Winninowie Conservation Park

On Thursday afternoon, 5th February 2015, I headed north to the Winninowie Conservation Park, which is located on the Upper Spencer Gulf, about 25 km south of Port Augusta and about 270 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.50.10

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I had arranged to meet Les VK5KLV at the park to do a joint activation.  We had agreed to meet at the end of the road leading through the park to Chinaman Creek.

Winninowie Conservation Park was proclaimed in 1990 as recognition of its biological and ecological importance.  The park, which covers an area of 7,847 hectares, is a coastal area located between Port Augusta and Port Pirie, which has unique physical and biological conditions including large tidal range and extremes of water temperature.  The park supports mangrove, samphire and sea grass communities.  The Yatala Harbor Aquatic Reserve overlaps a portion of the Winninowie Conservation Park.  The park has 28 km of coastline.

It is believed that the termination ‘-owie’ in various place names throughout the region was widely used by the Nukunu aboriginal people, referring in general to a watering place.

The park was previously part of local pastoral holdings.  Much of the area was used for sheep grazing.  During the 1920’s, B.H.A.S. smelters extracted large quantities of shell-grit from coastal dunes in the area, for smelter operations at nearby Port Pirie.

As I travelled along the dirt road cutting through the park, I encountered numerous emus.  They didn’t seem to be too preturbed by the presence of a motor vehicle.  But I didn’t see any kangaroos.  It was probably a little too hot for them to be venturing out yet.

A total of 10 native mammals have been recored in the park including the Euro, Red kangaroo, Western grey kangaroo, Fat-tailed dunnart, Common dunnart, Mitchells Hopping mouse, Echidma, and Gould’s wattle bat.

About 124 species of birds have been recorded in the park.  A total of 32 species of reptiles call the park home, including the rare Spiny-tailed gecko and the Mallee worm-lizard.

Les and I set up at Chinamans Creek and we used my Yaesu FT-817nd and the SOTA Beams 40m/20m linked dipole.  It was a job keeping the 7 metre squid pole upright, as it was very windy.  But at the same time it was also very warm, so the shelter provided by the trees was welcomed.  Les operated first and filled up half a page of his log with contacts on 40m SSB.

There are four shacks here at Chinamans Creek that are located on Crown land, and are held under life tenure.  When the leases expire, the land will be incorporated into the park.

I then took the reigns of the mic and made a total of 15 contacts into VK2, VK3, and VK5 on 40m SSB and 20m SSB.  My first contact was with Tony VK3VTH/2 who was portable in the Warrumbungle National Park, north of Dubbo in New South Wales.  This was followed by a call from Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula running QRP 5 watts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Tony VK3VTH/p (Warrumbungle NP)
  2. Adrian VK5FANA (qrp)
  3. Peter VK5BWH
  4. Peter VK5KPR
  5. Greg VK5GJ (qrp)
  6. John VK5BJE
  7. Peter VK3ZPF
  8. Amanda VK3FQSO
  9. Arthur VK5AAR
  10. Peter VK5NAQ
  11. Chris VK5FCHM
  12. Adam VK2YK

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Tony VK3VTH/2 (Warrumbungle NP)
  2. Adam VK2YK
  3. Tom VK5EE

Brownhill Range VK5/ SE-004

My first activation for Thursday 5th February 2015, was Brownhill Range, VK5/ SE-004, which is located about 27 km by road south east of Jamestown, and about 220 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.43.45

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I had planned on activating The Bluff, VK5/ NE-065, but the hike to New Campbell the day before, had really taken it out of me.  So I called the land owner for Brownhill Range, first thing on Thursday morning, and got permission from him to access the summit (owner details can be found on the SOATA database).

I made an early start from Crystal Brook, and headed west along the Goyder Highway through Narridy.  I then took the Gulnare-Spalding Road, until I reached RM Williams Way, where I turned left and headed north towards Jamestown.  I then travelled out to Bellalie East and from there to Seven Trees Road.

I stopped off at the John Ainsworth Horrocks monument just outside of Gulnare.  Horrocks was a pastoralist and explorer, who passed through the district in August 1846 on his expedition to the north west of Mount Arden.  I then travelled up into the BrownHill Range.  It was a slow drive at times, as there were numerous Western Grey kangaroos on the roads.

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As I got higher up into the Brownhill Range, the views back to the west were excellent.  You were able to see clearly back to Jamestown and the Bundaleer Forest Reserve, and New Campbell Hill where I had activated the day before.  And there was no shortage of kangaroos in this area either.  It was slow going.

