My final silo activation for the Silos On The Air (SiOTA) program for Saturday was Quarantine (Pinnaroo) VK-QRE-5 which is located near the Quarantine station on the Mallee Highway.
By the time I reached the silo it was totally dark. I pulled over to the side of the Mallee Highway, just short of the Quarantine station. This is also being used by South Australia Police at the moment as a COVID-19 checkpoint.
I was directly opposite the silo, but I only managed the blurry photo below due to it being pitch black. I was just short of the road block and pulled over on the side of the road. I was sure I might get a visit from a police officer to see what I was up to, but that didn’t happen much to my surprise.
From looking at the aerial view, this appears to be quite a big grain facility.
As time was really pushing on, and I had a 250 km trip home, this was a quick activation. I only operated on 80m, logging a total of 8 stations. First in the log was Nev VK5WG, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ian VK5IS as my third contact to qualify the silo.
I am sorry for not trying 40m and 20m, but I was getting tired and hungry and knew I had a big drive home. I drove back into Pinnaroo and went to the local roadhouse for a magnificent steak sandwich with the lot. I then hit the road and headed for Ashbourne.
THANK YOU to everyone who called me during the day during my elevn silo activations.
The next silos for me were the Pinnaroo silos VK-NO5. Pinnaroo is located about 241 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.
Pinnaroo is a major centre for the surrounding wheat, barley, sheep, and mixed farming area. The area was first settled in 1868 when the ‘Pinnaroo Run’ was established by William Butcher. Wool was carted over rough tracks either to the Murray River or to Kingston in the south-east of South Australia.
In 1885, the Commissioner of Crow Lands, Mr. Playford, and the Surveyor-General, Mr. G.W. Goyder, explored the countryside around Pinnaroo and a decision was made to open the land for agricultural settlement. In 1892, several Hundreds were surveyed. The Hundred of Pinnnaroo was proclaimed on the 4th day of January 1894. A Correspondent reported:-
“If it has proved a failure to the wealthy why ask the poor farmer to go there.”
In 1903, a Mr. H.M. Martin of Stonyfell described the Pinnaroo area as follows:-
“The whole of the 80 miles from Coonalpyn was silent, sombre and depressing. A great portion of the tracks was over heavy sandhills and gullies, relieved here and there by abandoned sheep stations. The stock had all been removed – such as had not died long before, and the empty huts and weed-grown sheep yards made the plain a sort of abomination od desolation. The hills and gullies were alike clothed with dark-coloured, unvarying, more or less worthless scrub, the pine trees and mallee being crooked and misshapen. Here and there a few sheoaks made a welcome change, but the dense scrub, without any lights and shadows, gave one the impression of a vast level plain. Fifty six years ago I inspected the Pinnaroo country and found it a worthless desert of white sand and drift. In 1865 I was again there to witness a few sheep starving to death…It is to be hoped that the Legislative COuncil will quash this extremely undesirable measure’.”
However there was a more favourable report in The Chronicle (Adelaide) on the 2nd day of July 1904, suggesting a ‘favourable report of the land for wheat-growing’.
The town of Pinnaroo was proclaimed on the 17th day of November 1904. The Pinnaroo school opened in 1906.
At the 2016 Australian Census, the locality of Pinnaroo had a population of 712 of which 547 lived in and around its town centre.
There are various theories on the origin of the name Pinnaroo. It is believed that the name derives from the aboriginal word ‘pinaru’, a Ngarkat tribal name for the district. Others suggest it is a corruption of the aboriginal word ‘peintaru’ meaning ‘limestone’. While others suggest it is an aboriginal word meaning ‘big men’.
The video below which I found on You Tube will give you a good feel of Pinnaroo (there is no sound on the video).
Prior to heading to the silo I visited the Pinnaroo Wildlife Park which is opposite the caravan park on South Terrace. Marija and I have been here previously and always pop in and make a donation to have a look at the various native birds and mammals.
