Coonalpyn silo VK-CNN5

After packing up at Coomandook, we continued east for about 30 km and we soon reached the town of Coonalpyn. Coonalpyn is located about 143 km southeast of Adelaide.

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

It is believed that Coonalpyn is derived from the aboriginal word konangalpun (or kunalpin) meaning ‘place of mice excreta’ – kuna, ‘dung’. This is due to the area regularly being subject to periodical mice plagues. Another source states the name derives from kunangalpe meaning ‘crow track, line of travel’. While a third source states it means ‘barren woman’.

An early pastoralist in the Coonalpyn district was John Barton Hack who named his property Coonalpyn Downs. Hack had arrived in South Australia in 1837.

Above:- John Barton Hack. Image c/o Wikipedia

A post office was opened at Coonalpyn in 1887 and this was followed by the Coonalpyn school in 1889. The school closed in 1927 following a diphtheria epidemic. The school was located about 3 km southeast of the town. In May 1886 the railway line opened. It was known as the Nairne to Bordertown Railway. The railway brought a regular mail service to Coonalpyn. By 1889 the Coonaplyn Post office was dispatching 3,946 letters, packages, and newspapers a year and receiving 2,838.

In 1894 a railway station, station master residence, porters house and gangers house were built.

The town of Coonalpyn was proclaimed on the 25th day of November 1909. The first shop, known as the Coonalpyn stores, was opened in 1915.

Above:- The SA Govt Gazette showing the proclamation of Coonalpyn.

Nowadays in Coonalpyn, you can find a hotel, a community swimming pool, bakery, cafes, the town hall, oval, rest area, school, a medical centre, the silo mural, the Mosiac project, Tunnel Vision, and more.

Above:- Aerial view of Coonalpyn. Image c/o Google maps.

The Coonalpyn silos are active silos and are operated by Vitera. Due to a rise in quality grain in the Coonalpyn district, the first 9,600 ton silo was built in 1965. This was followed by another in 1967 increasing the capacity to 15,000 ton.

The silo art was part of the Creating Coonalpyn initiative, a $100,000 joint project of the local Council, with Country Arts SA and Viterra. The idea was for the renewal of the town of Coonalpyn through the arts. The initiative also included sponsorship from local businesses and individuals. The silo art in Coonalpyn is just part of this initiative.

The silo art is the work of world-renowned large scale mural artist Guido van Helten. The murals on the silos depict five Coonalyn primary school children in various poses. The Coonalpyn silos were the first silos to be painted in South Australia and were completed in March 2017. The mural took 200 cans of paint to complete. The artists van Helten used photographs as a reference, and first drew a giant grid onto the face of the five silos. He then sprayed paint to create the designs.

During the month-long painting of the silo, it is estimated that each hour about 40 to 50 vehicles stopped each hour to view van Helten at work. Coonalpyn became the most photographed regional town in South Australia, with the silo art project attracting both local, national, and international media attention. As a result of the silo art, three new businesses opened up in Coonalpyn including the Silos Cafe.

Below is a time-lapse video of the painting of the silos.

Other than the silo art, you can also view the Mosaic Mural which was created by Mike Tye and Marcia Camac and a team of local mosaic enthusiasts. The mosiac has images of birds, echidna, Correa and other native flora and fauna of the region. It took 27 volunteers over 3,000 hours over a 12 month period to complete.

There is also the Tunnel Vision mural project which features numerous murals created by the local Coonalpyn children.

I have attached a brochure entities ‘Connalpyn Arts Trail’ below.

In the rest area, you can find an excellent information board with the history of Coonalpyn and the district. There is also a tractor and a plough to acknowledge the importance of farming in the Coonalpyn district.

We then stopped off at the Waffles & Jaffles Cafe at Coonalpyn and enjoyed some Belgium waffles.

Below is a great story on the ABC website about the history of the Coonalpyn Waffles cafe ……

We then tried a few different spots for the silo activation, testing the noise floor with the transceiver in the Toyota Hi-Lux. Alongside the silos, the noise floor was S9 plus on 40m. Although the SiOTA rules state that the activation zone is within 1 km of the silo, we wanted to be relatively close to the silo, so we set up in the rest area a few hundred metres south of the silo.

The silos were within sight from our activation spot.

Unfortunately, when we turned on the Yaesu FT857d after setting up the 20/40/80m linked dipole, the noise floor on 40m was strength 9. It had been lower from the vehicle. We decided to soldier on despite the noise floor and the noise of passing trucks and trains.

First in the log for me was Andy VK3VKT, followed by Peter VK3PF and Adrian VK5FANA. I had qualified the silo. I logged a further 3 stations on 40m before Marija took charge of the microphone.

Marija’s first contact was with John VK2YW, followed by Peter VK3PF, and then Geoff VK3SQ. Marija logged a further 2 stations on 40m until the noise floor got the better of us and we decided to try the 20m band. We know there were other stations calling, but the noise was horrendous.

To our great pleasure, there was no noise at all on 20m. We logged a total of 9 stations on the 20m band from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and New Zealand.

To complete the activation we tried our luck on the 80m band, but the noise floor there was also strength 9. We logged just the one station, Adrian VK5FANA, before deciding that we would pack up and head to the next silo.

We had a total of 21 stations in the log and another silo successfully activated.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2YW
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK1DA

Marija worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK1DA
  2. VK2UH

Marija worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3VKT
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK5FANA
  4. VK3BEL
  5. VK5WG
  6. VK2YW

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK1DA
  2. VK2UH
  3. VK4NH
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK4SMA
  6. ZL3RIK
  7. VK3PF


  1. Australian Silo Art Trail, 2021, <>, viewed 1st December 2021.
  2. Coorong District Council, 2021, <>, viewed 2nd December 2021.
  3. Murray, 2021, <>, viewed 2nd December 2021.
  4. Professional Historians Australia, 2021, <>, viewed 2nd December 2021.
  5. State Library SA, 2021, <>, viewed 1st December 2021.
  6. Wikipedia, 2021, <>, v iewed 1st December 2021.

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