Blog Detail

Bribie Island

28 Jan 16
Peter Bull

Bribie IslandPeter Grove wrote:

I visited Bribie Island last week at the end of my Queensland holiday but couldn’t find any mention of a radio station on local maps, and I’m wondering if anyone could clarify the situation?

I am trying to recall when in OTC Supply purchasing and sending/shipping goods to a Coastal Radio Station (CRS) which was – I think – on Bribie Island Road, Ningi; via Caboolture.

I’ve also found some comments by Neil Yakalis on Robert Brand’s exotc site about Lindley Deslandes, retiring after 42 Years Service (Neil was apparently a former workmate). The item begins: “Lindley Deslandes is retiring from Telstra Managed Radio Ningi Qld after 42 years service on Tuesday 14th August 2012.”

Neil’s comments include, “Later when Doonside was in the process of closing in January 1996 he [Lindley Deslandes] moved his family to Qld. In moving he followed the transfer of transmitters to Ningi & remote receivers onto Bribie Island.”

The “1996” reference probably explains why I couldn’t find anything about Bribie Island Radio in the five archive books that were produced at the time of the OTC-Telecom merger (1992).

Was there, in fact, ever a “Bribie Island Radio” or was it always “Radio Ningi”?

Anyway,  I think it was a coast radio station.  But, if not, what purpose did it serve and how does it fit into the history of OTC?

And finally(!), does anyone know where on Bribie Island the remote receivers are located and/or whether the facility is included in any of the island’s museums and/or “historic sites”?

Location of Brisbaneradio












Photo courtesy of Lindsay Deslandes


  1. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:09 am

    The OTC maritime station is still there at 881-911 Bribie Island Rd Ningi. You have to drive right past it to get to Bribie Island. Ningi is on the mainland and about 6km from Bribie Island. The station still has the Brisbane Coast Radio sign on the front wall. Peter should have called in when he was there. There are still some OTC people about.
    This site has been refurbished in the last couple of years and repurposed but there is still some HF stuff operating. The antennas are all still there.
    I know they had a remote RX site on Bribie, and Noel would know all about this. I am sure Noel Sutherland will be able to tell Peter all about it.
    Bruce Boardman

  2. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:10 am

    As far as I recall, Bribie Island housed “Brisbane Radio” CRS station for SOLAS & Ship-Shore calls.
    I believe the duties were taken over by the LaPa boys at Sydney Radio La Perouse.
    Maybe some ex LaPa people can shed some light ??
    David Scott

  3. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I can certainly provide more clarification – but in brief:
    1. The station was called Brisbane Radio (callsign VIB) and it was (and still is) physically located on Bribie Island Rd, Ningi.
    2. The transmitters were co-located with the Ningi buildings, and the receivers were remotely located in the much quieter Bribie Island.
    3. A complete ICO satellite Earth Station was also constructed in the HF antenna farm at Ningi, although with the early demise of ICO, this never entered commercial operation. The satellite antennas and equipment eventually fell into disrepair
    4. The Ningi buildings are still there and manned 24 hours a day. Apart from some existing traditional HF lease circuits, there is also Space Weather Service (previously Ionospheric Prediction Service) ionosonde at the site, and also a large Telstra NOC that I am intimately involved with.
    Tim Jensen

  4. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:11 am

    “Bribie Island Radio” was actually Brisbaneradio, call sign VIB, which was part of the OTC/Telstra Coastal Radio Service. It was located on the Bribie Island Road, approximately half way between the highway and Bribie Island. I was a Radio Officer at VIB from 1988 to 1992. I am sure you will hear from others who will be able to fill in some of the details of the changes after 1992. The station was on a large plot of land, I really cannot remember but it was many acres. I think the receive site was on the VIB site and the transmitt site was located on Bribie Island. Both sites are probably be houses now but it was just bush in those days. Some time after I left VIB was expanded and there was a customer service centre located there for a while and at some point there were plans for something to do with it becoming a satellite station site. But it never really took off properly from my recollections. If Mike Elliott is in the vets he will be able to fill in some technical details because he was based there after all the expansions. John Burdinet (probably got the spelling wrong) was also a tech at VIB.
    When I was at VIB it was a humble Coastal Radio Station. It most definitely did exist and it existed for many years. Knowing the OTC Vets “family” I think you will be inundated with info.
    Maree Giddins

