Prior to the introduction of ANARESAT, HF radio was the primary means of communications between Australia and the ANARE stations and, although no longer used for intercontinental communication, HF still plays an important role in Australia's Antarctic telecommunications network.
HF is the main mode of communications between Macquarie Island station and the island's field huts. On the continent it is used to talk between the stations and field parties outside VHF range that are not equipped with satellite terminals and, in some cases, for low capacity data transmission.
HF is used to communicate with aircraft flying between Antarctic stations and between Hobart and Casey.
Each of the continental stations is equipped with two Barrett 975 1 kW transceivers and at least one Codan 8528 transceiver. Macquarie Island has two Codan 8528 transceivers.
Q-Mac HF-90 transceivers are used by field parties. The HF-90 is a 50 watt transceiver and, depending on requirements, may be deployed in a backpack, a fibreglass case or small neoprene bag. Each of the Macquarie Island field huts is fitted with an HF-90 and spare radios are kept at the main station and Green Gorge.
Combined HF/VHF radio boxes, which consist of a Q-Mac fibreglass box containing an HF-90 and an Icom IC-M45 VHF transceiver, are also available for use.
Directional and omnidirectional antennas are used to ensure that maximum signal strength is received. The antennas vary from station to station and include conical monopoles, tandem deltas, triangles and vees. Temporary wire antennas, dipoles and whips are used in the field.
Whip antennas, rather than wire antennas, are used on field huts both at Macquarie Island and the continental stations, to provide reliable communications whilst minimising the chance of bird strikes.