News

Push for museum at Shepparton’s Radio Australia site

By John Lewis

Amateur radio enthusiasts are pushing for the former site of Radio Australia in Shepparton North to be upgraded and retained as a national museum of radio broadcast history.

Members of the Shepparton and District Amateur Radio Club and The Vintage Radio Club of North East Victoria are due to present a 25-page proposal to an anonymous consortium of buyers said to be interested in acquiring a 258ha block of land along Verney Rd.

The block includes two buildings and several large broadcast towers on the former site of Radio Australia. The site is currently owned by BAI Communications.

The Shepparton club's assistant secretary, Geoff Angus, said the proposal would be presented to Greater Shepparton City Council for forwarding to the consortium.

The ABC shut down the shortwave radio station in January 2017 after 70 years of broadcasting across Australia and the Pacific region. The decision was heavily criticised at the time by radio enthusiasts and federal senators including South Australian NXT Party leader Nick Xenophon.

It was put up for sale later that year, with an online listing describing the site as "a significant land banking opportunity" in a growth area of Shepparton.

The former Radio Australia site at north Shepparton is the only radio transmission site in Australia where the original broadcast towers are still standing.

The clubs’ lengthy proposal for a national radio museum at the site includes several suggestions for potential exhibitions, such as a history of shortwave broadcasting in Australia; the establishment of the Radio Australia site in 1941; documenting the locations and signal reach of the original antennas; displays of restored radio transmitters from across Australia; and displays of television equipment from the former studios of GMV6 and HSV7, which are held in storage in Shepparton.

The proposal also suggests the site could feature interactive displays based on STEM subjects for the benefit of school students.

Shepparton and District Amateur Radio Club members last month held a demonstration of the site's capabilities when they successfully "bounced" radio signals off the surface of the moon.

The 25-page proposal includes a request to include radio terms such as Kilowatt Ave, Rhombic Crt, Transmitter Park and Antenna Dve as well as the names of former Radio Australia staff during the naming of streets and parks in future housing developments in the area.

The former South Australian Senator Nick Xenephon at the locked gates of Shepparton's Radio Australia site in 2017 after criticising the ABC decision to shut down shortwave radio broadcasts from the site.

Shepparton and District Amateur Radio Club president Peter Rentsch says in the proposal's opening statement the Shepparton site is the largest intact HF radio transmitter site in the country.

“After 75 years of service it deserves to be preserved and retained as a museum, more importantly an interactive museum for Shepparton, the Goulburn Valley and future generations,” Mr Rentsch said.

He said Radio Australia was the only site in Australia where the original broadcasting towers were still standing.

“All other high-frequency transmitting sites in Australia have either been demolished with little or nothing remaining to indicate a station location, or only the buildings remain as a reminder of our early radio communications,” Mr Rentsch said.

For more information about the Shepparton and District Amateur Radio Club visit www.sadarc.org.au