VLR Lyndhurst Anniversary

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

Australia’s First Government Shortwave Station

It was on Monday March 12, 1934, that the first shortwave station operated by the Australian government began a regular broadcast service to the outback areas. Last Friday was the 70th anniversary of this significant radio event in the history of Australia and on this occasion here in Wavescan we present the story of this radio station, VLR in Lyndhurst Victoria.

Actually, the history of radio station VLR goes way back before the year 1934, six years further back in fact. It was in the year 1928 that a small locally made shortwave transmitter was installed in a small galvanized iron shed on the summit of a small hill in a country farming area at Lyndhurst, some 40 KM southeast of Melbourne.

This experimental transmitter was constructed by Post Office engineers and it emitted just 600 watts, usually on the 31 metre band frequency 9580 kHz. The broadcast callsign was VK3LR though when the transmitter was on the air with experimental transmissions, the callsign was VK3XX.

Programming from this low-powered transmitter duriing this era was a composite relay from the two government mediumwave stations in Melbourne, 3LO & 3AR, hence the composite callsign, 3LR. In addition, there were several notable broadcasts from this transmitter that were prepared specifically for the outback, for the Pacific Islands and even further afield.

In 1934, a new and substantial building was erected on the same property at Lyndhurst to house the shortwave transmitter which was rebuilt for the occasion. On March 12, transmitter VLR was re-activated with a regular relay for outback areas using a composite program format from 3LO & 3AR.

It was in December 1936 that a regular bulletin of news in the French language was introduced for listeners in the French islands in the Pacific, and in December 1937, the experimental callsign, VK3LR was regularized to VLR.

Right at the end of the year 1939, shortwave VLR was taken into the inaugural service of “Australia Calling” and it continued in use with a relay of the programming of Radio Australia until the 10 kW VLG was inaugurated on June 21 1941. From this time onwards, VLR was in use only for the ABC National Service with programming for the benefit of isolated listeners in the outback areas of Australia.

In the 1950s, a larger building was constructed around the current building at Lyndhurst and the old one was removed. At this stage, three new RCA transmitters were installed, each rated at 10 kW and the original VLR unit was retired. These new units were American navy transmitters and they were modified for broadcast usage. Then, in the 1980s, eight STC transmitters were installed, and any program service could be fed to any transmitter.

The original low powered VLR transmitter was on the air for a period of 29 years stretching from 1928 to 1956 when the navy transmitters were installed. From that time onwards, it is probable that all 11 of the 10 kW transmitters at Lyndhurst carried the VLR service on a rotational basis, at least on some occasions.

With the proliferation of television and the satellite delivery of radio programming over Australia, the ABC shortwave service from VLR was declared redundant and it was closed at 1402 UTC on Friday June 12 1987, at the end of nearly 60 years of international on-air radio coverage.

The original specific QSL cards verifying the reception of VLR were issued by the PMG department in two different designs. Later, the ABC also issued specific QSL cards for VLR in two different designs. When the ABC introduced a standard design QSL card for all of its relay stations throughout Australia, these cards were also issued to confirm the reception of the shortwave unit, VLR.

