Nhulunbuy (Gove), Northern Territory, Australia
Just another day
at the office
- November 2006
If this was an episode of 'Alias'
or one of the Bourne Identity movies, intelligence
reports would indicate that MW DXer Craig Edwards
had fallen off the grid. I admit that many may question
that 'if he's in a DX paradise, why no recent loggings
on the newsgroups or no articles in the DXing.info
DXpedition pages?" Yes fair question.
The tiny homeland community in the middle of
I must explain that since my
DX partner in crime Dave Onley came to visit me
a couple of times in June and July I haven't been
very active. We had many nights and mornings of
exciting Asian and Pacific DX from my house using
EWE's and some fun DX sessions from the car at sunset
parked on the beach using BOGs. Interspersed with
this were naughty nights at the topless Animal Bar;
morning recovery sessions with a slow wobbly walk
to the bakery for a cafe latte and a vanilla slice;
and photo and video documentaries walking through
the crocodile mangroves. Highlights for me were
an evening at home logging V7AB 1098 Marshall Islands
and V6AH 1449 Micronesia. Also the beachside reception
of two new countries for me with WDHP 1620 US Virgin
Islands and Radio Apolo, Venezuela on 1290.
Another highlight was to visit
the Animal Bar after a beach DX session on a Tuesday
night around 8pm. It was a patriotic evening during
the Australian World Cup Football campaign where
Dave and I led the "Aussie-Aussie-Aussie Oi-Oi-Oi"
chants while the topless barmaid led the Mexican
wave - hmmm, a night for the archives.
This plane may look small
- that because it is!
Since then I've been very busy
conducting flights every week to remote Indigenous
communities throughout East Arnhem Land in the Top
End of Australia's Northern Territory. I basically
work with health clinics, community councils and
schools with nutrition and physical activity programs.
Due to airplane weight restrictions, it is impossible
to bring any decent DX equipment. Once you bring
clothes and education materials, I'm already at
my 13kg (28lb) baggage limit. I did recently purchase
that sexy portable receiver the Eton E1 in the event
that some trips could allow me to bring the rig
along. The occasion did occur when I was able to
sneak one on. So here is a typical work week for
me, but this time, along came the new Eton E1 portable
Monday morning, life is unusually
normal. I'm in the office today with plenty of time
up my sleeve for a change. After catching up on
emails and phone messages from my previous week
out bush, I spent the rest of the day preparing
lesson plans for young Aboriginal men where I'll
be joining them on a boys youth camp. I savour the
day knowing that Wednesday to Friday there'll be
no showers, no air conditioning, no phones, no refrigeration,
no cold drinks, no house to live in and no electricity.
I spend Monday night practising ultra light weight
packing. My only DX equipment is the Eton E1, 2
sets of D batteries, 20 m of wire and simple earpieces
(no headphones). There was no chance to bring a
Pacific Asia Log or WRTH, only a 3 page printout
of what I'd already heard from home in Nhulunbuy.
This is a tight weight restriction situation, they
don't only weigh your luggage, but you have to stand
on a set of bathroom scales out on the tarmac so
the pilot can weigh you before stepping on the plane.
This water buffalo may
look big - that's because it is!
It's Tuesday morning at Nhulunbuy
airport, as I stand under the fixed wing of the
light aircraft for shade waiting to be weighed,
the weather is 32oC (~94oF) and 95% humidity, I
can't believe it's only 8am in the morning, this
is going to be a hot and sweaty trip. My clothes
are saturated already, the sting of sweat in my
eyes is a sensation that is to become all too familiar
over the next few days, hell even my frozen water
bottle has already melted. Strangely enough my 5
seater little airplane is empty, only the pilot
and I are travelling. So weight restrictions for
my first flight this trip is passed with flying
colours. As I sit squashed in my seat up front next
to the pilot, I lament my height of 6ft, only Yoda
could stretch his little green feet out in this
form of transport. I close my eyes once we're in
the air, madness to some, but I've been spoilt and
the awe inspiring majestic coastal/bushland landscape
at low altitude is common to me now. The allure
of sleep, despite the loud single engine propeller
buzzing was much more appealing to me than the panoramic
The reason behind no other passengers
on my flight soon becomes apparent after landing.
