Ham Radio Operators Providing a Community Service       

Amateur Radio under itís banner of WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) was used extensively around the mountains of East Gippsland on the weekend of 4th and 5th December 2005 supporting the Historic Alpine Car Rally. WICEN operators were involved from control Headquarters at Lakes Entrance on Saturday morning to the finish line near Bruthen on Sunday afternoon. Amateur Radio operators from East Gippsland Radio Group as well as a lot of support from other radio operators from various Clubs and groups that are WICEN members across Victoria took part.

The job at hand was to report start and finish information into Rally Headquarters that a car had started in a section, and the radio operator at the end of that section would in turn report when a car by number had finished that section. This supplied all the necessary details to the officials and support crews of each car as to where it was placed. With cross reference checking at Rally control, each car was accounted for as to its whereabouts. In the case of break downs or rollovers, the safety and well being of the drivers could be tracked very quickly.

With around 80 cars in the rally and 19 sections covering the landscape from Lakes Entrance to Bell Bird, Buchan, Ensay and back to Lakes Entrance, this took a lot of organization and man hours by operators. Saturday operators began on check points from 9.00am and finished at 4.00am on the Sunday morning. Some operators camped overnight Saturday on-site and ran another stage checkpoint on Sunday. The main communications were done on 2 metres via FM repeaters; some repeaters are located in their permanent locations of Mt Nowa Nowa and Mt Bemm, while other portable repeaters were specifically set up just for the event on Mt Buck and Pheasants Hill. HF communications were also used as back up.  For this type of event, Amateur Radio operators supply their time and portable radio gear on a voluntary basis, using the activity as training in the case of a disaster in the area. This type of operation is certainly not unique to Australia, with the hurricanes recently in New Orleans and the tsunami in Asia, Amateur Radio provided a lot of the communications to the disaster effected areas. Anyone wanting to find out more about Amateur Radio in East Gippsland can have a look at the group website at www.vk3eg.org

Yours in Radio,


Wicen Victoria Member # 318



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