Most recent time with VK100AF

On Monday 19th, Tuesday 20th, and Wednesday 21st July 2021, Marija VK5MAZ and I had the VK100AF callsign allocated to us once again. This is a special event call to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Over the 3 day period we made a total of 389 QSOs.

This included contacts into 30 different DXCC entities:-

  1. Asiatic Russia
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Belarus
  5. Belgium
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Canada
  8. England
  9. European Russia
  10. Federal Republic of Germany
  11. Fiji
  12. Finland
  13. France
  14. Georgia
  15. Hawai
  16. Hungary
  17. Italy
  18. New Zealand
  19. Northern Ireland
  20. Norway
  21. Poland
  22. Portugal
  23. Puerto Rico
  24. Republic of Korea
  25. Romania
  26. Tajikistan
  27. Thailand
  28. Ukraine
  29. United States of America
  30. Wales
Above:- World map showing our contacts around the world over the 3 days.

We made contacts on 10, 20, 40, & 80m SSB. There was a small opening to VK1, VK2, and VK3 on 10m on Tuesday which I took advantage of. There was no propagation on the 15m band.

10m – 18 QSOs

20m – 137 QSOs

40m – 122 QSOs

80m – 112 QSOs

Above:- Graph showing our QSOs per band.

DX this time around was a little more scarce. I found that there was very little, if any at all, openings on the long path on 20m to Europe during our afternoon. On Wednesday evening there was a small opening to Europe on the short path.

Above:- Map showing our contacts into Europe.

I worked 25 stations in the USA and 4 stations in Canada. This was on 20m SSB and 40m SSB.

Above:- Map showing our contacts into the USA & Canada.

The majority of ur contacts were around Australia and into New Zealand. We made a total of 290 QSOs to VK stations and 14 to New Zealand.

Above:- Map showing our location around Australia and New Zealand.

We had some interesting contacts during the 3 days. This included contact with Dave G4AKC who was bicycle mobile. We spoke with Dave on both Monday and Wednesday on 20m, with band conditions being much better on Wednesday afternoon.

Above:- G4AKC’s bicycle mobile set up. Image co G4AKC

We also spoke with Sam F4GYG/p who was activating FFF- 0364 in France for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

It was great to speak with Jack W1FDY, on the Southern Cross DX Net. Jack had been running the net for many years and of recent years propagation has not been terrific.

We also spoke with Raul VK2IMP who was mobile. This was Raul’s first ever mobile contact.

We also logged Erwin VK4ERW who was maritime mobile at Fraser Island.

Park activators included Gerard VK2IO and Deryck VK4FDJL/8.

We spoke with Richard N4ICV in Texas, who was a former aircraft mechanic. Also Len KM4WW ho was former Marine Corp.

THANK YOU to everyone who called. We have the callsign again next month in August.

History of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

I am about to launch into another 3 days with the special event callsign of VK100AF to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). I decided to do a little history on the RAAF. It is not a definitive history, but will give you a bit of an idea on the formation of the RAAF.

I have been asked on air a few times whilst operating as VK100AF or VI100AF, what is th oldest Air Force in the world. It appears that the Finnish Air Force is the oldest, having been founded on the 6th day of March 1918. This was about one month prior to the forming of the Royal Air Force in Britain on the 1st day of April 1918.

What about the United States? The United States Air Force (USAF) was initially formed as part of the United States Army on the 1st day of August 1907. It was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on the 18th day of September 1947.

The South African Air Force was formed on the 1st day of February 1920, while the Royal Australian Air Force formed shortly afterwards on the 31st day of March 1921. The Royal New Zealand Air Force was established in 1923. The Royal Canadian Air Force was proclaimed on the 1st day of April 1924.

The Royal Australian Air Force can trace its roots back to the Imperial Conference which was held in London between the 23rd day of May 1911 and the 20th June 1911. The Imperial Conferences were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire. This particular Conference was held to mark the occasion of the Coronation of George V on the 22nd day of June 1911.

At the conference it was decided that aviation should be developed within the armed forces of the British empire. Australia was the first dominion to implement this decision and approved the establishment of the Central Flying School (CFS) in 1912. The initial proposed location of the School was to be at Duntroon in the Australian Capital Territory. In July 1913, Point Cook, Victoria, was announced as the preferred location.

