The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (341 Division) is a DXCC in Southeast Asia, comprising the eastern half of Timor Island (OC-148) in the Indo-Archipelago.

Extensive recon undertaken by the DA-RC DXpedition Team, 43DA001 Darren and 43DA234 Tom, revealed it was a ‘Most Wanted’ entity on 11m with less than 100 stations logged in two previous activities by the Alfa Tango club back in 2002.

History tells that in late 1975, East Timor (as it was then known) declared its independence from Portugal, but later was attacked and occupied by Indonesia, a military assault known to be supported by the USA.

The invasion was vicious with hundreds of thousands of East Timorese men, women and children, including a number of Australian journalists, murdered with most of the dead tossed into the sea.

In 1999, following Nasoens Unidas (UN) intervention, Indonesia relinquished control, yet when they departed they destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure with indiscriminate bombing.

Civil unrest, military turbulence and political corruption has been rife ever since with UN Peacekeepers called in to deal with warring gangs and trigger-happy Fretlin soldiers on numerous occasions.

For this reason, many precautions had to be taken by our malae foreigner team (e.g. safe ‘ham friendly’ accommodation away from renowned trouble spots, immunizations against diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis, travel insurance, registration with the Australian Embassy, avoidance of venues visited by westerners deemed possible terrorist targets) and so many more carefully considered initiatives were actioned.

On a different level, promos of the activity were undertaken as a 500DA/0 and no names of team members or country names were given on the air throughout, nor was any information (apart from updates on stations logged) posted on the DA-RC website.

Now we’ve returned to Australia and re-joined our families and beluns though, we’re delighted to share our incredible adventure with you…

Day 1: March 30

43DA234 Tom and I rendezvous at Darwin city in Australia’s Northern Territory on March 29, staying at the Darwin Central Hotel in the city center.   It’s great to catch up again over a few cold servejas following our last trip to Guadalcanal Island in the Solomons for 135DA/0 back in 2011!

At 21:00 UTC that same day we board Air North flight TL512 for Timór Lorosa’e and touch down at the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport, 6km west of the nation’s capital, Dili, in just over an hour.

In hindsight, 22:00 UTC is a great time to land in Dili.  You leave Darwin in the black of night, fly over the Timor Sea in misty greyness that gets increasingly lighter, and by the time you’re over Timor itself, the mist has dispersed and the sun is just high enough to lend some definition and colour the land.

Already we can see how steep the ground is, how densely forested.  The rolling grassy hills of volcanic red earth, the diminutive plateaux, the delicate clusters of rice paddies, like shiny buttons on the ridges, never stretch on for long.  High trees and ridges jut up from shadowy crevasses, forests encroach on the clearings and human traces are hidden in the green.

Suddenly, the Embraer 170 jet tilts and we’re circling over the shimmering water of Dili’s Harbour, dotted with fishing vessels and cargo ships from foreign lands; then we land!

Stepping onto the tarmac of an airstrip only footsteps from the sea, we’re immediately torn between gazing out at Atauro Island across the deep blue of the Wetar Strait, and looking up at the lush, mountainous terrain dotted with villages on our other side.  Straight away, out come the cameras for some proofs taken against the airport sign! (See below left)

The initial romance of Timor-Leste is brought to knife-point though when we are detained at the second security checkpoint.  Transceivers and other electrics show up in the routine luggage x-ray and an alarm is raised, causing 2 or 3 armed Timor-Leste Defence Force in camouflage gear to hurry over for a closer inspection.  Bolu polisia!

There are suspicious glares and muttering in Tetum dialect amongst themselves as they ransack through our belongings; pointing and rummaging, pointing and rummaging some more.  It’s obvious Tom and I are going nowhere fast as the accusations flow faster than serveja on tap at any Aussie bar.

For more than an hour we are held and interviewed by Policia Nacional de Timor Leste in a small dark room; grilled extensively on who we are, why we have traveled to Timor-Leste, and what our intentions are with the ‘apparatus’.  That none of the men speak any English makes the job of explaining the purpose of our stay extremely difficult and it appears certain all equipment will be confiscated.

