Stokes Hill, VK5/ NE-050

My second summit for the Saturday with Ian, VK5CZ, was Stokes Hill, VK5/ NE-050, which is situated about 330 kms north of Adelaide, and about 20 kms west of the little town of Carrieton in the Flinders Ranges.  Stokes Hill is 779 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points.  After our journey it should be worth three times that.  It was not easy getting there !  Lots of 4WDing and lots of climbing.

Following our activation of Oladdie Hills, Ian and I headed north on RM Williams Way, through the little towns of Walloway, Eurelia, and Carrieton.    The history of these small towns is really quite amazing.

Walloway was the scene of a fatal train accident at about 2.30am on the 16th November 1901.  Two trains collided killing the stock train fireman instantly, and later claiming the life of the fireman of the other train due to his injuries.  A south bound locomotive travelling with 170 bullocks was to pull into the Walloway siding to enable a north bound train to pass. However to the train To the driver’s horror, the brakes locked up, and the slippery rails caused the wheels to slide.  The train continued on passed the station and collided head on with an unsuspecting oncoming northbound train loaded with flour and copper ore, on a bridge over a small creek.  Today Walloway is little more than a ghost town.

Eurelia is a tiny town which was once a major centre along the railway.  The name is believed to originate from the local Jadliaura aboriginal dialect and translates to “place of the ear”.  It is thought that local Dreamtime stories associated with the Ranges locates Eurelia as an “ear” of a prostrate man.

The larger town, Carrieton, has a population of about 50 people and is the home of the Carrieton Rodeo, a highlight event on the Australian rodeo circuit.

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Stokes Hill is located on private property owned by Susan and Ben CARN.  I met Susan the day before, on the Friday, and collected the key from her to open the padlocks to allow us access to their property.  Susan is a lovely lady and had just arrived home with a 4WD full of food and beer for the shearers on her property.  It is normally $50.00 per vehicle to access the Horsheshoe Rim 4WD track, but Susan kindly allowed us access for free. Susan & Ben offer quiet and tranquil accomodation in the Horsehoe Range.  More information can be found on their website at…..

http://www.horseshoerim.com.au

The 4WD track runs around the rim of the Horseshoe Range.  There are two loop tracks, one for intermediate and one for experienced 4 wheel drivers.  There are magnificent views of the Flinders Ranges from Mt Remarkable in the South to Wilpena Pound in the north, with lookouts along the way providing many spectacular photo opportunities.  A highlight is the challenging section to the top of Mt Stokes – the highest point in the Horseshoe Range.  And Ian and I certainly found this challenging.

At Carrieton, we turned onto the road to Hammond, which is located directly opposite the Carrieton Hotel, and we headed west.  We travelled passed the rodeo grounds and travelled a further 14 km to the west.  Here we reached a dirt road which had a signpost for the ‘Horseshoe Rim 4WD track’.  We turned right here and travelled north.  We passed a house on our right and just after this we came to another dirt road on the left with another ‘Horsehoe Rim 4WD track’ sign.  We turned left here, travelling along the dirt road, and over 2 grids.

As we entered this area, there were lots of emus and kangaroos to be seen.  Please drive carefully through this section as there is cattle grazing in this unfenced section of land.

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We then came to a fork in the road.  Do not go left here, but follow the road around to the right.  This brought us into the spectacular Horseshoe Valley.  We then travelled over a third grid, and this is when you are on Susan and Ben CARN’s property.  Continue travelling along the dirt road and you reach a gate on your right which is marked number ‘9’.  If you reach the double farmers gates with a sign for ‘Wilderness Cabin’, you have travelled to far.

Ian and I unlocked the padlock at gate number ‘9’ and commenced our way up the Horseshoe Rim 4WD track.  We followed the old Dingo fence on our right to the next gate and into the paddock.  In the 1880’s this paddock was used to lock the dingos inside.  Later dogs and guns were used to round up and shoot the dingos.

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Ian and I continued to follow the dirt 4WD track alongside the old dingo fence and then up along the ridgeline.  The track is rocky so it is slow going, but the views are amazing.  We reached a point in the valley where the 4WD track continues on up to the Stokes Hill summit.  We had driven a distance of about 4 kms along the track.  We parked Ian’s 4WD here and made the rest of the way up the very steep 4WD track to the summit on foot.  A distance of about 3 km walking, and it was not easy !

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Despite it being hard going, the views were amazing, and there were a large amount of wild flowers on display and plenty of friendly Euros (Wallabies).  They were obviously very familiar with all the 4WDers that use the track as they were very tame & inquisitive.

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After a considerable climb, Ian and I eventually reached the trig point.  One of the legs had been bent out of shape considerably.  I can only image it might have been a 4WDer that had reversed into it ?  There is also a small rock cairn and a visitor book at the top which I signed.  The walk had really taken it out of Ian and he had come down very quickly with a stomach bug.  I’ll leave the rest up to your imagtion.  Needless to say, Ian was not well.

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The views from the top are really quite spectacular.  Mount Stokes is the highest point in the Horeshoe Range.  It is so named because of its shape when viewed from the air.  If you look at Google Earth you can certainly see why it was given this name.

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Not far from the Mount Stokes summit is another hill which has a tower on it which in turn services the Police Service and the Next G mobile phone service.  An impressive feature is Moockra Tower which is 740 metres above sea level.

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Because Ian was not feeling crash hot, we set up just one station.  We used Ian’s Elecraft KX3, and his 40m/20m home brew linked dipole.  There was a clump of trees not far from the trig point which not only could be used to attach the squid pole to, but also afforded some shade.  Although it was not a hot day, there were no clouds in the sky and it was quite warm.  In fact I even had to put on suns screen to prevent me from becoming sun burnt.

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My first contact on the summit was with Wayne, VK3WAM, who was on the top of Mount Mitchell, VK3/ VN-012.  This was a great way to start off, with a summit to summit contact.  Wayne had a good strong signal of 5/8, and we received a 5/9 back from Wayne.  This was followed by Larry VK5LY, Colin VK3UBY, and Ron VK3AFW, all of whom ahd very strong 5/9 + signals.  The usual crowd of Chasers followed.

Just two qrp stations called in this time.  Andrew VK2UH who was using just 5 watts had a very nice 5/8 signal from NSW.  And Shaun VK5FAKV from the Riverland called in with a very strong 5/9 + signal with just 3 watts.

An interesting QSO was with John VK5AJQ who was using the call VK5BR for the Scouts, and was operating from the Woodhouse scout camp in the Adelaide Hills.  I had a short chat with young Tom, a scout, and explained to him about SOTA and where we were located in the Flinders Ranges.

The following stations were worked:- Wayne VK3WAM/p (SOTA); Larry VK5LY; Colin VK3UBY; Ron VK3AFW; Ernie VK3DET; Marc VK3OHM; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Ed VK2JI; Phil VK3BHR; Marshall VK3MRG; Andrew VK2UH; Peter VK3PF; Shaun VK5FAKV; Roy VK5NRG; Rob VK2FROB; Nev VK5WG; Glenn VK3YY; Matt VK1MA; Andy VK5LA; Warren VK3BYD; Rob VK2ZRD; VK3AXH; Ian VK1DI; Mark VK3PI; Mark VK3YN; John VK5BP; and John VK5AJQ.

A challenging but rewarding summit.  Time to get Ian off the hill and home to bed early for tomorrow’s 2 summits.

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

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