My third silo activation for Monday 12th July 2021 was Murray Bridge VK/ MRE5. Murray Bridge is located about 75 km south-east of Adelaide.
In March 2020, Viterra announced that it was to close 12 grain delivery sites across South Australia, including Murray Bridge. Viterra reported that based on a five year average, the 12 closed sites took 3% of South Australia’s grain harvest.
In early 2021, Sun-Pork Farms and Big River Feed Mill approached the Murray Bridge Council about using the silos.
The silos can be located on Hume Reserve Road, on the northern side of the town of Murray Bridge. Hume Reserve was named after the Hume brothers, who had a factory on the site. They were world leaders in cement pipe construction in the 1920s.
Opposite the silos I found a number of old machinery and derelict railway carriages.
I parked alongside of the silo and called CQ on 7.150. This was answered by Marija VK5MAZ, followed by Peter VK3PF, and then Brett VK2VW. I had qualified the silo.
I logged 8 stations on 40m. This included Roly ZL1BQD in New Zealand.
I then moved to the 80m band where I logegd just the 2 stations: Stuart VK3UAO/p in the You Yangs Regional Park VKFF-0982, and then Marija VK5MAZ.
To conclude the activation I moved back to 40m where I logged Stuart VK3UAO/p on a different band.
My second silo for the day was Monarto South VK-MNH5. The silo is located about 68 km south-east of Adelaide.
The locality of Monarto was originally a private subdivision of section 210 of the Hundred of Monarto, from which it took its name. The hundred having been gazetted in 1847, and named after an aboriginal woman ‘Queen Monarto’ who lived in the area at the time the town was proclaimed. In 1908 the township of Monarto was laid out.
I found the following article about ‘Queen Monarto’ on Trove from The Chonicle (Adelaide) dated 29th November 1934.
Today, Monarto South is quite a booming industrial area. It also is home to the Monarto Safari Park, which is the largest open-range safari experience outside of Africa.
In 1970 the Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, announced a satelitte city of Adelaide to be established at Monarto. This was due to concerns that Adelaide would become overpopulated due to high rates of birth and immigration which took place during the 1960s. An expansion of the city to the south and north would impose on the wine production areas of the Southern Vales and Barossa.
There were a number of factors why the development of Monarto did not proceed. The main one being that the population growth was much smaller than predicted. Economic failure and suspicion from various interest groups also resulted in the collapse of the Monarto project.
The silos at Monarto are working silos and are owned by Viterra. In December 2020, Viterra’s Monarto South site set a new record for total grain received during a single harvest. The previous record dated back to 2016-2017 when South Australia’s farmers brought in the biggest harvest ever.
The main railway line between Adelaide and Melbourne runs right alongside of the silos. In October 1919, Monarto South became a junction station with the opening of the Sedan line (to the north). After standardisation of the line, the station was demolished. The old station building can be found at the Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village at Tailem Bend. Trucks now transport grain from the silos.
As this is a working silo I could not get into the yard as such, so I parked on Ferries McDonald Road, right alongside of the railway line and adjacent to the silos. I called CQ on 7.150 and this was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Brett VK2VW, and then Marija VK5MAZ. I had qualified the silo with 3 contacts.
I went on to work a total of 11 stations on 40m from VK1, VK3, VK3, VK4, and VK5. before callers dried up. I then moved to 80m where I logged 4 stations: Peter VK3PF, Marija VK5MAZ, Peter VK5VK, and Ian VK5IS.
I then moved back to 40m and logged three Park activators: Stuart VK3UAO/p in the You Yangs Regional Park VKFF-0982, and Bob VK2BYF & Gerald VK2HBG who were both in the Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371.
To complete the activation I went to 20m where I logged Matt ZL4NVW in new Zealand.
My first silo activation for Monday 12th July 2021 was Strathalbyn VK-STN5. This was my first ever Silos On The Air (SiOTA) activation.
Strathalbyn is just a short 14km drive from my home. I headed down Ashbourne into Strathalbyn and enjoyed a nice sunrise. If you look carefully in the photograph below you can see the silos in Strathalbyn.