Above:- part of an article from the Age (Melbourne), Tues 23 Sept 1913. Image c/o Trove

The Point Cook Aviation School was established on the 15th day of February 1914, under the supervision of Major E. H. Reynolds, assisted by Captain Henry Petre (an Englishman) and Lieutenant (to become Captain) Eric Harrison (an Australian). It was reported that ‘all of whom received a thorough training in England‘.

Above:- Harrison and Petre in a B.E.2. at the Central Flying School, 1914. Image c/o Wikipedia.

In March 1914, the first flights by CFS aircraft took place at Point Cook. Lieutenant Eric Harrison made the first flight in a Bristol Boxkite. Lieutenant Petre flew a Deperdussin later that day and crashed it after snaring his tailplane in telephone wires.

Above:- A Bristol Boxkite over Point Cook, c. 1916. Image c/o Wikipedia.

Below is a short video on the history of Point Cook.

The Australian Flying Corps (AFC) were subsequently formed.

Above:- Article from the Brisbane Courier, Fri 5 July 1912. Image c/o Trove

World War One broke out in 1914, and shortly afterwards the Australian Flying Corps sent aircraft to what is now north-east New Guinea to assist in capturing German colonies in that region. But before the planes were even unpacked, these colonies surrendered.

The first operational flights of the Flying Corps occurred on the 27th day of May 1915, when the Mesopotamian Half Flight was asked to assist the Anglo-Indian forces in providing air support during the Mesopotamian Campaign against the Ottoman Empire. This is in current day Iraq. The Mesopotamian Half Flight consisted of four Officers, and 41 men

Australian Flying Corps, c. 1918. Image c/o Wikipedia

The Flying Corps subsequently saw action in Egypt, Palestine and on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. It was said at the time that the airman’s life was….

‘one of comparative ease interspersed with moments of intense fear’.

During the First World War, a total of 800 Officers and 2,840 men served in the Australian Flying Corps. A total of 175 lost their lives.

The Australian Flying Corps remained part of the Australian Army until 1919. It was disbanded at this time. The Central Flying School continued to operate at Point Cook. In January 1920, the Australian Flying Corps were replaced by the Australian Air Corps (AAC).

They were succeeded by the Australian Air Force which was formed on the 31st day of March 1921.

In May 1921, King George V approved the prefix of ‘Royal’, and this became effective on the 13th day of August 1921. As a result the Royal Australian Air Force became the second Royal Air Arm to be formed in the British Commonwealth. This was following the British Royal Air Force which was founded on the 1st day of April 1918.

It is interesting to note that then the RAAF was formed, it had more aircraft that it did personnel. The RAAF had a total of 153 aircraft, with 21 Officers and 128 other ranks.

The first Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force was Air Marshall Sir Richard WIlliams KBE, CB, DSE (b. 1890. d. 1980). He was one of the first trainees at Point Cook.

Above:- Air Marshall Sir Richard Williams. Image c/o Wikipedia.

During the Second World War, Australian air and ground personnel from the RAAF saw service in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, over the North Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Mediteranian, India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Thailand, China, the Netherland East Indies. New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Borneo.

During late 1944, the RAAF had a total of 182,000 personnel and 6.200 aircraft in 61 squadrons. In 1945, the RAAF was the fourth largest Air Force in the world, after the USA, USSR and the United Kingdom.

Over 215,000 men and women served with the RAAF between 1939-1945. A total of 9,870 Air Force personnel lost their lives. About 55% of these deaths occurred in the war against Germany, in the air over Europe.

Following the Second World War, the RAAF has served in the Berlin Airlift, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, Vietnam War, East Timor, Iraq War, Afghanistan and the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Since 1945, over 60 RAAF personnel have lost their loves in various conflicts or during operational accidents.

Today, the RAAF has about 259 aircraft, of which 110 are combat.

The video below was made by the Commonwealth Film Unit in 1971 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the RAAF.

The video below is the RAAF’s 100 year fly over in Canberra.

References.

  1. RAAF, 2021, <https://www.airforce.gov.au/about-us/history>, viewed 18th July 2021.
  2. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Air_Force>, viewed 18th July 2021.
  3. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Conference>, viewed 18th July 2021.
  4. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Australian_Air_Force>, viewed 18th July 2021.
  5. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force>, viewed 18th July 2021.
  6. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_force>, viewed 18th July 2021.

