2005 – A35



Following on the 3 weeks Elizabeth/VE7YL from Vancouver and myself from Melbourne spent in Vanuatu, we flew to the Kingdom of Tonga for a further 3 weeks where we operated as A35YL.  We arrived from Auckland at the ridiculous hour of 2.15 am and were met and driven to our destination, the Heilala Holiday Lodge where the proprietor, Sven, helped us (next morning!) to erect our dipoles.  He and his mother were also very good cooks!  Paul, A35RK, had arranged that we be issued with the callsign A35YL so our first stop on going into Nuku’alofa (the capital of Tonga) was to visit the Prime Minister’s office to get our licence from Mr. Lopeti Palefau who was very helpful.


The Lodge was a little out of town but we soon learned how to hitch a lift in, get a local bus or (just as cheap and more comfortable than a crowded bus) bargain with a taxi driver.  The only problem with being in the country was that all the neighbourhood dogs (and there were hundreds of them)  started barking just when we went to bed;  when they eventually quietened, the roosters started crowing and they were followed by the church bells ringing at 5 am.  We were told this was to wake up the locals so they had time to go to church of a morning before going to work – we were also told there were 500 churches on the island!  In other words, the nights were rather disturbed.  The shopping was good and, per usual, we found a “favourite” café  serving good morning tea, and since it was right next to an Internet Café, we patronised it heavily.


A big parade for the Opening of Parliament took place while we were there and, although we waved to the King as he flashed past in a closed car, he didn’t wave back..  The marching of the local school children was very impressive.  We also hoped to see the King when we attended “the King’s church” for the Sunday morning service.  Magnificent singing by the choir but no King.


Again our accommodation was in separate fales amongst the trees in a well-kept garden.  One evening we attended a local feast night where we watched native dancers and sampled some of the local food.   Per usual during the day when there was no propagation  we gravitated to the local market with lots of tempting native goods on sale.


Our next stop on Tonga was further north, in the town of Neiafu in the Vava’u Group where we stayed at the  Marcella Resort for 10 days.  Again it was out of town so our hitching and taxi-bargaining skills came in handy.  We can highly recommend a local restaurant, the Dancing Rooster whose Swiss Chef could do wonders with lobsters.  Unfortunately we discovered that the time we wanted to eat coincided with Europe coming in on 20m, and radio won out!  However, breakfast on the terrace of the Resort  overlooking the beautiful Port of Refuge harbour with all its yachts and small ships couldn’t be missed!


I was able to sample fresh coconut milk but admit I liked the local fruit better.  The 2 girls who worked at the Resort, Fusi and Dia modelled their intricately woven over-skirts for us (kiekie).  The men’s version (ta’ovala) can be seen in photo No.1, worn by Lopeti. – we were told that these pandanus mats are frequently handed down through several generations and the older they are the more precious they become and are worn with great pride.


Propagation was not very kind to us but it taught me a valuable lesson – CW gets through when voice can’t!!!!   Often I would be calling CQ for about an hour without being able to break through the Stateside signals but when Elizabeth took over with her keyer, she would have a dogpile going within a few minutes.   However, we both had fun, and that’s how a DXpedition should be, hi!


Many thanks to Elizabeth for letting me use some of her photos on this web site!




Click here to see the photos of our trip to the Kingdom of Tonga.


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