As we taxi down the tarmac I managed to negotiate
a lift into town in the back of a troopy (Toyota
4WD people carrier). After all there are no taxi's
here in this 900 person community, hell there's
not even a little tin shed at the airstrip. Mind
you the tarmac is made of bitumen, so it's better
than some I've experienced which are just dirt.
I'm greeted by the comment from our driver "geez
you're brave to come here today - ah well - you're
a big fella you'll be right" Hmmmm OK. From
the back of the troopy on a hot, dusty and noisy
drive on the corrugated dirt track into town I could
just overhear and figure out there was trouble in
town last night. Alcohol was smuggled into this
community where it is prohibited and some family
fighting had occurred. As I was dropped off into
town I did the usual unpacking in my visiting officer
quarters. This is a very secure building which is
like a mini-compound surrounded by barbed wire razor
fence and a steel cage encasing the building - yes
- security is an issue here.
Once unpacked I thought I'd
stroll to the community store, only to find it closed.
Come to think of it the school was closed, the council
was closed and nobody was on the streets. It was
like a ghost town - this was very eerie. A friendly
Aboriginal Elder walked up to me and tells of last
night's riot. There were machetes, spears and guns
being used. I'm not surprised by the machetes and
spears, but the use of guns are scary. I'm appreciative
of this friendly encounter and the Elder warns me
to go back and lock up the compound and wait the
day and night out. As the afternoon progresses it
reminds me of scenes from East Timor on TV as police
4WD's patrol the streets and young people congregate,
the tension was incredible. I find it hard to sleep
as rocks continue to land on my roof until around
Wednesday morning - the town
is quiet. The fighting has passed, as if it didn't
happen, except for those walking the streets with
their injuries. The school has re-opened so we prepare
to depart for the boy's camp. Another light aircraft,
this time the bigger 7 seater. We fly for half an
hour to an incredibly remote homeland community
made up of only a handful of tin houses in the middle
of no-where on the east coast of East Arnhem Land.
This is god's country, majestic and untouched. As
we fly toward it, a single hairline dirt track is
the only evidence of man's existence here. We touch
down on a tiny narrow dirt airstrip in the middle
of thick bushland. The boys are excited to be in
such a culturally strong place and I can't believe
how I'm being paid to visit such a location, I feel
like I'm on Discovery Channel or National Geographic.
We all pile into another troopy 4WD after being
joylessly greeted by the Traditional Owner who is
excited to show us his country.
Fortunately having been in this
job now a year, I knew what to expect in terms of
facilities at a homeland. I knew that as I spend
the next few days in a little dome tent that that
there'd be no lighting or refrigeration. We had
eskies to keep food safely cold but there wasn't
enough room for cold drinks and of course there
are no shops. There was freshwater at this coastal
location, the locals could walk around the beach
and point out fresh water pools as the tides changed.
Solar panel powered pumps would supply fresh water
and bore water to the few houses and to community
taps and the two shower huts. This meant the water
was always warm, not very thirst quenching in the
oppressive heat, but it kept us alive. The good
old 'drop toilet' is something that needs to be
experienced to be believed. Imagine a spider infested
tiny hot tin shed out in the middle of the bushland
with a metal drum, a toilet seat of sorts and this
elegantly covers the hole where you experience the
nasal delights of the previous couple of months
worth of wee beige jobbies.
The biggest non-radio catch of the trip
Cooking was all done on open
fire and one third of our food was bush tucker that
had to be caught. The lucky thing about running
a nutrition and physical activity program with the
boys is that this translates into crab catching,
berry collecting, fishing and playing beach soccer
and bush football. In addition to this I had to
run the more traditional class based education,
mind you our classroom was a hand woven mat under
a tree! Suffice to say that this was a pretty wild
and exciting trip and the days were long and tiring.
Radio is tough to do because I am one of a few adults
responsible for the safety and well-being of many
boys. But I did find the time during a couple of
evenings before going to bed to give the Eton E1
it's first test drive with just a simple 20m of
wire. There was no noise here obviously and a proper
antenna system without the responsibilities of looking
after the boys would have produced some great catches
I'm sure. But the catch 22 situation is that I wouldn't
be allowed to come to this place for recreational
purposes, it is permit restricted.
