There’s no short answer that can cover this – but it would be suffice to summarise that amateur radio is radio operators doing almost anything that’s possible with radio’s as a hobby.

This can be talking to other amateur radio operators locally, across the country, internationally, or even on the International Space Station!

Don’t let the term amateur fool you. Many of the most skilled radio and electronics technicians around are amateur operators.  (Amateur means non commercial, as opposed to professional which means doing it to get paid for. These terms do not relate to the level of skill one might have).

You can use voice, morse code, or go digital with computer systems, transferring files and other information back and forth – all without relying on telephones or the internet!

For those involved it is fun, a way to learn and make new friends, a technical communications hobby or recreational activity that provides a true sense of personal achievement.

While we commonly hear about Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, long before they came along amateur radio was the world’s first social media network and it continues to provide that role today.

While many talk on amateur radio, across town or around the world, radio amateurs also communicate in other interesting ways – more details later in this page.

There is also a serious side to it with radio amateurs providing emergency communications. When disaster strikes the telephone, mobile phone and internet connection often fail or are overloaded.

This aspect of amateur radio, that gives support to rescue, relief and recovery efforts and saves lives, was seen following earthquakes and tsunamis in recent years including those in China, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Haiti and Chile.

The New York World Trade Centre terrorist attack on 11 September 2001, Hurricane Katrina 2005 and other major disasters have involved radio amateurs providing their skills and support.

In Australia emergency communications were provided in response to the Black Saturday bushfire disaster 2009.

That followed a tradition which began in the 1920’s during tropical cyclones in Queensland, the Black Friday bush?res in Victoria 1939, and includes the New South Wales floods in 1955, Tropical Cyclone Tracy 1974, Ash Wednesday disaster 1983, Newcastle Earthquake 1989 and on numerous other occasions.

Around the world regular training occurs so radio amateurs can be prepared to use their skills when required.

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