Doing our best to keep calm, we produce printed email correspondence with Alice and Rui Goncalves, owners of the compound we plan to stay at, and this appears to douse the flames of hostility towards us, although not entirely.

Still not satisfied, the Policia then attempt to phone the compound to check the emails aren’t a forgery.  They’re unsuccessful with phone coverage despite numerous attempts.

As the tension flares again, there is a knock at the door and a civilian Portuguese man enters, greeting the supervising officer by name and with a crooked teethy smile.  It’s the owner of the compound, come to pick us up from the airport and take us back to the accommodation.

“Hau nia naran Rui Goncalves,” he says, as he shakes our hands and shuffles inside to sit down. “Obrigo burodo!”

Rui reassures the Policia we’re not a threat to national security and convinces them to allow his “customers” to pass through so he can take us back to his compound in Tibar.  If it’s not for his arrival at that moment then I honestly believe this DXpedition would’ve never made it to the airways!

In a yellow produce truck, and with our luggage loaded on board,  we’re taken through the bustling streets of Dili — an ants’ nest of motorbikes, mikrolets and smoke puffing cars — weaving through and dodging past rocky debris and roadside market stalls (Pictured left), and stop off at H & W Trading House for materials.

Here we purchase 3 lengths of PVC piping for a make-shift mast and a miscellany of stakes, rope, etc. for just under $50 US, load it onto the truck, and are soon on our way.

After 30 minutes we begin an ascent into the coastal mountains of Tibar and are soon entering into a secluded QTH with magnificent views across the ocean.  Surrounded by a 3m high barbed wire fence, large steel security gate and guarded by 24 hour armed security, the Tibar Compound is situated high on a ridge overlooking the Timor sea.

Straight up, we’re shown to our Balinese-style bungalow (Pictured below left) with a high, steep thatched roof and immediately set about unloading our equipment onto a small table on the outdoor balcony; 3 transceivers, 2 power supplies, 5 antennas, 2 lengths of 15m feed-line with barrel connector (should it be required) and 2 amplifiers for extra punch make for an ominous DX super-station!

Throw in an extraordinary takeoff to short path Europe, our main target market, and we’ve got the perfect formula for DX success!

Tom and I are shocked to discover that some of it has been damaged though and panic sets in when we realize the extent of it all.  The face panel of the MFJ 75 amp power supply has been badly cracked, both pairs of headphones have been snapped and the VFO on our Yaesu FT-787 has been removed too.


Trying to stay positive, we move to the gently sloping lawn area outside our bungalow to select an appropriate antenna.  We have a Skyrex and 2 Skypper 11’s designed by 1SD019 Alex, stored in two 2m long fishing rod cylinders, but choose to go with the latter as the Skyrex loop would be too close to one of the buildings to function effectively in our opinion.

As we raise the mast, misfortune strikes time and time again.  The PVC pipe is as flimsy as raw spaghetti pasta and snaps 3 times, splitting 2 fiberglass spreaders on the antenna as it crashes into the dirt.  Arghhhhhhhhh!

By this time, our bodies are drenched in sweat amidst the tropical WX and our patience is wearing thin.  Given the cost of excess baggage, we remind ourselves that bringing a commercial mast wouldn’t have been economical – you just make do with what materials you can find when you arrive.  In the Solomons, it was some mighty lengths of bamboo bought at the Honiara markets; here it will be something else.

Watching on, a security guard of East Timorese descent named Eduardo, saunters off towards a work-shed in the distance and returns 5 minutes later with a galvanized steel telescopic mast approximately 5m in length.  He then lends a hand with getting it into the air by bringing a step ladder down also, while young Tom scales the cliff-side and bashes in some metal stakes to support the base of the mast.  Problem solved!

In no time at all, the Skypper 11 is up and we start testing the equipment to see what’s working and what can be repaired.  Only the headphones cannot be saved but fortunately everything else is functioning satisfactorily.

At 00:30 UTC, we’re QRV as 341DA/0 on a band buzzing with licks, squeals, bubbles and other tell-tale atmospheric quirks.  Nothing after 10 minutes on the international call frequency 27.555 MHz surprises us though, until we see we are TX on LSB.  IDIOTS!

