ALARA members hail from all over Australia, and we also have our sponsored DX members scattered around the world.

Our members vary in age from schoolgirls to retirees; we have varied backgrounds and careers, along with our families and other hobbies and interests.

You can read about some of our members on these pages and learn a little about their background to discuss next time you meet them on air!

Lyn VK4SWE

alara members Lyn was born in Ireland and now lives on Sweers Island, in northern Australia's Gulf of Carpentaria. She gained her license in 2004 and operates several callsigns: VK4SWE, VK4EI (mostly on CW) and VK4EJM (in honour of her father who was a ships' radio officer, travelling the world for Marconi Marine before settling down at the coastal wireless station EJM Malin Head, Ireland.)

What kinds of things do you currently do with ham radio?

alara members I like DX and Ragchews and am a regular member of the ANZA DX Net, acting as Net Control once a week, on 'Ladies' Day'. I love the camaraderie of the regulars in the group, and when I go back to work afterwards, I feel like I've "been" to New Caledonia, Fiji, Alaska or USA. I'm not really into contesting or digital modes - I think I enjoy chatting too much! My favourite mode is CW and yep, I can drag out a fairly long QSO there too! Currently, a few of us YLs (and a couple of OMs) have a training group on air and we're having lots of fun practicing our CW. Living on an island, I am interested in the IOTA - Islands On The Air - Program, and often set up scheds with DX island chasers from my home on OC-227, as well as taking a portable setup on holidays and setting up on the beach for short activations. There is great satisfaction in "giving the island" to armchair travellers all over the world. I enjoy showing visitors to our island around my shack and also my morse key collection, though I keep telling my OM that: "I am not a Collector, they just followed me home!"

What are your favourite non-radio activities?

an old morse key I love being on - or in - the water and enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and sea kayaking - including learning the traditional Greenland-style 'Eskimo Rolls'. I've recently started to learn SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding). Trying to figure out how to get a radio on there hihi! I also enjoy reading, writing, painting, and cooking. Before COVID19, my husband and I enjoyed traveling to different lands and cultures, so I am really glad to have the hobby of Amateur Radio to keep me in touch with overseas friends and enable me to 'travel' via the airwaves.

What do you do for work?

an old morse key My husband and I run a small fishing lodge on Sweers Island, which we established on the previously uninhabited island over 30 years ago (1987) with a couple of friends. We're 20 miles off the coast; most guests fly in and a weekly barge supplies fuel, food, and mail. We do all the cooking & cleaning, so the daily tasks include baking bread, cleaning showers and toilets, restocking the bar fridge, ordering next week's fruit & veg, confirming bookings via email, updating the website and facebook page, helping guests to fillet their catch of fish, showing them round the island and identifying the varied birdlife. The hours are long but there is great variety - no two days are exactly the same. The tourist season in the Gulf runs from April to October, when guests travel to the tropics to escape the southern winter. We shut down in our summer due to strong northerly winds and the threat of cyclones. It makes for a nice balance of work and time to enjoy the island lifestyle ourselves.

Biggest ham related success?

Making contact with the rare IOTA DX station ZL8R on Raoul Island in 2006. The island is an active volcano off the coast of New Zealand and normally closed to the public. The IOTA group had only a few days to operate, and I didn't think my 100w and slow morse would stand a chance. A seasoned DXer advised me to let the pileups go for the first few days, to whittle down the numbers of IOTA chasers, then start calling on the final days. I tried and tried, and on the second last day, heard them calling: "VK or ZL?" This was the best chance, as they were actively listening for us rather than Europe or USA... but our staff were having a birthday party and my OM called me to hurry up and come on! I rang my Elmer so he could try for them, then ran through the house, catching my little toe on the sliding door, snapping and dislocating it. While my OM rang the Flying Doctor and my dog tried to lick it better, I pushed it back into position and hobbled across to the 'party'. Next day I tried again, and on their final call of 'VK and ZL only please' - I got through! I picked my callsign out of the pileup and confirmed the contact with a QSL card, on which I wrote proudly: 'The Toe Breaker!' Persistence is key! (pardon the pun!)

How do people describe you ?

'Energetic, enthusiastic, chatty, organised.' That's what I'm told anyway! I don't think I am as organised as I used to be, and wish I was more organised so I could fit more things into the day! There are so many more aspects of ham radio that I would like to try out - like Foxhunting, SOTA, and joining my club members in support for endurance horse riding events and ocean swim comms support. The only downside of living on an island is being unable to partake in club activities, so I am literally a 'DX member!'

How have you benefited from being an ALARA member?

It's been terrific to meet like-minded YLs on air and being a member of ALARA has helped me hugely in this regard. The hobby of Amateur Radio is not 'dominated' by males, but there are certainly more of them on air, so it is great to have a group of enthusiastic YLs to support each other and encourage more young girls into this fascinating and many-faceted hobby. It is great to attend ALARA gatherings when I am on the mainland, to meet other YLs face-to-face, and I know I have benefited from the sharing of information, tips and knowledge from some of our leading YL DXers, such as June VK4SJ and Kirsti VK9NI.

What is your role in ALARA?

an old morse key I've been the VK4 Rep for a few years now. I liaise with the Committee and VK4 members, sharing information with the group, assisting new members and reminding everyone when their subs are due! If I lived on the east coast this position would entail organising regular meetups but it's hard to do that living on an island, so our meetups have been when I am passing through Brisbane en route flights back to see my family in Ireland. Rare but always fun events! I was delighted to help organise the 2017 ALARAMEET in Cairns, where we got to share some of our tropical North Queensland with YLs from all over Australia and New Zealand. I've been Webmistress for a couple of years and enjoy keeping our online profile up to date both on the website and facebook page. My ham buddy Col VK4CC taught me how to code a few years ago, so in my spare time (!) I am working on updating the style and layout of the website. (Photo credit: bambi VK4AYL)

How did you get your licence ?

an old morse key When I started to study for my license, my Elmer told me that due to my isolated location, there was no point "stuffing around" with a limited license, he said that I would "need 20m to talk to anyone from here" and thus I "might as well go straight for Advanced." Ignorance is bliss, so I did! I struggled initially with the physics, but once I joined Ron Bertrand's Online Radio and Electronics School, I found it much easier. I was assigned a very helpful Facilitator who answerered all my 'Silly Qs' and mentored me to 'Exam Ready'. My exam papers were mailed to me in a closed envelope - sealed with red sealing wax! Very official! The 'local' senior police officer came across from the mainland to supervise, I mailed off the papers and waited in anticipation for the results - a good solid Pass, myself and my Elmer Harold VK4ANR could now chat on air! He was my first contact - on CW of course - and he says my first words, when he sent my callsign, were "Help!" Probably the only 'short Over' I've ever sent!