The Pinnaroo railway line ran east from the Adelaide-Melbourne line at Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo. The line continues into Victoria to Ouyen where it joined the Mildura line. The line opened on the 14th day of September 1906 and was extended to the South Australia-Victoria State border on the 29th day of July 1915. In May 1995 it was announced that the line to the west of Pinnaroo would be converted from broad gauge to standard gauge. Work was delayed until 1996 due to a large grain crop. A small part of the line was converted in 1996 but was converted back for the 1997 grain harvest. To continue the journey to Adelaide, the grain was transhipped at Tailem Bend.
On the 2nd day of July 1998 the last broad gauge train ran on the track. The line was reopened on the 25th day of November 1998. Due to the Victorian line remaining as broad gauge, trains could not operate over the entire length of the railway. Pinnaroo was a break of gauge point. Sadly the line closed in July 2015, with Viterra announcing that not more grain would be carried by rail. Ironically, as the South Australian line closed, the Victorian State Government was upgrading its end of the line for regional freight.
The photos below (c/o Trove) show the Pinnaroo line and railway station & yards.
I then headed to the silos which are located on Silo Road on the western side of the town. They are run by Viterra. The Pinnaroo area was subject to a drought between 2016 – 2019. Heavy rain fell in June after the last heavy winter/spring rain fell in September 2016. Local grain farmers were extremely happy.
First in the log was Brett VK2VW, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ross VK3BEL. I had qualified the silo. I went on to log a total of 12 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and Vk6. It was nice to get Peter VK3ZPF in the log. This was Peter’s first every silo chase. I was also very pleased to speak with John VK6WC all the way over in Western Australia.
I then moved to 3.610 on the 80m band and logged 6 stations from VK5 and New Zealand. I was very pleasantly surprised to log Matt ZL4NVW on 80m.
Time was really marching on, so I packed up and headed to my final silo for the day, just a few km up the Mallee Highway.
The Parilla silos VK-PRA5 were my next Silos On The Air (SiOTA) activation for Monday the 12th day of July 2021. The little town of Parilla is located about 214 km south-east of the city of Adelaide, and about 14 km east of Lameroo.
The government town of Parilla was proclaimed on the 1st day of August 1907. The town was named after the Hundred of Parilla. Parilla is believed to be an aboriginal word meaning ‘cold place’. The Hundred of Parilla, County of Chandos was proclaimed on the 4th day of January 1894. The first pastoralist in the immediate vicinity was J.W.D. Denning who took up pastoral lease no. 2290 as from the 30th day of June 1873.
The town’s mascots are Alf and Edith the Galah and Echidna. You can find a sign announcing this just as you enter the town.
Also as you enter town there is a small display which includes a Stump Jump plough, and an old door from the Parilla Jail.
At the 2016 Australian Census, Parilla had a population of 211.
I found this interesting video on Parilla on the internet which dates back to the 1980s.
When in Parilla, make sure you have a look at the ‘Impressions of Parilla 1914’ mural. It was designed by artist Rossy Reeves (Hentschke) and was developed from various photographs and references from the Local History book.
Parilla was once on the Tailem Bend to Pinaroo railway line. Not much remains today except for a Centennary marker, and old crane, and an old railway telephone box.
Parilla has traditionally been a local centre for grain growing, although it is now known for growing vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Some historic photographs of farming in Lameroo can be seen below (all c/o Trove)
The bulk grain silos at Parilla are located adjacent to the railway line, however grain is freighted out by road, as are vegetables.
I kicked off this activation by calling CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band. First in the log was Sue VK5AYL, followed by Adrian VK5FANA, and then Marc VK3OHM. I logged a further 9 stations on 40m from VK3 and VK5.
I then QSYd to the 40m band and called CQ on 7.155. First in the log was Marija Vk5MAZ, followed by the ever reliable Brett VK2VW. I logged another 3 stations from VK3 and VK5, and despite the band being in quite good shape, I had no further callers.
I tried calling CQ on 14.310 for a few minutes, but as I had no takers, I called it quits and headed for my next silo at Pinnaroo.