ABC Shortwave VLR at Lyndhurst

References

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Year Date Call kW kHz Reference
———————————————————————————————————
1921 VLR Callsign “Marama” Union Steamship, NZ YBWT&T 1921
1928 3LR .6 Experimental work at Lyndhurst tin shed on hillRB 79.30 9
1929 3LR .6 Australian callsigns ammended with VK prefix VK4HB 161
1931 VK3LR .6 Callsign changed from 3LR to VK3LR WW 4-11-31 34
1931 Nov VK3LR (5770) 52 m ABC relays heard Australia-wide LI 79.23 14-11-31 60
1931 Nov 5 VK3LR 5800 England S Aust cricket comment LI 79.23 26-11-32 53
1931 Nov VK3LR .6 Relay 3LO & 3AR, RR RQ WW 79.1 4-12-31 34
1931 End VK3LR More consistent relays of 3LO & 3AR AMP RA
1932 Mar VK3LR (6000) 50 m Tandem relay with VK3ME cricket LI 79.23 11-3-33 57
1932 Apr VK3LR .6 51 m (5885) Relay 3AR (2 kW in aerial) WW 79.1 15-4-32 18
1933 May VK3LR Participation in AWA South Seas Broadcast LI 3-6-33 54
1933 Oct VHQ Calling 3LR, tests in NW Tasmania LI 79.23 4-11-33 60
1933 Mar 5 VK3LR 9580 New sked, tests for outback areas LI 79.23 11-8-34 58
1934 Mar 12 VK3LR .6 9580 Regular schedule on 9580 began AMP RA 218
1934 Mar 12 VK3LR .6 Half wave horizontal doublet antenna AMP RA 218
1934 Oct VK3LR Plans to extend SW service LI 79.23 20-10-34 1
1934 Oct VK3XX 1 9580 Test broadcasts on higher power LI 79.23 20-10-34 53
1934 VK3LR .6 9580 Many notable broadcasts in 1934 LI 79.23 12-1-35 34
1935 VK3LR .6 New building new location new transmitter AMP RA 125
1935 Mar VK3LR .6 Station Profile, upgraded transmitter LI 79.23 16-5-36 14
1936 Early VK3LR .6 New transmitter began at reduced power AMP RA 218
1936 VK3LR .6 9580 Regular scheduling listed LI 79.23 3-10-36 38
1936 VK3LR .6 Lyre Bird at sign on, MN GPO clock LI 79.23 17-10-36 1
1936 VK3LR 1 Power increase planned LI 79.23 7-11-36 62
1936 Dec VK3LR 1 French to Pacific commenced ABCR 1936-37
1937 VK3LR 1 Power increase & new antenna planned LI 27-2-37 56
1937 Dec 1 VLR 1 Callsign regularized LI 79.24 27-22-37 27
1937 VLR 1 Antenna slightly west of north ABC Report 1937-38
1937 VLR 1 Program service for outback & PNG ABC Report 1937-38
1938 VLR 1 New 2 kW transmitter planned additional channels ABCR
1938 Mid VLR 2 New transmitter under construction LI 79.24 30-7-37 32
1938 Oct 1 VLR 2 Modified, power increased to 2 kW LI 79.24 1-10-38 27
1938 Oct 1 VLR 2 6140 9580 11880 3 antennas LI 79.24 1-10-38 27
1939 May VLR 2 VLR 9580 & VLR3 11880 R&H 79.11 5-39 58
1939 VLR 2 New 10 kW transmitter planned ABCR 1938-39
1939 Sep 2 VLR 2 Only SW station remaining on air AMP RA 126
1939 Oct VLR 2 VLR 9580 & VLR3 11880 LI 79.24 1939
1939 Dec 20 VLR 2 VLR to begin with Australia Calling LI 79.24 15-12-39 11
1940 Jan VLR 2 11850 VLR3 temporarily on 11850 R&H 77.10 2-40 53
1940 VLR 2 9580 9580 RA service to DEI & East Asia R&H 77.10 5-40 59
1940 VLR 2 11830 New VLR6 11830 R&H 79.19 11-40 55
1940 VLR 2 11840 VLR7 11840 replaces VLR6 R&H 77.10 12-40 53
1940 VLR 2 11760 VLR8 11760 replaces VLR7 R&H 77.10 5-41 57
1941 Jun 21 VLG 10 New 10 kW inaugurated ABCR 1940-41
1941 VLG 10 VLR3 & 4 (VLG5 & 6) to N America R&H 77.10 7-41 57
1941 Aug 24 VLG 10 New 10 kW callsign changed to VLG AMP RA 219
1945 VLR 2 Final listing for VLR8 R&H 77.10 8-45 38
1946 Jan 21 VLH 10 New 10 kW inaugurated AMP RA 219
1946 Jan 21 VLR 2 VLR 9540 & VLR2 6150 new schedule LI 79.24 2-2-46
1946 Jan VLR 5 Power reduced to 5 kW (?) ADXN 5-77
1947 VLR 2 Listing in WRHB as 2 kW WRHB 1947 60
1949 VLR 2 Listing in WRHB as 2 kW WRHB 1949 60
1950 VLR 5 Listing in WRHB as 5 kW WRHB 1950 70
1950s Late VLR New building constructed over old AMP RA 337
1951 Jun 1 VLR 5 Numeric designator changed to MHz band AR&E 77.11
1956 PMG 10 3 @ 10 kW installed, RCA from battleships RB 79.30 9
1961 RA 10 Usage of callsigns discontinued AMP RA 339
1962 VLR 5 Listing in WRHB as 5 kW WRHB 1962 145
1963 VLR 10 Listing in WRTVHB as 10 kW WRTVHB 1963 155
1966 PMG 10 8 at 10 kW installed progressively RB 70.30 9
1987 Jun 12 VLR 10 Closed at 1402 UTC ADXN 7-87 9
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ABC Shortwave VLR at Lyndhurst

