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VID and VJY - in the Sea and in the Bush*

After the Titanic tragedy the SOLAS Convention required certain ships to keep a permanent radio watch. In Australia the Coast Radio Service was established in 1911. At establishment Telefunken 25KW Spark Gap Transmitters and Crystal Detectors were used but these were later replace in the 1920's by 'Valve' sets. Short Wave (High Frequency) was introduced along with two-way radio telephone to increase ranges.

Darwin Radio "VID" began on the 25th September 1913 based at "Frogs Hollow". In WWII the station was hit by Japanese bombs but survived. In 1947 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) OTC (A) took over responsibility for the network. In 1952 operations were transferred to Parap.

During Cyclone Tracy in 1974 the station was off air for almost a week as the antennas were damaged.

VID operated the Outpost Radio Service, "VJY" providing communications for cattle stations and remote localities in the Northern Territory and Queensland. VJY was taken over by the Post Office in the early nineteen seventies and later St. John Ambulance. Manned operations closed in June 1999 with the upgrading of all outposts to satellite communications and the station officially closed on the 30th of June 2002 along with other coast radio stations.

Coast Radio Darwin*

'Darwin Radio' marine coast radio station opened in 1913. From 1952 to 2002 it was located at Gregory Steet in Parap with remote receivers at Shoal Bay. In 2002 it was replaced by 'Coast Radio, Darwin' which is funded by the NT Government.

The OTC/Telstra Coast Radio Network was financed by the Commonwealth under the Community Service Obligation funding which in the 1990's was about 8 million dollars per anum. A professional operator cadre also operated Morse Code services for merchant ships and radiotelephone service on the 'Small Ships' channels of 2182, 4125 and 6215.5 kHz. A VHF network known as 'Seaphone' operated through about 50 remote VHF sites around Australia.

In the early 1990s the HF Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSSS) was used on HF frequencies at 8,12 and 16 MHz and operations were rationalised to Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane (Hobart, Adelaide, Esperance, Broome, Carnarvon, Thursday Island and Rockhampton were closed in 1992). Later stations were established at Wiluna (WA) and Charleville (QLD) which were remotely controlled by the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

These stations are for Digital Select Calling (DSC) signals on channels from 4-16 MHz but an agreement with state governments in NSW, Victoria and SA has a voice watch kept on the 4125, 6215, 8291 and 12290 kHz radiotelephone distress frequencies. Stations operated at Darwin, Innisfail, Gladstone, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth and Port Headland. Maritime Safety Information (MSI) is broadcast on 8176 kHz. In Darwin a VHF distress/safety channel (channel 16) is monitored.


  • 100 watt Codan NGT radio (Trio link transceiver) - 4, 6 and 8 MHz channels. Located remotely at Darwin River Dam and connected to NT House via a 900 MHz link. Backup battery and power supply on site. The HF Antenna is a dual delta.

  • Two Tait VHF radios - one for channel 16 (distress and safety) and one for channel 67 (working). Located at NT House.

  • Both are interfaced to a Zetron radio control system linked to the Port Control building via a line of sight microwave link. A touch screen controller provides remote control.

*The VID article and coast radio article need to be merged.

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