Historic radio shack at Queens Domain Historic radio shack at Queens Domain Photo: Barry McCann

Where and how it all began ...


The Tasmanian Smallcraft Marine Radio Group (TSMRG) was formed by Barry McCann and Les Collis in 1975 to establish an economical means of communication between pleasure craft and a shore station. The sole purpose was to enhance the safety of life and property at sea.

Margate base radio room 1977
Image: Barry McCann
The 27MHz base station was set up at the late Doug Bonnitcha's home on the Esplanade at Margate in July 1976 and was operated for the next nine years by his son, Len. A VHF service also commenced during this time. Shortly afterwards a radio was installed at Denison Canal and operated by Charlie Curle to assist mariners navigating the canal.

Margate base radio tower 1977
Image: Barry McCann
Upon Len's retirement in 1985 the base station moved to South Arm and became Tasmar Radio. This station was run by Rex Griffiths until his retirement in the late 80s. In 1987, a remotely controlled base station was constructed at Snug Tiers and this facility, now housing HF transmitters and the VHF weather channel transmitter, is still an integral part of the much expanded system that is Tas Maritime Radio today.

When Rex retired the base was moved to Denison Canal and operated by the late Robert Wright. The base then moved to the homes of various volunteers when second and third control consoles were built. Operators during those years included Elaine Stokman, Bill Lush, Ted Thorne, Stu Braunholz and Mike Hooper.

The name change from Tasmar Radio to Coast Radio Hobart had no bearing on the self-funded and voluntary nature of this network. It was a decision made by the body that implemented the national High Frequency Radio Network, for which we operated as Coast Radio Hobart. The local service we provided as Tasmar Radio, of course, still continued. To become part of the national coast radio network a number of agreements had to be entered into with other parties and so a not for profit company, TSMRG Pty Ltd, was formed to operate Coast Radio Hobart.

Bruny Island tower & hut 2005
Image: Barry McCann
In 1993 Tasmar Radio was granted sole use of the old Hobart Radio receiving station on Bruny Island. This station, now fully re-equipped, forms a vital part of our operation and provides monitoring of the international distress frequencies. Our operations room at the old Hobart Radio building on the Queens Domain began service in May 2004, continuing a maritime radio service from this site that began in 1912.

Huge technical improvements have been made since 2004. Directors Barry McCann, Stu Braunholz and Brian Muir are extremely grateful for the assistance of volunteers with special skills who enthusiastically assist when needed. We have outgrown the capacity of the radio links between our control centres and our remote transceiving stations. A new Link Hub station has been constructed at Mount Nelson to house new digital link equipment. Equipment at the Domain, Snug Tiers and Bruny also needed replacement. Telstra and Transend Networks again came to our aid with the donation of surplus multi-channel digital broadband radio equipment and facilities. A special thanks to Brian Muir for the many hours he has devoted to this very complex upgrade. The coverage of the network and quality of our transmissions is constantly improving.

In 2014 the opportunity arose, with the help of Transend and Icom Australia, to set up two new base stations in the west of the state to extend our coverage to Tasmania's West Coast. With the realisation that our network would now cover the majority of the Tasmanian coastline and not just the southeast of the state came the decision to change the name to Tas Maritime Radio or TMR, a name that more accurately reflects the service area we cover.

TMR is continually looking at ways to improve its coverage and service to Tasmania's mariners.