On a bush tucker berry
collecting trip - just watch for the snakes
We had numerous encounters with
dangerous wildlife. The bushland was full of wild
horses, wild red bulls and the dangerous water buffalo.
We had to do fishing in pairs, one with the hand
reel and the other was the crocodile spotter - crazy
stuff! There was always a danger of snakes as we
went on berry collecting trips in the bushland,
luckily the traditional owner was a snake expert.
I always made sure I was only a couple of steps
The crab hunting on the beaches
wasn't too dangerous, you just had to watch out
for giant box jellyfish, irikanji stingers, stingrays
and sharks in the knee deep water, again I was always
a couple of steps behind the traditional owner who
had his spear at the ready
my life insurance
salesperson would not be impressed. As I was waiting
to catch my flight out on the Friday morning I was
quite relieved to have not been bitten by a snake,
spider, crocodile, marine stinger or been gored
by a water buffalo, my only injury was 20 or 30
nasty infected sand fly bites on my legs. But as
we were about to take off in the plane, a herd of
water buffalo trotted out from the bush and crossed
our airstrip so we had to quickly abort the take
off - my QSL card collection flashed before my eyes.
Let's just say on our second take off attempt the
pilot found altitude so quickly I thought I was
in a Harrier Jump Jet!!!!!!
(CE*) Craig Edwards,
DXing on the east coast of South-East Arnhem Land,
NT with Eton E1 and 25m wire
531 1323 DXGH Santos City, Philippines.
Fair with DZRH IDs. Nov 16 (CE*)
549 1130 CNR Fujian, China. Monster
signal with CC music program. Nov 16 (CE*)
558 1134 DZXL Manila, Philippines.
Good with ID's & news updates. Nov 16 (CE*)
567 0835 KGUM Agana, Guam. Good
here over 4JK with usual syndicated talk. Nov 15
My classroom with the boys
585 0839 Radio Sandaun, PNG.
No sign of NBC Port Moresby here or on 4890, so
could get Sandaun in the clear with local pgm &
ID. Quickly checked at 0900 & they had NBC National
News. Nov 15 (CE*)
594 1149 JOAK Tokyo, Japan. Good
with JJ NHK1 program mixing with DZBB. Nov 16 (CE*)
603 1153 HLSA Namyang, South
Korea. Good with KK talks. Nov 16 (CE*)
610 1157 Voice of the People
of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Fair and good to see
the Eton E1 could detect & hear this with the
big mix of signals from 612 present. Nov 16 (CE*)
612 0902 KUAM Agana, Guam. Poor
with public service announcements. Nov 15 (CE*)
612 1200 DYHP Cebu City, Philippines.
Good with RMN IDs // 621. Nov 16 (CE*)
621 0853 DXDC Davao City, Philippines.
Good with RMN ID's. Nov 15 (CE*)
666 1203 Voice of the Strait,
Fuzhou, China. Good with CC talks // 4940. Nov 16
702 1207 DZAS Valenzuela, Philippines.
Fair with US evangelical preachings. Nov 16 (CE*)
This crab doesn't realise that I'll be eating
him in 45 minutes
729 0905 RRI Nabire, Papua. Excellent
with call to prayer. Nov 15 (CE*)
747 1210 JOIB Sapporo, Japan.
Fair with NHK2 pgm // 828 (CE*)
765 0907 RRI Tual, Maluku. Good
with call to prayer. Nov 15 (CE*)
765 1215 CNR Fujian, China. Good
// 549 with CC talk. Nov 16 (CE*)
774 0908 RRI Fak Fak, Papua.
Excellent with call to prayer. Nov 15 (CE*)
801.1 0856 Pyongyang Bansong,
Hwadae, North Korea. In early with usual mx format.
Nov 15 (CE*)
810 0910 RRI Merauke, Papua.
Excellent with male talks & local ID. Nov 15
828 1210 JOBB Osaka, Japan. Good
with NHK2 pgm // 747. Nov 16 (CE*)
837 1218 DYFM Iloilo City, Philippines.
