Any Amateur that looks at a high mountain thinks of operating from such a high location. The Stirling Ranges in the South of Western Australia has some high mountains, particularly for Western Australia.

Mt. Toolbrunup 1052 metres high is one such mountain that attracts amateur radio interest. However there is no road, just a car park at the bottom of the mountain. To get to the top requires walking up steep rocky pathways, some through dense scrub.


Mount Toolbrunup 20 kilometres away

Considerable discussion took place as to the possibility of placing a temporary repeater on top of Mt.Toolbrunup. With a height of 1052 metres or 3400 feet high the radio horizon is 150 kilometres meaning strong signal out to 150 kilometres to mobiles.

Back in the 1980s there was a sense of test out the site and then place a repeater on the site. Even though Toolbrunup is in National park it was just another hurdle to overcome.

The plans were made to travel from Perth and carry up all the equipment to the top of Mt.Toolbrunup, and there was a lot of equipment...

VK6REE 2 metre repeater
Six full size cavity filters that made up the duplexer.
Two 50 AH wet cell car batteries. (sealed batteries unknown then)
6 metre mast for antenna
Guy rope

Local Amateurs became involve as well. The Perth amateurs traveled down to Albany, close by Mt.Toolbrunup, and stayed over night. Next morning we all met at the Toolbrunup car park.

From correspondence in the WARG archives, the dates that the expedition took place was the 11th 12th and 13th of October 1980.

Toolbrunup car park

Ready to make the climb up Mt.Toolbrunup from the car park

The photograph above shows the climbers getting ready to carry the large amount of equipment up Mt.Toolbrunup. In the foreground can be seen one of the car batteries, VK6REE in front of the car battery along with the mast and coax.

Half way up Toolbrunup

Looking down, half way up, at top of thick bush that we climbed through

The climb took about 3 hours, some times through large areas of broken rock and other times through dense scrub. There is a trail but even so it was difficult going with all the equipment we had. One of the car batteries leaked and Terry had the odd hole in his shirt.


Art VK6ART one of the more senior climbers having a well earned drink at the top

XYL looking at Kenwood TR-2400 hand held

YL looking lovingly at Kenwood TR-2400 on top of Mt.Toolbrunup

The picture above appeared on the front cover of Amateur radio magazine and was the first full colour photograph to do so on AR magazine.

The Kenwood TR-2400 2 metre hand, with all frequency coverage of 2 metres, was the hand held of the day. Many amateurs owned one of these. Several made the trek up Mt.Toolbrunup.

The antenna was raised, a Ringo Ranger, and the repeater was placed in a semi protected place under a small rock level. All the way up the climb numerous hand helds were used and amateurs in the service area were awaiting the switch on. Everyone knew our progress and finally it was time to switch on VK6REE, one kilometre above sea level, the highest the repeater had ever been.

Aerial installation at Toolbrunup

Raising the Ringo Ranger on top of Mt.Toolbrunup 1 kilometre above sea level...!

With the repeater switch on contacts came from far and wide. The strong signal coverage area was estimated at 150 kilometres. Stations from many locations were heard.

A number of amateurs were ready to go mobile and find out the coverage area. It was found that out to about 150 kilometres the S meter on most mobiles was full strength. One mobile contact stood out and that was to Aub VK6XY who drove East from Albany and was heard 200 kilometres away....! What a site.

Pagers were new to 2 metres and the one located at Bickley just East of Perth could be heard on hand helds at the top of Toolbrunup. I don't remember any amateurs working through VK6REE from Perth.

John VK6UP

John VK6ZHV-VK6UP (now VK6TIF) carried the antenna.

more climbers

Terryl one of the XYLs who made the climb and Peter VK6Z?? who did the climb twice

The repeater was left overnight and contacts were had late into evening. Peter, shown above, climbed Mt.Toolbrunup again early the following morning with a small home made generator and put some charge back in the two car batteries....! Can you believe it..!

Climbers on Toolbrunup

The second day awaiting removing the repeater from Mt.Toolbrunup

Terryl with cavity filter

Ready to climb down Toolbrunup...Note cavity filter ready to go

The repeater was removed from Toolbrunup late the following day and all thoughts turned on how to install a permanent repeater on Mt.Toolbrunup. How naive were we...?

However this expedition was perhaps the most exciting WARG did, way back in the 1980s. The equipment available then was not as it is today, with a large variety that would be lighter and simpler to use as a portable repeater. Perhaps the main motivation was the newness to it all and a belief that, given a few years there would be linked repeaters all over VK6, but this has not happened so far and we all look forward to our repeater network expanding. Perhaps even Mt.Toolbrunup....?

My x wife Terryl and myself, Will VK6UU at the summit of Mt.Toolbrunup