|GB2VK finalising set-up in very inclement conditions, 21/09/2018.|
On Sunday, 22nd September, GB2VK will commemorate the 100th year since the first direct, non-relay contact was made between the UK and Australia.
|Of course, even a radio message sent from Wales had to be changed to 'England'!|
Even at solar minimum these days, we can easily make some form of contact with VK using just millwatts of output. Back in 1918, when even producing radio waves of sufficient frequency for long distance contact was difficult due to mechanical limitations, it took the Cefn Du (meaning 'black hill) transmitter, a few miles to the north of Caernarfon, a staggering 160kW at LW frequencies to make the VK contact!
The transmitter at Cefn Du, lying at 1000 feet (300m) above sea level on a gentle mountainside overlooking the Irish Sea, was keyed remotely from Tywyn, a tiny settlement 60km to the south.
|One of the ten, 400ft (122m) tall steel antenna support masts.|
|The Cefn Du transmitter site, Wales in 2017. Still largely as it was in 1918, minus the equipment!|
|One of the many massive concrete stay cable anchors at Cefn Du, 2017.|
|Concrete base and bolt anchors for a steel tube antenna support, 2017.|
|Remarkably, after 100 years, the stay cables and huge ceramic egg insulators are still present, lying where they fell when they were cut down in 1939.|
|John Parry, a former Navy radio operator and, later, university electronics technician, working CW on Marconi Day, 2017.|
|One of the rooms at Cefn Du transmitting site. Now in use to stable horses.|
The messages were:
1 1.15pm Sydney time.
"I have just returned from a visit to the battlefields where the glorious valour and dash of the Australian troops saved Amiens and forced back the legions of the enemy, filled with greater admiration than ever for these glorious men and more convinced than ever that it is the duty of their fellow-citizens to keep these magnificent battalions up to their full strength. W.M. Hughes, Prime Minister."
2 1.25pm Sydney time.
"Royal Australian Navy is magnificently bearing its part in the great struggle. Spirit of sailors and soldiers alike is beyond praise. Recent hard fighting brilliantly successful but makes reinforcements imperative. Australia hardly realises the wonderful reputation which our men have won. Every effort being constantly made here to dispose of Australia's surplus products. Joseph Cook, Minister for Navy."
The event, taking place in a very rural, quite remote area of Wales, was of enormous interest to schoolchildren at the time, finding themselves living near to the very latest technological advances in communication.
|Statue of Mercury, commemorating the 1918 contact, in Australia.|