Marija and I flew to Perth, Western Australia last Wednesday and spent 6 very enjoyable nights at the home of Andrew VK6AS.
On Saturday 22nd October we attended PerthTech where I delivered a presentation on the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program. There were about 65-70 people in attendance.
Scott VK3KJ, the President of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and Paul VK2APA, the President of the Radio Amateur Society of Australia (RASA) were in attendance and spoke with the group. It was terrific to speak with both of these gentlemen.
On the Sunday we had planned on taking amateurs out into the field to activate some VKFF parks. Unfortunately the heavens absolutely opened up and it bucketed down with rain. It was impossible to activate. Instead, Hans VK6XN set up his portable station, and we spoke to a small group about VKFF and operating portable.
On Saturday 15th October 2022, the annual VKFF Team Championship was held for the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program. Marija and I formed a team called ‘The Walky Talkies” and we entered into the Two ops/single tx/40m & 80m/wire antenna category.
We activated the Nurragi Conservation Reserve VKFF-2247 which is located about 67 km southeast of Adelaide.
The Nurragi Conservation Reserve is a former railway line that now serves as a vital corridor for flora and fauna. The Reserve consists of about 65 hectares. Nurragi is an aboriginal word meaning ‘scrub’.
The park is an important piece of vegetation in a region where 98% of the native vegetation has been cleared. About 300 native plant species can be found in the reserve, with 50 of those being of conservation significance.
Below is a short video about the Nurragi Conservation Reserve.
There is an excellent Nurragi Walkers Guide which can be found in boxes in the Reserve.
The Sandergrove to Milang railway line operated between 1884 and 1970. It was a branch line of the Adelaide to Victor Harbor railway line. It left the main line to Victor Harbor at Sandergrove, about 9 km south of the town of Strathalbyn. The line then proceeded for about 13.1 km in a southeasterly direction to the river port of Milang.
The Milang line opened on the 17th day of December 1884 and was formerly closed on the 17th day of June 1970.
Prior to the arrival of the railway, horse teams and wool wagons would assemble at Milang’s wool stores for the 100 km journey to Port Adelaide and subsequent export to Britain.
In the 1870s, a Select Committee was appointed by the South Australian Government to investigate the construction of a connecting line of about 30 km from Strathalbyn to the Adelaide-Melbourne line which was at the time under construction.
One member of the Select Committee was the prominent and highly respected Member of Parliament, Albert Landseer. He had founded the town of Milang in 1856. He had numerous business interests in the Milang district including flour milling, ownership of river steamers and barges, agent for the paddle steamer pioneer Francis Cadell, and wool warehousing. Landseer ensured that the Committee heard evidence supporting a branch line to Milang. Landseer stated that this would allow steamboats to use what he considered to be a more conveniently located railhead than Goolwa.
In November 1881, assent was granted to an Act – The Mount Barker and Strathalbyn Railway Act, which not only authorised a link to Mount Barker but the branch line from Sandergrove to Milang.
It was reported in The Southern Argus, Thursday 17th November 1881:-
“Our readers are already aware that this line, so long suggested as one of the most desirable and probably most reproductive in the colony, has at last met with a favorable reception in our Parliament………we have the pleasure of feeling that the great majority of our rulers have acknowledged our right to equal travelling facilities as are afforded other parts of this advancing colony….”
In April 1882 tenders were called for the building of the line. In June 1882, Walker and Swann were awarded the contract for both lines. The contract price was £143,678 for the main line and £25,600 for the branch line.
In November 1883, a total of 500 men commenced construction of the main line from Mount Barker junction via Philcox Hill to Strathalbyn. It was completed in September 1884. In late August 1884, work commenced on laying the rail and steel sleepers and ballasting on the Milang branch line. Earthworks had already been completed.
The branch line opened three months later, on the 17th day of December 1884, which was the same day as the line from Strathalbyn to Goolwa changed over from horse to steam power. An opening ceremony was not held, however the public were given free rides and a special train brought invited guests from Strathalbyn, stopping almost halfway between Sandergrove and Milang for a picnic in the scrub, followed by entertainment at Milang’s Institute Hall in the late afternoon.
