My third and final activation for Tuesday 3rd February, 2015, was Illawarra Hill, VK5/ SE-014, which is located about 11 km by road from the town of Snowtown, and about 155 km north of Adelaide.
image courtesy of mapcarta.com
Illawarra Hill is 434 metres above sea level, and is worth 1 SOTA point. It is located in the Barunga Range, west of Snowtown. The town of Snowtown became infamously known for the Snowtown murders. This is rather sad, because the vast majority of the murders were not even committed in the town. However the bodies of many of the victims were stored in barrels in an old bank in the main street. Snowtown is located in the wheat belt area of the Mid North of South Australia, and has a population of about 500 people.
In 2008, a monument called ‘The Big Blade’ in the form of a 44 metre wind turbine was installed in Snowtown. There are a number of interpretive signs there, telling you all about the nearby Snowtown wind farm which is situated on the Hummock and Barunga Ranges to the west of the town. It is well worth a look.
The first stage of the Snowtown wind farm was commissioned in September, 2008 with 47 Suzlon S88 2.1 MW turbines. In 2011, an additional prototype Suzlon S95 2.1 MW turbine was installed and commissioned. Since 2008, Stage 1 of the Snowtown wind farm has provided reliable electricity into the South Australian electricity network delivering a long term capacity factor of 43%, one of the highest wind farm outputs in Australia. Final approvals for Stage 2 of the Snowtown Wind Farm were secured in August 2012 to install a further 90 Siemens 3.0 MW turbines, with a combination of 101 metre and 108 metre blade diameters, with an output of up to 270 MW. With the completion of Snowtown 2, the total output of the combined Snowtown wind farm will be 370.8 MW, making it the biggest single wind farm in South Australia. Over 230,000 homes can be powered by the Snowtown Wind Farm.
After leaving Snowtown, I headed west along Shadwells Gap Road. About 5 km along this road, you will reach a gate on your right. There are a number of signs here including ‘Snowtown Wind Farm Stage II” and ‘Private Property. Trustpower Windfarm. Tresspassers Prosecuted’.
The summit is located on private property and is situated amongst the windfarm. I had spoken with the landowner a few days prior, and had sought approval to access the summit. PLEASE do NOT access the summit without the approval of the land owner.
image courtesy of http://www.openstreetmap.org/
I drove along the dirt road after entering via the gate and headed north up towards the telecommunications tower and the trig point. It was a very warm afternoon, so I set up underneath a small sheoak tree and an adjacent dead tree stump. It was not the most comfortable of ‘shacks’, but it did provide a little bit of shelter from the very hot afternoon sun. As you would expect, it was extremely windy on the top of the summit. There aren’t too many other options on a hot day on this summit. The only over cover are the two rainwater tanks a little closer to the trig point.
For this activation, I used the Yaesu FT-857d and ran 20 watts. My antenna was the SOTA Beams 40m/20m linked dipole, which I supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole. I secured the squid pole to the squid pole holder with an octopus strap. Because it was so windy, I used the guying rope which I tied off to a fallen tree limb.
My first contact was with Peter VK3TKK who was mobile, followed by Ian VK5IS at Beetaloo Valley, Col VK5HCF in Mount Gambier, and then Tom VK5EE, also in Mount Gambier. Signals were very good, and there was no man made noise on the summit.
After working 13 stations on 40m, I headed up to 20m hoping to work some DX. But I was to be sadly disapointed. I did work a total of 7 Australian stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK6, but did not have a single European caller. I have mentioned it before, but I guess we take distances for granted here in Australia. My contact with Peter VK4JD was over a distance of about 1,900 km. My contact with John Vk6NU was over a distance of about 2,500 km. In some parts of the world, this is a DX contact. But here in Australia we call it a ‘local’ QSO.
I moved back to 40m and placed another CQ call on 7.090, and this was answered by Ray VK3NBL, and then Tony VK3CAT, followed by Ian VK3VIN, and then Andrew VK1NAM. All had excellent signals. I went on to work a further 8 VK stations.
I decided to try my luck again on 20m, so I again lowered the squid pole and removed the links and tuned across the 20m band. But sadly, the European signals I was hearing, were low down. I headed up to 14.156 where I made contact with John EA7BA in Almeria in Spain, Brian VK2JE, and Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington in New Zealand.
I had a total of 35 contacts in the log. It was time to pack up and get back on the road and head back to Crystal Brook, about 60 km away.
Upon arriving in Crystal Brook I headed to the Crystal Brook Hotel, where I enjoyed a very nice Schnitzel, chips and salad, and a few cold Bundies and coke. I then returned to the Crystal Brook Caravan Park, where I enjoyed the sunset and the almost full moon.
I highly recommend the Crystal Brook Caravan Park. The caretaker was very friendly and the cabin which I stayed in was very clean & tidy.
The following stations were worked on Illawarra Hill:-
Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowtown,_South_Australia>, viewed 8th February 2015.