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.
Above:- Early images of Laucke Flour Mill. Courtesy of http://www.laucke.com.au
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.
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- Aussie Towns, 2021, <https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/strathalbyn-sa>, viewed 13th July 2021
- Laucke Mills, 2021, <https://www.lauckemills.com.au/history>, viewed 13th July 2021.
- Steam Ranger Enthusiast, 2021, <https://steamranger.org.au/enthusiast/guides/guide6.htm>, viewed 13th July 2021.
- Viterra, 2021, <https://www.viterra.com.au/Who-we-are>, viewed 13th July 2021