Although the club started in 1959, as the Far Northern Radio Group, there was amateur radio activity in the local region more than a century ago
The Early Days 1900 – 1920’s
Experimenters (as amateurs were then called) were active in Australia from 1900 in the early days of radio. In 1905 the Wireless Telegraphy Act was passed in Australia to regulate the use of wireless. There were nine Experimenter’s Licences listed for the Northern Rivers region in the 1914 Call book, 398 for Australia. Amateur radio was closed down for the duration of World War One, 1914 to 1919. Experimenter’s licences were not reissued until 1921.
The Lismore and District Radio Club 1924 – ?
The only known information for this club is from The Northern Star newspaper, 16 April 1924, reporting in detail on one of their meetings. The club members were active in both transmission and reception. View the articles here 1924 04 16 – Northern Star, Lismore – L&DRC first GM report
The AWA Radio Guide of 1926 has a listing of Transmitting Licences. The only local hams were
VK2BN, F.W. Kimpton of Ballina
VK2CZ, G.W. Exton of Lismore (mentioned in the Northern Star article about the L&DRC)
VK2DG, D.G. Campbell of Kyogle
VK2RG, E.C. Reading of Bangalow
VK2TB, T.H. Squelch of Bungalow (sic).
The Richmond River Listener’s League – 1933 – 1939
The RRLL was formed in the Lismore area and was active up to WW2 when all Amateur transmitters were closed down. Equipment had to be sealed or handed in for the duration. Some early calls were VK2RG E.C. Reading and Tom Exton radio 2XN Lismore.
1933 The Richmond River Listeners League used the callsign VK2GL . Officers were President -B Smith, Secretary – N Laundry, Treasurer (?) J Ellis. 1936 – There was a broadcast on 220 metres, 733 KHz. from Sunday 0230 hrs after 2UE closed down with gramophone and borrowed records. by J Ellis VK2ADU, R Stick VK2BI. Experimenters could then broadcast music. Annual exhibitions were held in the Masonic Hall for the hobby and trades. VK2GL operated from Conway St., then Orion St. Lismore.
1937 Morse code was taught by Mr. Kelly, the Chief Telegraphist at Lismore PO. Others involved were F Cooper (later VK4ADU), P.Hoare VK2SL, L. Gibson VK2GH, P.Wiltshire VK2AEM, J. Ellis VK2AIL, K. Maloney VK2UC, E. Frith, VK2ADE. VK2GL. The equipment was rack mounted, a TZ40 carbon plate final, with a homebrew receiver. Here is a list of local hams, from the Wireless Weekly call-book – Local Radio Amateurs 1937
1939 WW2 caused the closure of stations and the RRLL lapsed. Most members joined the services and numbers were reduced so the league was not restarted at the end of the war. Joe Ellis got the call VK2GL and later VK4AGL to carry on the tradition.
The Far Northern Radio Club
1959 – The Far Northern Radio Club is formed – on 31 July, a group of amateurs met in the shelter shed at Brunswick Heads and decided to form a club. VK2 calls involved were – PU, KA, AGM, AGE, AFP, AOC, PP, ZFS, VK4SA. In Nov. 1959 the first committee was President Gordon Dowse VK2AGE, Secretary VK2ATI, Treasuer VK2AGM, Publicity Fred Crow. Meetings were at the Pier Astor Hotel.
1961 – Quarterly meetings Feb, May, Aug, Nov held at the ATC rooms, Canberra Hotel, Lismore.
1968 – 69 – Weekly Radio-Hobbies classes were given in the Police Boy’s Club.
Summerland Radio Club 1975 – 1978
1975 – A constitution review was done by local solicitor Fred Herron, Bill VK2BCW and the Committee. The name was changed to Summerland Radio Club. Fees $7, Student $5 pa. The club callsign was VK2AGH, Lic.No. NA42472 issued. St Peters to be used as a clubroom.
Nov. ’75 – The first novice exam held.
1977 – SRC 2m repeater on test with good reports. SES – Telethon exercise held. The club got Post &Telegraph permission for an automatic radio relay, for the first time in Australia.
The Summerland Amateur Radio Club 1978 – present
1978 – St Peters was no longer available for meetings. The club name was changed to Summerland Amateur Radio Club, at the February AGM. Meetings were moved to the Methodist Hall, Renwick St, Lismore.
1979 – Meetings moved to the Scout Hall, Fischer St., Goonellabah. Lismore Centennary QSL card and display. WICEN held a Canoe Club exercise. There was a good ham radio display in the Lismore Town Hall. On 5th December, the Scout Hall was destroyed in a storm.
1980 – Meetings to be held at Kadina High School – members had access to the metalwork rooms.
1980 – 22 Sept – The Dawn Patrol Net was started by Bernie VK2VTP. SARC won a 70cm set in a WIA raffle.
1981 – 19 Oct – Bernie moved to VK4, Leith VK2EA became net controller for the Dawn Patrol.
1982 – A Thursday workshop was started in Kadina High School.
1988 – 4 July – Byron Bay repeater VK2RBB became operational at St Helena.
