Mount Remarkable National Park, 27th September 2016

I was keen to get back to Mount Remarkable National Park to complete 44 plus contacts for WWFF. I had been to this beautiful park many times, including camping at Mambray Creek and have operated my portable station from three locations within the Park. Here is a link to my previous activation:

https://vk5bje.com/category/mount-remarkable-national-park/

mount-remarkable-from-matthew-flinders-lookout-arid-gardens

Mount Remarkable from Matthew Flinders Lookout over Gulf

This time I wanted to operate from the Napperby Block. The Park is in two sections and my last three activations were in the Mount Remarkable section. I checked the DEWNR web page and found that the Department was conducting pest eradication in the Napperby Block  and the nearby Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. Now while some people might consider amateur radio operators ‘pests’, I did not want to be in their ‘sights’. The most common pests are goats, not Mountain Goats of the Summits On The Air type, but four legged ones! So I decided the the Mambray Creek camping and picnic area would be a good choice. Mount Remarkable National Park attracts fees for campers and vehicles. For day visitors the cost is $10 ($8 concession). I knew from my last visit to Mambray Creek that internet coverage is only available near the main entrance and soon disappears within the folds of the hills. I stopped and paid my fee using my Ipad and credit card and saved the receipt so I could show that I had paid the appropriate fee.

I was soon in the park and drove through to the day visitors area. There was only one other couple present although there were school buses parked suggesting that there were school children camping and or walking in the park.

I was soon set up and ready to go and after checking the frequency called CQ about 10 minutes before UTC rollover. But the new day dawned before I made my first contact! I was fortunate to obtain 21 contacts as band conditions on 40 and 20 metres were poor. Contacts were made with VK 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stations. I also tried 20 metres without success. I was hoping to be heard in VK6. Thanks to all who gave me a call and to those who patiently waited until the band opened and gained a contact quickly. Signals were not loud and QSB (fading) was rapid. I now have 44 plus contacts for this park.

mambray-creek-in-flood

This photo shows the Mambray Creek in flood.

The weather was great, warm, sunshine and no wind. It was in fact the calm before the storm! The Mambray Creek which runs through the Park was flowing rapidly and just within its banks. The Rangers had posted warnings about taking care near the creek and this Park and many others in the State were closed the next day as a result of the very severe weather system.

mambray-creek-warning-notice

This photo shows the warning notice about the creek.

The activation was leisurely  and I had many visitors both human and animal (grey kangaroos, grey butcher birds, kookaburras and many little brown birds (LBBs). A number of visitors were interested in what I was doing and, in turn, I heard stories of knowing amateurs and having a grandfather who was an amateur.

About mid-afternoon it was time to drive to our accommodation in Port Augusta and to a later dinner engagement. Tuesday evening we had dinner with Les, VK5KLV and Kaye and Peter, VK5KPR and Kate. We had a splendid evening talking about many things, not just amateur radio. Peter and Kate are long-time and active members of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society Inc. and early Wednesday morning I accompanied Kate on a special visit to  to the Memorial Operations Centre to see the Afghan Express and steam locomotive NM 25.

This train, entirely comprised of ex-Commonweath Railways rolling stock is stabled at Port Augusta. The train will make a return journey to Quorn over the long weekend ahead. One preserved carriage was used by General Douglas MacArthur to travel from Alice Springs south and eventually to Melbourne and later Brisbane to oversee the allied war effort against the Japanese. It was at the Telowie station that MacArthur made his famous speech, ‘I shall return’. Anyone who visits this part of South Australia should, if at all possible, take a trip on the Pichi Richi Railway. Here is a link to a previous post featuring the Pichi Richi Railway:

https://vk5bje.com/category/pichi-richi-railway/

nm21-ex-commonwealth-railways-ghan-steam-engine

NM 25 ex-Commonwealth Railways locomotive

builders-plate-v1

Builder’s plate NM 25: many steam locomotives were built at Thompson & Co

dedication-plaque

Memorial to Joy Baluch AM: Mayor of Port Augusta for 29 years

coat-of-arms

Australian Coat of Arms affixed to side of carriage

Unfortunately I could not continue with my proposed activations on Wednesday and Thursday as the wind was too strong and the heavy rains were just beginning. It was raining lightly when I arrived at the Memorial Operations Centre to see the train. I knew before I left home that rain was predicted but not the cyclonic conditions that impacted quite widely on the State. At about 4.00 pm the power supply to the state shut down. We spent the evening having dinner by candlelight. The motel staff were able to complete cooking by gas and when we returned to our room we listened to ABC local radio from Port Pirie and 891 Adelaide to keep up with the unfolding drama. We decided to remain in Port Augusta on Thursday to avoid being on the roads but travelled home early Friday morning to ensure we were not further delayed by road closures at Port Wakefield. CFS crews were placing sand bags around the Lower Light Hotel as we drove past and the highway was later closed at Port Wakefield as predicted. Water was lapping at the top of the culverts on the highway at Lower Light when we passed by.

