New Campbell Hill, VK5/ SE-007

Our second activation of the day was New Campbell Hill, VK5/ SE-007.  Ian had already activated this hill, but that was last year in 2012, so it was some more Activator points for him as well.  We had about a 60 km drive to the north west to get to New Campbell Hill from Hallett Hill.  We cut across to the west to Spalding and then travelled north up the RM Williams Way.

RM Williams Way is named after Reginald Murray Williams, AO, CMG (born in 1908 – died in 2003), who was an Australian bushman and entrepreneur who rose from a swagman to a millionaire.  He was widely known as just ‘R.M.’, and was born at Belalie North near Jamestown.   He became known for creating an Australian style of bushwear recognised world wide.

New Campbell Hill is situated close to the Bundaleer Forrest Reserve in South Australia’s mid-north, to the south of the township of Jamestown.  It is about 220 kms north of Adelaide.  The hill is 714 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points.


Bundaleer Forest was Australia’s first plantation forest.  The forest is the birthplace of the Australian forest industry.  It is just 10 kilometres south of Jamestown, and offers magnificent scenery and walks.  The Heysen trail (for hikers) and Mawson trail (for mountain bikers) take in the Bundaleer Forest.  The Arboretum on Georgetown Road contains a range of native and exotic tree species.  The Conservator’s Hut – formerly the exclusive residence of the Conservator of Forests – is on the Conservator’s Trail.  Picnics can be enjoyed in the picnic grounds all year round, except for days of extreme fire danger.

By the 1870’s, much of South Australia’s native trees had been wiped out by eager pioneers in their rush to find materials for buildings, railway sleepers, jetty pylons and supports for mining shafts and tunnels.  The need to find a suitable forestry timber species was crucial.  By 1876, Bundaleer had been chosen as the site for the first trial plantings of commercial forestry trees from Europe, North America and all over Australia.

It was soon discovered the Californian radiata pine was the best species suited to forestry in Australia and this species went on to become the mainstay of not only Australian forestry, but also forestry in Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.  The Woods and Forests Department (now Forestry SA) was formed in 1882 and the Bundaleer Forest Reserve was established with the planting of 400 ha (1000 acres) of forest.

Bundaleer’s timber became known for its high grade, a result of its slow growth (radiata plantations in SA’s South-East grow three times as fast).  Throughout its history, Bundaleer timbers has been used for housing and structural timbers, furniture, packaging and shipping, ply-board manufacture, and for the pallet market. Milling of much of the timber occurs locally and is a vital industry to the town and region today.

Today, Bundaleer is the state’s smallest forest with about 1,500 hectares of plantations.

Ian and I travelled north on RM Williams Way and then turned left onto Bundaleer Gardens Road.  We parked the car at the locked gate on Neindorf Road.  The gate has a sign on it “Gate: BG 5″.  There is also a sign saying ‘Bore Track”.


We then commenced our 4km walk from there to the summit.  The first section of the walk is along a nicely graded dirt access road to the forest (called Bore Track).  There is virtually no incline on the road, but there is worse to come.  As Ian and I strolled along the road, we saw a few wild deer and a large number of kangaroos and euros.  We even saw a cheeky fox which bounded off in a hurry when he heard our approaching voices.

The track takes you passed a few small pine plantations and some native scrub, with some great views back to the east of the Hallett wind farms.  You then enter the mature pine forest.  We took a track through the forest up towards the summit.  It was certainly very wet underfoot as we had received plenty of rain the previous weekend.  In fact this area was covered in snow last weekend.

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I enjoyed a beautiful walk through the forest, but Ian had warned me that the hard part of the walk was about to start.  We exited the forest and could see a cleared area and the summit with the tower on the top.  This part of the walk rises over vertical 150 metres in under 500 metres.  So we commenced the walk which is a real calf burner, with a few rests along the way.  The area is very rocky so you need to be a bit careful underfoot.  But the climb is well worth it, as the views become increasingly more spectaular as you rise in elevation.  Mount Remarkable and Mount Brown in the Flinders Ranges were visible to the north west.


Once we reached the top I was a bit surprised to see that the wind was coming in from the north east, and not from the west.  The wind was quite strong, so we set up behind a dry stone wall which runs north-south at the top.  Local legend has it that these stone walls were made by Italian inturnees during World War Two.  We attached the squid pole to a wire fenceline which runs parallel to the wall, using a couple of octopus straps.  And then ran the coax through a gap in the rocks to the western side of the wall.  The area is heavily covered in moss rocks.

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There is a trig point at the summit, just to the south of the tower.  The actual trig station has collapsed and has lies on its side, slowly rusting away, about 5 metres away from the trig point which is a concrete column with a plaque on the top.  The plaque on the trig point shows that it was erected by the Royal Australian Survey Corps, and there is the warning of a twenty pound fine for interference with the trig.

