The birth of the South East Radio Group can be traced back to the late 1950s and early 1960s when, over a period of time, a small group of enthusiastic short-wave listeners visited the shack of Stuart VK5MS and listened to a number of talks given by Col VK5CJ.

It was, however, the transfer of Al Rechner VK5ZCR, later VK5EK (SK) from Adelaide to Mount Gambier that triggered the callsign explosion in the early 1960s, leading directly to the formation of the South East VHF Radio Group in 1962. With the members all having “Z” calls, there was a common interest in that part of the radio spectrum 50MHz and above; hence the initial VHF bias. The change to “South East Radio Group” acknowledged that there were members interested in all amateur frequencies.

A “Who’s Who” of foundation members include:
John Lehmann VK5ZHL now VK4AZK
Les Janes VK5ZLS now VK5JL
Dale Aslin VK5ZER now VK5DA
Gary Smythe VK5ZGR now VK5JR
Colin Schultz VK5ZEV now VK4
Colin Hutchesson VK5ZKR now VK5DK
Trevor Niven VK5ZTN now VK5NC
Jim Sinclair VK5ZSJ now VK5ZSI
Chris Skeer VK5ZFA now VK5MC
Trevor Hutchesson VK5ZTH now VK5TH

Our first clubrooms
Early members

For the first two years, meetings were held at the homes of members before the group moved to its first clubrooms, a two-roomed building at the rear of a deserted house situated close to the edge of a quarry at Glenburnie, some distance to the east of Mount Gambier. This old but comfortable building was used as the clubrooms for about ten years, but as the quarry expanded the group was forced to move.

Second Clubrooms in Olympic Park

After several temporary meeting places, the group approached the Corporation of the City of Mount Gambier for assistance in finding a permanent home. The result of this application was a small building in Olympic Park, just off O’Halloran Terrace on the southern side of the city.

In 2000, the Junior Primary Campus of Reidy Park Primary School became available to the community thanks to a kind donation by the State Government and some strenuous lobbying by the City Council and club president at the time, Dr Kevin Johnson VK5KJ and the support of local Superintendent of Education (VK5DJ). As a result, the SERG moved once more and now has magnificent rooms within 100 metres of our Olympic Park rooms. The photos illustrate our good fortune. The club has rooms for operating, storage 1, meetings, storage 2 and toilets. Two bays of a shed are also dedicated to our needs.

Mount Gambier has a population of about 25,000, and an amateur population of some 50 callsigns. Many amateurs in the area are “Old Timers” and can go back quite a way (some even remember valves). The club has members from throughout the South-East of SA, and from across the border in Western Victoria. The club has had supportive Patrons in Eric Jamieson VK5LP (SK), Trevor Niven VK5NC (SK Feb 2013) and Kevin Johnson VK5KJ/VK4UH.

The first SERG Convention was held over the June long weekend in 1963 and, since then, has become a very popular event. In 2005, the South East Radio Group held its 41st Convention and the 16th year that the National Fox Hunting Championship has been an integral part of the convention. Over the years the South East Radio Group has attempted to foster an interest in the noble and ancient art of “home brewing” by conducting its very popular home brew competition at the convention. With some positive and most welcome support from a person who wished to remain anonymous. Although there are no longer categories the judges take into account skill levels and there are many prizes to go around.

The above information was based on an article by Ivan VK5QV (AR May 1993) but updated to reflect current circumstances.

The field days were an important part of earlier years

From 2006 a new Foundation Licence was introduced and at this time trained and accredited local trainers and examiners were supported by the club and approved by the WIA. SERG took up the challenge and four of our members gained this qualification. They were David Giles (VK5DG), Tim Hann (VK5AV), Trevor VK5NC and John VK5DJ. Although the initial rush is over, there continues to be a steady but small stream of new members sitting for the examinations. They are welcomed with open arms into the South East Radio Group.

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