On to USB now and 43RC461 Eddie in Queensland is logged at 00:45 UTC, followed by a number of stations in South East Asia, among them 101AT170 Andy on Lihir Island (OC-069), 153AT063 John in the Kingdom of Thailand, 234SD077 Jack in war-torn Afghanistan, 155TN717 Lewis on Taiwan Island (AS-020) and 79DA027 Jotham on Cebu Island (OC-129) in the Philippines.

It’s cheers and high-fives all round as the world is alerted to our presence on the band; the frightening reality of our chosen DXCC and the risks we have taken to provide a ‘new one’ too our beluns in the 11m DX Community!

The capture of our first EU station at 06:31 UTC, 18VOG049 Theo in Greece, has all of EU in a frenzy and out of the blue we’re flattened by an avalanche of signals.

For the next 5 hours we’re smashed by a 5/9-40+ pileup as we move from simplex ops to working split frequencies listening 5-10 up, logging station, after station, after station.

With one team member on the laptop making log entries, monitoring Cluster dk for SWL reports and adjusting beam headings where necessary, and the other guy behind the mic of our Yaesu FT-950 transceiver belting out 600 watts, the average QSO rate is 3-4 stations per minute, facilitated by outstanding behavior in the pileup which we’re very thankful for.

Amid contacts with Slovenia (327), Italy (1), Spain (30), Poland (161), Japan (25), Romania (233), Austria (35), Serbia (45), Bulgaria (178), Germany (13), Sardinia Island (165) (EU-024), Slovakia Republic (330) and many more DXCC, are treasured contacts with DA-RC beluns 14DA041 Jean-Claude, 14DA007 Chris and 14DA049 Fred in France.

We’re also dancing ’round like Teo Batiste Ximene when 351AT046 Michele in the rare African country of South Sudan calls in as well with a solid 5/7 report!  It’s music to our ears!

No time for breakfast as the waking sun flickers beneath the horizon over picturesque Tibar Bay though.

At 22:51 UTC, after a few hours’ of mosquito interrupted sleep, Big Gun 3DA012 Roger in Brazil crashes through at 5/3 and there’s also 347IR684 Bart on Curacão Island (SA-099), 11SD001 Tito on Puerto Rico Island (NA-099) and 62SD102 Jun on Guam (OC-026) in the northern Pacific amongst them too at 5/9+.

366 Stations are logged on this day in what represents a sizzling start to our DX adventure! Feliz Paskua!

Day 2 – March 31

At 00:11 UTC, with the surrounding mountains cloaked in dark grey clouds and a light drizzle of rain outside, it’s bondia to 133SD156 Alan on Saipan Island (OC-086) in the Northern Marianas group.

302SD200 Slava on Sakhalin Island (AS-018) in Asiatic Russia, 22AT263 Bruno in French Guyana and 172DA010 Kevin on New Caledonia’s Grande Terre Island (OC-032) are logged also.

A few contacts with French Polynesia IOTA activities are highlights of the morning DX menu too with DA-RC ops 153DA012 Andre in Thailand and Aussies 43DA421 Shane, 43DA021 Brian and 43DA225 Frank featuring also.

After a lip-smacking meal of fresh prawns, mussels, scallops and calamari for lunch washed down with a few cold Sagres pale lager servejas, we take a break from the DX and amble down to Tibar Beach where we explore deserted thatched huts with grass rooves and dirt floors, the remnants of old handcrafted fishing canoes and more.

We also have a splash in the shallows of a golden sandy beach some 100m in length, which is speckled with clusters of mangroves on the edge of the tidal zone.  The threat of man-eating lafaek and sharks lurking nearby however ensures our swim is not a long one hihi.

Resuming on the mic after a couple of hours, we log our first EU station of the day at 07:20 UTC, 233OD010 Julian from Romania.  The action snowballs from there with an 8 hour 5/9-40+ wall of noise courtesy of frenzied DX Hunters from all across Europe desperate to add a “new one” to their QSL collection.

