Tuckers Rocks DXpedition
July 16-21, 2007
by John Schache, Craig Seager
and Phil Ireland
Craig and I had often discussed
the possibilities of a DX-pedition to the North
Coast of NSW. Although we had the benefit of a noise-free
location at the family farm, it was tucked away
in a valley with our long antennas pointing straight
at a high point in the mountain range. We are well
aware of the advantages of a coastal location and,
in addition, it is always good to go and do something
new with your hobby whatever it may be.
We had decided that a location
no more than a days drive away and as close
to the sea as possible was the way to go. A search
of the net came up with a few possibilities with
Tuckers Rocks Cottage (25 km south of Coffs
Harbour and 550 km north of Sydney) being the final
choice. A search of Google Earth and an aerial photo
supplied by Phil confirmed what the agent had told
us only two houses were nearby, the closest
being 100m away.
It is on the edge of a National
Park and only 250m from the beach. A booking for
five nights was made, leave was arranged and a couple
of get-togethers sorted out the logistics. Craig
and I would drive the 800 km or so on the Monday
with Phil coming up by train on the following Wednesday.
Tuckers Rocks Cottage and a couple of stray
DX-ers doing something odd with wire.
Day 1: Monday 16th July
We had packed the day before
and somehow managed to cram all our gear into Craigs
car ready for a 6 am start. We headed north, along
the inland route, on a road which is infested with
kangaroos at this time of day. Sure enough, we had
one close call not far out of Bathurst and had to
keep our eyes peeled until full daylight. Our journey
took us through the country music capital of Tamworth
to the old university town of Armidale, then down
through the lush greenery of Bellingen to Urunga
where we were to pick up the cottage keys. A quick
trip was made to the supermarket to grab some supplies
and a slab of beer, then we were off to the Promised
Land of DX
or so we hoped!
The cottage proved basic but
more than good enough for our needs. We re-arranged
the furniture and set up DX-Central in a sun room
with a view of the bushland and the sea. For the
first night we just ran out 100m of wire to the
east and were set up by around 0700 UTC. Our receiving
equipment was a Dansk RX 4000, Rhode and Schwarz
EK 890, NRD 525 and Icom R75. We both had MP3 recorders
with a cassette recorder each as back-up. In addition,
I had a laptop with Geoclock, the B-Log logging
programme and Total Recorder all available. For
those interested see the article entitled Emerging
Techniques of High Tech DX-peditioning
on the DXing.info website. I can only endorse the
comments made in this article as all three are easy
to use and I now consider a laptop highly desirable
on a DX-pedition. There were some noise issues (which
had not been the case at home) for some reason but
they were not serious.
DX-Central. John (foreground) and Craig hard
Upon switch-on we found the 0
channels dominated by Spanish, mainly Mexican stations,
with the US not as evident as we would have thought.
Not being Spanish speakers, we had lots of fun trying
to sort things out and, at the same time, explore
the MW band in a location well away from our usual
haunts. Apart from logging some of the regulars
for the record, highlights were: R. Rebelde 1180
and 710, KOKE Texas (500/250 watts) 1600, and KSTP
1500. We lost listening time when the frozen pizza
in the oven decided to turn to charcoal and we had
to dash to Urunga, arriving at the Chinese restaurant
only just before it closed!
Day 2: Tuesday 17th July
We awoke to sunshine and birdsong
a big difference to Bathurst with its cold
and grey weather at this time of year.
First item on our agenda was the question of antennas.
The terrain to the east and north drops away steeply
and is heavily vegetated. We could have ran beverages
into the national park, left the wire laying across
a gravel road and used them unterminated, but did
not like that idea. Instead we eventually constructed
2 x EWEs (4/10/4 and 6/20/6 at 0 and 80 degrees)
as well as stringing up a random wire. We also found
a pathway that led to a headland and we ran out
200m at 145 degrees, terminated with a pot set to
null a station to the rear. This last antenna proved
deaf for some reason. We eventually decided the
penguins in Tierra del Fuego were not broadcasting
and altered the bearing to 120 degrees. This improved
matters but it was still rather deaf. Either the
bearings did not coincide with propagation or the
tall trees it ran through were detrimental somehow.