Fair with Bombo Radyo IDs. Nov 16 (CE*)
945 1223 CNR multiple locations,
China. Good with CC talks // 6030. Nov 16 (CE*)
960 1225 KQKE San Francisco,
CA. Fair with talk. Nov 16 (CE*)
972 1234 HLCA Dangjin, South
Korea. Very good with KK talks. Nov 16 (CE*)
999 1237 DYSS Cebu, Philippines.
Fair with Super Radyo pgm. Nov 16 (CE*)
1026 0914 RRI Serui, Papua. Good
with mx show // 4605. Nov 15 (CE*)
1040 1240 KLHT Honolulu, Hawaii.
Fair with gospel mx CD ad. Nov 16 (CE*)
1050 0916 KCTC San Mateo, CA.
Good with sports talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1053 1244 JOAR Nagoya, Japan.
Fair with JJ techno mx show. Nov 16 (CE*)
1080 1248 KCBS Haeju, North Korea.
Good with KK talks // 2850. Nov 16 (CE*)
1090 0919 KPTK Seattle, WA. Poor
with usual talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1098 0830 V7AB Majuro, Marshall
Islands. Fair with beautiful music pieces battling
with 4LG. Nov 15 (CE*)
1116 1250 CNR Fujian, China.
Good with CC talks // 549. Nov 16 (CE*)
1120 0923 KPNW Eugene, OR. Poor
with C2C. Nov 15 (CE*)
1134 0925 JOQR Tokyo, Japan.
Good with JJ talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1140 0927 KHTK Sacramento, CA.
Presume the one here with talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1160 0930 KSL Salt Lake City,
UT. Fair with talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1170 1253 HLSR Gimje, South Korea.
Big signal all evening long, no sign of RRI or DXMR
1179 1256 JOOR Osaka, Japan.
Good with JJ talks. Nov 16 (CE*)
1278 1301 JOFR Fukuoka, Japan.
Fair with JJ mx show. Nov 16 (CE*)
1296 0939 DXAB Davao City, Philippines.
Strong with usual zany news reports & IDs. Nov
1332 0941 JOSF Nagoya, Japan.
Good with JJ pop mx show. Nov 15 (CE*)
1395 0944 RRI Wamena, Papua.
Threw me for a moment, good with EE pop songs like
Bon Jovi, then noticed // 4870. Nov 15 (CE*)
1410 0955 CFUN Vancouver, Canada.
Fair with talk, hint of a Mexican on fades. Nov
1413 1306 JOIF Fukuoka, Japan.
Fair with JJ pop mx show. Nov 16 (CE*)
1422 1357 JORF Yokohama, Japan.
Good with JJ talks. Nov 16 (CE*)
1440 0958 JOWF Sapporo, Japan.
Good with JJ talk. Nov 15 (CE*)
1460 1005 KABL Salinas, CA. Fair
with oldies with no sign of KHRA. Nov 15 (CE*)
1470 1335 CJVB Vancouver, BC.
Nice surprise to hear this with CC talk & oriental
mx show. Nov 16 (CE*)
1500 1309 KUMU Honolulu, Hawaii.
Poor here with CNN Radio News. Nov 16 (CE*)
1510 1010 KGA Spokane, WA. Poor
with talk, impressed the Eton E1 could separate
this from DYAB 1512. Nov 15 (CE*)
1512 1014 DYAB Cebu, Philippines.
Strong here and along with DXAB the first Ph to
come in. Nov 15 (CE*)
1530 1315 DZME Bulacan, Philippines.
Fair with upbeat jingles and noted mixing with ARDS
Darwin. First time I've heard ARDS in East Arnhem
Land on 1530 kHz, possibly they've had a power increase?
Nov 16 (CE*)
1540 1018 KREA Honolulu, Hawaii.
Good KK music show. Nov 15 (CE*)
1584 1025 T8AA Voice of Palau,
Koror, Palau. Great signal with island talks and
beautiful music. Nov 15 (CE*)
1593 0847 V6AK Moen, Chuuk (Truk).
Poor with local lang talks, this one hasn't been
a good signal since late December last year. Nov
1593 1330 CNR, China. Good in
CC over mix of others // 4460. Nov 16 (CE*)
on December 1, 2006