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There is also a 4 stage guyed tower at the summit which doesn’t look to be in terrific condition.  The top sections have a bit of a lean.  There appears to be some sort of small VHF/UHF antenna on the top of the tower.  In any event it caused no interference and the noise floor was virtually non existant.

The views from the summit are quite spectacular in all directions.  This includes great view of the Bundaleer Forest that was unfortunately devasted by a large bushfire in January 2013.

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My first contact of the morning was with Col VK5HCF who was QRP with just 5 watts.  Larry VK5LY then called in and this was followed by an interesting contact with Marshall VK3MRG who was bicycle mobile in Kew.  My fourth contact was with Peter VK3FPSR.  This was followed by many of the regular Chasers.

My last contact before stretching the legs and Ian taking over, was with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable on Sugerload Peak, VK3/ VN-011.  So I was very happy to put another Summit to Summit in the log.  I then took a walk through the forest and up along the stone wall, while Ian jumped onto the radio.

After about a half hour walk I came back and worked a few more stations on 40m including Brooke VK4RZ and also John VK5BJE who was portable in the Danggali Conservation Park, as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  Ian and I decided to have a quick listen on 20m.  I had a good QSO with my mate Jesse VK6JES on 20m SSB and this was followed by a contact with Jordi, EA3PT.

Ian and I then packed up and took a different route back to the car.

The hill was full of Kangaroos and Euros who were quite inquisitive.

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All in all, another very enjoyable afternoon on a summit.

I managed a total of 27 QSO’s on 40m SSB, and 2 QSO’s on 20m SSB.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:- Col VK5HCF/qrp; Larry VK5LY’ Marshall VK3MRG/bicycle mobile; Peter VK3FPSR; Nev VK5WG; Ian VK3TB/p; Ian VK3OHM; Warren VK3BYD; Brian VK5FMID; Rhett VK3GHZ; Allen VK3HRA; Nick VK3ANL; Matt VK1MA; Ian VK3TCX; Ernie VK3DET; Peter Vk5NAQ; Peter VK3ZPF/p (SOTA); Mal VK3AZZ; Ron VK3JP; Andrew VK2ONZ/qrp; Terry VK5ATN; Paul VK5FUZZ; Brooke VK4RZ; Bill VK3LY; Graham VK5KGP; and John VK5BJE/p.

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:- Jesse VK6JES; and Jordi EA3PT.

I have posted a video of the activation on You Tube.

Hallett Hill, VK5/ SE-003

During the week I had planned a 4 summit – weekend activation with Ian VK5CZ.  The 4 summits were all located in the mid north of South Australia, about 200 kms – 250 kms north of my home.  Ian lived a little closer in beautiful Clare, a great wine growing region, so I decide to stay with Ian and his wife Halima for 2 nights over the weekend.  The 4 summits would push me into the 90 point bracket as an activator.

So Friday afternoon after my 2 park activations at Mt Magnificent Conservation Park and Finniss Conservation Park, I packed up my gear and headed north to Clare.  I travelled up Main North Road through the wine growing towns of Auburn, Leasingham, Watervale, Penwortham, Sevenhill and arrived at Ian’s place at Clare, late afternoon. I enjoyed a good meal at Ian and Halima’s, and a quiet night playing on the radio and having a chat.

Ian and I got up nice and early on the Saturday morning at about 5.30 a.m. and enjoyed a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs and then loaded the car and headed north to our first activation, Hallett Hill, VK5/ SE-003.  We travelled along the Clare-Farrell Flat Road to Burra, and then north on the Barrier Highway to the little town of Mount Bryan.  The sunrise was spectacular, despite the temperature being very nippy.


Mount Bryan which is located at the northern end of the Mount Lofty Ranges, was named after the nearby peak, Mount Bryan, which was discovered in December 1839 by Governor George Gawler.  He named it in honour of Henry Bryan, a young man who became lost and perished of thirst during Gawler’s expedition.  Mount Bryan was once the heart of a thriving farming community, including some of Australia’s best known Merino sheep studs.  Today it has a population of about 130 people, with the most prominent building being the old pub, the Mount Bryan Hotel.

After leaving Mount Bryan, and travelling north along the Barrier Highway, we could clearly see the two towers on the top of Hallett Hill, amongst the wind farm.


Hallett Hill is 758 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points.  It is situated in the Hallett Range amongst a wind farm, about 5 kms north west of Mount Bryan.  The wind farm which is one of five in the area, is referred to as Hallett 2 Wind Farm, and is also known as Hallett Hill Wind Farm.  It was completed in late 2009 and consists of 34 Suzlon turbines each 2.1 MW, giving an installed capacity of 71.4 MW.  It produces enough energy to power about 40,000 homes.  In December 2010, AGL Energy Limited identified that under certain wind conditions tones from the wind turbines were audible at the nearest residence.  Resonance dampers have since been installed to address this tonality issue with the wind turbines.  Noise testing has confirmed that this permanent acoustic treatment has fixed the tonality issue.

