|Maunganui (NZ Shipping)|
Monday, February 08, 2016
Australian Shortwave Callsigns VLG: The Mystery of the Missing Island
During World War 1, the Maunganui served as a troop ship; and during World War 2, it served as a hospital ship. This veritable liner was sold to Greece in 1948, and then just nine years later, it was broken up for scrap in Savonna, Italy.
The callsign VLG was allotted to the Maunganui around the beginning of the First World War, and it was still in use thereon into the early 1920s. However in 1924, this same callsign was then applied to a new wireless station that was installed onto the small island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands.
The island called Mangaia, the most southerly in the Cook Island archipelago in the South Pacific, was discovered by the English Captain James Cook in 1777. It is an almost circular island with a total area of around 20 square miles. This island, with its central volcanic plateau, is ringed with a 200 ft high circle of fossilized coral and there is also a fresh water lake towards the south of the island.
The total population these days is shown as less than 700; and their Polynesian language is very similar to the Maori of New Zealand.
Quite near to the island of Mangaia was another island known as Tuanaki. Back in the early 1840s, this mystery island was shown on some maps of the South Pacific, and it was located about one day of sailing, south from Mangaia.
It is reported that an English sailor visited Mangaia in 1842, and that he stayed on the island for almost a week. The island was known and reported by European administrators who were serving on other Pacific islands. Whalers during that period also reported their visits to the island.
It was also reported historically that there was occasional trade between the two islands, Mangaia and Tuanaki, and that the languages of the two islands were almost identical. However, Christian missionaries who made subsequent visits to the area were never able to relocate this mystery island. There are some people living on Mangaia, and on other islands in the Cook archipelago also, who claim ancestry to Tuanaki, that at least one of their ancestors migrated from Tuanaki in earlier years.
So what happened to the mystery island known as Tuanaki? Did it really exist, or was it simply a matter of mis-identification of Mangaia itself, or of another island out there somewhere? Geologists and historians consider that if the island did indeed exist a couple of hundred years ago, then it simply disappeared beneath the waters of the ocean in some unidentified cataclysmic event, maybe a seismic collapse with an underwater landslide.
Going back to Mangaia itself, we find that the local wireless station installed in 1924, VLG, was operated for just a few years by local personnel who had an aptitude for practical workmanship.
The next known usage of the callsign VLG was for a new 10 kW shortwave transmitter that was installed at the regional shortwave station located near Lyndhurst in Victoria, Australia. At the time, the building in use at Lyndhurst was the second structure, dating from 1935.
The new transmitter at Lyndhurst was originally intended for use as a replacement for the quite old and low powered VLR, with just 2 kW at the time. However, because of wartime exigencies, the new unit was taken into service as an additional shortwave transmitter for both the ABC and Radio Australia.
The new VLG was inaugurated on June 21, 1941 under the callsign VLR. However, because of confusion due to the fact that there were now two transmitters on the air under the same callsign, often simultaneously but with different programming, the new transmitter was allotted a new callsign, VLG. Thus the new 10 kW VLR3 on 11880 kHz became VLG5, and the new VLR4 on 15230 kHz became VLG6; and the date for this change in callsign was August 24, (1941).
On June 1, 1951, the numeric designator, the suffix number, was changed to identify the MHz band. Thus for example, VLG2 on 9540 kHz was redesignated as VLG9. Then ten years later again, Radio Australia discontinued the usage of callsigns and the callsign VLG, or just G, became a line callsign for the program feed from the studios in Melbourne to a transmitter at Lyndhurst.
In the late 1950s, a new building was constructed over the old, and then the old was removed. Three new transmitters were installed, one for each of the ABC program services VLR, VLG & VLH. These three transmitters, manufactured by RCA in the United States, were originally intended for installation in battleships, but after the end of the war, they were declared surplus.
In 1966, eight new transmitters at 10 kW each were installed progressively at Lyndhurst, and any transmitter could be be activated for any of the broadcast services. In this way a rolling daily schedule was maintained with usually six transmitters on the air at anyone time, on behalf of the ABC Home Services, Radio Australia, and the chonohertz VNG time signals.
In 1970, the ABC dropped the usage of VLG as a shortwave program relay of their mediumwave programming, thus leaving VLG, or G, for sole use by Radio Australia.
The Lyndhurst radio station was closed on June 12, 1987, and three of the youngest transmitters were removed and re-installed at the mediumwave transmitter site for 4QN at coastal Brandon in Queensland. When the shortwave transmitters at Brandon were taken into service two years later in 1989, the VLG program feed from Melbourne was fed into one of the transmitters for coverage of New Guinea and the Pacific.
Many are the varieties of QSLs that shortwave listeners received from VLG, the ABC Home Service and the Radio Australia Overseas Service at Lyndhurst, and also from VLG at Brandon.
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 363 via Adrian Peterson)