Tag Archives: ABC News

School of the Air celebrates 60 years and a vision of independence

(Source: ABC News vi Kim Elliott)

Parents of children in South Australia’s outback are calling for the state’s School of the Air to become independent so it has more control over how students learn.

The school at Port Augusta in the state’s north has marked its 60th anniversary of delivering lessons to students in remote areas.

When the school began in 1958, lessons were given via high frequency (HF) radio, but are now done over the internet.

In 1991, the School of the Air amalgamated with the SA Correspondence School to become Open Access College, which is based in Adelaide.

At a recent meeting in Port Augusta, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association called for the School of the Air to become an autonomous education provider.

The association’s north-west branch president Lynly Kerin said it was “no longer beneficial or manageable” for the school to be part of the college, and that its 49 students were being overlooked in the college’s cohort of 5,600 students.

Ms Kerin said the School of the Air community felt “overshadowed by decisions being made by people who may not understand the needs of our kids out here in remote areas”.

“At the very least, we request that the Minister look at an investigation into the change that we’re proposing,” she said.[…]

Continue reading at ABC News.

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78 Megahertz: Australian astronomers detect signal from the dawn of the universe

(Image: NASA – Hubble Space Telescope)

(Source: ABC Science via William Lee)

Astronomers detect signal from the dawn of the universe, using simple antenna in WA outback

They have picked up a radio signature produced just 180 million years after the Big Bang using a simple antenna in the West Australian outback.

The ground breaking discovery, reported today in the journal Nature, sheds light on a period of time known as the “cosmic dawn”, when radiation from the first stars started to alter the primordial gas soup surrounding them.

[…]The signal they’ve been looking for is a miniscule fraction — between 0.1 and 0.01 per cent — of the radio noise from the sky.

“It’s like trying to hear a whisper from the other side of a roaring football stadium,” Professor Bowman said.

The signal is also within the lower range of FM radio, so finding a place on Earth that is free of human radio interference was essential.

That’s why Professor Bowman and colleagues decided to base their experiment at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton.

“Going to Western Australia and working at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory was an absolutely critical first step for us,” he said.

There they built a small table-sized radio spectrometer with a radio receiver attached to two metal panels that act as an antenna. Akin to a set-up from the 60s or 70s, the EDGES instrument is much simpler in design than bigger array telescopes around the world.[…]

Click here to read the full article at ABC Science.

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Radio Maubere: clandestine radio in occupied East Timor

Radio-Dial-Blurred-Dark

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.

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Can you identify this radio?

Can you ID the radio in this photo? Click to enlarge. (photo: ABC News)

SWLing Post reader, Kim, wondered if anyone could identify the make and model of the radio (pictured right) which had been modified to contain a bomb. Terrorists used these devices recently in Thailand.  ABC News featured an article and video about the attacks, but I’ve seen little about the make/model of radio that had been used.

Update: See JW’s comment below–this is an EPE model FP-103U.

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