After leaving Geranium I headed to my eight silo on the day, Lameroo silos VK-LMO5 for the Silos On he Air (SiOTA) program. Lameroo is located about 201 km south-east of the city of Adelaide, and about 40km west of the South Australia / Victoria State border.
Lameroo is primarily a service town for the surrounding rural areas, growing grain and sheep. Lameroo now includes the former settlements of Kulkami, Mulpata, Wirha and Gurrai, which were on the Peebinga railway line, and Wilkawatt, which was between Parrakie and Lameroo on the Pinnaroo railway.
From around 1858, land around the now Lameroo, was first taken up on pastoral lease. The area was known as Wow Wow Plain. However there was limited grazing during this time. Following the establishment of a homestead and the digging of a well at Garra, south of Parrakie, settlement on the Wow Wow Plain became more popular.
In 1884 a well was dug at Wow Wow Plain. It measured 7 feet by 4 feet and 254 feet deep. It was timbered with round Cypress Pine which was obtained from the stands of Southern Cyrprus Pine located in the area. The well was dug by pick and shovel.
In 1894 the land was surveyed. The town reserve was proclaimed in 1894 and a Government well was excavated. In 1904 the town was named Lameroo at the suggestion of J.M. Johnston who had worked on the Overland Telegraph Line. He liked the name Lameroo as it was a reminder for him of Lameroo Beach, a small beach located off the Esplanade in central Darwin.
Trains once ran to Lameroo on the Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo line. Construction of the lie commenced in 1904. Earthworks were completed to Lameroo by 1905. The first trains arrived with passengers and goods commenced arriving in 1906, with the line laid into the railway yard on the 6th day of April 1906. The Lameroo railway station was declared open on the 14th day of September 1906.
When the railway line first opened, trains watered at Tailem Bend and carried travelling tanks, but started watering regularly at Cotton Bore in 1907, and this was the only watering point on the line until a softening plant was established at Lameroo in 1915.
In 1919, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, the Governor-General of Australia visited Lameroo in 1919 aboard the vice regal train. A large group gathered to greet the train. Also in attendance was Sir Arthur Stanley, the Governor of Victoria, and Crawford Vaughan, the Premier of South Australia.
Today you can view the old railway station and a considerable amount old railway memorabilia in the reserve on the southern side of the Mallee Highway.
The main street of Lameroo is the Mallee Highway. Here you can find a number of shops. Lameroo was judged winner of the medium sized town category in the 1992 KESAB Tidy Towns Awards, and was in the top ten towns for five consecutive years.
Lameroo was the birthplace of Julie Moncrieff Anthony AM, OBE (b. 1949), an Australian former professional singer and entertainer. She was born to Betty and Les Lush, a sheep and wheat farmer.
At the start of the settlement of the Lameroo area, crops, rather than livestock, were the principal farming activity. Wheat was the main crop in the early years and then barley became popular too. Old farming practices sometimes led to the drift of topsoil but later soil management techniques reversed this trend and the use of super-phosphates from the 1950s increased crop yields.
Prior to the advent of Bulk Handling all grain was handled in bags and it was a common sight to see huge stacks awaiting transport in the railway yard.
After the South Australian Co-Operative Bulk Handling Limited (SACBH) set up operations in South Australia in 1955 local farmers requested a silo be built in the area, however, due to restrictions in the Bulk Handling Grains Act 1955 terminals had to be built at Wallaroo and Port Lincoln before overseas shipping facilities for the eastern area could be built at Port Adelaide. In the meantime the grain trade was canvassed regarding using grain stored in silos and from data on hand, Lameroo was selected as the ideal location for the first silo in the Port Adelaide division. The contract was let in 1959 and total capacity for the completed silo is 11,900 tonnes.
As the wheat silo proved so successful barley growers demanded a similar facility and in 1964 the barley silo was erected with a total capacity of 13,400 tonnes.
The silos at Lameroo are operated by Viterra which was founded in Canada in 2007. Viterra is the largest bulk grain handler in South Australia.
