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Scanning the Gong

posted Jan 19, 2013, 8:53 PM by Evan Morrison   [ updated Jan 19, 2013, 9:00 PM ]

For the last few months,  I have been developing an interest in the idea of a Wireless Meshnet in my home town of Wollongong. I believe it is an extremely powerful idea given that most areas around Wollongong suffer from poor ADSL and cellular connectivity. Unfortunately, residents too far out of the CBD will not get immediate access to the NBN fibre stream that is being delivered this year. I believe that this could be easily addressed by creating a distributed network of low end antennas around the Wollongong area. Due to the escarpment, the range is not required to be exceedingly high; I believe that if essential infrastructure points could be established that intra-suburb peers would arise immediately.


The concept of a mesh-net is merely a private network infrastructure made from a group of peers that are connected at various points. From the project Meshnet website ( a Meshnet is “a versatile, decentralized network built on secure protocols for routing traffic over private mesh or public internetworks independent of a central supporting infrastructure.”


In an attempt to verify the feasibility of creating a series of Meshnet nodes in Wollongong, I decided to try the limits of parabolic antenna over Wollongong from Mt Keira. On Saturday afternoon at I headed up with a friend to find a spot to point over and examine the Gong. We didn't expect much due to the dreary weather and were pleasantly surprised with what we ended up with. We initially avoided the Mt Keira look out as on the drive up we noticed Wedding signs and didn't want to interrupt any part of the ceremony. On stopping between Mt Keira and Mt Kembla, we unpacked and set up the antenna connected to a laptop running kismet to scan for wireless signals. Then sweeping backwards and forwards over Wollongong, Figtree and Cordeaux heights we quickly found 72 SSID's. The furthest visible SSID is the open Chiefly Wollongong signal roughly 6km bird's flight away. In the list,  we also identified Wollongong Central, which was also around 5.5km from our location.


Excited by our results on the south of Wollongong we ventured to the Mount Keira lookout  (where there was actually no wedding) to sweep the northern suburbs, although we managed 92 SSID's in the area we were disappointed to find that signals around the base of the mountain were noticeably absent. After around three different points, we were unable to find my personal network SSID, the slightly out of date 'Christmas', and most unusually of all we could not find any of the University Of Wollongong network SSID's including the main campus, innovation campus and residence locations.


As a result of our 150 network find over the weekend we have decided to continue the investigation to test high points around West Wollongong and Keiraville next weekend to explore the potential for a Wollongong based Mesh Net.