Old Laucke Flour Mill at Strathalbyn for Mills on the Air

On Sunday morning (14th May 2017), Mother’s Day, my wife Marija, my mother in law, and my son and his girlfriend, and my daughter, all headed out for a late breakfast at the local cafe.  It was a great morning, celebrating Mother’s Day.  Marija and her mum had planned to go shopping that afternoon, so I decided to head down to Strathalbyn to activate the Old Laucke Flour Mill for the Mills on the Air Weekend.


Strathalbyn is located about 57 km south east of Adelaide, and is situated on the banks of the Angas River.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.36.10 pm

Map showing the location of Strathalbyn, south east of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Google Maps.

Strath Albyn is derived from two Gaelic words – ‘strath’ meaning ‘broad valley’ or a ‘valley with a river running through it’ and ‘Albion’ meaning ‘hilly land’.  The town has more than 40 heritage listed buildings, including St Andrews Church which overlooks the Soldiers Memorial Gardens and the river.

And another one of those historic buildings is the old flour mill which was built by Donald Gollan in 1849.  It located on the corner of Commercial Road and Hill Street in the centre of Strathalbyn.  It is a four storeyed rectangular building which was constructed of random rubble walls with dressed stone quoins at corners and openings.   The roof is corrugated iron hip and skillion design on timber framing.  Gollan sold the mill to William Coleman in 1850/1851.  Coleman was  aprominent figure in Strathalbyn’s municipal history, and he oversaw the mill as it received grain from the flourishing agricultural hinterland of Strathalbyn.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.14.02 pm.png

The flour mill and grain store, c. 1840’s, with an aboriginal camp in the foreground.  Image courtesy of http://www.aussietowns.com.au

The mill was subsequently run by the Johnston family from 1883 until 1928 when it was sold to the Laucke family.  The old mill was replaced in 1961 with a newly built mill just down the road at Strathalbyn.  Laucke is still a very well known name in the milling industry and are renowned internationally for the production of a wide range of high quality flours for the food industry and home bakers.

Above:- Eary images of Laucke Flour Mill.  Courtesy of http://www.laucke.com.au

A very interesting video on Laucke Flour Mills can be found at the ABC’s Landline website.  Here is the link……


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Directly opposite the old mill is the former Coleman’s Grain Store which was built by William Coleman in 1869 as the store for the Angas Mill.   The building also served as a hall for dances and public meetings prior to the construction of the Institute (now Town Hall), and later as a site for agricultural shows when the land to the north was the showgrounds.  It is a simple rectangular building with one large room, gable ends, round headed windows and a door placed centrally in the main gable facade.  It is constructed of random rubble walls, without quoins, tuck pointed on two street facades.  A small tram line crossed the road to the mill.

Strathalbyn has been in the news a bit over recent years due to a huge problem with the Little Corella population.  They have destroyed significant vegetation within Strathalbyn including the pine trees around the Angas River.  And they, along with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were quite active during my activation.

I set up right alongside the mill.  I ran my normal portable station for this activation, consisting of the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole supported on the 7 m telescopic squid pole, inverted vee configuration.

Much to my pleasure, when I turned the transceiver on, the noise floor was pretty good considering I was in the heart of town.  The noise was around strength 5.  I commenced the activation by calling CQ on 7.095.  Number one in the log was Sergio VK3SFG who has become a regular park hunter during my park activations.  This was followed by Brian VK3BBB and then my wife Marija, who not surprising was 5/9 ++ on ground wave.

Contact number 11 was with Mark VK4SMA who was portable in the Mogill Conservation Park VKFF-1594 in Queensland.  Nine QSOs later I was called by Jonathan VK7JON and his wife Helen VK7FOLK, who were activating the Hellyer Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1139 in Tasmania.  Next up was David VK3BI who was operating portable at Andersons Mill at Smeaton in Victoria.  It was nice to get a Mill to Mill contact.

I logged a total of 39 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK, before heading off to 14.310 on the 20m band.  Much to my surprise, Ivan UR9IDX in Ukraine came back to my call with a strong 5/8 signal.  I was quite excited, hoping that more Europeans would follow.  But sadly that was not to be the case.  Ivan was my only European caller.  And in fact he was my only caller full stop.  Five minutes of CQ calls yeilded no takers.  So I QSY’d down to the ANZA DX Net, where I booked in and logged 4 stations, including Jim WA4YBC in Georgia, USA, and Joe K5KT in California, USA.  When the net wrapped up I tuned across the 20m band and logged Mario 9A7C in Croatia.