I called CQ on 7.150 and this was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Gordon VK5GY. I now had three contacts in the log, the required number to qualify the silo.
I logged a further 6 stations on 40m from VK2, VK5, and VK7, before my callers completely dried up. I then moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged 6 stations, all from VK5.
To complete the activation I moved to 14.310 on the 20m band and logged Roly Zl1BQD in New Zealand.
After packing up at Jabuk, I continued east along the Mallee Highway for about 10km and soon reached the little town of Geranium. This was to be my seventh silo activation of the day, the Geranium silos VK-GRM5.
The town of Geranium is about 165 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.
The town of Geranium is located just off the Mallee Highway. The town takes its name from the native plant, Pelargonium australe. This plant was once widespread in the district but is rarely found today due to the clearing of the land for farming purposes. Children of the day called it “knives and forks” because of its unusual seed pod which was three inches long and very pointed.
In 1999, Geranium was named Australia’s Tidiest Town. Geranium won the national competition from a large field of 316 separate communities and 220 schools. Geranium was competing with many towns far greater in size and population.
The South Australian Government sank a bore in the area in 1906 and named the location geranium after the wild geraniums found in the area. The town was proclaimed on the 24th day of March 1910. The Geranium School opened in 1913.
School at Geranium was held in the local hall until a stone schoolroom was built in 1929. School attendances at this time were about 40 pupils. In 1965 the new Geranium Area School opened with an enrolment of 247 students, and the little schools at Peake, Jabuk and Parakkie were closed. In 1990 the school again became a primary school, with secondary students travelling to Lameroo by bus.
As you enter the town you can view an old plough which is a monument to the pioneers of the Geranium district. There are also some small plaques honouring some of the original Geranium settlers.
You can also view the Geranium Bore. The windmill commemorates the original bore constructed on the 2 acre site of the 10 acre ‘Water Reserve’ in March 1906. This reserve was named ‘Geranium Bore’ because of the significant growth of the native geranium nearby. The bore with its huge windmill, tank and trough provided good quality water for the pioneer farmers, community and transient stock. The bore site became the hub for community life with the first church services, school meetings and social functions. The town bore with its good underground water allowed Geranium and the district to develop into a community.
Nearby is an old 5 ” Table Top Trolley. It was manufactured in 1921s The 5″ (127mm) measurement refers to the width of its wheels. It was licenced to carry 120 three bushel bags of wheat. It was originally painted red with yellow scroll work. The bag loader attached to the trolley is a Perkins patent horse operated bag loader No. 9283.
The trolley was purchased new by Frederick ‘Roy’ Koch of WIlkawatt in 1922. He used it mainly for carting stooked hay. In the early 1960s, W.L. ‘Bill’ Lithgow purchased it at Roy Koch’s clearing sale. The trolley was donated to the community by the Lithgow family in 2005.
What was the Perkins Bag Loader? A bag of grain was placed on the loader and the loader was attached to the horse via a chain. The horse then pulled the chain and the frame swung through an arc and threw the bag onto the trolley tray. The horse needed to be co-operative and well trained and was led in and out by a person. In the early 1980s when D.L. ‘Les’ Lithgow was asked what the greatest invention he had ever seen, he replied ‘the horse operated bag loader’. Les Lithgow had come to Geranium to farm in March 1912.
You can also view the Soldiers Memorial Park and the Trees of Tribute, honouring Geranium’s World War One servicemen.
My next stop in the town was at Railway Terrace. Here you can view some information boards on the old Geranium Memorial Hall and some history on the old Geranium Railway yard.
The original Geranium Institute was a tin shed. In 1922 a stone institute building was built in front of the tin shed. It was built in memory of the Fallen Heroes of the First World War. On the 20th day of May 1922, Mr. F. Norton, who lost two sons during the war, laid the Foundation Stone. The Institute was officially opened on the 22nd day of September 1922 by Mrs. W.J. Mitchell, the oldest resident living in the district.