A trip into Coffs Harbour for
essentials including scotch and Coke as well as
groceries was timed so that we were back at the
dials at 0530 (3.30 PM local). Signals were starting
to fade in already, again with a preponderance of
Spanish to be heard. Radio Formula on 1470 was logged
as was Radio Educación on 1060 at 0700. I
followed a station on 910 at 0717 which I suspect
to be either Venezuela or Columbia. Again, the tapes
have yet to be reviewed. A mysterious station was
heard on 846 behind Tarawa playing the same hymn
continually. Maybe there is something new testing?
At 1037 R. Minuto de Dios 1370
from Colombia was heard, thanks to sunrise enhancement.
From Mexico, XEB was strong, being easily heard
in wideband mode. After around 1230 some of the
east coast US stations hang on for an hour or more
after their local sunrise and the Hawaiian stations
are more easily heard without all the clutter.
Day 3: Wednesday 18th July
Craig was up bright and early
to catch the St Helena broadcast but heard zilch!
So it was back to bed for a sleep-in before arising
once more for a bacon and egg breakfast. The morning
was occupied playing with antennas and feeling smug;
while I was strolling on the beach, others were
back home in the snow and ice. At one stage I looked
out to sea and saw two whales walking past about
300m off-shore. We could also spot them from the
deck outside the cottage. So how good is that! After
picking Phil up from the railway station that afternoon
we headed back to the dials once again.
The view from the 200m beverage looking south
KOKE made another appearance
at 0718, Tonga 1017 and Kiribati 846 were heard
as expected and KMRB was heard with its Chinese
format. Of particular interest was the strong SS
speaking station on 1470 during the evening. We
suspect it may be the Peruvian but there is still
a fair bit to review on the recordings we made during
the evening. Again, there was lots of Spanish around.
Reception tapered off around 1130 so we took a couple
of torches outside to try and spot koalas by night.
None seen, so we think that they are actually mythical
Day 4: Thursday 19th July
The morning was spent having
a look at some of the local bric-a-brac (read junk)
shops which are always interesting. You never know
if you might find an old Watkins-Johnson at a good
We wound up in Coffs Harbour for a
late lunch before heading back mid-afternoon. A
walk on the beach was solitary as the surf was heavy,
there were no whales, and no people to be seen either.
Back at the dials at 0530, the highlight of my evening
was reception of Radio Latina, Venezuela on 1470
at 0719. In general, reception was flat after about
Phil, who had gone to visit a
fellow antique radio collector, returned early evening
and asked us who had stolen our front gate! Well,
Craig and I rushed out to make sure he was not delusional
and, sure enough, the gate was gone! The mystery
would be explained the next day, but all we could
do that night was to notify the Real Estate agent
of the theft. On top of this, a resident marsupial
had invaded our supplies and ruined two packets
of cashew nuts as well as some chocolates we had
left on the kitchen bench. NOT GOOD.
Day 5: Friday. 20th July
The day was spent on a day trip
to the village of Bellingen up in the hinterland.
There were lots of things to see, great coffee and
apple crumble (Phil had to have his fix) and I got
a chance to find a gift for my other half. Before
leaving, we made a trip to the fruit bat colony
on Bellingen Island. Its well worth a look
even though the odor is strong and it is best not
to stand directly underneath their roosts for obvious
That afternoon, fade-in was a
very early 0515 UTC, nearly 2 hours before local
sunset. First station in was CPN Radio, Peru on
1470 followed rapidly by our other marker stations.
Despite this promising start, reception was not
particularly good this evening. Craig was greatly
amused by the 20 minute advertorial for colonic
irrigation on KKLF 1700 and I was pleased to hear
an old friend in the form of KNX 1070.
Day 6: Saturday 21st July
Pack-up day. The antennas were
soon taken down and our pile of luggage crammed
into the car no mean feat, I can tell you.
Just out of Dorrigo the car failed to proceed in
a forward manner. After limping back, the diagnosis
was a collapsed catalytic converter and clogged
exhaust system - we were not going any place soon.
A hire car from Coffs Harbour was booked with one
of the locals driving us back to pick it up in return
for suitable monetary consideration. We transhipped
most of the gear to the new car and finally departed
south. To the sounds of the southern blues of John
Lee Hooker and the rhythms of Malis Habib
Koite we drove into the night, through the hamlets
and towns of the Northern Tablelands, and back to
our homes and loved ones after a great week away.
underneath these guys!
