Jeff's Walk




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Diary/Notes/Thoughts/Photos for upcoming book

Port Augusta Spencer Gulf

              Things to do in Port Augusta

   April 4th    Up at 6am 20deg.

   At 8am I got permission from the park manager and set up the amateur radio antenna and attempted to contact Bill, his call sign is VK2FWGJ, and Roger, VK4BNQ, at the agreed sched time but with no success. I spoke to Bill on the phone later in the evening (we have Optus ‘Yes’ time between us for 20 minutes free 8pm to midnight) and filled him in on my doings for the day. Officially I reported that I was at latitude 32 degrees 28.412 minutes and longitude 137 degrees 45.721 minutes as read from my GPS. These position reports would be recorded in future as lat 32:28.412  and lon 137:45.721 and given for my camping position each evening by radio. If  I was in phone range, I would call or SMS my position at noon. As I was out of phone range after the first week, this noon report was later given by sat phone email.

        Roger VK4BNQ and me. Catching up after the walk.     Bill enjoying breakfast after the walk on the re-trace trip      The trusty hand help GPS

         Roger VK4BNQ                      Brother Bill                         The trusty GPS

   Although I have had vast experience with electronics, I was quite “green” to the ins and outs of amateur radio. Although I had studied and passed the exam for my license 5 years ago, I never owned a ham radio or operated any one else’s and I let my license lapse after 12 months. I did the course at the time to accompany Terry, who is a generation behind me but a good friend and he looks to me as a mentor. As it turned out, he did not complete the course or sit the exam. So, in this green state, I listened to the radio to hear the general chatter of the other “hams” having their discussions and in particular taking notice of the etiquette and shorthand language usage. I also had to brush up on my phonetic alphabet as conditions were often such that you need to spell out words to get a message across. On this occasion I heard discussions between hams with calls signs of VK5HOG, VK5AWD and VK5ADD (5 is SA). Moving “around the dial” I also heard VK5ADL, VK5AGP, VK5ZK Barry, VK5BC Brian and VK3LY (Vic) talking in a group discussion that apparently communicated regularly at this time and on this frequency. However, although it would have been ok for me to join in and at least be able to say hello and give my location and describe my “rig’, I did not feel confident enough, so I just listened. I spoke to Bill on the cell phone later and we discussed the failed radio sched and did not come to any positive conclusions.

   I walked into “town” where I  did some grocery shopping and found a Dick Smith‘s for a few bits for my radio/electrical gear. Then into the chemist to fill up on anti-cholesterol tablets. The prescription is for one month’s supply at a time, with a specified time between repeats. I had to talk my way through the “special circumstances” to get 4 month’s worth.

   But, they knocked back my usual government assisted price (old age pensioner:-) as my Medibank card was just out of date. I found a Medibank office and after several false starts I got a “receipt” as the new card would be posted to me.

   “What is  your address?”. Well, this is always a vexing question for me. I had a Queensland driver’s license but as that required a “street” address I was not able to use my boat or later my caravan (or at any time my P.O. Box number) so I opted for my next door neighbours, Evan and Diana Jeanes street address. However, my next door neighbours were living on their house-boat and I was living on my boat at the time, so their street address was their house in Nyora Street, Southport. They did not live there at all, but their daughter Tammy (with de-facto and 2 kids) and Evan’s mum did, so that is my “official” address. But,,,, her daughter is not reliable enough to guarantee to put my mail in with Evan’s and sometimes “grandma” clears the letter box and anything can happen. My lack of a “real” address causes me anguish many times when I need to provide one, and even the casual “where are you from” on the walk, required a lengthy explanation. Generally, it was “Well, Australia really. I am a bit of a gypsy”. And that does not look like changing for quite a while.

   To finish off, I now had “stuff” going to Evan’s street address (license, car rego, insurance and anything car related), my P.O. Box in Beaudesert, 377 gets Scientific American magazine (for now) and some others (super fund, etc) and Bill’s address in Stockton. I have also just got P.O. Box 152 at Stockton which  I give out for “walk” related stuff and Bill clears this for me. I arranged box 152 Stockton while I was in Cloncurry. There I was, thousand’s of kilometers away, in a different  state and I was able to “buy” a P.O. box at Stockton and pay for it. From that time on, I could give it as my postal address. Aint computers great (sometimes). This one will become the only one I use for the foreseeable future except for the “car” stuff in Queensland and includes my boat license which required a Qld address (bring on national driver’s licenses).

   While in Port Augusta, I attempted to contact a park ranger’s office or equivalent to tell “someone in authority” that I was about to walk up into the remote areas and also to ask if I needed any permissions and if there was a need to report to them from time to time. All I got from the National Parks office was blank stares so I asked for a “supervisor”. Not much better so I asked what other Government departments were in town. I headed off to the Department of Primary Industries. They did not want to know about the walk but were quite talkative and told me of several properties between Arkaroola and Innamincka and apologised for the lack of knowledge as the guy that looked after that area was out on a tour of the area at this time.

Back at the caravan park I set up the radio again and at 5pm I talked to Roger with poor readability and the battery pack ran out of steam by ten past five. I assumed it was because the battery pack had not had much time on the solar panel and I had been “playing with” the radio a fair bit during the day but more about this later.

     Read on. In the morning, I take the "first step"