1994-95 – New club callsign VK2SRC held by Frank Boundy on behalf of the club
1996 – VK2SRC held in the club’s name
1998 – SARC registered as a NSW Incorporated Association – Summerland Amateur Radio Club Inc.
2000 – VK2RBB rrepeater was moved to Goonengerry Trig, west of Byron Bay.
2009 – The club is allocated the special callsign VI2SRC50, celebrating the 50th anniversary, through August. The anniversary dinner is held at the Goonellabah Tavern on August 8, attended by a large group of new and old timers.
2010 – VK2REH repeater installed at Moonimba, SW of Woodburn. It was originally planned to put it at Evans Head, hence the callsign chosen, but permission for the site was not forthcoming.
2011 – SARC takes first place, all-mode all-band multiple operator 24 hour section of the John Moyle contest, and wins the WIA President’s Cup.
2013 – Leith Martin VK2EA presented with lifetime achievement award by federal member Janelle Saffin WICEN assists the Tenterfield Equestrian Club horse enduro at Girard State Forest. Thieves break into clubrooms and steal radio and education equipment.
2014 – Clubroom improvements: new shelving and a clear workbench in the back room. An office and technical lab installed in the centre room. The first VRA induction session held for WICEN (NR); 10 members complete the training. A new SARC website on-line in November. Another new horse enduro for WICEN at Wiangaree.
2015 – SARC has a prominent display at the Great Eastern Fly-In at Evans Head Aerodrome. The club provides a public listening station for air band and assists with radios and antennas for the temporary ground station control.
2016 – Significant improvements to amenities in the clubrooms. New internet router, renovations to the kitchen and toilet. SARC members take first place or on the podium in sections of the John Moyle contest.
2017 – New club constitution is approved at the Special General Meeting on June 11th, and is registered with NSW Fair Trading on June 28th. It was based on the model rules under the new legislation, and drafted by VK2ACD and the committee. SARC members active in the VHF/UHF field days, with several taking top scores.
2018 – A new enclosure for repeater VK2RBB is fixed on site. A web SDR is installed in the club shack operating on 80 and 40 metres. In the John Moyle Field Day, SARC wins the President’s Cup for the second time. SARC has highest score in Winter VHF/UHF field day.
2019 – Major renovations to the Lismore repeater hut at Parrot’s Nest.
2020 – Covid-19 virus restrictions force closure of the clubrooms. SARC trials meetings over the internet using Zoom. Horse enduros were cancelled.
2021 – Covid restrictions easing. The site of the Byron Bay repeater at Goonengery Trig is no longer available to the club. The repeater was shut down, the hut and all the equipment removed on 25th April.
WHO WERE OUR FIRST LADY HAMS? by Leith Martin VK2EA
SARC has always had plenty of OM’s, but how many YL’s and XYL’s have been in the Club from time to time and who was the first?
Perhaps the younger generation are perplexed? In the Early Days of Amateur Radio, when most people still used Morse code and abbreviations made life easier on the key, the “Old Man” was always referred to as the “OM”. Even in those days the ladies disliked being referred to as the “OW”, (Old Woman to you,) so the OM’s soon learnt to refer to a woman as a YL, (Young Lady) or if he did his duty and married her, she became the XYL..
Well, Morse code may have fallen into disuse, but the YL’s kept popping up and becoming XYL’s, and Summerland Amateur radio Club has its share.
My personal records don’t go back to the beginning of time, but I am confident that the first XYL was Jenny Wicks, VK2DAW. Some of the brasher OM’s used to call her the “Swinging Daw”, but Jenny swung along merrily in the club until she moved to VK4. However, about the same time we had Karen Ashdown, VK2NUE, the partner of Russel, VK2KEG. Somebody with a better memory than I, help please.
The next XYL was Betty Foster, VK2VTQ. Betty’s OM was Bernie, VK2VTP, who started the Dawn Patrol Net in 1980. Betty was English and during WW II worked at one of those mysterious organisations where the operators sat listening to a special frequency at a specific time, and sometimes heard a station come up without a call sign and send a few cipher groups and then disappear. No chance of asking for a repeat! Betty was a very good Morse operator.
Next up was Sue Bodycote, VK2BHB. Sue got her first licence, ZL1BAY in the Land of the Long White Cloud, but changed it when she arrived in VK Land in 1976. Sue still comes up occasionally on the Dawn Patrol with her OM, Norm, VK2BBY. Sue was followed by Carlene Foster VK2BCM. Carlene had employment that interrupted Amateur radio, had several changes of call sign, and now lives in VK4.
With the introduction of the FOUNDATION LICENCE younger people joined the ranks, with 2 more XYL’s, Tracey Battistuzzi, VK2FTLB and Annette Smith, VK2FUSE. The Foundation Licence has also brought a crop of YL’s: Amy Battistuzzi, VK2FCAT; Kim Ackerley, VK2FABB; Taylor Moses, Vk2FRGG; and most recent Cathy Ryan, VK2FCRW, . These YL’s are getting younger! VK2FCAT and VK2FRGG are still going to school! Watch it, you “OM’s!
Have I missed any?
Editor’s note: several of the above mentioned young women are no longer active on ham radio.