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Diary of a Vision Radio Techie’s Road Trip – Hein Matthiae

by | Fri, Dec 9 2022

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Hein Matthiae, Vision’s Broadcast Engineer, based in Western Australia, shares his diary snippets of his 8,300 road trip.

Hein Matthiae Vision’s Broadcast Engineer in WA

WA road trip – 11 October to 2 November 2022 – 8300km travelled

Monday to Sunday, 11 to 16 October:

Perth to Karalundi Caravan park – sleepover in tortoiseshell.

Tuesday – Karalundi to Marble Bar – fix a slow puncture on the way on a dirt track.

On arrival, I discovered keys to the host building didn’t fit. I ran around town to two different houses, first was the previous key holder’s daughter, who didn’t have any keys to the building. Then on to the people who purchased the previous key holder’s house. The previous owner gave me a spare key for the building, so I was thinking to myself, this is great, BUT … that key didn’t work either. I was given a hand full of keys, none of which was the right one. By then, it was 6 pm, and I decided to call it a day and headed to the caravan park for a sleepover.

That evening I sent an SMS to the Anglican pastor in Karratha (since this building is the Anglican church in Marble Bar). He gave me the number for the Anglican pastor in Port Hedland, as Marble Bar is in his parish. When I called him, he said he hadn’t visited Marble Bar in 18 months and wasn’t sure he had a spare key for the building. Oh dear, I thought, what now?

Wednesday – So, the next morning, I spoke to the acting Principal at the school, the shire and the local shop owner to try and gauge which of them would be willing to host Vision Radio in the future. The existing building is only a temporary building, and with no one using it in such a remote place (200km to Port Hedland), it would be better for Vision to be in a building where people were present on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we have not been able to send out any official details to any of these people yet due to workloads keeping us busy.

Wednesday morning, Marble Bar to South Hedland, T&T (test & tag) and after that off to Eighty Mile beach – sleepover in cabin at Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park.

Thursday – Eighty Mile Beach to Derby – start work in arvo on arrival – sleepover in Spinifex Motel

Continue work on Friday.

Saturday morning, Derby to Broome, check it’s on air, continue on to Eighty Mile Beach, sleepover in tortoiseshell until Monday morning.

Monday to Sunday, 17 to 23 October:

Leave for Pt Hedland, do T&T and travel on to Roebourne.

Stay with Roebourne hosts until next Monday, 24 October

Tuesday, T&T and relocate equipment at Point Samson.

Wednesday, T&T Bulgarra and meet with Baptist Church in arvo for a site inspection in preparation for possible relocation in the future.

Thursday, T&T Roebourne, discover transmitter and antenna issues. Off to Wickham for T&T in arvo.

Friday, continue work at Roebourne, due to unforeseen maintenance for Roebourne, Bob & Ruth were happy to extend my stay at their studio over the weekend – no cost to Vision for accommodation or meals!

Monday to Sunday, 24 to 30 October:

Leave Roebourne for Onslow against terrible headwind! Complete work at Onslow; due to accommodation prices in town and heavy wind, leave for Nanutarra Roadhouse – sleepover in tortoise shell.

Tuesday leave for Exmouth – complete work – stay over with Tech friend.

Wednesday leave for Paraburdoo – sleepover at Tech friend’s house.

Thursday morning, meet with Rio Tinto Communications Tech to do a site inspection on Mount Misery for future relocation due to the existing host building in the process of being sold.

Oh dear, it turned out to be a very stressful morning … when you hang up the fuel pump and it reads UNLEADED!!!

I knew NOT TO START THE ENGINE! After I got over that awful sinking feeling, I thanked God that behind me in the queue was someone from a motor vehicle workshop who pointed me to a place next door to the fuel station who were able to tow the Bakkie around to their workshop with a forklift to drain the fuel tank. I should have taken a picture, but I was still in shock about my error.

Timewise it all worked out very well as I went with the Rio Tinto guy to do the site inspection while the fuel tank was getting sorted out. As it was, there was a mix-up with the Rio Tinto guy. I received a call at 05:45 am that morning, changing the plans made the previous day for going up to Mt Misery. The original plan was that someone else was going to pick me up at 8.30 am in Paraburdoo. When this other person called at 5.45 am, he asked if he could pick me up at 6.30 am, to which I agreed. At 6.40 am, he called and asked me where I was as he was at the fuel station. It turned out that between the two of us, he assumed I was at the fuel station at Tom Price while I assumed due to the time change from 5.45 am to 6.30 am that he was at Paraburdoo fuel station since they were a 45-minute drive from each other. Considering he was going to be late, I decided to check trye pressure, fuel up the Bakkie and start planning other tasks. The rest is history.

However, God is good, and I leave on schedule for Karalundi Caravan Park again through Tom Price and Newman.

Friday morning, check Meekatharra station,then leave for Wiluna through Mt Magnet, Sandstone and Leinster – not doing more dirt tracks with normal road tyres. Stay over with Vision listener in town, Wayne, who is a relief teacher from Witchcliffe, where he is also our host. No cost to Vision.

Saturday morning – fix Wiluna, replace mast on roof and PSU for decoder. By noon Wiluna is back on air.

Monday to Wednesday, 31 October to 2 November:

Leave Wiluna for Sandstone – quick check, all good. Continue to Mt Magnet for a few repairs and on to Yalgoo with a few minor repairs. Sleepover in Caravan Park.

Tuesday morning off to Geraldton, which was not part of the plan, but was reported off air halfway into the trip. Fix up Geraldton, and … oh dear, a call came in for Drummond Cove with a listener reporting it’s been off air for three weeks! OK, I’m here; let’s check it out.

Turned out Drummond Cove is healthy and well, although not successful in making contact with the host, but able to check signal is 100% in front of the property. Contact the listener again; all sorted.

On the way home! But it’s 3 pm, so probably a good idea to sleep over. I find accommodation at Green Head! Going past Dongara and Leeman, both on air.

Wednesday morning on a mission to get home, Green Head is good, Cervantes is good, Lancelin is good … Seabird is not, oh dear!

Stop and check; the host is not home, but fortunately, I have access to the equipment. Reboot the decoder, install the timer, and woohoo, off home!

Arrived home safe and sound. Hallelujah! Another trip done and dusted.