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Enquiry from Kerry Adams

23 Aug 11
Peter Bull

Message from Kerry Adams

Brian Woods kindly sent me some info on Thursday Island but I have some more questions which our members may be able to answer:

  1. When did Telstra close the remaining stations?
  2. How the New Zealand (TVNZ?) contract came into being? I only heard rumours of happenings after I closed Doonside and Bringelly and retired.
  3. Are there only the following 2 stations left? – Charleville (QLD) and Wiluna (WA).
  4. I’m interested to know about them technically and are they remotely controlled from somewhere else (AMSA Canberra??).
    What frequencies do they cover? Satellite services? etc.
  5. What is the general setup now for GMDSS and coastal operations?

Please post your comments to answer Kerry’s questions.


  1. Peter Bull August 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    From Kevan Bourke

    Hi Kerry,

    Much of the information you want to know can be obtained from the AMSA site –

    I work in the Inmarsat area and had a bit to do with coastal radio in my early years with OTC and a bit more to do with VIP in the early 90’s. If you don’t get all the answers from others I can research and come up with info but I’m there will be guys out there who can answer your questions off the top of their heads. I can furnish you with info related to Inmarsat as I was initially heavily involved with Inmarsat A,B,C, M and mini M. I now look after the RF systems and don’t have much to do with the newer Inmarsat products.

    Feel free to get back to me if you have any questions.


  2. Peter Bull August 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    More from Kevan Bourke

    I just remembered this site run by Peter Hewitson – You’ll find the dates VIP was closed along with other bits and pieces.

  3. Peter Bull August 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Response from Noel Sutherland

    Following web pages will provide info requested by Kerry on the old CRS stations:

    The info on the GMDSS channels can be obtained from the AMSA web page:

    If he needs further info on these stations or the newer TVNZ stations he can call me at work o7 54294006 or send me an email

  4. Peter Bull August 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Message from Matt O’Neill

    Re the AMSA GMDSS network – there are two stations one at Charleville QLD and the other in Wiluna WA.
    They are remotely controlled by the operators in Canberra.

    The frequencies of operation are in the 2 to 22MHz band using Barrett Rx’ and Transworld 1K transmitters – the Bureau of Meteorology has also a suite of transmitters co located and broadcast automatically using text to voice.

    There is no voice watchkeeping just DSC to fulfill GMDSS international obligations. The GMDSS operations centre in Canberra is housed in the same building as AMSA and is close to the search and rescue centre.

    Both sites are connected to Canberra by a mixture of Ku and C band satellite dishes with a back up site also in Canberra.

    Transmit and receive sites in both locations which are interconnected by microwave dishes to the sites in Charlieville are about 5 Km out of town and have mains connections plus diesel backup.

    Wiluna Tx site gets its power from the site it shares with a Gold Mine (used to be Newmont) and the Receive site is a few miles out of the town of Wiluna with Solar power and battery and diesel backup.

    The contract for GMDSS was put out to tender and TVNZ were successful …Telstra Boeing and a few others were also involved.

    I was the operations manager in Telstra and was involved in the bid process and when it was all done and dusted to cut a long story short took up a position in AMSA to manage and advise on the build of the new network.

    The State Governments took responsibility for non GMDSS vessels (i.e. under 300 tons) and each state set up its own local network operating on 4125, 6215 and 8291 voiced monitoring.

    In WA water police has two stations one in Fremantle and the other at Port Hedland ….Station in Darwin run by Port Operations personnel….two stations in Qld Cairns and Gladstone operated by MSQ

    Flight Service in Brisbane also were in the picture for a while operating some stations also in NSW. The State government has now transferred operations to TVNZ in Canberra.

    Victoria is operation from Point Lonsdale and Tasmania is run by a mixture of State and Volunteer people ….SA was run by RFDS from Port Augusta.

    Politics played a major part in all of this and that included the shift in Telstra policy and new management at the time.

    Note the focus has moved away from conventional radio and EPIRB’s (406MHZ) now play an increasing role in SAR especially since the phasing out of 121MHZ beacons.

    I am a bit hazy as to when the telstra network finally closed ….think it was around 2002..

  5. Peter Bull August 31, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Response from John Burdinat

    All the answers to Kerry’s questions are in the Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) book which is issued to people doing this course. Any local Volunteer Coast Guard station would have a current copy of this for him to look at. I have a copy at home but am presently on holidays in France.
    If Kerry has no luck getting info by October he can email me (email address of JPB can be obtained from and I can give him the details but from memory he is correct in that Wiluna and Charlieville are the only 2 stations for HF comms and both are operated from a room in the same centre of AMSA in Canberra. They do not transmit on MF which includes 2MHz. They do all other HF bands and exact freqs are in a table at rear of the MROCP book. VHF is covered by individual State authorities and each does it differently.
    In Qld we use some local Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue bases as well as some Qld Transport bases at major ports.
    I am unable to assist re the NZTV contract.

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