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Brownhill Range is 755 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  It is located amongst the Brown Hill (Hallett 1) windfarm.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.40.03

image courtesy of http://www.openstreetmap.org/

Access to the summit is off Seven Trees Road.  Just down from the power plant is a set of double gates with various signsl on the gates including ‘Unauthorised access.  Trespassers will be prosecuted‘.  Please do NOT enter the property unless you have been given permission to do so.

IMGA0041_3

I travelled up the dirt road, through a number of gates, until I reached the trig point at Brownhill Range.  The trig point consists of three blue painted metal poles, about 1.5 metres in height.  I parked the car down the dirt road, and walked up the road for a short distance and then up the ridgeline to the summit.

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-817nd and 5 watts output.  The antenna was the SOTA Beams 40m/20m linked dipole, which I supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  I secured the squid pole to one of the trig point poles, with the assistance of some octopus straps.

It was a beautiful sunny day, but it was incredibly windy on the summit.  There is a large outcrop of rocks at the summit, and I sheltered behind a large moss rock out of the northerly winds.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.46.21

image courtesy of google maps.

I was on air by 2250 UTC (9.20 a.m. SA local time).  My first contact was with Tom VK5EE in Mount Gambier, followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula who was running QRP 5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  My next caller was Nev VK5WG at Crystal Brook, and my fourth and qualifying contact was with Peter VK3FPSR.  I worked a total of 12 stations on 40m in VK3, VK5 & VK7.  Prior to heading over to 20m I was called by a station who was very very weak, and who I was just unable to pull out of the noise.  The wind turbines were generating an S1 noise on the band, and this combined with the wind, made it very difficult to copy.  Fred Vk3DAC, who was my last contact, informed me that it was Peter Vk3PF/7 who was trying to get through to me.

I told Fred that I would QSY to 20m and try Peter on 14.310.  I quickly lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed for 14.310.  I asked if the frequency was in use and an American voice replied, ‘yes the frequency is in use, thankyou’.  I listened a little longer and found that it was some USA stations in QSO, but I could not hear the other station.  I was amazed that at this time of the day, that my 5 watt signal was being heard in the United States.

I then found that 14.305 was clear and I started calling CQ.  My CQ call was answered by Peter VK3PF/7.  He had found me.  Peter’s signal was not all that strong, but he was very readable (5/1 both ways).  Peter was on SOTA peak, East Tower, VK7/ NE-009, in the Ben Lomond National Park.  My next contact was with David VK2WTY.  I called CQ a number of times after this, with no response.  So I decided to head back to 40m to pick up some more chasers before the UTC rollover.  It was now 2327 UTC.

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My first contact after returning to 40m was Greg Vk5LG in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Alan VK5ZLT.  I was then called by Tom VK5EE who was mobile at the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier, and then Tony VK3CAT who was mobile at the Sandringham Yacht Club.  My final caller before the UTC rollover was John VK5FMJC at Crystal Brook.

I then took the opportunity of stretching my legs.  I came back on air just after the UTC rollover, and asked for any mobile and portable stations first.   This call was answered by Tony VK3CAT and then Tom VK5EE.  I then asked for any QRP stations and this was answered by Nev VK5WG running 5 watts from his little X1M transceiver, followed by Ian VK5IS also running 5 watts and then Adrian VK5FANA again running 5 watts.  I went on to work John VK5FMJC and Craig VK5LI who was mobile on the South Eastern Freeway neat Mount Barker.

I decided to give 20m one last go after the UTC rollover.  So down came the squid pole again, and the links on the dipole were removed.  I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Peter VK4JD and then Andrew VK2MWP running QRP 2 watts.  I put out a few more CQ calls but there were no takers.

So after 90 minutes on the summit, I had a total of 28 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.46.03

 

Clements Gap Conservation Park

After my steak sandwich and a cleansing ale at Port Broughton, I headed back to the Clements Gap Conservation Park.   The park is situated about 22 km south west of Crystal Brook and about 200 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.32.28

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

Clements Cap is a largely undisturbed 11 square km of remnant bushland.  It is believed that the area is named after an old shepherd employed in the locality.  This park is sometimes referred to on maps as the Mundoora Conservation Park.

Clements Gap was once a thriving community.  The only surviving building at Clements Gap is the Soldiers Memorial Methodist Church, which is still used today for monthly services and weddings.  The church was officially opened on the 11th March 1926.  It was free of debt, due in part to the effort of the local ladies who at the end of the war turned their Red Cross Society into a ladies church aid for the erection of the memorial.  The architect of the church was Reverend T.G. White.

