Spotlight on Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest’s mobile telecom situation

One of Optus’ three Small Cells, located on Booner Street, just outside Reflections caravan park.

MOBILE telecommunications are as bad in many parts of Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest as they are across the Myall Coast, according to official data and on-the-spot measurements.

While a significant telecommunications tower resides along Witt Street in Tea Gardens, its mobile transceivers are woefully inadequate to cover the ever-expanding population of the twin towns along the Myall.

Tea Gardens Hawks Nest Motor ClubAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

A daisy-chain of ‘small cells’ has coalesced, roughly in parallel with the main roads, from Palm Lake Resort at the extreme western edge of Tea Gardens, to Booner Street in Hawks Nest, each cell an inexpensive attempt to extend coverage without any telco having to invest in new, purpose-built base towers.

Small Cells, with a typical radius of 200 metres, “are designed to cover a small geographic area, operating at lower power than a traditional base station, and using smaller equipment”, according to the Radio Frequency National Site Archive (RFNSA).

The Telstra Small Cell in East Close, Hawks Nest, was installed in 2021, while three Optus Small Cells were installed along Booner Street around the same time.

Given the distance from the Tea Gardens tower to Palm Lake Resort, two more Small Cells, one each for Telstra and Optus, were soon warranted in that area.

Localities like Swan Bay and Myall Quays are left to scrounge whatever mobile signal they can pick up, while Winda Woppa residents may receive a few bars from the Gan Gan tower, 6.5 kilometres across Port Stephens bay.

Pindimar/Bundabah, of course, do not benefit from the Tea Gardens tower, thanks to terrain and distance.

“We have terrible reception here at the shops, there is actually no signal inside IGA or So-Lo,” said one Hawks Nest shop worker.

The thick walls or metallic roofs of some shops, and the Hawks Nest Community Hall, are naturally impeding the already-weak signals.

“Calls regularly drop out along Booner Street, between the roundabout and the caravan park,” said a local Telstra customer.

All mobile transceivers are subject to traffic, which recent summer crowds served to remind, as will Easter.

Large residential developments planned for the wetlands to the north of Myall Quays Shops currently also have no coverage, according to RFNSA site data.

Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest does have NBN service, with the main technology being FTTN (Fibre to the Node), one of the cheaper options that makes use of the ageing existing copper wire phone infrastructure – unless a house is lucky enough to be on a relatively new link to the nearest node, their FTTN may also suffer.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

Leave a Reply