The new Institute cost 1,248 pounds. The money was raised by donations and fundraising functions. The Hall was used for many events, balls, dances, church, weddings, farewells. strawberry fetes, meetings and concerts. The Library was also housed in the Institute.
In 1986 the Institute’s name was changed to the Geranium Memorial Hall. Sadly despite great efforts to maintain the hall, it was slowly deteriorating and was considered unsafe. In late 2004 it was closed by the Southern Mallee District Council and in June 2006 it was demolished. What a sad day for the town. If only those walls could talk.
When the railway line opened there was no allowance for a siding between the nearby towns of Peake and Parrakie. As a result, local farmers at Geranium and nearby Jabuk, petitioned the Government. A railway platform and a goods shed was built in 1908, some 2 years before the town was gazetted.
The silos can be found between Railway Terrace and Gravestock Road on the southern edge of the town.
The silos are working silos run by Viterra. The silos were closed in 2012 due to a ‘forecast poor harvest’.
I operated from just outside the gates to the silo. To kick off this activation I started off on 20m, as I was able to tune the antenna this time on that band. First in the log was Rob VK4AAC who was activating the Wooroonooran National Park VKFF-0548.
I then moved down to 14.340 at the request of Peter VK3PF and logged Peter. This was followed by Marija VK5MAZ. With three contacts in the log, I had qualified another silo.
I went on to log a total of 11 stations on 20m including Stuart VK3UAO/p in the Teesdale Sheoak Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2206, Gerard VK2IO/p in the Cornubia Forest Nature Refuge VKFF-2865, and Roly ZL1BQD in New Zealand.
I then moved to 40m and logged Gerard VK2HBG/p and Bob VK2BYF/p in the Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102.
I then moved down to 7.139 and called CQ. This was answered by Ade VK4SOE/p and then Marija VK5MAZ. This activation was much busier than the previous silo activations, and I logged a total of 18 stations on 40m. This included some more park activators: Ian VK1DI/2 in the Nadgigomar Nature Reserve VKFF-2679 and Gerard Vk2IO/p in VKFF-2865.
To conclude the activation I headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged a total of 4 stations: Marija VK5MAZ, Adrian VK5FANA, Peter VK5PET, and John VK5BJE.
My sixth silo for the day was the Jabuk silo VK-JBK5. Jabuk is a tiny town situated about 157km south-east of the city of Adelaide.
After leaving Peake I continued east on the Mallee Highway for about 12km and soon reached the little town of Jabuk which is located just south of the Highway.
Jabuk, pronounced ‘jay-buck’ was formerly known as Marmon Jabuk until the 20th day of February 1941. The town was laid out in 1909 by William. E. Cross, a blacksmith of East Wellington. European pastoralists occupied the Jabuk area during the 1870’s and 1890s
The name of the town appears to be derived from the nearby Marmon Jabuk Range which has an elevation of just 91 metres. The town also sits on the Marmon-Jabuk fault line. However the actual origin of that name is unclear. There are reports that it may be an Afghan word by a cameleer. Others state that it is from a local aboriginal word.
An article appeared in The Register (Adelaide) on Friday 2nd July 1909 (see below). It was suggested in the article that the name was ‘supposed to be Afghan in origin, but, possibly, a corruption of memorjabuk, the name of an outstation owned by Mr Mathewson in 1866.”
An Editor’s note says that:
“The origin of the name was investigated when the articles on nomenclature were running through The Register and no satisfactory solution was arrived at beyond the fact that the appellation is a native one.”
Another article appeared in the Chronicle (Adelaide) on Saturday 3rd June 1911 which said:-
“Marmon Jabuk…….The name according to local residents, was bestowed upon a low mallee range to the south of the line because an Afghan was found dead there”.
Other reports state that ‘memorjabuk’, mentioned above, is believed to have been corrupted from ‘marmadjabuk’, applied by Aborigines to an inland range of sand dunes extending from the River Murray, south-east through the Hundreds of Hooper, Sherlock, Peake and Price.