It’s bonoite to 116SD111 Nico from Turkey, 49MU107 Miguel from the Balearic Islands (EU-004), 15IR106 Adrian in Switzerland, 104VOG001 Syl on Corsica Island (EU-014) and 68RB001 Phil in Northern Ireland (EU-115) who are a few interesting callsigns logged.  DA-RC members 14DA181 Jean-Marc from French Department 60 (Oise) and 30DA016 Dave in Spain are in the mix too, stampeding through like one-horned Badak Jawa rhino.

At 22:44 UTC, 2DA120 Tom in Texas is one of the last guys worked on this day, along with 143SD107 Jason on Saint Lucia Island (NA-108) in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

900 stations in the log so far!

Day 3 – April 1

After a sleepy start to the day which yields a solitary contact with South Korea (100 division) by 05:32 UTC, the band explodes with propagation from the South Pacific Ocean area.

The familiar voices of 43DA162 Brett, 43SD133 Jaye, 43DA148 Peter and 43DA050 Geoff are just a selection of compatriots worked from back home, while 41AT012 Tim drops in at 5/9 from his home in the city of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island (OC-036).

With the lightweight Skypper antenna aimed towards the Pacific, we flick through the band, working ops in the Gilbert Islands IOTA Group (OC-017) on 27.335 MHz USB, as well as a few semi-serious Aussie DX Hunters on the US call frequency…27.385 MHz LSB.

Later on, before the anticipated EU pileup in a couple of hours time, Tom and I go in search of a decent meal at nearby Ximangane Restaurant, an establishment further up the ridge often visited by Aussie, US and Portuguese expats, as well as  Officials including Timór Lorosa’e President José Maria Vasconcelos and his entourage.

The food here is delicious, with some of the traditional Timor-Leste cuisine such as Saboko (Tuna in spices wrapped with palm leaves and baked), Suntu Tunu (giant squid with dibaluri lemon and olive oil), Branca arroz (white rice), Pao dinner rolls, Carne assada (roasted buffalo meat served with thick sauce and pepper), on our radar.

When we return to the bungalow, 17WR898 Al in the Hawaiian Islands (OC-019) is logged at 5/9 but proceedings only really start hamanas at 09:00 UTC as we work the grey-line.  At this point, it appears as though someone’s splashed petrol onto the band and then sparked a match as 186 stations are worked over the next few hours in a scorching DX fireball of 5/9-40+ signals.

Roaring through the pileup are 14DA012 Herve from France in the portable, 163SD1040 Colin from Wales, 26DA086 Mark in the English county of Kent, 13DA110 Uli in Germany, 94AT011 from the United Arab Emirates, 102AT101 Sal in Kuwait and many more stations at scorching 5/9 + signals.

The last QRZ added to the log is 2AT509 Larry in Wisconsin USA at 13:59 UTC.

Day 4 – March 2

At 9.00am local time, following a surprise contact with 91DD018 Dave working as 238AT/DX in Cambodia, we grasp the opportunity of a lift into Dili with Alice to stock up on some supplies (bottled water, crackers, tea, coffee, etc.) and have a look around.

Mikrolets like sardine tins, crammed with locals, buzz about the ‘corrugated iron’ city which sprawls along the waterfront, stopping frequently over relatively short distances to drop off passengers or avoid hazards such as chickens, dogs and goats with a death wish.

There are loads of clapped out unmetered taxis too, mainly old Singaporean cabs we suspect, beeping their way around the streets; the drivers stalking anyone who might be in need of a ride.

History tells us this seaside conurbation suddenly found itself taking the role of national capital when Timor-Leste became the world’s newest independent country in May 2002.

“Squeezed along the narrow plains between the central mountains which run the length of the Timor and Ombai Straits, Dili isn’t one of Asia’s great capitals,” I recall Alice saying in one of her emails.
“But look past the burnt-out buildings and scruffy refugee camps and there’s a fatin with a quiet charm and a welcoming vibe…”

Dwarfed by buildings gutted in the Indo-occupation, their shells standing as a constant reminder to locals, 43DA234 Tom and I cruise the main street like traditional outrigger canoes on a glassy Timor Sea, past the spectacular Dili Lighthouse referenced by the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society (ARLHS) as TM-001.

