On Monday 30th January 2023, I left home to travel up to the Riverland region of South Australia. The purpose of my visit was to collect a communications receiver.
I was on the road by 7.00 a.m. and stopped at the Strathalbyn bakery just down the road from home for a coffee and a bacon & egg roll. I then headed to Murray Bridge where I stopped briefly to have a look at the flooding of the Murray River. There were parts of Murray Bridge that I had previously never seen water.
I then travelled east along the Karoonda Highway and stopped at the monument for the old Kulde school site on the Karoonda Highway. Kulde is an aboriginal word for ‘brothers’. The Kulde school opened in 1930 and closed in 1940. There was also once a railway station here.
My next stop was the little town of Wynarka, about 120 km southeast of Adelaide. The name Wynarka is from an aboriginal word meaning ‘a strayer’. The government town of Wynarka was proclaimed on the 9th day of January 1913. Sadly the town became infamous following the discovery of the remains of a young child in a suitcase on the side of the Karoonda Highway in 2015.
Next was Karoonda, which is located about 146 km from Adelaide. Karoonda was a former aboriginal camp on a trade route. It is derived from the aboriginal word karunda meaning ‘winter’s camp’.
It is believed the first European to take up land in the Karoonda area was James Archibald Cook who took up land under pastoral lease 2093 from the 1st day of January 1871. The town of Karoonda was proclaimed on the 11th day of December 1913 and was extended in 1928.
Between 1911-1914 railways were constructed to open up the mallee region of South Australia. Karoonda was on the Brown’s Well railway line and became a junction with the Waikerie railway line to the north and the Peebinga railway line to the east. Sadly both branches were closed in 1990. However, the main line through Karoonda remained open until it was closed in 2015.
Above:- Karoonda railway yard and town, c. 1915. Image c/o State Library South Australia.
On the main street of Karoonda, you can view an information board on the railways, the old Karoonda railway crane, and the old railway station.
One of the iconic features of Karoonda is ‘The Big Ram’. Well, it is not really what I call ‘big’, but nonetheless it is very interesting. It recognised the importance of the sheep industry in the Karoonda area.
In close proximity is a memorial to Senior Constable Harold Rae Pannell who was murdered in the course of his duty in 1957.
Senior Constable Pannell had attended the property of John Fischer at Bow Hill to execute a warrant to seize property. Fischer had failed to pay damages that had been awarded against him in a civil court case that arose from a motor vehicle accident in 1955.
Senior Constable Pannell was shot at point-blank range in the head by Fischer. In the week leading up to the shooting, Pannell had attempted to explain to Fischer that he would be forced to take personal property to cover the outstanding debt. Fischer was unable to understand this.
Fischer was tried for murder, however, the Supreme Court found him not guilty on the grounds of insanity and he was committed into the strict custody of a mental institution at the Governor’s pleasure. Fischer died in 1988 at the age of 67.
Above:- Senior Constable Pannell. Image c/o Police Assoc of SA.
Also in the main street you can find the Karoonda Centenary Walk which commemorates the pioneers of Karoonda. It features a number of pavers leading to a windmill structure.
I then set up at the Karoonda silo for an activation for the Silos On The Air (SioTA) program.
The Karoonda silo is a tribute to the heritage of farming in the Karoonda district.
By day one side of the Karoonda Silos is a magnificent tribute to the heritage of farming in Karoonda. Some people ask, why are parts of the silo not painted? Well by night, the ‘blank’ area of the silo is brought to life with colour art projections. The Karoonda silo was the first of its kind in Australia, offering silo art by day and silo art by night.
The silo was painted by renowned Australian artist Heesco. It took him about 38 days to pain the silo, which was completed on the 26th day of July 2019.
Below is a video where silo artist Heesco tells the story of the Karoonda silo.
Below is a drone fly over showing the town of Karoonda and the Karoonda silo.
I operated from the vehicle in the car park alongside the silo. I ran the Icom IC-7000, 100 watts, and the Codan 930 self-tuning antenna. It was very quiet on all of the bands despite being in the middle of the town.
Above:- the silo activation zone for Karoonda. Image c/o SiOTA website.
I made the following contacts on 40m SSB from the Karoonda silo:-
I made the following contacts on 20m SSB:-
I also put out some calls on 21.250 on 15m and 28.490 on 10m, but had no takers.
Also in Karoonda is Pioneer Park which is maintained by the Karoonda Historical Society. It contains a number of historical buildings including Wynarka’s original pioneer Metholidat church and the Kunlara Post and Telephone Office which is believed to be one of the smallest ever built.
Entry is a gold coin donation. Marija and I have visited here previously and we highly recommend a visit if you are in Karoonda.
I then left Karoonda and continued east to my next stop, the Wanbi silo.
- A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2023, <https://published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 1st February 2023.
- Australian Silo Art Trail, 2023, <https://www.australiansiloarttrail.com/karoonda>, viewed 1st February 2023.
- Police Association of South Australia, 2023, <https://www.facebook.com/PASouthAustralia/photos/roll-of-honour-march-12-1957-i-senior-constable-harold-rae-pannell-38-karoonda-p/2035264643295114/?paipv=0&eav=AfbnzH28ycBL_VmVatyX8e7MO5hES0Zt8nMQLoDsjFCwlV4fYbpolLITMxiUDMOkw2k&_rdr>, viewed 1st February 2023.
- Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynarka,_South_Australia>, viewed 1st February 2023.