Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station
A History – To be ruined or saved?
Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station
Officially opened 20 April 1939
Decommissioned 1 June 2005
Bells was part of a world-wide
Naval network radio establishments
providing communications for the
Australian, British & other
Commonwealth nations & allies
Extensions made to the original
Sheep safely grazing
Before urban development surrounded the site
P.J. Davey 1972
Battle of the River Plate
Admiral Graf Spee
The loss of HMAS Sydney
Battle of the Coral Sea
4-8 May 1942
RAN ships in the Korean
and Vietnam conflicts &
HMAS HMAS Yarra
HMAS Hobart HMAS Swan
The 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne
What we have lost
Aerials & masts
broken up for scrap
To cut a long story short
• 2006 - Joint National Trust, Engineers Australia seminar held, communiqué
sent to PM & Commonwealth politicians
• 2007 – Low Frequency antenna towers demolished, BNTS placed on National
Trust National Heritage at Risk List
• 2008 – A CMP was prepared by GML
• 2008 A nomination of BNTS to the World Monuments Fund,
World Monuments Watch 100 Most Endangered Sites
• 2008 – Detailed paper written by Dr Brian Egloff,
Belconnen Naval Transmission Station, an
inconvenient heritage’ & nominated to Commonwealth
• 2006 - 08 – Several letters written to PM & Commonwealth politicians
+ articles in newspapers, interviews on electronic media
2007 Decision by Minster for Heritage and Minister for Defence
…I am advised that the LF masts present a significant safety and
ongoing maintenance liability to the Government. Accordingly, it
is not considered feasible to retain one portion of any of the LF
masts in their current standing state. Therefore, and as previously
advised , the mast removal … will proceed. Further, I understand
that the concrete footings for the LF mast and guy wires will
remain in place and that a representative portion of one tower will
remain on site, secured horizontally on the ground.
It is interesting to note that these towers were felled and then dismantled
In December 2007
In 2008 the Commonwealth Government commissioned a CMP
What else will
Transmitters & equipment
dismantled, removed or ???
Precinct D - DESIRED PLANNING OUTCOMES
Precinct D has been identified for heritage (natural, historic, cultural
and technical) and nature conservation only. Development of this
precinct shall be in accordance with approved environmental and
heritage management plans prepared for the site.
4.17 Development shall be integrated with adjoining development in Lawson
South, exemplify sustainability principles and demonstrate excellence in site
amenity, urban design, landscape and architecture.
4.18 Functional relationships between uses within and external to the site shall
4.19 Properties within the precinct shall have a good address to the public realm
and clear and distinctive entrances.
4.20 Any Asset Protection Zone required in relation to bushfire protection for
urban areas must not be locate in this precinct.
ACT National Trust Comments on the
Draft Development Control Plan 2010
Section 2.2.2 – the first sentence, ‘The Royal Australian Navel [sic] Transmitting Station –
comprising the three main aerial masts … is listed on the Register of the National Estate
and the Commonwealth Heritage List’ is incorrect.
As noted above the three low frequency masts were removed
despite opposition in December 2006.
This phrase should be removed and the correct spelling of ‘Naval’ replaced.
Section 2.4.15 – Precinct D – Desired Planning Outcomes.
The statement ‘Precinct D has been identified for nature conservation only’,
ignores and denies the Identified Cultural Heritage values of the transmitting facility
and its role in Australia’s defence history and the development of
low frequency and high frequency defence radio communications.
So now we wait to see what happens to the historical fabric of Bells
The moral of this story is – Keep a sharp eye on the processes which
Government departments manage heritage listed places and the
heritage of our country and make the time to offer advice and comment
Thank You All
Ne Cede – Don’t yield
Molonglo Receiving Station