This range was an old shoreline in the Pleistocene ice age. About 10 km north east of Tailem Bend, on the northern side of the Marmon Jabuk Range, was a place called mamondjabak. David Unaipon (b. 1872. d. 1967), an aboriginal preacher, author and inventor stated that the word means ‘father of fire’. The Marmon Jabuk Range is well known for its numerous fires started by storms and lightning strikers. This would account for the name given by the aborignals.
Other records say that ‘jabuk’ is believed to be aboriginal for ‘bullock’.
The sandy and stony nature of the roads in the Jabuk area made travelling difficult, so farmers signed a petition for a siding to be established on the new railway line constructed in 1906.
An extract from South Australian Railways Weekly Notices on the 27th day of April 1908 said:
“The siding at the above place is now complete and open for passenger, parcels, goods, and livestock traffic under the usual conditions attaching to sidings without resident staff. It is 112 miles 30 chains from Adelaide, and trains will stop there when required. In computing charges 37 miles must be added to the Tailem Bend mileage. The station number for Marmanjabuk is 147.”
During the 1910-1911 season, a total of 6.600 bags of wheat were delivered, weighed and stacked in the rail yard. Large gonolas with a 600 bag capacity freighted the bags to Adelaide.
Above:- the old Jabuk railway station. Images c/o Trove.
The first Institute in Jabuk was built in 1910 for community functions, including school and church. The first major function was a Strawberry fete. An article in the Chronicle (Adelaide) dated Saturday 3rd June 1911 said:-
“The hall is a credit to the settlers, and is found invaluable as a schoolhouse. It was put into use as such a month or so ago, when the Education Department sent up a teacher, Mrs. Jones. How badly her presence was needed is disclosed by the statement that there are now 17 children on the roll, and some of them are 9 and 10 years of age. The schoolmistress is looking forward to the time when the advance of the district will warrant the construction of a school and an attached dwelling”.
A larger Institute was built to cater for the growing needs of the community and the foundation stone was laid on the 9th day of April 1930.
In 1936 the Jabuk State School was built by the Department of Education. The school closed in 1964, with students being transferred to Geranium Area School.
During the 1950s, with booming wool prices, farmers experienced a new wave of affluence. The Jakub sheep sales were recognised for good prices on the day of auction. The yards were situated opposite the Memorial Gates in the railway yard.
Today in Jabuk you can view an information board on Ampton Terrace. A number of historic buildings remain in Jabuk. You can also view the Jabuk Memorial Gates which were officialy opened on the 27th day of April 1958 to honour those who enlisted in World War I and World War II.
The silo at Jabuk is an old fertiliser silo. It is located alongside of the old railway line on Ampton Terrace on the southern side of the town.
I set up alongside of the old railway line and called CQ on 7.155. This was answered by Brett VK2VW who I had logged at all silos up to this point. Next in the log was VK3BWV, followed by Peter VK3PF. I had qualified another silo.
I logged a total of 15 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7. This included Stuart who was activating the Teesdale Sheoak Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2206, and Dean VK3KXR who was in the You Yangs Regional Park VKFF-0982.
When callers dried up I headed to 80m and logged Marija Vk5MAZ and Adrian VK5FANA.
Unfortunately I had issues with tuning the antenna on 20m so I did not operate on that band.
My sixth silo for Monday the 12th day of July 2021 was the Peake silos VK5-PKE5. Peake is a small town located on the Mallee Highway about 145 km east of the city of Adelaide.
After leaving Tailem Bend I turned onto the Mallee Highway which runs east from Tailem Bend through cereal growing farmland to Pinnaroo near the South Australia – Victoria State border. It continues in Victoria and was formerly known there as the Ouyen Highway. The highway is the shortest route between Adelaide and Sydney.
On the Mallee Highway near the little town of Moorlands is a stone cairn with a plaque for the Horseman’s Grave.