I found the following article re the opening of the church, from The Register, Friday 19th March 1926.

Screenshot 2015-02-08 18.28.24

image courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au

The Clements Gap windfarm is located nearby in the Barunga Range.  It was opened in 2010, and consists of 27 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 57 MW.   It provides enough electricity for up to 33,000 homes and is estimated to avoid the emission of 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

I set up on the northern side of the dirt road that runs through the park, between the Spencer Highway and Clements Road.  There are a number of dirt tracks that run off this dirt road.  I found a small clearing and set up the fold up table and deck chair.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.32.15

 image courtesy of mapcarta.com

I was planning on using the Yaesu FT-857d for this activation, but when I connected the radio to the 44 amp hour power pack, I found I had no power being delivered to the transceiver.  Some careful checks were made and this revealed that one of the 25 amp fuses had fallen out of the cable that I connect between the radio and the power source.  I had an open circuit.  So I resorted to using the smaller Yaesu FT-817nd and 5 watts output.

I started calling CQ on 7.095 and the first taker was Adrian VK5FANA, and then Richard VK5ZRY.  Both of whom are on the Yorke Peninsula.  I then spoke with Jeff VK5JK at Victor Harbor and then Geoff VK5HEL at Murray Bridge.  I had a little bit of QRM on the frequency from an EA1 on Spain, but it was not causing any major problems.  However, three VK2’s came up on 7.095 and completely took over the frequency.  There was no ‘is the frequency in use?’, they just completely took over.  No doubt they couldn’t hear me, but how they didn’t hear the higher powered stations I was working, I do not know.  And they also totally ignored the numerous ‘the frequency is in use’ calls that were made by other stations waiting to work me.

I gave up and moved up to 7.100 where I spoke with Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland.  Sadly, our VK2 friends from 7.090 then came up on 7.098 and were bleeding over badly.  I decided it wasn’t worth pursuing, and decided to go for a bit of a walk to soothe my nerves.

I returned to the radio about 15 minutes later and tuned up and down the 40m band and found an old friend, John VK3HJD in QSO with some other VK3’s.  So I called in to the group and spoke with John, Steve VK3MSC, Colin VK3COL, and Colin VK3ZZS/p.

It was at this time that I heard a vehicle travelling down the road.  I then saw a 4WD travel passed slowly and then come to a halt.  The vehicle then reversed up, back towards the track I had travelled down.  Oh no! I thought to myself.  This is either a park ranger, or a trouble maker.  I was hoping it was not the latter.  Fortunately it was neither.  It was Nev VK5WG and John VK5FMJC.

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After a bit of a chinwag with Nev and John, we tuned across the 40m band and found Andrew VK1DA who was portable on SOTA peak, Spring Hill, VK2/ ST-036.  All three of us spoke with Andrew.

I had intended on packing up by this time, but with Nev and John arriving, it was now 8.00 p.m. and it was time for the 7130 DX Net.  I booked in to the net and worked a total of 13 stations including William FO5JV, Brian ZL2ASH, and Caleb ZL2ML.

After a few rounds of the net, I moved up to 7.135 where I called CQ.  My CQ call was answered by Steve Vk3NSC who was running QRP 5 watts (5/8 both ways).  But during our QSO, a JA moved in right alongside of us and this made continuing the contact, very difficult.

I moved up to 7.141 where I again called CQ, and much to my surprise, the CQ call was answered by Peter VK3PF/7 who was portable in the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania.  I then spoke with Peter VK7LCW at Penguin in Tasmania.  Peter was my last contact.  It was getting late and I was a bit tired.  So it was time to head back to Crystal Brook.

I had a total of 27 contacts in the log.  Not bad, considering that I was running QRP 5 watts.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Adrian VK5FANA
  2. Richard VK5ZRY
  3. Jeff VK5JK
  4. Geoff VK5HEL
  5. Peter VK5FLEX
  6. Ivan VK5HS
  7. John Vk3HJD
  8. Steve VK3NSC
  9. Colin VK3COL
  10. Colin VK3ZZS/p
  11. Ian VK1DA/p (SOTA)
  12. Roy VK7ROY
  13. Rod VK3OB
  14. William FO5JV
  15. Brian ZL2ASH
  16. Caleb ZL2ML
  17. Doug VK2FMIA/p
  18. Colin VK4FAAS
  19. Greg VK7FGGT
  20. Kevin VK7VEK
  21. John VK2FALL
  22. VK7GG
  23. Craig VK6VCK/m
  24. Adam VK7VAZ
  25. Steve VK3NSC/qrp
  26. Peter VK3PF/7 (Freycinet NP)
  27. Peter VK7LCW

 

References.

