A man wearing old fashioned headphones is sitting at a table. He is writing on a notepad and is surrounded by lots of old fashioned communications equipment.
'Mr Wallace, Wireless Operator on the Ship La Perouse, New South Wales', 1929, (detail), nla.obj-162148145, courtesy Fairfax Syndication.

Southern Signals by Hugh Tranter

Communications have been vital at every stage of Australia’s history. Southern Signals shows how adoption (or not) of emerging communication technologies has influenced key events and formed the backbone of Australia’s development as a society, and relationship with the world. Author Hugh Tranter has selected pivotal moments in history where the adoption of communications technologies saved the day, made life easier or propelled us forward as a nation.

Read about the Rum Rebellion through the lens of communication and how the time and distance it took for letters to get to England allowed the rebellion to gain traction. Marvel at the important role that Australia played in televising the moon landing to the globe, and how wireless communication influenced Mawson’s expedition to Antarctica in 1911. Learn about the pivotal part played by community radio in providing wide-reaching access to news, media and social issues for the many multicultural communities in Australia.

Exploring sea-stained dispatches to data sent back from deep space, Southern Signals is the story of Australia’s use of communications to bridge vast distances through war and peace, exploration and growth.

Southern Signals will be released by NLA Publishing in September 2023.

About the author 

Hugh Tranter is a Sydney-based researcher and author, who enjoys unearthing stories through old newspapers, letters and accounts. He became interested in communication technology and its history through his father’s collection of old radios and records, including a bulky, antique radiogram—once cutting-edge technology—kept in the family lounge room. Hugh has studied history, law and creative writing, and written for a range of publications, including The Sydney Morning Herald, the online Dictionary of Sydney, Beachcombing Magazine and History, the magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society.

Additional Information 

A man wearing old fashioned headphones is writing in a notebook and has lots of old communications equipment around him. The text above his head reads 'Southern Signals' and the the text below him reads 'Hugh Tranter. Stories of innovation, challenge and triumph in Australia's communication history.'

Images for media use are available for download via Dropbox.


Mirelle O'Mara, Media Liaison, National Library of Australia

M: 0401 226 697

E: media@nla.gov.au