When the line was opened in December 1884, The Southern Argus newspaper reported that line was ‘Landseer’s line’.
The Milang railway terminus consisted of a main line, a passing siding and a stock siding, and a 16.2 metre human propelled turntable to turn locomotives and railcars.
The branch line from Milang to Sandergrove consisted of minimal facilities. At Sandergrove there was a platform and a small shed, while at Nurragi were was a passing loop and a very short platform. At Punkulde there was a passenger stopping sign where the Finniss to Milang road crossed the line.
During its early years the Milang branch line saw a large amount of activity due to the traffic of wool and supplies up and down the Murray River. However by the late 1920s when road transportation was deregulated, traffic along the line declined. BY 1931 the Transport Control Board requested the South Australian Railways to provide a report on the estimated savings to be made by closure of unprofitable branchlines, which included the Milang branch line.
Steam trains carrying goods and passengers operated on the line up until 1925, at which time Brill Model 55 railcars commenced running daily between Adelaide and Milang. A goods train worked several times a week from Strathalbyn. By the late 1930’s, the larger Brill Model 75 railcars operated on the line.
The passenger service along the line was halted in 1968. This was the same year that legislative protection of goods traffic on the South Australian Railways ceased and as a result traffic along the Milang line plummeted. Two years later the line was closed.
A special charter trip was operated on 15 June 1970, two days before the line was formally closed. The last train to run on the line was an R.X. steam engine which had four coaches with 300 passengers from Adelaide to Strathalbyn. Upon arrival at Strathalbyn, another coach with 50 additional passengers was added.
We set up on a wooden bench alongside the walking trail off Nurragi Road. We ran the Yaesu FT857d, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for the activation.
Sadly the band conditions were awful and it was very hard going during the day.
After packing up at Nurragi, Marija and I headed down to Milang located on the shore of Lake Alexandrina. Here you can find the Port Milang Historic Railway Museum.
Below is a great video about the Milang Railway Museum.
After leaving Milang we then headed to Finniss where we had a look at the old Finniss railway siding.
We then called in to the Finniss General store for some fantastic hamburgers and some ice cold Bundies and Coke.
We made a total of 142 QSOs on 40m & 80m SSB for the Championship.
As things were so slow on 40m and 20m we also made 38 QSOs on 20m SSB, but these did not count for our category.
During the day we made a total of 57 Park to Park contacts and a total of 179 QSOs (but 141 for our category).
At about 1055 UTC on 13th October 2022, I tuned in to the RTM Wai broadcasting on 11665 kHz in the Malayalam language.
The broadcast was coming from the Kajang transmitter.
The program consisted of music.
The overall reception of the RTM Wai was fair. The signal strength was good, however, there was interference from China Radio International CNR2 broadcasting on 11660 kHz and 11670 kHz, and this severely affected listening pleasure.
At about 1024 UTC on 13th October 2022, I tuned in to the Radio Taiwan International, broadcasting on 12065 kHz in the Cantonese language.
The broadcast was coming from the Paochung 250kW transmitter in Taiwan.
The overall reception of the Radio Taiwan International was fair. The signal was good, however, there was severe interference from China National Radio CNR1 broadcasting on the same frequency, and this severely affected listening pleasure.
After 1030 UTC when CNR1 stopped broadcasting, the reception was excellent. From 1030 UTC the broadcast was in the Hakka language.
Below is a video showing my reception of Radio Taiwan International.
At about 1330 UTC on 12th October 2022, I tuned in to the Voice of Vietnam, broadcasting on 12020 kHz, in the English language.
The broadcast was coming from the Hanoi 100 kW transmitter in Vietnam.
The program consisted of news and current affairs and a listeners letterbox program.
The overall reception of the Voice of Vietnam was fair. The signal strength was good and there was only slight fading of the signal. There was a digital type signal on the frequency and there was interference from China Radio International broadcasting on 12025 kHz.
Below is a video showing my reception of the Voice of Vietnam.