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WIA Centenary DVD

WIA Centenary Celebrations
January - December 2010

Historical Information

About The WIA Centenary

Celebrating the centenary of organised amateur radio in Australia.

The celebration is recognition of the foundation of the WIA and the very start of organised amateur radio in Australia during 1910. It has also helped to focus renewed attention on the early history of amateur radio in this country through careful research in a way not previously known to have occurred. For the full year being January through December 2010 and with the help of it's members, the WIA will celebrate the Centenary of organised Amateur Radio in Australia.

The beginnings

Prior to the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905 there was no real regulatory control of the radio spectrum, although early demonstrations and experimentation began in Australia in the late 1890s.

At the time the government wanted to protect its revenue from the wired telegraph system and initially considered wireless telegraphy to be of little use, but it then became useful for ship to shore communications. Private wireless experimenters were considered a hindrance to the emerging maritime use of wireless. Others began to recognise a greater potential use of the technology. Conflict between the commercial and amateur use of the spectrum was evident, licensed operation began in 1905. Within five years experimenters needed to get organised for their very survival. The experimenters experienced what they felt was harsh treatment by authorities in respect to interference investigations and also the requirement to pay a three Guineas ($6.30) licence fee.

Organised amateur radio

On 11 March, 1910 a meeting of like-minded people in the Hotel Australia, Martin Place, Sydney, formed the Institute of Wireless Telegraphy of Australia, and soon after dropped the word 'telegraphy' from its name. Chairman of the founding meeting, George Taylor, proposed "the formation of an institution amongst experimenters and enthusiasts in wireless for their mutual benefit."

A similar organisation was formed in Melbourne - the Amateur Wireless Society of Victoria, on 30 November 1911 at a meeting attended by 50 enthusiasts. In 1913 it changed its name to the Wireless Institute of Victoria, and then became the Wireless Institute of Australia, Victorian Division. Then followed The Wireless Institute of Queensland (1912), the West Australian Radio Club (1913) became the Wireless Institute of Australia, Western Australia Section.

War-time security measures

Due to World War I all experimental stations were closed from August 1914. The Wireless Institute of Victoria decided to maintain the right to wireless experimentation after the war and offer its services during the conflict. The experimenters were back on air after the war, although not immediately and even then with many restrictions. Those in South Australia formed a WIA branch in November 1919, the Tasmanian Division of the WIA (1923) and in the same year the Launceston Wireless Club was granted affiliation. Suburban clubs also began, for example the Waverley Amateur Radio Club in New South Wales (1919) which continues today. A photograph of some of that club's founders feature in material used for the centenary celebrations.

While the history can only be briefly covered in this article, the post-war era was an exciting time in many ways when wireless became radio through voice transmissions. Experimenters were achieving the wireless contacts with overseas countries.

A nation-wide organisation

In May 1924 the Institute at a federation meeting held in Melbourne resulted in a nation-wide organisation to represent the experimenters, an outcome that had been desired for some time by the Postmaster General who had responsibility for wireless. Exactly 100 years on from that first meeting in Sydney, the experimenters, now known as radio amateurs, can legitimately celebrate the establishment of their representative organisation, the Wireless Institute of Australia - the oldest such group in the world.

Centenary Committee

Thinking about the centenary began for many at the time of the WIA 75 anniversary, as demonstrated by their time-capsule contributions for opening in 2010. The WIA Board of Directors decided in 2008 that a committee be formed with a basic brief to undertake research into the history of the WIA and suggest ways in which to celebrate the centenary. The results of the bulk of its work were first seen by the amateur radio community with the WIA's launch on 3 October 2009 of the Centenary of Organised Amateur Radio in Australia program of events and activities. The WIA Centenary Committee, Chaired by David Wardlaw VK3ADW, consists of Peter Wolfenden VK3RV, Jim Linton VK3PC and Robert Broomhead VK3DN. More information on them can be found at the bottom of this page.

Providing a diverse range of skills to the exercise they have worked very well as a team, meeting regularly and extensively using email. The WIA Board was kept up to date through reports, made its decisions as needed and is very pleased with committee's work.

Celebrating the Centenary

A range of initiatives and activities are to happen in 2010 providing an opportunity for every radio amateur to be involved in what will be a memorable celebration. Special event callsign VK100WIA will be very popular. Make it a personal aim to make contact this station, consider your plan to achieve the WIA Centenary Award and if a club member support its involvement in the celebration. A commemorative logo is now available for use by WIA members on their QSL cards. Want to know more? Full details are available on the WIA website through its homepage or under the 'WIA Centenary Celebrations' section. It contains a lot of information including activities, the commemorative logo, Centenary Award, the VK100WIA special event callsign -its roster, online log and QSL card - plus a range of affordable centenary merchandise.

More information about activities to be held by WIA affiliated clubs will appear as they are announced. Those wanting to contact VK100WIA, particularly for the Award, will find that information very useful. The WIA annual general meeting and activities program in Canberra in May 2010, plus registration details, will be available when finalised.

Photos above from top to bottom : a) The WIA Centenary poster, b) Wally Hannam - the first Secretary of the Institute of Wireless Telegraphy at Mawson in 1911, c) Part of the Sydney Morning Herald's Report of the first meeting, d) Log entry by Arthur Cotton XVS (later 5HY) at out-break of WWI, e) Amateur Wireless Society badge from a design adopted on 19th November 1911, f) Ivan Hodder (Later VK3RH and radio inspector for civil aviation 1938-1964) at Stawell school of mines station. Photograph circa 1919. Click any of the photos for a larger view.

Centenary Committee Chairman

David Wardlaw  VK3ADW
VIC  3104
Email Address :

Click here for further info

Centenary Committee

Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
VIC 3429
Email Address :

Click here for further info

Centenary Committee

Robert Broomhead VK3DN
Bayswater North
Victoria 3153
Email Address :

Click here for further info

Page Last Updated: Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 20:26 hours by Webmaster


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