Cockburn, R, 1908, ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?’, Axiom Publishing.

Monument Australia, 2015, <http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww1/display/50605-clements-gap-soldiers-memorial-methodist-church&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015

Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clements_Gap_Wind_Farm&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015

Clements Gap CP with Les VK5KLV and Peter VK5KPR

Late on the Wednesday afternoon (4th February 2015), after things had wrapped up at John VK5FMJC’s home, myself, Les VK5KLV and Peter VK5KPR, headed out to the Clements Gap Conservation Park.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.32.28

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

We set up near the old Methodist church, which is the only surviving building in the area.  Les used his SOTA Beams linked dipole, and his Yaesu FT-817.  Peter and I enjoyed sitting back, listening to Les weave his magic on the bands.

As we sat at this rather remote location, we had some inquisitive visitors, in the form of an English couple.  They were in a motorhome in a parking area across from where we were operating.  As it turned out, the gentleman concerned was G0JDP, who was on holiday in Australia.  Amazing.  Here we were in the bush, really in the middle of nowhere.  And a holidaying English ham had stumbled across us.

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After a few hours in the park, I headed off to Port Broughton, where I enjoyed a steak sandwich on the foreshore, before returning back to activate Clements Gap Conservation Park myself.

An afternoon with the boyz from the Mid North

After my activation of New Campbell Hill I headed into Jamestown and stopped off at the Jamestown Bakery, which I can highly recommend.

I then travelled back to Crystal Brook and went to the home of John VK5FMJC.  We had planned a gathering of some of the Mid North amateurs and for me to deliver a quick powerpoint presentation on the VK5 National and Conservation parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The following attended:

  1. John VK5FMJC
  2. Les VK5KLV
  3. Peter VK5KPR
  4. Nev Vk5WG
  5. Ian VK5CZ
  6. Roger VK5NWE
  7. Bill VK5MBD
  8. Ian VK5IS.

We all enjoyed about 3 hours of general chit chat and shared quite a few laughs and a few war stories.

I also gave the 45 minute presentation on the two parks programs.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon.  And it was great to catch up with a number of hams that I had spoken to many times on the radio, but had never met in person.

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New Campbell Hill VK5/ SE-007

My first activation for Wednesday 4th February 2015, was New Campbell Hill, VK5/ SE-007, which is situated about 11km south of Jamestown, and about 206 km north of Adelaide.

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image courtesy of mapcarta.com

New Campbell Hill is 714 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  It is located in the ‘South East’ Region of the South Australian SOTA Association, and is located in the Bundaleer Forest Reserve.

I have activated this summit once before, with Ian VK5CZ.  For information on that activation please have a look at my previous post at…..

https://vk5pas.org/2013/07/27/new-campbell-hill-vk5-se-007/

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.28.06

New Campbell Hill is part of the Campbell Range.  It is not to be confused with Campbell Hill which is located further to the south.

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I had an early start from Crystal Brook and I headed north along RM Williams Way towards Jamestown.  I turned left onto Bundaleer Gardens Road, and stopped briefly to have a look at the memorial for Pioneers of the Bundaleer District.  I continued on up Bundaleer Gardens Road, and parked the car at Neindorf Road, where I packed my backpack, and commenced the @5 km walk to the summit.

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Bundaleer is regarded as the birthplace of forestry in Australia.  It covers an area of about 3,200 hectares.  It is still home to Curnow’s Hut, the original residence built for the district’s first nursery worker, William Curnow (see below).  The name Bundaleer is derived from an aboriginal word, meaning ‘stony place’.

Screenshot 2015-02-08 16.51.54

Map courtesy of Forestry SA.

Bundaleer Forest was originally part of the Bundaleer Run, which was a vast pastoral station established in 1844 by John Bristow Hughes (b. 1871 – d. 1881).  Hughes was born in England in 1817 and arrived in South Australia in 1841 aboard the Porter, following his arrival in Tasmania in 1840.  He was married in 1847 in Adelaide, and established Bundaleer shortly after arriving in South Australia, with sheep he had brought across from Tasmania.