  5. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Mobile Radio and Satellite Services (ex maritime) management made a decision to move Sydney radio operations to Ningi in 1994. A year of planning plus construction and the old Brisbane Radio site at Ningi was transformed into a Mega site with radio operators, customer service section, marketing people and of course most important the technical staff. The place was partly operational by early 1996 while installation of GMDSS and Radphone rooms continued.
    Neil Yakalis played a big role in design and installation of those consoles. At the same time the Fleetcoms service was expanding and the exchange was moved to Ningi. Seaphone was doing well at the time with still some expansion planned.
    In those days Fleetcoms and Maritime were separate and I supervised the Maritime techs while Bob Perkins looked after Fleetcoms. Noel Sutherland was the Technical Manager for Queensland. By the time I retired we were down to 3 techs with a Team leader off site.
    The HF receiving site was originally planned for Teewah just north of Noosa but the practicality and costs soon made that prohibitive. Fortunately we found a low noise HF site on Bribie Island after doing a deal with the University of Queensland.
    This is not the place to explain what that deal was. Anyway the result was probably the best HF receiver site ever built in Australia with a full circle array of directional Vee antenna’s plus omni directional biconicals. We were still doing MF on Morse so a simple MF vertical was used and of course a 2 MHz fan aerial for GMDSS. The site was located in a national park and this part was not open to the public. The HF services were GMDSS HF and MF, Digital Selective Calling ( DSC), Radphone, Radphone Direct Dial (RDD), Skincom’s, Qantas HF and the Brisbane Ionsonde
    The Brisbane radio site on 881 Bribie Island Rd had backup receivers using a TWD antenna. Dansk receivers were used for Radphone ,Qantas and Skincom’s while GMDSS used Codan 7004’s. RDD had Codan 8528 radios.
    A 10GHz link to Ningi carried the traffic backed up by a fibre optic cable. As the HF services declined and we lost the GMDSS contract the Bribie Receiver site was dismantled. The hut was stored at Ningi for many years and it might still be there.
    Interesting part is that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approached us about a year later asking if they could use our HF site. Sorry mate, too late.

    I will be pleased to answer any questions or provide a few photos that I think I still have
    Lindley Deslandes

  6. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

    To All,
    Peter Hewitson put together this great website a few years back.

    Here’s Peter at the VIB GMDSS console
    Full credit to Peter for the hours he spent of his own time documenting our radio past so it will never be forgotten.

  7. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:28 am

    The radio station Peter is referring to was Brisbane Coast Radio Station (VIB) later Brisbane Maritime Communications Station and has never been called Radio Bribie Island nor Ningi Radio. It was one of 13 CRS stations around the coast of Australia, namely, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Esperance, Perth, Geraldton, Broome, Darwin, Thursday Island, Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane Radios.
    It existed purely for Ship to Shore communications on MF, HF and VHF frequencies for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and commercial traffic.
    It had a staff of approximately 10 Radio Officers including the Manager and the maintenance was done by Radio Technical Officers from Sydney then later from Townsville until mid 1990 when a permanent Tech position was established at VIB, occupied by me, because the VHF Seaphone service had been expanded around the coastline and required considerably more maintenance and a faster response time to failures.
    Around 1992 OTC bought out another communications company in Brisbane to obtain the frequencies required to expand into the Trunk Radio field and another tech. position was established and steadily the Trunk Radio system was developed and numerous other technical positions created, led by Bob (Polly) Perkins.
    Around 1994 the decision was made to move all the Sydney MCS operations to Ningi as part of a project called the East Coast Consolidation Project. At this stage the station building was expanded to accommodate many Transmitters, Equipment and Personnel from Sydney including many Technical, Operating and Clerical staff as well as a Customer Service Centre. A remote Receiver Station was built on Bribie Island and linked by Microwave to Ningi.
    This receive station was accessed along the road beside the Woolworths Shopping centre at Bellara around 3km past Woolies on the right, and it was in fact a Queensland University radio site used to test the Ionosphere. The Technical staff were managed By Noel Sutherland who is still the sites manager today, the Trunking Network was supervised by Bob Perkins and the Radio Network supervised by Lindley Deslandes. Many engineering staff performed installation work over a number of years including Neil Yakalis, Pat Scuglia, Raoul Velcich, John Bellingham and many others.
    The station continued for a short period like this until another expansion occurred with the planned implementation of the ICO satellite system. Again the building was hugely extended around 1997 with large diesel generators, Earth Station terminal equipment and Tracking, Telemetry Control equipment as well as a number of mid sized satellite dishes (3 I think) and this installation was still progressing when I took the package and left in Sept. 1998.
    John Burdinat