2021 Trans Tasman Low Band Contest

Last night (Saturday 17th July 2021) was the 2021 Trans Tasman Low Band Contest. The aim of the contest is……

“to encourage Low Band activity between VK and ZL.”

Only contest bands 160, 80, and 40M are allowed with SSB, CW and Digital (RTTY OR PSK).

The contest ran for a 6 hour period, from 0800 UTC until 1400 UTC.

Participants who take part in the contest receive a participation certificate. From 2018 this contest is an official Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Contest and will count towards the Peter Brown Contest Champion Awards.

Above:- My 2020 Trans Tasman certificate

I completely forgot about the contest and didn’t get out into the shack until about 40 minutes into the contest.

I made a total of 174 contacts during the contest and a claimed score of 1,715 points.

My first contact was with Alan VK4SN. My final contact was with Rob VK2MT.

Almost all of my contacts were on the 80m band. In fact of the 174 contacts, 159 were on the 80m band. I made just 15 QSOs on 40m into VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, & VK7.

During the contest I logged just 5 New Zealand stations: ZL1RQ, ZL3VZ, ZL4U, ZL2FE, and ZL4RMF.

The contest was split into 3 x 2 hour blocks. I found the middle block to be extremely difficult, with signals way down compared to usual. I was going to give it away, but decided to persevere, and I am glad I did, as the 80m band really improved dramatically during the last 2 hour block.

THANKS to everyone who called.

References.

WIA, 2021, <https://www.wia.org.au/members/contests/transtasman/>, viewed 18th July 2021.

Uploading logs for SiOTA

Here is the process I use for uploading logs for the Silos On The Air (SiOTA) program.

  1. Complete the SiOTA template
  2. Upload the template to ADIF Master
  3. Upload the log to the SiOTA database

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to Adam VK2YK who provided me with advice and the SiOTA template which he created. You can find the template below.

When filling out the template, ensure that there is a leading zero in the time when you save as a CSV. The remainder should be self explanatory.

Remember, save the file as a CSV, not an XLS.

I then use a program called ADIF Master.

I import the CSV file into ADIF Master by clicking on ‘Import’. You should then see all your QSOs brought across from the CSV file.

Next, save the file as an adif file.

Next log into the Silos On The Air website at……

https://www.silosontheair.com/home

Click on ‘My Log’ and then ‘Upload’.

You should then see your QSOs.

Quarantine (Pinnaroo) silo VK-QRE5, Silos On The Air

My final silo activation for the Silos On The Air (SiOTA) program for Saturday was Quarantine (Pinnaroo) VK-QRE-5 which is located near the Quarantine station on the Mallee Highway.

Above:- Map showing the location of Pinnarroo. Map c/o Google maps

By the time I reached the silo it was totally dark. I pulled over to the side of the Mallee Highway, just short of the Quarantine station. This is also being used by South Australia Police at the moment as a COVID-19 checkpoint.

I was directly opposite the silo, but I only managed the blurry photo below due to it being pitch black. I was just short of the road block and pulled over on the side of the road. I was sure I might get a visit from a police officer to see what I was up to, but that didn’t happen much to my surprise.

From looking at the aerial view, this appears to be quite a big grain facility.

Above:- An aerial view of the silo. Image c/o Google maps

As time was really pushing on, and I had a 250 km trip home, this was a quick activation. I only operated on 80m, logging a total of 8 stations. First in the log was Nev VK5WG, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ian VK5IS as my third contact to qualify the silo.

I am sorry for not trying 40m and 20m, but I was getting tired and hungry and knew I had a big drive home. I drove back into Pinnaroo and went to the local roadhouse for a magnificent steak sandwich with the lot. I then hit the road and headed for Ashbourne.

THANK YOU to everyone who called me during the day during my elevn silo activations.

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5WG
  2. VK5MAZ
  3. VK5IS
  4. VK3PF
  5. VK3ARH
  6. VK2VW
  7. VK3OHM
  8. VK5FANA

Pinnaroo silos VK-PNO5, Silos On The Air

The next silos for me were the Pinnaroo silos VK-NO5. Pinnaroo is located about 241 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.

Above:- Map showing the location of Pinnaroo. Map c/o Google maps.

