2002 - VK9L

Following on our very successful YL DXpedition to Norfolk Island two years ago, we decided to try two more similar trips, firstly to Lord Howe Island and then to the Cook Islands. Operators were Elizabeth VE7YL (CW), June VK4SJ, Mio JR3MVF, Gwen VK3DYL, and Raija SM0HNV (for the 1st week on LHI). Our "Gofer" and general handyman in moments of crisis was Doug VK4BP, June's OM.

Lord Howe is a crescent shaped World Heritage listed island 800 km N-E of Sydney. Two tall mountains dominate the southern end of the island while a surf-fringed coral reef encloses a turquoise blue lagoon and white sandy beaches. With Kentia palms, tropical forests, rare birds, fish and flowers, this was the exotic site of our YL DXpedition.

The trip was planned around the Spring Equinox when DX conditions would be at their best - so everyone said. What "they" didn't say was that weather conditions would be rather variable, to put it mildly. Soon after we arrived, the wind just about blew us off the island and then the rain came down in buckets. And it was cold. However, I managed to pick one fine day to suddenly decide I would go up for a scenic flight round the island and out to Ball's Pyramid, a needle-like protuberance sticking out of the sea and practically unclimable - no good for an IOTA! The flight in the little Cessna was superb with fantastic views of the island and lagoon.

We stayed at Ebbtide Apartments on the eastern side of the island and up a hill. With this in mind we arranged to hire a car - normally tourists hire bicycles but that was no longer my scene! The first night we got lost just going to the house next door for a Fish Fry Dinner - we drove from one end of the island to the other looking for that elusive telephone box where everyone we met told us we had to turn right. There were some rather hysterical YLs at the dinner that night. But the fish was good!

Equipment-wise, Murphy came with us. Elizabeth's automatic morse keyer broke down between Canada and Australia and refused to send the letter Q. This was extremely awkward when she wanted to call CQ - hi! The radials of June's Turlin got chopped up by the ride-on mower and a couple of pieces of equipment emitted smoke at odd times. There were some frantic phone calls back to the mainland for replacements to take to the Cooks. Elizabeth and I claim the record for the fastest dipole changers in the South Pacific though there is still a stone and some string lodged in a certain palm tree. Dick, VK9LH, the resident ham was very helpful and sympathetic when needed. We made 5,441 contacts using the callsign VK9YL which the WIA Vic.Div. had obtained for us.

The local Museum had just installed Internet for public use and, although it was having teething problems finding the satellite, it came in very handy. Apart from that, the island was very much as I remembered it from 40 odd years ago - the main difference being a landing strip for planes instead of flying boats having to land in the lagoon and passengers ferried ashore in little boats. Such is progress!

Raija SM0HNV, Mio JR3MFV, June VK4SJ, Elizabeth VE7YL and Gwen VK3DYL

Ball's Pyramid

The rock HMS Nottingham got stuck on.

Cessna and pilot Stan

Aerial view of island and lagoon

Fixing (?) Elizabeth's keyer

Mt. Lidgbird and Mt. Gower
(Photo courtesy of VE7YL)

Mio's birthday

Looking South from Mt. Lidgbird (1956)

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