Contacts

VK7FMPR Mark

VK2CIM P2P  Hattah Kulyne National Park

VK3NCC/P

VK3FQSO

VK3FLAK

VK4FW

VK2PDH

VK3GGG

VK3PMG

VK3OHM

VK4AAC/P3

VK2PKT

VK3SQ

VK3PF

VK5EE

VK4RF

VK4HA

VK2MTC

VK3SFG

VK1AT

VK3SQ

 

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The Pichi Richi Railway, Sunday 14th June 2015

The Argadells was our home from Saturday evening 13th June to Monday evening 15th June. The Argadells, a working pastoral property, is an excellent camping location with tent, caravan and trailer sites, some cabins and other facililties including on-suite bathrooms. We left to travel to Farina Station on Tuesday 16th June. Sunday we were in the midst of a heavy rain event in this part of South Australia and further North. There was no way we could activate Mount Arden.

After a discussion we decided to travel into Quorn and take the only train running on that day. The train was scheduled to depart the historic Quorn station at 10.30. We secured tickets, took photos and were soon on the ‘Barwell Bull’. A ‘Barwell Bull’ (nick-name) is a US made Brill diesel railcar and they were obviously pretty impressive in their day. They travelled over both broad-gauge (Irish gauge 5 feet 3 inches) and narrow gauge (3 feet 6 inches) railway tracks in South Australia. Our Barwell Bull, the class was named after the Premier of the day, Sir Henry Barwell, was based at Quorn and saw most of its life running the route from Terowie to Quorn.

The 'Barwell Bull'

The ‘Barwell Bull’

The Driver's cabin in the 'Barwell Bull'

The Driver’s cabin in the ‘Barwell Bull’

The noise in the cabin appeared to me to be excessive. The Driver did not seem to have any ear-protection. I am sure the Society would have occupational and safety rules about ear protection to avoid being exposed to the risk of a damages claim.

The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society operates the historic 3 feet 6 inch gauge railway from Quorn to Port Augusta. We did not travel to Port Augusta, but only the first stop at Woolshed Flat, about 16 killometres from Quorn. After a coffee and lamington stop we were soon on our way back to Quorn. I haven’t had a lamington for years and I thought it was just as ordinary as I remember them to be. I don’t know what Barry Humphries sees in them! Here is a link to the excellent web pages of the Pichi Richi Railway Society:

http://www.pichirichirailway.org.au

Here are three additional sources for those who may be interested to learn more about the railway.

Pichi Richi Times, 2015 Edition, Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society

Fischer, Tim, 2004, Transcontinental Train Odyssey: The Ghan, The Kyber, The Globe. Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

Fuller, Basil, 1975, The Ghan: The Story of the Alice Springs Railway. Lansdowne, Sydney.

Paul had arranged for us to have lunch at the Austral Hotel with VK5KLV, Les and VK5KPR, Peter and his wife. This was a splendid social occasion.

After lunch, adding fuel to the vehicles and buying a few more supplies we travelled back to the Argadells. Paul set up a radio in the back-yard of the Cottage he was using, within a shelter called ‘The RSL Club’. It was a mild evening despite the rain and we enjoyed a barbecue in the back-yard. I made the following contacts before dinner as VK5BJE/P5, the Argadells:

13th June 2015

7.100 VK5DI/P2, Ian in VKFF- 835, Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-835

7.095 VK5PAS/P5 Paul at Winninowie Conservation Park, VKFF- 820

7.095 VK3ACT, Peter

7.095 VK3BNJ, Stan

and 14th June 2015,

7.095 VK5FO/P5, Bob at Mt Gawler SOTA Peak VK5/SE-013

VK5NRG, Roy

VK5KLV, Les

VK2OW, Chris

VK6DW, Ian

and VK2QM, Gary.