I then headed to 3.610 on the 80m band, hoping to log some of the South Australian stations.  But unfortunately Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula was my only caller, despite Adrian spotting me on parksnpeaks and me placing my frequency on some of the Facebook sites.

I then put a phone call in to Tony VK5MRT, a local Strathalbyn resident, and mate of mine, and invited him down to pay me a visit and get on air.  Whilst waiting for Tony to arrive I headed back to 7.095 on the 40m band and called CQ.  I logged 4 further stations before Tony arrived, and we swapped the mic.  Tony had soon filled up 3/4’s of his log sheet which was great.

After spending about 45 minutes on air, Tony headed off, and I jumped back into the ‘driver’s seat’ and called CQ on 7.095.  I was very pleased, as there was no shortage of callers.  I had soon logged a further 33 stations, including Oliver ZL1XS in New Zealand.

It was now 5.40 p.m. and the sun was disappearing fast.  And with that, so did the temperature.  It had dropped down to 7 deg C.  I decided to give 80m one last quick go and I’m pleased I did, as I logged special event station VI5WOW, with Steve VK5SFA on the mic.  And also my good wife Marija VK5FMAZ.

I had enjoyed another great day out in the field with a total of 87 stations in the log on 20, 40 & 80m SSB.  It seems that Mills on the Air activity may be on the increase here in Australia, which is great news.  Any activity which creates more activity on the amateur bands is a good thing.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SFG
  2. VK3BBB
  3. VK5FMAZ
  4. VK4HNS/p
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK2NP
  7. VK3KMH
  8. VK3TL
  9. VK3FBNG
  10. VK3VBI
  11. VK4SMA/p (Mogill Conservation Park VKFF-1594)
  12. VK4XAC
  13. VK7MPR
  14. VK7QP
  15. VK3HDV
  16. VK3FOTO/m
  17. VK4RZ
  18. VK7ALH
  19. VK3ANL
  20. VK7JON/p (Hellyer Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1139)
  21. VK7FOLK/p (Hellyer Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1139)
  22. VK3BI/p (Andersons Mill, Smeaton, VIC)
  23. VK2YW
  24. VK3VIN
  25. VK2HHA
  26. VK7AN
  27. VK3AJW
  28. VK3FPHG
  29. VK4RF
  30. VK4HA
  31. VK7DW
  32. VK2NEO
  33. VK3TJK
  34. VK3SQ
  35. VK3FVKI/m
  36. VK2IO
  37. VK2KVH
  38. VK2NSS
  39. VK7HCK
  40. VK3XL
  41. VK5DX
  42. VK3ELH
  43. VK4GSF
  44. ZL1TM
  45. VK3CWM
  46. VK3LK
  47. VK4FARR
  48. VK3FVKI
  49. VK5MRT
  50. VK5FRSM
  51. VK3HJA
  52. VK3WAC/m
  53. VK3FPSR
  54. VK3CM
  55. VK3FAJH
  56. VK5PET
  57. VK2YE
  58. VK2JDR
  59. VK3NBL
  60. VK6NK/p
  61. VK2BY
  62. VK3AJA
  63. VK4FADW
  64. VK3FONZ
  65. VK4EU
  66. VK3MAB
  67. VK1TX
  68. VK6BSA
  69. VK4FE
  70. ZL1XS
  71. VK2MZZ
  72. VK2ICW
  73. VK4MRP
  74. VK4TSB
  75. VK2LMT
  76. VK2GCN
  77. VK2BET

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. UR9IDX
  2. VK4CC
  3. WA4YBC
  4. K5KT
  5. VK4XCS
  6. 9A7C

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK3TJS
  3. VI5WOW
  4. VK5FMAZ



Aussie Towns, 2017, <http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/strathalbyn-sa&gt;, viewed 15th May 2017

District Council of Strathalbyn, 1985, ‘Heritage Survey of the Fleurieu Peninsula’

Laucke, 2017, <http://www.laucke.com.au/&gt;, viewed 15th May 2017

VK5WOW at Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, 5CP-104 and VKFF-0781

After leaving Nixons Mill at Hahndorf, I made the short journey to the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park 5CP-104 & VKFF-0781.  The park is situated about 17 km east of Adelaide, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

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Map showing the location of the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I have activated Kenneth Stirling under my own call, five times previously.  For more information on those activations, please see my previous posts…..






Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park is quite a unique park in that it consists of four autonomous sections:

  • Wotton Scrub
  • Filsell Hill
  • White Scrub
  • Burdett Scrub

The total size of Kenneth Stirling is 253 ha, comprising mostly stringybark forest with some gum woodland.  The park was established in 1985 with the purchase of two sections of land, Filsell Hill at Forest Range and Wotton’s Scrub at Carey Gully.  Further land adjoining Filsell Hill was subsequently purchased with a bequest from Miss Anne Steer.  In 1986 White’s Scrub was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Vern White, whilst in 1989 the Burdett family donated the northern most section.

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Aerial shot showing the 4 sections of the park in the Adelaide Hills, with the city of Adelaide in the background.  Image courtesy of Google maps

The park is named in honour of Kenneth George Stirling.  Although I have spoken about Mr. Stirling in my previous posts, he is well worth highlighting again, as he was certainly an outstanding individual.  Some time ago when researching the park I spoke with Graham Churchett, who knew Kenneth Stirling.  This is what Graham had to say:

“The Environment Committee was a sub committee of the Town and Country Planning Association composed of the following:

Ron Caldicot, Dr John Coulter, David Strahle, Alwin Clements, Ray Holliday, Miss Erdley, Dr Peter Guldhurst, Ken Stirling, Ralph Middenway, Elise and Gordon Gardner and myself.

This committee was active across a broad spectrum of planning and environmental issues but it was not until money was given anonymously to the committee, and we employed Ron Caldicot as a Project Director, that some monumental changes occurred.

At the time the State Planning Authority was headed by Stewart Heart and sitting on the authority were developers and others who naturally pushed through every approval to further line their pockets at the expense of the environment and common good. The committee pressured the government and Ron was appointed to the Authority and in a short time the rules were changed to exclude those with vested interests. 

With the help of the Natural History Society we brought about the protection of the wedge tail eagle, and Improved planning laws.

In May 1980 tragedy occurred. David Strahle, a gentle, dedicated man and one who worked for a better world suddenly died due to a massive heart attack. We were all stunned, he was only in his 45th year.

In 1973 we were again shocked when Ken Stirling died from a heart attack when jogging by the uni bridge.  He was only 38.

Ken, and all of us for that matter, were appalled at the scarring taking place in the north Flinders by EX Oil and Ken knew more of what was going on as he was employed by two of Australia’s largest mining companies before joining Poseidon’s associate, Samin Ltd, in 1969.

 It was when Poseidon shares  went through the roof that Ken became a millionaire  and  in 1972 Ken resigned from the mining industry and sought a position in the Public Service with the Department for the Environment. A series of applications were rebuffed and some were not even answered and he was bitter at this.

While waiting for something to turn up he gave unpaid service to the Birdwood Mill Museum.

 His benefactions were not known to the Public service and his intense interest in conservation not realised.

 Those who examined his application may have noted with disapproval his association with the mining industry. The irony of it is that but for the mining boom, the entire conservation cause in South Australia would not have prospered without Ken’s personal service and financial help.

It was only after his death we found out that Ken had given money to a variety of organisations and in particular, for Ron’s full time employment as a director, $100.000 was given to set up Radio 5UV University radio employing Keith Conlon. $50,000 was given to State Archives, $200,000 to the Australian Conservation Foundation for the acquisition and establishment of a national park. This park is now rightly known as the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park.

 Through Ron we achieved so much and it was then that I came to the earnest belief that if the conservation movement was to make any meaningful headway in this cockeyed world, we had to employ key people full time.

I was privileged to have known Ron, David and Ken as friends, all be it that our time together with regard to David and Ken was short. I was saddened to hear the other day that Ron, a man I knew with a mind as sharp as a tack and a gentle manner but one who would stand his ground with great conviction, was now in a home suffering severe dementure.

What can I say other than they are fondly remembered.”


Below is part of what the Advertiser columnist, Stewart Cockburn said of Ken Stirling upon his death…..

“Ken Stirling was the son of a railway man. He wanted to be a boundary rider on an outback station and, for a while, he became a multimillionaire. He made his money in the mining boom, and gave most of it away.  Only since he died, have the benefactions of this humble, intensely private man become known outside his family and a small circle of friends and associates.”

The park has an active Friends of Kenneth Stirling group.  Their site can be located at…..


Friends of Kenneth Stirling Logo.jpg

On my way to the park I spoke with VK5ALM who were activating the Dunn Mill at Mount Barker.  They had a nice signal into the mobile.  Once arriving at the park I set up in my normal operating spot, in the Wotton Scrub section of the park, off Gum Flat Road.

