After packing up at the Sheepwash Flora Reserve Marija and I travelled back to the Western Highway and headed towards the town of Jeparit. We had briefly visited Jeparit a few weeks earlier and we were keen to have a better look at the town and the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum.
We travelled passed the Kiata Wind Farm which is one of a number of wind farms in the Wimmera district of Victoria.
We soon reached the town of Jeparit which is situated on the Wimmera River about 350 km north-west of Melbourne. The name Jeparit is believed to be derived from a Gromiluk aboriginal word meaning “home of small birds”. European settlement in the area commenced in the 1880s when Lutheran immigrants from the Kingdom of Prussia began to settle and grow wheat. The town was surveyed in 1883 and gazetted in 1889.
We headed to the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum on the eastern side of the town. I had read about this little museum on the internet and it looked well worth the visit to discover a little bit of the history of the Wimmera district of Victoria.
The museum features the Albacutya Homestead which was originally built on Albacutya Run, the region’s first sheep station. The homestead and log cabins were gifted to the museum in 1969.
There is quite a bit to see here, so allow yourself a few hours to wander around the four-hectare grounds of the museum.
There are numerous buildings which contain various artefacts from the pioneering days of the Wimmera.
I even found a few old radios, including a 1926 Astor Five Valve Family Receiver. The Astor Radio Corporation commenced operating in 1926. It was the largest Australian electronics manufacturer, manufacturing across the retail sector of products from Washing Machines to Radio.
In another building, I found some more radios including an Alf Traeger transceiver. Alfred Traeger was born in 1895 and died in July 1980. He was an electrical engineer and was asked by John Flynn of the Australian Inland Mission to design a Pedal Operated Radio Transceiver. The first transmitter was installed in a church as Cloncurry in 1928. The person who operated the transmitter had to pedal the machine to generate electrical current so that one could transmit by morse code up to a distance of approximately 300 miles. Later the sets were equipped with batteries and microphones replaced morse code.
The museum also contains two old jails, including the old Heywood jail which dates back to April 1870.
You can also find the old Methodist church from Woorak West which dates back to 1886, the old Detpa State School, a chemist, blacksmith shop, and various other buildings.
The museum has an extensive collection of old cars, trucks, tractors and machinery. Many are in working order and are demonstrated at the Annual Vintage Rally which is held each year on the Queens Birthday Long Weekend.
After leaving the museum we had a look at Menzies Square. The town of Jeparit is the birthplace of Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister. Menzies was born in Jeparit in 1894. His father was a local shopkeeper. Sadly neither Menzies’ home or his father’s shop remains. One was burnt down while the other was demolished. Menzies Square features a number of information boards detailing the like of Menzies.
There is also a large outdoor chess set featuring Australian Prime Ministers and Menzies-era politicians.
We then headed west out of town, stopping briefly to have a look at the old wooden bridge spanning the Wimmera River. The bridge was built in 1891 and was opened in 1892. It is one of Victoria’s oldest surviving timber road bridges.
We then stopped at Lake Hindmarsh, a eutrophic lake, meaning that it is rich in nutrients and so supporting a dense plant population, the decomposition of which kills animal life by depriving it of oxygen. The lake is Victoria’s largest natural freshwater lake. Unfortunately at the time of our visit, the lake was bone dry.
In October 2009, water from the Wimmera River trickled into Lake Hindmarsh for the first time in thirteen years. After more than a decade of drought, in early 2011 the lake filled as a result of flooding in the region.
Due to a lack of recent rain, the lake is again dry.
In 1838, the explorer, Edward Eyre, camped at Lake Hindmarsh whilst searching for an overland route between Melbourne and Adelaide. He named the lake after the Governor of South Australia, John Hindmarsh.
We then drove north on the Rainbow-Nhill Road to our second park of the day, the Birdcage Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2268. The park is located about 410 km northwest of Melbourne and about 21 km southwest of the town of Rainbow.
The park is located at the northwestern tip of Lake Hindmarsh. Just to the northwest of the park is the very large Wyperfeld National Park.
The park is about 6,533 acres in size. The name of the park derives from the number of Mallee birds which are contained within the reserve’s floodplain and Big Desert communities. The park contains Black Box, Yellow Gum and Slender Cypress Pine.