Pinnaroo is a major centre for the surrounding wheat, barley, sheep, and mixed farming area. The area was first settled in 1868 when the ‘Pinnaroo Run’ was established by William Butcher. Wool was carted over rough tracks either to the Murray River or to Kingston in the south-east of South Australia.

In 1885, the Commissioner of Crow Lands, Mr. Playford, and the Surveyor-General, Mr. G.W. Goyder, explored the countryside around Pinnaroo and a decision was made to open the land for agricultural settlement. In 1892, several Hundreds were surveyed. The Hundred of Pinnnaroo was proclaimed on the 4th day of January 1894. A Correspondent reported:-

“If it has proved a failure to the wealthy why ask the poor farmer to go there.”

In 1903, a Mr. H.M. Martin of Stonyfell described the Pinnaroo area as follows:-

“The whole of the 80 miles from Coonalpyn was silent, sombre and depressing. A great portion of the tracks was over heavy sandhills and gullies, relieved here and there by abandoned sheep stations. The stock had all been removed – such as had not died long before, and the empty huts and weed-grown sheep yards made the plain a sort of abomination od desolation. The hills and gullies were alike clothed with dark-coloured, unvarying, more or less worthless scrub, the pine trees and mallee being crooked and misshapen. Here and there a few sheoaks made a welcome change, but the dense scrub, without any lights and shadows, gave one the impression of a vast level plain. Fifty six years ago I inspected the Pinnaroo country and found it a worthless desert of white sand and drift. In 1865 I was again there to witness a few sheep starving to death…It is to be hoped that the Legislative COuncil will quash this extremely undesirable measure’.”

However there was a more favourable report in The Chronicle (Adelaide) on the 2nd day of July 1904, suggesting a ‘favourable report of the land for wheat-growing’.

Above:- from The Chronicle, 2/7/1904. Image c/o Trove

The town of Pinnaroo was proclaimed on the 17th day of November 1904. The Pinnaroo school opened in 1906.

At the 2016 Australian Census, the locality of Pinnaroo had a population of 712 of which 547 lived in and around its town centre.

There are various theories on the origin of the name Pinnaroo. It is believed that the name derives from the aboriginal word ‘pinaru’, a Ngarkat tribal name for the district. Others suggest it is a corruption of the aboriginal word ‘peintaru’ meaning ‘limestone’. While others suggest it is an aboriginal word meaning ‘big men’.

The video below which I found on You Tube will give you a good feel of Pinnaroo (there is no sound on the video).

Prior to heading to the silo I visited the Pinnaroo Wildlife Park which is opposite the caravan park on South Terrace. Marija and I have been here previously and always pop in and make a donation to have a look at the various native birds and mammals.

The Pinnaroo railway line ran east from the Adelaide-Melbourne line at Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo. The line continues into Victoria to Ouyen where it joined the Mildura line. The line opened on the 14th day of September 1906 and was extended to the South Australia-Victoria State border on the 29th day of July 1915. In May 1995 it was announced that the line to the west of Pinnaroo would be converted from broad gauge to standard gauge. Work was delayed until 1996 due to a large grain crop. A small part of the line was converted in 1996 but was converted back for the 1997 grain harvest. To continue the journey to Adelaide, the grain was transhipped at Tailem Bend.

On the 2nd day of July 1998 the last broad gauge train ran on the track. The line was reopened on the 25th day of November 1998. Due to the Victorian line remaining as broad gauge, trains could not operate over the entire length of the railway. Pinnaroo was a break of gauge point. Sadly the line closed in July 2015, with Viterra announcing that not more grain would be carried by rail. Ironically, as the South Australian line closed, the Victorian State Government was upgrading its end of the line for regional freight.

The photos below (c/o Trove) show the Pinnaroo line and railway station & yards.

I then headed to the silos which are located on Silo Road on the western side of the town. They are run by Viterra. The Pinnaroo area was subject to a drought between 2016 – 2019. Heavy rain fell in June after the last heavy winter/spring rain fell in September 2016. Local grain farmers were extremely happy.

First in the log was Brett VK2VW, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ross VK3BEL. I had qualified the silo. I went on to log a total of 12 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and Vk6. It was nice to get Peter VK3ZPF in the log. This was Peter’s first every silo chase. I was also very pleased to speak with John VK6WC all the way over in Western Australia.