Epilogue: A Nasty Surprise and
a Mystery Solved.
Our trip to Tuckers Rocks was
a lot of fun and well worthwhile in terms of DX.
As a location, it was generally quiet but with some
noise from the adjacent house on our 200m Beverage.
There is scope for long antennas but they would
have to be unterminated for reception from the Americas.
The EWEs performed very well and it did not matter
than the forward lobes are broad as we found that
reception would sometimes change rapidly from one
station to another as if a switch was thrown. Fade-in
was from around 0530 and fade-out of the US stations
was around 1230 or so which left the Hawaiians in
The cottage is more than comfortable
and we indulged in plenty of non-DX activities such
as bush walking, photography, whale watching and
walking on the beach. We were an easy drive from
Coffs Harbour and the local tourist attractions.
The mystery of the missing gate was eventually solved;
it was taken by the NPWS ranger for repair and returned
the next day.
On the Monday after getting home
Phil called me, and said that he had been bitten
by a brown snake while dismantling the antennas.
He had not received a full dose of venom and, other
than feeling very weary, had no other obvious signs
and did not find the puncture marks till the next
day. Thankfully he is OK, but it is a warning to
all those who venture forth with long wires in long
Trail from Tuckers Rocks
This listing is a combined listing and does not
cover SW loggings. New Zealand stations are omitted
but many were heard and often dominated their frequencies.
153 R.Rossii, Komsomolsk. RR
nx 1305, weak on 19/7. (Seager)
164 R.Mongolia, Ulan Bator. Mongolian
nx 1305, then brief mx piece, weak 19/7. (Seager).
189 R.Rossii, Belogorsk. Fair
ion RR 1338, talks 19/7. (Seager)
279 R.Rossii, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
The best of the LW Russians this night, fair 1343
w/RR talks, //189 etc., 19/7. (Seager)
540 Samoa Broadcasting Corp.,
Apia. Fading up and down w/Radio Rhema and ABC 0745.
Also heard at 1000 w/NA on 17/7. (Seager)
558 R.Fiji 1, Suva. Quite good
xed 4GY, nx in Fijian 0726, 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
585 NBC, Port Moresby. Very strong
xed 2WEB w/election coverage interviews 1430, //3290
etc. Normally off at 1400, 17/7. (Seager)
590 KSSK ,Honolulu. 17/7 1309.
Well heard at 1309 with EZL music with ID preceding.
Heard earlier but not so well. (Schache)
666 Noumea. Radio Nouvelle Caledonie.
17/7 0500. Heard through the day, even at noon.
Improves late afternoon of course. (Seager, Schache)
680 KNBR, San Francisco. Baseball
discussion 1027, ESPN IDs, good 17/7. (Seager)
684 R.Fiji, Labasa. Island singing
group 1027, well under c/c 2KP, but surprised to
hear it at all as 2KP is basically the local ABC
outlet, //558, 18/7. (Seager)
690 KHCM, Honolulu. C&W songs,
ID 1015, quite good on 19/7. (Seager)
710 R.Rebelde, La Julia. OK,
despite QRM from Aussies on 711, male vocalist 0838,
16/7. Also good at 0857 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
729 R.Nouvelle Caledonie, Touho.
Good xed 5CL, but nowhere near as good as //666,
0744, pops, 16/7. (Seager)
730 Ecuador. Radio Guayaquil.
Reviewed the tape and found a nice ID at the start.
Fair strength on a peak but faded down after a few
minutes. Very pleasing. (Schache)
760 KGU, Honolulu. Religious
session 0819, good and regular, but xed another
this night, 17/7. Also 1307 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
770 KKOB, Albuquerque NM. Talkback
discussion about exorcism 0721, promo for Coast
to Coast/Art Bell 6-10pm Saturdays, 19/7. (Seager)
820 WBAP, Fort Worth TX. ID for
the Midnight Trucking Radio Network 0826, talk format,
ID 0829, nx 0830, wx 0833. Px sponsored by a particular
model of truck, 18/7. (Seager)
830 KHVH, Honolulu. Good w/talk
format 1328, ID 1329, nx 1330, adverts 1331, including
one for Aloha Power Equipment, 19/7. (Seager)
846 R.Kiribati, Tarawa. Mixed
up with the Aussies here 0751, not all that strong,
talks in vern. 19/7 (Seager) Strong at 0717 on 1/7.
