1943 10 Wed 2235 – 0055 BH-2 fill in for BH-3
==========================================================

Bald HIlls Transmitter Usage – 1979

By Transmitter

—————————————————————————————-
Transmitter Callsign kHz kW On air Usage Off air Maintenance
—————————————————————————————-
BH1-1951 VLM4 4920 10 Regular Tue 2235 – 0055
BH2-1943 VLQ9 9660 10 Tue 2235 – 0055 BH-2 fill in for BH-3
BH2-1943 VLQ9 9660 10 Wed 2235 – 0055 BH-2 fill in for BH-3
BH3-1968 VLQ9 9660 10 Regular Tue 2235 – 0055
BH3-1968 VLM4 4920 10 Tue 2235 – 0055 BH-3 fill in for BH-1
==========================================================


Bald HIlls Transmitter Usage – 1943 to 1994

—————————————————————————————
Transmitter Model kW In Out Service & Usage
—————————————————————————————-
1st STC A880A 10 1943 1968 VLQ service only
1968 1980s VLQ emergency and fill-in only
2nd PMG .2 1949 1951 VLM interim usage before 10 kW installed
3rd STC 4SU12A 10 1951 1994 VLM service only
4th STC 4SU488 10 1968 1994 VLQ regular, and VLM emergency and fill-in
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