I then moved to 3.610 on the 80m band and logged 6 stations from VK5 and New Zealand. I was very pleasantly surprised to log Matt ZL4NVW on 80m.

Time was really marching on, so I packed up and headed to my final silo for the day, just a few km up the Mallee Highway.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2VW
  2. VK5MAZ
  3. VK3BEL
  4. VK3PF
  5. VK3SMW
  6. VK5WG
  7. VK2IO/m
  8. VK2QM
  9. VK3OHM
  10. VK3ZPF
  11. VK2MET
  12. VK6WC

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5MAZ
  2. VK5BJE
  3. ZL4NVW
  4. VK5GY
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK5AYL

References.

  1. A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2021, <https://published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  2. ABC, 2021, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-18/pinnaroo-rain-brings-welcome-relief/11210364>, viewed 16th July 2021
  3. Mallee Highway Touring Route, 2021, <http://www.malleehighway.com.au/html/pinnaroo.html>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  4. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnaroo,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  5. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnaroo_railway_line,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  6. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnaroo_railway_line,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2021.

Parilla silos VK-PRA5, Silos On The Air

The Parilla silos VK-PRA5 were my next Silos On The Air (SiOTA) activation for Monday the 12th day of July 2021. The little town of Parilla is located about 214 km south-east of the city of Adelaide, and about 14 km east of Lameroo.

Above:- Map showing the location of Parilla. Map c/o Google maps

The government town of Parilla was proclaimed on the 1st day of August 1907. The town was named after the Hundred of Parilla. Parilla is believed to be an aboriginal word meaning ‘cold place’. The Hundred of Parilla, County of Chandos was proclaimed on the 4th day of January 1894. The first pastoralist in the immediate vicinity was J.W.D. Denning who took up pastoral lease no. 2290 as from the 30th day of June 1873.

The town’s mascots are Alf and Edith the Galah and Echidna. You can find a sign announcing this just as you enter the town.

Also as you enter town there is a small display which includes a Stump Jump plough, and an old door from the Parilla Jail.

At the 2016 Australian Census, Parilla had a population of 211.

I found this interesting video on Parilla on the internet which dates back to the 1980s.

When in Parilla, make sure you have a look at the ‘Impressions of Parilla 1914’ mural. It was designed by artist Rossy Reeves (Hentschke) and was developed from various photographs and references from the Local History book.

Parilla was once on the Tailem Bend to Pinaroo railway line. Not much remains today except for a Centennary marker, and old crane, and an old railway telephone box.

Parilla has traditionally been a local centre for grain growing, although it is now known for growing vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Some historic photographs of farming in Lameroo can be seen below (all c/o Trove)

The bulk grain silos at Parilla are located adjacent to the railway line, however grain is freighted out by road, as are vegetables.

I kicked off this activation by calling CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band. First in the log was Sue VK5AYL, followed by Adrian VK5FANA, and then Marc VK3OHM. I logged a further 9 stations on 40m from VK3 and VK5.

I then QSYd to the 40m band and called CQ on 7.155. First in the log was Marija Vk5MAZ, followed by the ever reliable Brett VK2VW. I logged another 3 stations from VK3 and VK5, and despite the band being in quite good shape, I had no further callers.

I tried calling CQ on 14.310 for a few minutes, but as I had no takers, I called it quits and headed for my next silo at Pinnaroo.

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5AYL
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK3OHM
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK5PET
  6. VK3PF
  7. Vk3BEL
  8. VK5GY
  9. VK5MAZ
  10. VK5WG
  11. VK5TS
  12. VK5GAZ

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5MAZ
  2. VK2VW
  3. VK5TS
  4. VK3BEL
  5. VK3ACZ

References.

  1. A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2021, <https://published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  2. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parilla,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2021.

Lameroo silos VK-LMO5, Silos On The Air

After leaving Geranium I headed to my eight silo on the day, Lameroo silos VK-LMO5 for the Silos On he Air (SiOTA) program. Lameroo is located about 201 km south-east of the city of Adelaide, and about 40km west of the South Australia / Victoria State border.

Above:- Map showing the location of Lameroo. Map c/o Google maps

Lameroo is primarily a service town for the surrounding rural areas, growing grain and sheep. Lameroo now includes the former settlements of Kulkami, Mulpata, Wirha and Gurrai, which were on the Peebinga railway line, and Wilkawatt, which was between Parrakie and Lameroo on the Pinnaroo railway.