I continued on into the town of Peake which is named after Archibald Henry Peake (b. 1859. d. 1920). He was the Premier of South Australia on three occasions. He served as the Premier from 1909 to 1910 for the Liberal and Democratic Union, and then from 1912 to 1915 and 1917 to 1920 for its successor, the Liberal Union. He had also been Treasurer and Attorney General in the Price-Peake coalition government from 1905 to 1909.
The town of Peake was proclaimed on the 8th day of August 1907. It had been surveyed during May 1907. One of the primary concerns of local councils at the time was the construction of serviceable roads. Many local farmers soon found a way to pay off their council rates, by working with teams building roads. Farmers could also make money by quarrying limestone from their properties and selling it. However, as there was very little stone around Lameroo and Pinnaroo, the Pinnaroo District Council contracted to buy stone from the area between Sherlock and Jabuk. Stone pickers could earn up to six shillings per ton of stone. A stone crushing plant was established in the 1930s at the Peake Railway station where rubble was crushed. It was then loaded on eastward bound trucks towards Pinnarroo. A bitumen road was eventually established between Tailem Bend and Peake. However it continued no further due to the outbreak of the Second World War which brought a standstill to further construction.
As you come into the town there is an excellent parking area with an information board on the Peake Historic Walk and points of interest along the Mallee Highway. It is located opposite the oval.
There is a significant amount of history to be found in this little town. In close proximity to the silos you can find Pollys Well. It was sunk by John Whyte, the first pastoralist and pioneer to stock the surrounding countryside.
In 1877 the well was sunk to a depth of 16.5 metres. The well is timbered to 8.4 metres and in its day had a good supply of water. Water was drawn from the well with the assistance of a horse and buckets. Early settlers depended highly on the well as it would take eight days to travel by bullock wagon from Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo. Water was also taken on here for the steam trains when they commenced operation in the area.
There are numerous stories surrounding the origin of the name ‘Polly’s Well’. One of those is that the horse which drew buckets of water from the well was called ‘Polly’. While others report that a horse or cow called ‘Polly’ fell into the well meeting its fate. Another theory is that the well was named after the wife of an early pioneer.
Alongside of Pollys Well is the Peake War Memorial and Lone Pine. The pine was planted at Peake on the 25th day of April 2009 having been propagated from a pine tree at the War Memorial in Canberra. That particular tree can follow its origins back to Gallipoli, Turkey. The ridges at Gallipoli were once covered with Aleppo Pines. However, these were cut down to line over trenches. Just one solitary pine remained. Lance Corporal B.J. Smith of the 3rd Battalion sent several pine cones back to Australia. Thirteen years later, two seedlings were grown, one of which was planted at the Canberra War Memorial.
There is a historic walk which you can undertake in Peake. A brochure can be collected from the information bay. Historic buildings in the town include the old Station Master’s House (built 1912), the Peake Store/Tavern (built 1937). the Peake Post Office (built 1912), the Peake Bakehouse (built 1908), and the Peake Saddlery (built 1912).
Jozeff Suchon, the final station master at Peake died in the Station Masters House in 1990, aged 78 years. Today, the house is in a complete state of disrepair. It is reported that the visitjng dentist saw his patients on the front porch of the Post Office.
The Peake Baptist Church was originally built by Moore and Trezise in 1908 as a bakehouse and refreshment rooms to serve railway passengers. Apparently there was always a rush for the pie stall. In 1922 the building was purchased by the Home Mission Department to serve as a new Baptists church and manse. Baptisms were performed with the use of a garden hose.
You can also find a monument for the old Peake Railway Station which was located on the Pinnaroo railway line. The line opened from Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo on the 14th day of September 1906, and on the 29th July 1915 it extended over the border into Victoria. The line closed in July 2015. It was at this time that Viterra announced that no more grain would be carried by rail after 31st day of July 2015. The 2015 harvest would be entirely transported by road. As the South Australian line closed, the Victorian government was upgrading part of its end of the line for regional freight.
In its day the town of Peake was a bustling place, as can be seen from the newspaper article below dated 14th December 1928.
The silos at Peake are both concrete and iron and are operated by Viterra.