  8. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I worked at Brisbane radio, VIB , to install the vhf seaphone and solar services
    The HF transmit equipment was housed at Ningi about half way between the Bruce highway and Bribie Island with the remote receivers about 10 mins away on Bribie
    The normal practice was to use two frequency working so the receivers only needed to be far enough away to prevent desensing. The VHF equipment was mounted at ocean view and is still installed on the mountain to site I think that the coast guard use the solas frequencies
    Mike Tobin

  9. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Yep – Chris is right. There was never a Bribie Island Radio. It was always Brisbane Radio (VIB) and whilst the HF/VHF radio station’s been closed for several years now, the building & associated land (where the HF Transmit aerials were located – the Receive antenna were remotely located on Bribie Is – designed by Ross Beaumont & to my knowledge still there?)..
    There’s a bust of Marconi (or was) decorating the entrance to the building that’s nowadays owned by Telstra & home nowadays to (I think) Trunk Radio plus 5 former ICO Mobile Satellite earth stations that never did ‘fire up’ due to the financial demise of ICO. Address is Bribie Island Road, Ningi Qld 4511 – midway along the road to Bribie Is.

    I’ve taken the liberty of CC’g in Noel Sutherland who (I think) is still there & also former OTC/Telstra employee Mike Elliott. Both have a long association with VIB and live on Bribie Island (albeit, when Mike’s not resident Sydney working for STEP Electronics).
    Both Mike & Noel would have a closer history with VIB & what it’s currently being used for nowadays.
    Cheers’nBeers, Jim

  10. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:39 am

    The Marconi Bust now resides at the Telstra Telecommunications Museum in Clayfield.
    Noel Sutherland

  11. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I remember that VIB (coastal radio) worked out of Ningli in those later years. I think the earlier location of VIB was Pinkenbah. Sorry chaps but that’s stretching the memory a little. Dean Laws may be able to add a little to your tale.
    Cheers Bernie – ye olde bloke.

  12. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 8:58 am

    It has been confirmed by “the old blokes on the daily radio sked” that VIB was located at Pinkenbah before moving to Ningi.
    Geoff Whitmore

  13. Terry January 28, 2016 at 10:18 am

    In 1967, Jim Hulme, myself, Cliff Wilkinson and Danny Dywer, being the 4 OTC trainee techs at DCA techs school at Brisbane Airport, were taken for a tour of the old Pinkenbah coastal radio station. It had recently been vacated for Ningi and appeared to be complete. It appeared to me as if it had been built by Marconi himself. All brass instruments and bakellite. If it had been kept intact, it would have been a fabulous museum today. One of the DCA techs was later called out to do some work at Ningi and had the bright idea to call Trevor Sherrard, the school principal to see if the OTC boys would be interested in a visit to Ningi.. Would we ever? a day’s excursion beats lessons any day. I don’t know about the others but I ended up climbing to the top of one of the triangular frame aerials. It only took me 3 attempts before I saw the top of the plate welded on top. No safety equipment then, HO would probably have had a fit if they knew what we were doing., like they had when they found out we were driving DCA cars on airport taxi ways with no OTC liability insurance.. Thanks Cliff for trying to claim that DCA driving allowance !!!
    Terry Hulme

  14. Peter Bull January 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I was a very junior engineer in the 1960’s and worked on the design and construction of the antennas for original Caboolture (Bribie Island) Coast Radio Station, which was on the road to Bribie Is. At that time both the transmitting and receiving equipment were on the same site, although the antennas were about one kilometre apart. I think Ron Lukin and/or Peter Phillips were/was the engineer/s responsible for the equipment part of the design/installation. Lionel Curran (Eng. 4) and Doug Temperley (Eng. 3 ?) were our supervisors. I think the station site was on the northern side of the road to Bribie Is. but I am not sure of how far from the Is.
    During the installation my wife, Colleen, and our daughter of about 8 months stayed at a very small tourist/fishing township on Bribie Is., just over the bridge. This was essential as all accommodation was on B.I at that time although I believe there was a dirt road around to the ocean side of the Is.
    I have two main memories of that time:
    1. My daughter repeatedly crawling into the sea and having to be rescued as the water began to lap over her mouth; she kept going though until stopped.
    2. The mosquitoes at the station site were the size of 747’s and could plug you through several layers of clothing !
    Thanks for the memory.
    Geoff Oldman

  15. Peter Bull January 29, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Thanks for this.
    It reminded me that this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Brisbane Radio facility at Ningi (in those days the area was called Toorbul).
    May 6th 1966 was the official opening and transfer of services from the old Pinkenba radio site to the Ningi site.
    I will have to arrange an anniversary celebration. Good excuse to get all the old staff together.
    Noel Sutherland

Leave A Comment