From around 1858, land around the now Lameroo, was first taken up on pastoral lease. The area was known as Wow Wow Plain. However there was limited grazing during this time. Following the establishment of a homestead and the digging of a well at Garra, south of Parrakie, settlement on the Wow Wow Plain became more popular.

In 1884 a well was dug at Wow Wow Plain. It measured 7 feet by 4 feet and 254 feet deep. It was timbered with round Cypress Pine which was obtained from the stands of Southern Cyrprus Pine located in the area. The well was dug by pick and shovel.

In 1894 the land was surveyed. The town reserve was proclaimed in 1894 and a Government well was excavated. In 1904 the town was named Lameroo at the suggestion of J.M. Johnston who had worked on the Overland Telegraph Line. He liked the name Lameroo as it was a reminder for him of Lameroo Beach, a small beach located off the Esplanade in central Darwin.

Above:- The South Australian Government Gazette, Thursday 17th November 1904.

Trains once ran to Lameroo on the Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo line. Construction of the lie commenced in 1904. Earthworks were completed to Lameroo by 1905. The first trains arrived with passengers and goods commenced arriving in 1906, with the line laid into the railway yard on the 6th day of April 1906. The Lameroo railway station was declared open on the 14th day of September 1906.

When the railway line first opened, trains watered at Tailem Bend and carried travelling tanks, but started watering regularly at Cotton Bore in 1907, and this was the only watering point on the line until a softening plant was established at Lameroo in 1915.

Above:- An early view of the Lameroo railway station. Image c/o Trove

In 1919, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, the Governor-General of Australia visited Lameroo in 1919 aboard the vice regal train. A large group gathered to greet the train. Also in attendance was Sir Arthur Stanley, the Governor of Victoria, and Crawford Vaughan, the Premier of South Australia.

Above:- the arrival of the vice regal train to Lameroo in 1919. Image c/o Trove

Today you can view the old railway station and a considerable amount old railway memorabilia in the reserve on the southern side of the Mallee Highway.

The main street of Lameroo is the Mallee Highway. Here you can find a number of shops. Lameroo was judged winner of the medium sized town category in the 1992 KESAB Tidy Towns Awards, and was in the top ten towns for five consecutive years.

Lameroo was the birthplace of Julie Moncrieff Anthony AM, OBE (b. 1949), an Australian former professional singer and entertainer. She was born to Betty and Les Lush, a sheep and wheat farmer.

At the start of the settlement of the Lameroo area, crops, rather than livestock, were the principal farming activity. Wheat was the main crop in the early years and then barley became popular too. Old farming practices sometimes led to the drift of topsoil but later soil management techniques reversed this trend and the use of super-phosphates from the 1950s increased crop yields.

Prior to the advent of Bulk Handling all grain was handled in bags and it was a common sight to see huge stacks awaiting transport in the railway yard.

Above:- Unloading wheat sacks from horsedrawn wagons at Lameroo.

After the South Australian Co-Operative Bulk Handling Limited (SACBH) set up operations in South Australia in 1955 local farmers requested a silo be built in the area, however, due to restrictions in the Bulk Handling Grains Act 1955 terminals had to be built at Wallaroo and Port Lincoln before overseas shipping facilities for the eastern area could be built at Port Adelaide. In the meantime the grain trade was canvassed regarding using grain stored in silos and from data on hand, Lameroo was selected as the ideal location for the first silo in the Port Adelaide division. The contract was let in 1959 and total capacity for the completed silo is 11,900 tonnes.

As the wheat silo proved so successful barley growers demanded a similar facility and in 1964 the barley silo was erected with a total capacity of 13,400 tonnes.

The silos at Lameroo are operated by Viterra which was founded in Canada in 2007. Viterra is the largest bulk grain handler in South Australia.

I called CQ on 7.150 and this was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Gordon VK5GY. I now had three contacts in the log, the required number to qualify the silo.

I logged a further 6 stations on 40m from VK2, VK5, and VK7, before my callers completely dried up. I then moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged 6 stations, all from VK5.