846 Unidentified., 17/7 0725
- Strongly heard at 0730 continually playing the
instrumental version of a well known hymn. No announcements,
so wonder if this was something new testing. (Schache)
910 KNEW, Oakland. Promos that
mentioned stn. Call letters 1105, talk format. Heaps
of grief from the NZer on 909, 18/7. (Seager)
927 R.Fiji, Sigatoka. Mixed up
with the Aussies here 1029, but easy to pick out
with the mx selection & //558, 684, 18/7 (Seager)
1017 A3Z Nuku'alofa. 18/7 0758.
In a mix with 2KY and R. Hauraki at this time. Also
noted 0747, 16/7 KSSK. (Seager, Schache)
1020 KTNQ Los Angeles.16/7 1225.
Heard at 1225 in SS. Not as strong as I would have
thought given this is a regular at home. Also 0813
19/7. (Seager, Schache)
1040 KLHT, Honolulu. Religious
session 1307, preacher, not one of the stronger
Hawaiians in recent years, but regular, 17/7. (Seager)
1050 KTCT, San Mateo. Sports
discussion 1046, up and down with the Mexican, 16/7.
Still audible at 1318 17/7, well after sunrise at
the transmitter site. (Seager, Schache).
1060 XEEP, México City.
Equal level w/6185 on peaks, classical mx 0738,
occasional measured SS anncts. 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
1070 KNX, Los Angeles. ID of
sorts 0859, talked about covering Los Angeles and
Orange County, CBS nx 0900, good 18/7. Also 0708
20/7. (Seager, Schache)
1090 XEPRS, Rosarito. EE Sports
discussion 0648, ID as Sports Radio,
xed another w/talks, 20/7. (Seager)
1090 KPTK, Seattle. ID as AM
10-90 1135, talk format, phone number given,
1100 KFAX, San Francisco. Preacher
1152, kinda unique sounding guy, quite animated.
Good on 17/7 and 18/7. (Seager, Schache)
1110 KAOI, Wailuku. Coast to Coast AM
px 0847, fair only on 18/7. (Seager)
1120 KPNW, Eugene OR. Coast
to Coast AM px 0845 w/call-in, fair
1150 KTLK, Los Angeles. IDs as
AM 11-50 1255, dropped away quickly,
but good on peaks, 17/7. (Seager)
1180 R.Rebelde, Villa María.
Very good 0835 w/musica romantica, //5025, 16/7.
1200 WOAI San Antonio, Texas.
19/7 1051 - ID after advert block.
Heard at home but surprising it was not much here.
1220 XEB, México City.
Good w/slow romantic mx 0755, brief slogan 0757,
ID 0833 re-check, following nx, 16/7. Huge at 1148
17/7. (Seager, Schache).
1270 KNDI Honolulu. 17/7 1333.
Here with rock mx and advert for dance club. (Schache)
1280 KXTK, Arroya Grande. ESPN
pxing w/IDs 1258, xed SS speaker, fair 19/7 (Seager)
1320 R.Monitor, México
City. Good 1201, piano piece, running //1560, also
well heard, 17/7. (Seager)
1370 KUPA, Pearl City. Seems
to be a txer active here, piano mx 1450 & at
earlier times. Propagation patterns point to Hawaii;
standard reference sources have always been vague
about the operation here, 17/7. (Seager)
1370 HJBO, Minuto de Dios, Barranquilla
(Columbia). 17/7. Up from the slush at 1047 with
sunrise enhancement before fading quickly down.
Splash from the New Zealander on 1368 made this
1410 XECF, Los Mochis. Continuous
mx, ID 0641 as La Mexicana, advert for
Banco de México, 17/7. (Seager)
1420 KKEA, Honolulu. Sports talk
format 0810, good on peaks, 16/7. (Seager)
1430 KMRB San Gabriel. 18/7 1237.
Almost certainly the one here with CC pxing in the
general mix. Only peaked every so often. (Schache)
1420 KKEA Hawaii. 18/7 0622
- ESPN Sports radio ID. Nice level and near word
perfect on the Nth EWE. (Schache)
1460 KION, Salinas. Nx 1204,
TCs UTC-7, adverts. 1209, mention of Monterrey County,
two IDs 1211, then wx. Xed presumed KHRA, 17/7.