I parked in the carpark directly adjacent to the silos and first in the log was Ian VK1DI/p who was activating a park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, the Turallo Nature Reserve VKFF-2750.
I then moved up to 7.155 and called CQ. This was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Marc VK3OHM. I had qualified the silo with 3 QSOs.
I went on to work a further 5 stations before heading to 7.144 to get Gerard VK2HBG/p and Bob VK2BYF/p in the log. They were operating portable from the Batemans Marine Park VKFF-1406.
I then moved back to 7.155 and logged a further 7 stations including Gerard VK2IO/p who was in the Springwood Conservation Park VKFF-1653, and Roly ZL1BQD in New Zealand. I also logged Marty VK4KC for his first ever silo contact.
I then moved to the 80m band where I logged Marija VK5MAZ, Adrian VK5FANA, and Gordon VK5GY.
To complete the activation I headed to 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged Peter VK3PF, and Stuart VK3UAO who was in the Inverleigh Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2336.
With 22 contacts in the log it was time for me to pack up and head to my next silo at Jabuk a little further along the Mallee Highway.
My fourth silo for the day was Tailem Bend VK-WRN5. Tailem Bend is located about 96 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.
The town of Tailem Bend is located on the cliffs above the east bank of the Murray River. There are various theories on the origin of the towns name which was once written as “Tail’em Bend”. Some claim that the words are a corruption of the Ngarrindjeri aboriginal word “thelim” meaning “bend”, which is associated with the sharp bend that the Murray River makes at Tailem Bend. Others claim that original Ngarrindjeri inhabitants called this part of the river ‘Thelum Ki’ which means bent water.
In 1884 a railway gang who were constructing the railway line east to Victoria. set up camp among some native pine trees, naming the site ‘Pine Camp’. From this time onwards the twonship commenced to grow. By 1887 the town had been proclaimed.
Major industries in the Tailem Bend area include pig farming, dairying, grain growing, hay exporting, and olives. Tailem Bend is also the home to The Bend Motorsport Park and Old Tailem Town, a pioneer village.
Large operational grain silos can be found on the western side of town on the northern side of the Princes Highway. This is where former railway branch lines into the Murray Mallee region join the main Adelaide-Melbourne line. The silos are run by Viterra.
The last two branches were the Pinnaroo railway line and the Loxton railway line via Karoonda. The Loxton line was originally one of five branch lines from the Barmera railway line and was the last to remain in service. It ran north-east from Tailem Bend to the grain silos at Loxton in the Riverland region. It was the only branch to be converted to standard gauge (along with the separate Pinnaroo line) when the main line was converted from broad gauge. However the lines remained as light rail and ballast with low speed limits, and they were only used for collection of bulk grain, as the speed limits are too low to be practical for transport of time-sensitive freight. The last grain train left the silos on the 20th day of June 2015, marking the closure of the line.
At the time. Viterra Group commercial manager Andrew Hannon said that road transport was more cost effective than rail.
The Tailem Bend silos is one of Viterra’s most significant silos in South Australia.
In 2014 it was reported by Viterra eastern region operations manager Jack Tansley that “during peak harvest periods the Tailem Bend site receives more than 16,000 tonnes of grain a day and is now in the process of out-turning the grain which includes trains running, on average, every second day from the site with road out-turns occurring daily.”
On the 30th day of November 2020 the Tailem Bend silos broke its daily receival record when 17,475 tonnes of grain was delivered in a single day.
I operated from the side of Princes Highway, directly opposite the silos. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p who was operating portable in the Springwood Conservation Park VKFF-1653. I then moved up to 7.150 and called CQ. This was answered by Peter VK3PF, and then Marc VK3OHM. I had qualified another silo.
I was then called by Stuart VK3UAO who was activating the You Yangs Regional Park VKFF-0982, followed by Roly ZL1BQD in New Zealand.
I logged a total of 10 stations on 40m before callers dried up. I then moved to 80m where I logged Marija VK5MAZ and John VK5BJE.
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.