To complete the activation I moved to 14.310 on the 20m band and logged Roly Zl1BQD in New Zealand.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK5MAZ
  3. VK5GY
  4. VK5WG
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK3BEL
  7. VK2VW
  8. VK5KLV
  9. VK7PSJ

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5YP
  3. VK5FANA
  4. VK5MAZ
  5. VK5PET
  6. VK5MRE

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. ZL1BQD

References.

  1. Grain Central, 2021, <https://www.graincentral.com/news/agribusiness/glencore-agriculture-to-rebrand-globally-as-viterra/>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  2. Lameroo & District Historical Society
  3. Mallee Highway Touring Route, 2021, <http://www.malleehighway.com.au/html/lameroo.html>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  4. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lameroo,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  5. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lameroo_Beach>, viewed 16th July 2021.
  6. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_Anthony_(singer)>, viewed 16th July 2021.

Geranium silos VK-GRM5, Silos On The Air

After packing up at Jabuk, I continued east along the Mallee Highway for about 10km and soon reached the little town of Geranium. This was to be my seventh silo activation of the day, the Geranium silos VK-GRM5.

The town of Geranium is about 165 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.

Above:- Map showing the location of Geranium. Map c/o Google maps

The town of Geranium is located just off the Mallee Highway. The town takes its name from the native plant, Pelargonium australe. This plant was once widespread in the district but is rarely found today due to the clearing of the land for farming purposes. Children of the day called it “knives and forks” because of its unusual seed pod which was three inches long and very pointed.

Above:- Geraniums. Image c/o SA Geranium & Pelagonium Society

In 1999, Geranium was named Australia’s Tidiest Town. Geranium won the national competition from a large field of 316 separate communities and 220 schools. Geranium was competing with many towns far greater in size and population.

The South Australian Government sank a bore in the area in 1906 and named the location geranium after the wild geraniums found in the area. The town was proclaimed on the 24th day of March 1910. The Geranium School opened in 1913.

Above:- From the South Australian Government Gazette, March 24th 1910. Image c/o Wikipedia

School at Geranium was held in the local hall until a stone schoolroom was built in 1929. School attendances at this time were about 40 pupils. In 1965 the new Geranium Area School opened with an enrolment of 247 students, and the little schools at Peake, Jabuk and Parakkie were closed. In 1990 the school again became a primary school, with secondary students travelling to Lameroo by bus.

Above:- Pupils & school teacher, c. 1917, Geranium School. Image c/o Trove

As you enter the town you can view an old plough which is a monument to the pioneers of the Geranium district. There are also some small plaques honouring some of the original Geranium settlers.

You can also view the Geranium Bore. The windmill commemorates the original bore constructed on the 2 acre site of the 10 acre ‘Water Reserve’ in March 1906. This reserve was named ‘Geranium Bore’ because of the significant growth of the native geranium nearby. The bore with its huge windmill, tank and trough provided good quality water for the pioneer farmers, community and transient stock. The bore site became the hub for community life with the first church services, school meetings and social functions. The town bore with its good underground water allowed Geranium and the district to develop into a community.

Nearby is an old 5 ” Table Top Trolley. It was manufactured in 1921s The 5″ (127mm) measurement refers to the width of its wheels. It was licenced to carry 120 three bushel bags of wheat. It was originally painted red with yellow scroll work. The bag loader attached to the trolley is a Perkins patent horse operated bag loader No. 9283.

The trolley was purchased new by Frederick ‘Roy’ Koch of WIlkawatt in 1922. He used it mainly for carting stooked hay. In the early 1960s, W.L. ‘Bill’ Lithgow purchased it at Roy Koch’s clearing sale. The trolley was donated to the community by the Lithgow family in 2005.

What was the Perkins Bag Loader? A bag of grain was placed on the loader and the loader was attached to the horse via a chain. The horse then pulled the chain and the frame swung through an arc and threw the bag onto the trolley tray. The horse needed to be co-operative and well trained and was led in and out by a person. In the early 1980s when D.L. ‘Les’ Lithgow was asked what the greatest invention he had ever seen, he replied ‘the horse operated bag loader’. Les Lithgow had come to Geranium to farm in March 1912.

You can also view the Soldiers Memorial Park and the Trees of Tribute, honouring Geranium’s World War One servicemen.

My next stop in the town was at Railway Terrace. Here you can view some information boards on the old Geranium Memorial Hall and some history on the old Geranium Railway yard.