1460 KHRA, Honolulu. Songs 1355
t/in, brief KK anncts. 1359, then back into mx.
Recently reactivated. 17/7. (Seager)
1470 KUTY, Palmdale CA. PSA for
Public Information Offices for the city of Los Angeles
0753, xed SS speaker, 20/7. (Seager)
1470 YVJW Radio Latina, Valencia
(Venezuela). 19/7. Heard on sunrise peak. Rapid-fire
news items, IDs at 1037 and 1041. Disappeared a
few minutes later. I can die happy now but Craig
reckons that that will be inconvenient! (Schache)
1470 CPN Radio Peru. Heard on
several occasions with fast-paced news and network
IDs such as at 0755 18/7. Also heard as early as
0515 fade-in and with religious programmes. (Schache,
1470 XEAI Radio Formula. 17/7
- ID at 0535. Up for several minutes. Heard on subsequent
1500 KUMU, Honolulu. Discussion
about terrorism 1325, nx 1330, ID as KUMU
Radio 1332, adverts, promo for KU-MU
AM 1500, steady signal 17/7.Also 16/7 at 0829.
1500 KSTP Saint Pauls, Minnesota.
16/7 0933. Faded up over KUMU with news. Adverts
for leather goods. (Schache)
1520 KOKC, Oklahoma City. ABC
nx 0800, advert. For mortgage broker 0802, ID 0805.
Good, xed another, 16/7. (Seager, Schache)
1540 Unidentified, 19/7 0615.
Heard with continual music, no announcements till
0720+. Also heard later in the evening. Bahamas
possibly. At least that is what we were hoping for.
1540 KREA Honolulu. 17/7 0700.
Heard with KK programme 0755 and 0848. Not strong
and mixed with others. Was hoping for Bahamas but
no such luck. Possibly this is the one often heard
as a het at home. (Seager, Schache)
1560 R.Monitor, México
City. Good w/classical piano piece 1158, through
the hour, over another SS speaker, 17/7. (Seager)
1570 XERF, Cuidad Acuña.
Fast-paced Latin mx 0730, brief anncts. which were
at a lower level, fair 16/7. Big in SS each evening
and heard from around 0530. (Seager, Schache)
1580 KBLA Santa Monica. 18/7
0625. Dominant over R. Disney 0637 with excited
religious harangue. (Schache)
1600 KOKE Pflugerville. 18/7
0638. News and talk px. Well heard with topics such
as health care and Iraq. ID 0700. Is 500 / 250 watts.
1640 KDIA, Vallejo. Nx, wx, ID
as KDIA, San Francisco 1304, devotional
message, good on 19/7. (Seager)
1660 WCNZ, Marco Island. Talkback/interview,
religious themes, ID as Relevant Radio
0617, good 17/7 over another. Also good 18/7. (Seager,
1660 USA Merced, CA KTIQ. 17/7
1239. Fading out at 1239 with SS format. (Schache)
1670 KHPY, Moreno Valley. SS
talks, seemingly religious 0807, xed another, 16/7.
Also 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
1680 KAVT, Fresno. Assume this,
rather than lower-powered KDDZ, both listed for
Radio Disney, promos 0958, xed SS mx stn. 18/7.
1680 Unid. SS speaker, possibly
KDOW, Seattle. SS adverts 0620, accordion mx, OK
on 19/7. (Seager)
1690 KFSG, Roseville. Latin mx
0827, fair on 20/7. (Seager)
1700 KKLF, Sherman TX. Short
fade cycle, only in for a few seconds at a time,
TC for 7.30 at 1130, then into nx. Xed 2 x SS speakers,
1700 KVNS, Brownsville TX. Latin
mx 0705, ID Esta es la musica
annct. advert. 20/7. (Seager)
1700 XEPE, Tecate. Extended
infomercial for a product called Dual Action
Cleanse. Did you know that the average male
has 5-22lb of undigested matter stuck in his colon?
Illuminating! Phone-in with testimonials 0711, ID
as Cash 1700, where money talks. Mentions
of San Diego, 20/7. Also 17/7. (Seager, Schache)
Published on September