Screenshot 2015-02-08 16.36.21

Above: J.B. Hughes.  Image courtesy of http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au

In 1875, a Forest Board was appointed by the South Australian Government, and Forest Reserves were created, mainly in the South East.  However, some sections were created in the north of South Australia.  In c. 1876 the Forest Board commenced work at Bundaleer Springs when a nurseryman, William Curnow was sent to establish a nursery and prepare 400 hectares for lanting.   Curnow commenced planting asmanian Blue gums, local Red gums and Sugar Gums adjacent to the Jamestown to Spalding Road (RM Williams Way).

I followed the Bore Track up to the summit.  The walk starts off very easy, but don’t get too excited.  Worse is to come.  The initial walk took me passed beautiful pine forest, along a very easy access track.  There were quite a few Western Grey kangaroos out, enjoying the morning sunshine.  But unlike last time I activated the summit, I did not see any native deer.

The Bundaleer Forest Reserve was devastated by fire in early 2013.  Around 23,000 hectares of forest and scrubland were destroyed.  Over 30 % of the pine plantations were wiped out.  Leith Cooper, who is a local farmer stated: ‘It was one of the worst fires I’ve ever seen, there were reports that the flames were 100 feet above 50 foot pine trees, it was pretty intense’.  For more information on the fire, including some audio, please have a look at…..

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-14/charred-bundaleer-forest/4687770

There are some excellent views once you reach the top of the summit.  And the amazing dry stone walls which follow the ridgeline, are really quite a sight.  They are mentioned in a book called ‘those dry-stone walls’ written by Bruce Munday, which I have a copy of.  Many of these old walls were created by Patrick O’Grady (1838-1906), who was a ‘waller’ on Bundaleer Station.  Munday is remembered as bing ‘a little old man with long ringlets who always wore green ribbon in his coat’.  He is buried with his wife Annie at the Jamestown cemetery.  Local photographer, Mary-Anne Young made the following comment: ‘For someone who created such magnificent stone work, it is a disapointing grave’.

This was not one of my most memorable SOTA activations.  After setting up the linked dipole, I discovered that I had a very high VSWR.  Numerous checks were undertaken on the antenna, and this revealed that the likely source of the problem was the coax crimping on the BNC connector.  Not much I could do about it, as I didn’t have the required tools, and I had left the spare antennas back in the car.

Anyway I pressed on and called CQ on 7.090.  My first contact was with Amanda VK3FQSO (5/8 sent and 5/5 received), followed by Ian VK5IS (5/3 both ways), Bob Vk5FLAK (5/8 sent and 5/5 received), and my fourth and qualifying contact was with VK3UH (5/9 sent and 5/2 received).

Much to my surprise I was called by VK4JD who have me a 4/1 signal report, and Paul VK2KTT who also gave me a 4/1 signal report.

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So felling very frustrated, I packed the gear up and headed down the hill back to the car.  Just 8 contacts in the log, but thankfully the summit had been qualified.

I think the next time I active this summit I will try parking near Curnows Hut and walking north along the Heysen Trail to the summit.  Easier?  I’m not sure.  At the current time this section of the forest is closed due to restoration work after the 2013 bushfire.

After the activation I headed in to Jamestown, where I went to the Jamestown bakery for a pastie.  Jamestown is a beautiful little town and certainly worth a look.  There is an interpretice centre for RM Williams, who was an Australian bushman and entrepreneur who rose from a swagman, to a millionaire.  Fore more information on RM Williams, please have a look at the following…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._M._Williams

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For more information on Jamestown, have a look at the following…..

http://www.visitjamestown.com.au/

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.34.02

 

 

References.

ABC, 2015, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-14/charred-bundaleer-forest/4687770&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015.

Government of South Australia, Forestry SA, 2015, Bundaleer Visitor Information brochure, <https://www.forestry.sa.gov.au/Portals/0/Publications/InfoLeaflets/Bundaleer%20Forest.pdf&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015

Government of South Australia, State Libarary, 2015, <http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=77&c=5232&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015

Munday; B, 2012, ‘those dry-stone walls’, Wakefield Press.

Illawarra Hill VK5/ SE-014

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.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.24.18

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.

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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’.

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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.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 15.25.05

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.

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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.

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I highly recommend the Crystal Brook Caravan Park.  The caretaker was very friendly and the cabin which I stayed in was very clean & tidy.

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The following stations were worked on Illawarra Hill:-

Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.27.56

 

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowtown,_South_Australia&gt;, viewed 8th February 2015.