The original Geranium Institute was a tin shed. In 1922 a stone institute building was built in front of the tin shed. It was built in memory of the Fallen Heroes of the First World War. On the 20th day of May 1922, Mr. F. Norton, who lost two sons during the war, laid the Foundation Stone. The Institute was officially opened on the 22nd day of September 1922 by Mrs. W.J. Mitchell, the oldest resident living in the district.

The new Institute cost 1,248 pounds. The money was raised by donations and fundraising functions. The Hall was used for many events, balls, dances, church, weddings, farewells. strawberry fetes, meetings and concerts. The Library was also housed in the Institute.

In 1986 the Institute’s name was changed to the Geranium Memorial Hall. Sadly despite great efforts to maintain the hall, it was slowly deteriorating and was considered unsafe. In late 2004 it was closed by the Southern Mallee District Council and in June 2006 it was demolished. What a sad day for the town. If only those walls could talk.

The opening of the Geranium Institute, September, 1922. Image c/o Trove.

When the railway line opened there was no allowance for a siding between the nearby towns of Peake and Parrakie. As a result, local farmers at Geranium and nearby Jabuk, petitioned the Government. A railway platform and a goods shed was built in 1908, some 2 years before the town was gazetted.

The silos can be found between Railway Terrace and Gravestock Road on the southern edge of the town.

Above:- An aerial view of Geranium, showing the location of the silos. Image c/o Google maps

The silos are working silos run by Viterra. The silos were closed in 2012 due to a ‘forecast poor harvest’.

I operated from just outside the gates to the silo. To kick off this activation I started off on 20m, as I was able to tune the antenna this time on that band. First in the log was Rob VK4AAC who was activating the Wooroonooran National Park VKFF-0548.

I then moved down to 14.340 at the request of Peter VK3PF and logged Peter. This was followed by Marija VK5MAZ. With three contacts in the log, I had qualified another silo.

I went on to log a total of 11 stations on 20m including Stuart VK3UAO/p in the Teesdale Sheoak Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2206, Gerard VK2IO/p in the Cornubia Forest Nature Refuge VKFF-2865, and Roly ZL1BQD in New Zealand.

I then moved to 40m and logged Gerard VK2HBG/p and Bob VK2BYF/p in the Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102.

I then moved down to 7.139 and called CQ. This was answered by Ade VK4SOE/p and then Marija VK5MAZ. This activation was much busier than the previous silo activations, and I logged a total of 18 stations on 40m. This included some more park activators: Ian VK1DI/2 in the Nadgigomar Nature Reserve VKFF-2679 and Gerard Vk2IO/p in VKFF-2865.

To conclude the activation I headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged a total of 4 stations: Marija VK5MAZ, Adrian VK5FANA, Peter VK5PET, and John VK5BJE.

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4AAC/p (Wooroonooran National Park VKFF-0548)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK5MAZ
  4. VK2VW
  5. VK5PET
  6. VK3OHM
  7. VK3UAO/p (Teesdale Sheoak Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2206)
  8. VK2IO/p (Cornubia Forest Nature Refuge VKFF-2865)
  9. VK3AWA
  10. VK4HNS
  11. ZL1BQD

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2HBG/p (Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102)
  2. VK2BYF/p (Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102)
  3. VK4SOE/p
  4. VK5MAZ
  5. VK3BEL/p
  6. VK2MET
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK1DI/2 (Nadgigomar Nature Reserve VKFF-2679)
  9. VK3AWA
  10. VK3NFS
  11. VK2IO/p (Cornubia Forest Nature Refuge VKFF-2865)
  12. VK2QK
  13. VK3BEL
  14. VK5WG
  15. VK5PET
  16. VK4COA/p
  17. VK3OHM
  18. VK3EJ

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5MAZ
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK5PET
  4. VK5BJE

References.

  1. A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2021, <https://published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 15th July 2021.
  2. ABC, 2021, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-26/fight-on-to-reopen-grain-silo/4392466>, viewed 15th July 2021.
  3. Australian Explorer, 2021, <https://www.australianexplorer.com/geranium.htm>, viewed 15th July 2021.
  4. Discover Murray. 2021, <http://www.murrayriver.com.au/geranium/>, viewed 15th July 2021.