Coast Radio Index

Australian Coast Radio Station Service

  • VIA - Adelaide Radio
  • VIB - Brisbane Radio
  • VID - Darwin
  • VIE - Esperance
  • VII - Thursday Island
  • VIH - Hobart Radio
  • VIM - Melbourne Radio
  • VIN - Geraldton
  • VIO - Broome
  • VIP - POP - Perth Radio
  • VIR - Rockampton Radio
  • VIS - POS - Sydney Radio
  • VIT - Townsville
  • VIW - Wyndeham
  • VJZ - Port Moresby Radio
  • Cooktown
  • Flinders Island
  • Mount Gambier
  • Roebourne

When the government wireless stations at Sydney and Applecross (WA) commenced operations in 1912 they were allocated callsigns POS, for Post Office Sydney, and POP for Perth, (the other Australian stations as POA, POB, POH, 
POM, POP and POS) but following an international wireless convention which allocated prefixes on a world wide basis the PO was changed to a VI, hence VIS and VIP. The government established 22 coastal stations all with VI prefixes.

In 1912 the callsign prefix letter V was a commemoration of the recent death of Queen Victoria and was used as a prefix in many Commonwealth countries from 1912. Australia was allocated the prefix group VH~VK, but these prefixes were not assigned to radio amateurs until 31 December 1928. At the same time, new regulations were introduced which 
banned the playing of gramophone records during the hours when broadcasting stations were operating.

In Australia the Commonwealth Government commenced building the Coastal Radio Service in 1911 and the first station opened at Melbourne’s Domain on 8th February 1912. A second station in Hobart opened a few weeks later. Four more stations followed in the same year at Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth.

The latter two stations were equipped with Telefunken 25KW quenched spark transmitters. By 1914 at the start of WWI a network of 19 coast stations was in operation.

These were the stations in the original chain and the dates upon which they came into service.


Opening Date

Melbourne (VIM)


Hobart (VIH)


Sydney (VIS)


Brisbane (VIB)


Perth (VIP)


Adelaide (VIA)


Thursday Island (VII)


Port Moresby (VJZ)


Mount Gambier


Geraldton (VIN)


Rockhampton (VIR)




Esperance (VIE)


Townsville (VIT)


Broome (VIO)


Darwin (VID)


Flinders Island




Wyndham (VIW)


The primary mode of communication was morse telegraphy and primary frequency was 500khz. After the First World War and into the 1920s a major re-equipment programme was conducted. The original spark gap transmitters and crystal detectors were replaced by modern electronic valve equipment. Short-Wave (high frequency) was introduced as well as two-way radiotelephone which increased ranges considerably.

In 1947 The Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia)- OTC(A) was formed and took over responsibility for the network. This was the period of unprecedented growth in Maritime Communications. During the 1960s six new stations were built at Carnarvon, Broome, Townsville, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

A new station was built at La Perouse, Sydney in 1979. The Seventies and eighties were the halcyon years for the CRS with traffic figures soaring to new heights every month. Radio Telex and the VHF Seaphone service was introduced.

In 1992 OTC(A) was merged with Telecom and became Telstra. The nineties saw the introduction of satellite technologies and traffic started to decline on the radio circuits. Ships Radio Officers were abolished and communications were handled by inexperienced navigation officers. Broome, Thursday Island, Rockhampton, Hobart, Carnarvon and Esperance radios closed.

In 1996 Sydneyradio was downgraded to an unmanned remote station and the Radphone service and half of it's GMDSS service transferred to Brisbane. Darwin was remote controlled from Perth and Townsville and Sydney remote controlled from Brisbane.

On 31st January 1999 the Morse Telegraphy service closed after 87 years.

In 2000 the AMSA contract was awarded to a New Zealand company, TVNZ to build two new stations at Wiluna, WA and Charleville, QLD remotely controlled from Canberra. These new stations will provide HF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) facilities as well as weather and navigation warnings to shipping over 300 gross tonnes via radio and satellite.

As a result of these new arrangements all the Telstra stations will close on June 30th. Coastal GMDSS services for ships under 300 gross tonnes will be provided by new radio networks (as yet to be announced) under the control of State Government Authorities.

On 28th February 2002 the HF Radphone and Radphone Direct Dial services closed. The only Telstra service to continue after June 30th will be the VHF Seaphone network

News - 18th April 2000
The Australian coast radio station service has been advised that it has lost the contract to provide GMDSS services to the Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA).   Our understanding is that when these services transfer to the new provider all the Australian CRS will close.

Although their existing contract does not expire until June 2002, there is talk that arrangements and changeover could be concluded as early as 6 months time.

The new contract has been won by Boeing Australia who are already contracted to the Australian Defence Force.

Australian Coast Radio stations maintained their 500kHz Distress Watch until the bitter end. Their watch and the CW service ceased at midnight on 31st January 1999.   Fuller details of this can be found here (including audio recordings)

A special Amateur Radio event was organised in Australia to mark the passing of the Morse Code distress system.

More information, both historical and up-to-date, about the Australian Coast Radio Station service can be found here.

Australian Coast Radio Station Links

04 May 2000