Strathalbyn is a beautiful little town set on the banks of the Angas River, about 55 km south-east of Adelaide. Strathalbyn comes from two Gaelic words ‘strath’ meaning ‘broad valley’ and ‘Albion’ meaning ‘hilly land’. The town was founded in 1839. The town has more than 40 heritage listed buildings, including St Andrews Church which overlooks the Soldiers Memorial Gardens and the river.
The Strathalbyn silos are working silos and are part of the company Viterra, which is one of the largest buyers and exporters of Australian wheat, barley, canola, pulses, sorghum and cotton.
It is also part of Laucke Flour Mills, the last of Australia’s industry founding family owned and operated independent Millers.
Friedrich Laucke emigrated to Australia from Germany in 1895. His father had a watermill in Germany for turning furniture and attachments for milling flour. Once he arrived in Australia he commenced work as a miller at Edwin Davey & Sons flour mill in Salisbury, and then later as Davey’s Angaston mill in the Barossa Valley. He eventually purchased the Greenock Mill in the Barossa. By 1927 the Laucke milling business expanded to Strathalbyn, Angaston in 1933, and Stockwell and Eudunda in 1951.
In 1961 Laucke’s moved to their current site at the silos. Prior to that it was located on the corner of Commercial Road and Mill Street in the centre of Strathalbyn. The mill was built by Donald Gollan in 1849, who sold the mill to William Coleman in 1850/1851.
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.
The Strathalbyn grain silos continue to operate to meets the needs of the district’s farming community, and are located on the corner of East Terrace and Callington Road.
The old Mount Barker to Strathalbyn railway line can be located alongside the silos. This is now used by the Steam Ranger tourist train. On the 27th day of November 1883, the railway line to Mt Barker was opened by the Governor of South Australia. The 500 workers then pressed on to complete the line to Strathalbyn by the 15th day of September 1884. Passenger services on the line ceased in April 1984 and the line was closed to all trains in 1989.
I parked on Callington Road opposite the school. Surprisingly the noise floor on 40m was quite low. I started off on 80m and logged Marija VK5MAZ, followed by John VK5NJ, Kevin VK3MKC, and then Dan VK5FDMG. Despite the 80m band being in pretty good condition, I logged just the 4 stations. But, I was happy as I had qualified the silo. Just 3 contacts are required for a successful activation.
I then moved to the 40m band. First in the log there was Marija VK5MAZ, followed by Daryl Vk3AWA, Geoff Vk3SQ, Brett VK2VW, and then Malcolm VK2AB.
It was time for me to head off to my next silo at Monarto South.
Yesterday I activated a total of 11 silos for the Silos On The AIr (SiOTA) program.
As I had a 500 km round trip, most of the activations were ‘quick’.
I headed to my local silo at nearby Strathalbyn, and then to Monarto, Murray Bridge & Tailem Bend. I then headed east on the Mallee Highway to the VK3/VK5 State border and then turned around and headed home.
I made a total of 183 QSOs on 20, 40, & 80m SSB into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, & ZL.
Below are the silos I activated:-
Strathalbyn VK-STN5 – 9 QSOs.
Monarto South VK-MNH5 – 19 QSOs.
Murray Bridge VK-MRE5 – 11 QSOs.
Tailem Bend VK-WRN5 – 12 QSOs.
Peake VK-PKE5 – 22 QSOs.
Jabuk VK-JBK5 – 17 QSOs.
Geranium VK-GRM5 – 33 QSOs.
Lameroo VK-LMO5 – 16 QSOs.
Parilla VK-PRA5 – 17 QSOs.
Pinnaroo VK-PNO5 – 19 QSOs.
Quarantine (Pinnaroo) VK-QRE5 – 8 QSOs.
I will slowly start adding my QSOs to the SiOTA database.
Thanks to everyone who called. It was a great day out. Many of these little towns have a lot of history, so other than activating there was quite a bit of ‘sightseeing’.