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Map showing the 4 sections of the Kenneth Stirling CP, and my operating spot.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I headed for 7.144 and asked if the frequency was in use.  Joe VK3YSP was waiting there for me and was number one in the log.  This was followed by Julie VK3FOWL, Geoff VK3SQ, and then Peter VK3HSB.  It didn’t take long for the pile up to ensue, with contact number 50 in the log after being on air for about 40 minutes.  All signals were very good.  I also had a European park activator on the frequency as well, who sadly could not hear me.

After logging a total of 56 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand, I headed to the 20m band.  I tuned to my normal operating frequency of 14.310 and heard Rick VK4RF working Mike 2E0YYY/p on a SOTA peak in the United Kingdom.  Unfortunately I could not hear Mike on this occasion.  I moved up to 14.315 and called CQ, and was soon called by Rick VK4RF who had tracked me down.

I logged a total of 8 stations on 20m.  This included VK5ALM at the Dunn Mill at Mount Barker.  Only one DX station was logged, that being Gerard F1BLL in France.  Sadly, the long path propagation to Europe was virtually non existant.

I then moved back to 7.144 where I logged a further 27 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, USA, and New Zealand.  I was very pleased to give Martin VK3FMJP and Chris VK5SA their 5th contact with VK5WOW, thus qualifying them for the special 2017 WIA AGM/Convention Award.  And I was extremely happy to log Mark AF6TC in the USA, who was booming in at 5/9 +.

To finish off the activation I headed off to 3.610 on the 80m band.  It was now 5.30 p.m. local time and starting to get dark.  It was also now getting very cold.  The temperature had dropped down to 7 deg C.  I logged a total of 16 stations on 80m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7.  And I made it three stations that had worked VK5WOW a total of 5 times, with Allen VK3ARH being logged.

I needed to head home as I had my mother in law and sister in law coming up for tea.   Otherwise I would have continued on logging a few more stations.  I had a total of 107 stations in the log.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3YSP
  2. VK3FOWL
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK3HSB
  5. VK5XY
  6. VK3SFG
  7. VK7DW
  8. VK2KTO
  9. VK4AAC/2
  10. VK3FRAB
  11. VK3OHM
  12. VK4FADW
  13. VK3ZZS/p
  14. VK2IO
  15. VK3DPG
  16. VK1DI
  17. VK7AN
  18. VK2FOUZ
  19. VK3PF
  20. VK2GAZ
  21. VK5ZA/m
  22. VK3FCMC
  23. VK2EJW
  24. VK5ZGY/m
  25. VK4HNS/p
  26. VK2JNG/3
  27. VK2GJL/5
  28. VK5GJ
  29. VK3PAT
  30. VK3ZMD
  31. VK3IRS
  32. VK4SC
  33. VK5GR
  34. ZL1TM
  35. VK4BR
  36. VK3LY
  37. VK7HCK
  38. VK4XAC
  39. VK7JON
  40. VK3FOTO/m
  41. VK4QQ
  42. VK4FE
  43. VK3RV
  44. VK3NLK
  45. VK2EIR
  46. VK5FMAZ
  47. VK4RF
  48. VK4HA
  49. VK3ELH
  50. VK6APZ
  51. VK3AXH
  52. VK3HK
  53. VK3CM
  54. VK3TKK/m
  55. VK1HW
  56. VK3MDB
  57. VK4PDX
  58. VK3YB
  59. VK2NEO
  60. VK3CWF
  61. AF6TC
  62. ZL3II
  63. VK2VW
  64. VK3PKY
  65. VK3AXF
  66. VK2MT
  67. VK3EF
  68. VK3FMJP
  69. VK5SA
  70. VK2ARA
  71. VK3UH
  72. VK6AY
  73. VK3BFR
  74. VK3SX
  75. VK3OY
  76. VK3FGMO
  77. VK7ROY
  78. VK3GYH
  79. VK7FRJG
  80. VK2AR
  81. VK2FMKA
  82. VK5FRSM
  83. VK4DI

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK4AAC/2
  4. VK5ALM/p (Dunn Mill, Mount Barker, S.A.)
  5. VK4TJ
  6. VK4ABH
  7. F1BLL
  8. VK4SMA

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3SX
  2. VK3YB
  3. VK2ARA
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5FMAZ
  6. VK7FRJG
  7. VK5FRSM
  8. VK2KJJ
  9. VK5AJR
  10. VK3KRH
  11. VK3ARH
  12. VK3FPHG
  13. VK3VEF
  14. VK3GGG
  15. VK3PMG
  16. VK5MBD



Friends of Parks, 2017, <http://www.friendsofparkssa.org.au/members-directory/friends-of-kenneth-stirling&gt;, viewed 15th May 2017