Mary Kay

Volunteer radio operator

2015 TAS Local Hero

Each morning at 6am, marine radio operator Mary Kay bids boaters good morning.  Mary, who has operated the Smithton Coast Guard radio for 18 years from her home, starts each day forecasting weather reports and taking positions from boaters and fishermen out on the waters of the Bass Strait.  She does the same again at 8am and 5pm and is available throughout the day to record positions, announce weather warnings and engage in a bit of banter.  Mary receives around 5,000 calls a year, answering the distress signals of fishermen and sailors, helping the police and coastguard with rescues, notifying customs of suspicious activities and saving lives.  Mary’s ‘job’ brings many challenges, as it’s not always smooth sailing around Circular Head and on any given day in summer she takes up to 50 calls.  Mary’s calm voice echoes across the airwaves day in and day out and while her job is purely voluntary, she's paid in satisfaction and lives saved.