Tag Archives: Australia

Radio Maubere: clandestine radio in occupied East Timor


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan, who writes:

Your readers may be interested in this article detailing a clandestine radio station that was set up between the Fretlin rebels in East Timor (now Timor Leste) and supporters based in Darwin where I live. The Fretlin rebels fought against the Indonesian occupation until the country’s independence in 2002. In the 1970s this was the only method of obtaining information on the brutal repression of the Timorese people by the Indonesian dictatorship

The man featured in the article, Brian Manning Snr., who died a couple years ago was a well known activist and trade unionist in the Northern Territory. He was also very involved in the campaign for Aboriginal workers to receive equal pay and conditions in the 1960s. This campaign was instrumental in raising the profile of the Aboriginal land rights movement in Australia. Brian Manning Jr. Is a good friend of mine.

(Source: ABC News)

If someone was to make an Australian version of Forrest Gump, they might look to Brian Manning’s life story for inspiration.

In 1966, he helped the Gurindji strikers in the Wave Hill walk-off. When Cyclone Tracy hit his hometown of Darwin, police commandeered his truck to collect dead bodies. Months later, he became involved in possibly the most important mission of his life.

That mission was Radio Maubere: an underground radio link that operated between Darwin and occupied East Timor during the 70s and 80s.

For many years, it was the only link the Timorese had with the outside world.

“Dad felt very strongly that these people needed to be supported in their struggle,” his son, Brian Manning Jr, said.

“So with a few other people, they got together and formed this radio operation.

“It was vital. There’s no doubt that the Indonesians were in there to systematically reduce the population by any means necessary.

“So these people were just killing people, and these stories had to get out.”

[…]As the years went on, and the list of confiscated radio transmitters grew longer and Manning’s tricks became more and more creative.

“They had a few decoy vehicles. And they had a few decoy radios. And they had people rendezvous with them in the bush in certain areas,” Brian Manning Jr said.

Often one person would set up the transmitter, another would come along and use it, and a third would arrive to pack it up and transport it out of danger.

[…]The broadcasters even devised their own coded language to communicate top secret information, remembers one of the group’s members, Robert Wesley-Smith.

“They each had a book, and the code would direct them to a page or something. It was very slow … but it was a great adventure,” Mr Wesley-Smith said.

Whatever problems Manning and his crew had in Australia were nothing compared to the dangers faced by those operating on the other end, where gunshots could sometimes be heard in the background.

There was a constant need to get new transmitters into the country, and an engineer from Sydney came up with an ingenious method for avoiding detection.

“It now fell to the resourcefulness of Andrew, who created a transmitter out of a ghetto blaster,” Manning wrote in his book.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Mark’s multi-user SDR is now online


SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, has just announced that his new Beaglebone-powered KiwiSDR receiver is online.  Mark notes:

Please try out my multi-user 0-30MHz SDR[.] The test system is operating from my monitoring station at Freemans Reach in south east Australia (near Sydney).


Freemans Reach, Australia

[…]The test system is fully self contained and self operating. The antenna (ALA1530S+) we are using is a magnetic loop with an impedance tracking amplifier designed and manufactured by Wellbrook Communications, Llanwrth Wells in Wales. The receiver and CPU is the result of the Kickstarter funded project “KiwiSDR” which was conceived and designed by John Seamons ex Pixar and Lucas Films.

[…]You can use Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Firefox – but Internet Explorer is not supported at this stage. Tune in on this URL…



Mark’s radio shack.

[Four] simultaneous users are supported with totally independent tuning and control

Mark's Wellbrook antenna

Mark’s Wellbrook ALA1530S+ antenna

Many thanks for sharing your KiwiSDR, Mark! Though demand has been quite high, I have managed to claim one of the four user seats on Mark’s SDR and “listen like a local.”

Mark: you’ve done a great job making a proper listening post for your remote listeners. The KiwiSDR/Wellbrook ALA1530S+ combo is performing admirably!

Click here to use Mark’s KiwiSDR.

Update on Radio Australia outage


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Hawkins, who left the following comment in reply to our previous post about Radio Australia’s outage:

This message found on the ABC/Radio Australia website this morning…

The ABC is running a technical outage of the international shortwave service until Friday the 19th of August to test reception in the region.

Listening to shortwave requires a specialist shortwave radio. We direct our broadcasts at peak listening times in our target areas of the Pacific using multiple frequencies. We recommend that where possible, you use an outside antenna to improve reception. Shortwave signals may be subject to interference from other broadcasters’ signals, electronic devices such as computers, microwave ovens, TVs, car engines and fluorescent lights.


Thanks for passing this along, Dan. This is the longest technical outage I’ve ever noted from Radio Australia.

Radio Australia outage: Response from ABC Reception Advice

ABC-LogoI just received the following message from ABC Reception Advice after inquiring about Radio Australia being off the air. I’m sure many of you also received the same message:

Thank you for your recent correspondence with regards to the Radio Australia Broadcasts on Shortwave Radio in the SW Pacific. We are currently working with our transmission provider on a number of shut downs over the past week and again over the next week to investigate a range of technical and commercial issues for the service.

In the meantime the services are still on air via our satellite services on Intelsat IS18 and IS20 as well as our FM network across the targeted markets in the SW Pacific (for detailed information please see http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/waystolisten and of course Radio Australia is online at  http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/listen

Kind Regards,
ABC Reception Advice

I can’t remember Radio Australia being off the air such a long time for maintenance.

Radio Australia off the air this week


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Nikolich (N9OVQ), who writes:

Radio Australia has been off the air all week. My buddy Ron Howard in California contacted reception.advice@abc.net.au regarding this issue, and received this response:

“Thank you for your recent correspondence with regards to the Radio Australia Broadcasts on Shortwave Radio in the SW Pacific. We are currently working with our transmission provider on a number of shut downs over the past week and again over the next week to investigate a range of technical and commercial issues for the service.

In the meantime the services are still on air via our satellite services on Intelsat IS18 and IS22 as well as our FM network across the targeted markets in the SW Pacific (for detailed information please see http://goo.gl/2Y7xS3 ) and of course Radio Australia is online at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/listen.

Thank you also for your audio clip of ABC Alice Springs NT!

Kind Regards,

ABC Reception Advice (Communications Networks)”

Tom, you have more than 10,000 people regularly following your blog. Can you encourage your readers to contact Radio Australia and tell them how important their shortwave transmissions are to them? I have been listening to this station continuously since 1972 and I would be crushed if they left the air. I begin most mornings by listening to their loud, clear English language shortwave signal on 9,580 kHz.

Thanks, Mike. Like many other SWLs, I too have noted that Radio Australia has been off the air this week.  Without a doubt, Radio Australia is my staple source of news on shortwave these days and a part of my morning ritual (cup of coffee and RA–!).

I will send them an email immediately.

Post readers: if you enjoy Radio Australia, please take Mike’s advice and contact them at your earliest convenience.