Dili Lighthouse

Most, we understand, were damaged or destroyed in the violence of 1999 however the city still has many buildings from the Portuguese era.

Here, classic colonial architecture awaits restoration, and frangipani trees drop flowers on streets trodden as often by goats, wild pigs, dogs and roosters as by people.

Bringing a smile to our sunburned faces, bare chested and skirted infant warriors dance about when we pass by, brandishing miniature curved swords but whirling them with the skill of a Fretlin soldier.

We also see a small boy and his magnificent scarred fighting cock at which time we haul out our cameras and start snapping madly.

“Obrigo burodo,” he smiles.

Later, we wander past seaside market stalls selling plastic soft-drink bottles filled with gasoline, pilchards, bananas, betel nuts, caged chickens, Timor-Leste’s prized coffee beans and more.

Tom points to a mountain in the distance where the lulik Cristo Rei statue dominates the headland hilltop at Cape Fatucama.

Gasoline sold on the street in Dili
“Let’s climb to the top,” he suggests.  “Grab some photos for the website…?”
“O bulak ka?”

Earlier, our lovely host Alice had described the 27m high sculpture of Jesus Christ as the essential destination for any tourist, if not for the statue itself, then for the thigh-numbing walk up the mountain to see the stunning view.

En route, my DXpedition team mate and I find the 500 odd steps are punctuated with murals depicting the events of the walk with the cross of Jesus Christ to the crucifixion site (otherwise known to Catholics as The Stations of the Cross).

By the time we reach the summit though we’re struggling so badly in the smoldering heat we barely have the energy to click our cameras.  Dusty sweat soaks our clothes and skin, seeps into our mouths and ears and stings our eyes.  Our legs feel like heavy Kenari Canarium tree trunks too, unable to take another step.

Like Alice says, the view of surrounding seascapes is worth it though and we sit in the shade of a tree admiring our feat at conquering the mountain and being face to face with one of the world’s most famous monuments.

No sooner have we arrived home that evening when an alarm sounds and the compound is placed in security lock-down.  Pulses race.  Hearts thump. And footsteps pound the earth outside our bungalow.

Reports of mutinous gangs moving by foot on nearby mountain paths have come through and we’re forced to close up and turn all lights and appliances off so as not to attract any attention.

Despite the intrusion, though, at no stage do we feel unsafe as the compound’s harsh barbed wire fences provide ample safety, and these “hooligans”, we’re told, prefer more easy targets.

We take the opportunity to sleep instead and prepare ourselves for another big day ahead on the band tomorrow.

Unfortunately, we’re unable to add to our tally on this day.

Day 5 – March 3

Suffocating under our mosquito nets, we climb out of bed early and watch the sun rise over Atauro Island. In the background, our station purrs like a kitten, minus the lion-like roar of previous nights’ DX feasting and with the Skypper aimed at North America, then over the pole, no stations are heard.

03:55 UTC produces a contact with 201AT102 Camille on Tahiti Island (OC-046).

After that, we’re in and out of the shack, mixing with the locals Aida, Zaida and Abilleu who go about their chores within the limits of the Compound with the grace and style of Delias splendida.

At 05:42 UTC, EU is in again with 18FAT011 Yannis from Greece logged at 5/9.  Working through the grey-line, 164 stations are then carved into the log in the next 7 hours with most stations a whopping 5/9+.  328AR102 Ivan in Croatia, 26DA026 Russell in England, 54AT105 Jack in Luxembourg and 14DA011 Chris in France are among those logged!

In the final few breaths of Day 5, a handful of guys are successful from the Americas.  33ET101 Larry in Alaska, 2DA357 Dave in the USA, 136SD136 Francis on Martinique Island (NA-107), 11SD135 on Puerto Rico (NA-099) and 9SD001 Al in Canada are in the bunch, as too is 266ET001 Mr Bio on Teraina Atoll (OC-084) in the Central Pacific Ocean.