The park was certainly alive with wildlife during our visit, particularly wrens. Other birds which are known to call the park home include honeyeaters, robins, parrots, Curlew and Gilbert’s Whistler.
We set up in a clearing amongst the scrub off a dirt track which ran off the Rainbow-Nhill Road. Equipment used for this activation was the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole supported by the 7-metre telescopic squid pole.
This would be a first-time activation of this park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
We were set up and ready to go by around 4.00 p.m. local time. After a spot being placed up on parksnpeaks by Marija, I headed to 7.144 and called CQ. First in the log was regular park hunter Peter VK3PF with a beautiful 5/9 signal. This was followed by another regular Brett VK2VW, Nev VK5WG and then Dennis VK2HHA.
Within 8 minutes I had qualified the park with ten contacts in the log. Contact number ten was with John VK4TJ who is a very avid park hunter.
I went on to work a total of 38 stations before the callers dried up, so we decided to swap positions in the operator’s chair. I had logged stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5. As this was later afternoon, band conditions on 40m were very good, with some very strong signals.
Marija’s first contact was with Peter VK3PF, followed by Lee VK2LEE, and then Ivan VK5HS. It took Marija just 6 minutes to get contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Ray VK4NH.
Marija logged a total of 17 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before we once again swapped the mic.
I was now just a handful of contacts away from 44 QSOs. I started calling CQ again and this was answered by John VK5BJE, followed by Andy VK4KY and then Roy VK7ROY. It wasn’t long and I had contact number 44 in the log, a QSO with David VK5LSB.
I logged a further 3 stations on 40m before heading up to the 20m band where I called CQ on 14.310. I logged 4 stations on 20m from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK6.
To conclude the activation I moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band and logged 5 stations from VK3 and VK5.
It was time to pack up and head off to Dimboola and book into our accommodation. Between us, we had a total of 73 contacts in the log from the Birdcage.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
After packing up we drove into the town of Rainbow and then headed south on the Rainbow-Dimboola Road. We stopped briefly at the little town of Antwerp which takes its name from Antwerp in Belgium. In 1846 Horation Ellerman arrived in Victoria and successfully applied for 130,000 acres which he named ‘Antwerp’ after the city in which he was born.
Today very little remains in Antwerp. You can find a monument which commemorates the settlement of the Antwerp Station.
There is also a monument for the Antwerp State School which opened in May 1891 and was closed in 1982.
We continued south on the Rainbow-Dimboola Road passing through cropping lands. Many of the farmers were busy in the harvesting of their crops.
We then turned off to head to the Ebenezer Mission. In 1858 Brother Hagenauer and Brother Spieseke, two Moravian missionaries, arrived in Victoria to work with local aborigines. By 1859 they had moved to the Wimmera district and chose a site about 3 km south of Antwerp Station. A total of 1,897 acres was provided by the Government for the establishment of the Ebenezer Mission Station.
Sadly, the site was closed and has a large fence around it. After speaking with locals, apparently, the site has been closed for a number of years. We left feeling rather disappointed as we were very keen to explore the site.
We continued south and soon reached the town of Dimboola which takes its name from the Singhalese word ‘Dimbula’ meaning ‘land of figs’. We booked into our accommodation, the Motel Dimboola. We then headed out for tea to the local hotel. Unfortunately, it was extremely busy and there was a 45-minute wait for meals, so we headed to the local cafe and got some takeaway and headed back to the motel room.
Aussie Towns, 2019, <https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/jeparit-vic>, viewed 4th December 2019
Aussie Towns, 2019, <http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/rainbow-vic>, viewed 5th December 2019
Aussie Towns, 2019, <https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/antwerp-vic>, viewed 5th December 2019
Heritage Council Victoria, 2019,<https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/68607>, viewed 4th December 2019
The Sydney Morning Herald, 2019, <https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/rainbow-20040208-gdkqwc.html>, viewed 5th December 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeparit>, viewed 4th December 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Hindmarsh>, viewed 4th December 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astor_Radio_Corporation>, viewed 5th December 2019