The summit is located on private property owned by Bill Gebhardt.  Bill is a very friendly fella, and allowed us access.  Please contact him prior to entering onto his land.  I have placed his contact details on the SOTA site.

To gain access to the summit, travel through Mount Bryan on the Barrier Highway, and then turn left onto Petherton Road, about 3 kms north of the town.  Travel up Petherton Road heading west, and on your left you will see an unlocked entrance gate to the windfarm.  Please shut the gates as you find them, as there are sheep grazing & lambing on the property.

Ian and I drove along the dirt access road which was in very good condition and parked the car down hill from the summit, and then walked about 1 km up to the actual summit.   The weather was atrocious on the top of the range.  It was extremely cold (probably below 0 degrees C – wind chill) and the wind was vicious (most likely over 60 kph).  Ian and I both agreed this was the windiest and coldest summit we had activated.

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We got to the top of the summit and I set up at what was left of the trig point, just 3 blue painted metal poles amongst a pile of rocks, which afforded a little bit of shelter from the unrelenting wind which was absolutely belting in from the west.  Ian set up close by, also sheltering behind some rocks.  I used one of the blue upright poles to secure the squid pole.  This was the first time I had to use 3 octopus straps to secure the squid pole in place.

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I operated first and put a call out on 7.090 on 40m SSB.  The first cab off the rank for the day was Nev VK5WG who had a ‘cracking’ signal as always.  I then spoke with Tony VK3CAT who was operating QRP with just 5 watts.  Tony had a beautiful 5/8 signal.  Half way through my third QSO with Warren VK3BYD, I heard a terrible cracking sound coming from behind me and ended up with my squid pole on top of me.  Unfortunately it had completely snapped off in the wind !

Lesson learnt……if you are going to secure your squid pole to a solid metal object such as a pole in very windy conditions, try to secure the squid pole on the opposite side from where the wind is coming.  After looking at my squid pole secured to the metal pole, it appeared to Ian and I that it had no flexibility and it snapped off at the weakest point, at the top of the metal pole in the very severe wind.


So Ian and I tried to put it together as best we could but it didn’t last long, as the wind was so severe that the squid pole snapped again.  Again it was pulled down and resecured to the pole, and luckily it lasted me for the duration of the activation.  But it certainly had seen better days and wasn’t going to be accompanying me on any more SOTA trips.  Another one is on order from Haverfords in NSW.

I had some good QRP contacts whilst on top of the hill.  As mentioned Tony VK3CAT using just 5 watts had a good strong 5/8 signal.  I also worked Ian VK3FD who was QRP with a great signal, Andrew VK2ONZ, and Andrew VK4DNA who was QRP with just 5 watts (5/2 signal but perfectly readable).

I would encourage more people to try QRP out of interest as ‘Chasers’, because as Andrew VK1NAM has pointed out previously, on the top of most of these summits the noise floor is non existant.  So if you can hear me, I will more likely than not be able to hear you quite well.  It is always a thrill to work QRP to QRP.

I also managed one Summit to Summit QSO with Mike, VK3XL/p, who was operating from VK3/ VG-099.  Mike was 5/5 and I received 5/9 back from Mike.

I ended up with a total of 27 QSO’s on 40m SSB into VK1, VK3, VK4, & VK5.

Ian then took over after the UTC roll over and had a further 14 QSO’s, whilst I went for a walk and explored the hill.  There are terrific views from the top in all directions.  I find it amazing that every hill is different, with varied challenges and views.  I think that for me is one of the attractions of SOTA.

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I worked the following stations:- Nev VK5WG; Tony VK3CAT/qrp; Warren VK3BYD; Ron VK3AFW; Mal VK3AZZ; Max VK3MCX; Peter VK3FPSR; Tom VK5EE; Brian VK3MCD; Rhett VK3GHZ; Nick VK3ANL; Glenn VK3YY; Bernard VK3AMB; Allen VK3HRA; Col VK5HCF; Ian VK3FD/qrp; Andrew VK2ONZ; Andrew VK4DNA; Ian VK3TCX/m; Ed VK2JI; Ernie VK3DET; Rob VK2FROB; Leon VK3VGA; Brian VK5FMID; Al V1RX; Ian VK3TB/p; and Mike VK3XL /p (SOTA).

Time to pack up and head off this freezing blowy hill, and on to the next summit….New Campbell Hill VK5/ SE-007, about an hour’s drive away to the north west.

I have posted a You Tube video of the activation of Hallett Hill.