QSLs

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Call kW kHz Year Date Holder Description
———————————————————————————————————
3LR 1 9580 Hocken PMG card, 3LR on map
3LR 1 9580 1936 Feb 21 AWR Regular PMG card
VLR 2 9580 1945 Oct 22 AMP ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR2 2 6150 1946 Jan 21 AMP ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR2 2 1947 Apr 5 AMP ABC letter
VLR2 5 1948 Aug 7 AWR ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR3 2 1945 Jan 7 MTM ABC card, VLR bold
VLR3 2 1945 Jan 14 MTM ABC card, VLR bold
VLR3 2 11880 1945 Mar 17 AMP ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR3 5 9540 1946 Jan 21 AMP ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR3 5 11880 1946 Jan 22 AMP ABC card, VLR shadow
VLR6 10 6150 1975 Jun 26 AMP ABC card
VLR6 10 6150 1975 Jul 8 AMP Small blue map
VLR6 10 6150 1977 Jun 17 AMP Large green map
VLR9 10 9680 1959 Sep 27 AMP Small white map
VLR9 10 9680 1963 Nov 24 AMP Small white map
VLR9 10 9680 1977 Jun 16 AMP Large green map

RA-VLR 2 9580 1939 Dec 30 AWR Form letter Sydney ABC
RA-VLR 2 9580 1940 Aug 22 AWR Orange kangaroo card
RA-VLR 2 9580 1941 Jul 28 AWR Orange kangaroo card
RA-VLR 2 9580 1942 May 3 AWR Orange kangaroo card
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ABC Shortwave VLR at Lyndhurst

Callsigns & Frequency Usage

———————————————————————————————————–
Station Call kW kHz In Out Location
———————————————————————————————————–
Ship VLR 1920s 1920s Marama

PMG 3LR .6 9580 1928 1931 Lyndhurst
VK3LR .6 9580 1931 1937
VK3LR .6 50 m 1931 1933
VK3XX .6 9580 1934 1934

ABC VLR 1 9580 1937 1938 Lyndhurst
VLR 1 11880 1937 1938
VLR 2 6140 1938 1939
VLR 2 9580 1938 1939
VLR(1) 2 9580 1939 1946
VLR 2 11880 1938 1939
VLR3 2 11880 1939 1946
VLR3 2 11850 1940 1940
VLR6 2 11830 1940 1940
VLR7 2 11840 1940 1941
VLR8 2 11760 1941 1945
VLR(1) 5 9540 1946 1949
VLR2 5 6150 1946 1949
VLR2 5 6150 1946 1951
VLR3 5 11880 1946 1951
VLR6 5 6150 1951 1956
VLR9 5 9680 1951 1956
VLR9 5 9540 1951 1953
VLR6 10 6150 1956 1987
VLR9 10 9680 1956 1987
VLR3-VLG5 10 11880 1941 1941 Redesignated as VLG5
VLR4-VLG6 10 15230 1941 1941 Redesignated as VLG

RA VLR 2 9580 1939 1941 Lyndhurst

RA VLR Line feed
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ABC Shortwave VLR at Lyndhurst

VLR Transmitters

————————————————————————————————————–
No kW Call Location In Out Observations
————————————————————————————————————–
1 .6 3LR 1. Tin shed 1928 1934 PMG transmitter
.6 VK3LR 2. New building 1934 1937 Transmitter upgraded
2 1 VLR 2. New building 1937 1938 Transmitter rebuilt
2 VLR 2. New building 1938 1946 Transmitter modified
2 RA 2. New building 1939 1941 Radio Australia relay
5 VLR 2. New building 1946 1956 Transmitter adjusted
3-5 10 ABC-RA 3. Modern building 1956 1966 RCA from USA battleships
16-23 10 ABC-RA 3. Modern building 1966 1987 8 STC @ 10 kW

10 VLR-VLG 2. New building 1941 1941 Call changed to VLG Aug
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