Day 6 – March 4

At 00:08 UTC, 196SD064 Marvin on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe (NA-102) is penciled in at 5/9 but we’re stunned to hear no other stations from the West Indies about at this time.

Apart from a few voices from Central and South America, as well as 79RC100 Jonathan on Luzon Island (OC-042) in the Philippines, it’s not until 11:38 UTC when things really start to escalate.  From this point, 100 more frantic DX Hunters are added to the log from all corners of Europe.

19SD228/QRP with 5 watts, 21AT110 Pat in Sweden and 91NR484 Ari on Java Island (OC-021) are a couple of attractive stations worked.

By 14:00 UTC, despite many calls on 27.555 MHz USB, no callers are heard so it’s lights off in the shack and sleep time for our exhausted team with another 109 stations added on Day 6.

We’re active again at 3.30am local time, in thick darkness, listening to the radio, replying emails to sponsors and uploading log updates to the DA-RC website.  The band is quiet however and we finish Day 6 with exactly 1200 stations in the log.

Day 7 – March 5

A couple of sporadic openings in the wee hours of March 5 provide a handful of contacts with stations in NA.  At 5/9, 158SD588 Neville in Trinidad and Tobago (SA-009) is a solitary station on the band with the antenna aimed short path to the West Indies.  Nothing else is heard.

Tonsil tired, we depart the shack and hail a truck into the city to purchase postcards and stamps to send to DXpedition sponsors.  As we clamber up the side of the truck into the tray, we’re met with a brown goat, a small girl huddled in the corner and two heavily tattooed men wearing bandanas and carrying machetes.  Before we can change our minds, the truck lurches forwards and we’re on our way.  “Hmmm this will be interesting!”

The road to Dili is narrow and twisty — constantly damaged, we’re told, by the torrents that come down from the skies and mountains.  The going is slow and stops are frequent, even in our truck.  At one point along the road, the goat is lowered by rope over the side to eager hands below, no doubt soon to end its life on the fire.

When we arrive in Dili and ask to be let out, the men refuse our offer of $10 US — much to our surprise — and wave goodbye.

Everywhere we go today, we’re assaulted by difficult sights, sounds and smells.  The stench of petrol fumes, burning rubbish and vegetation, tobacco, animal faeces, and stagnant water is unbearable in parts where an estimated 100,000 povu Timór Lorosa’e nian are said to be displaced because of the Indonesian incursion.  No wonder Dili is regarded as ‘the city of refugees’.

Trudging along the street past landmarks such as the Castaway Bar, Dili Beach Hotel, Caz Bar, One More Bar and Gedung Negara where the Pope stayed in 1989, we barter with some children who sell us a Timor-Leste flag and cap for $10 US.  Bartering is mandatory we’re told and knocking up to half off the asking price in the first instance is a must if you don’t want to get ripped off.

The 3 young boys scream with delight when we reef out a fistful of US dollars and approach us again later with more items to sell, following us like stray dogs all the way up the street; a close up glimpse of shiny eyes and flashing white teeth.

Despite the concert of political tensions, security threats and humanitarian situations here, locals appear unfazed and go about their subsistence lifestyle with poise.

At one point, we pass the impressive Palacio de Govierno which dominates the city center with its high walls surrounding the property.  At its gates, two guards armed with AK47 assault rifles keep a watchful eye on passersby.

We avoid eye contact and scamper past like timid bent-toed geckos.

Not long after that, we’re clinging to a colourful mikrolet on the road back to Tibar, one which hugs the coastline or clings to the curving sides of the hills that plunge down to the sea.

The band is closed when we return some 30 minutes later and despite regular calling, offers no further additions to the log on this day.

We pray for Sorti diak tomorrow!

Day 8 – March 6

Outside our bungalow, the flag of the Republica Demorcratica de Timor-Leste, bright red with a white star and arrowheads of black and gold jutting from the masthead, flaps and snaps in the sea breeze against the brilliant blue morning sky.

At 00:15 UTC, we log the first of many stations from Brazil (3 division) and Mexico (10 division).  Recent Chatham Islands DXpeditioner 41SD133 Sean is in the mix too at 5/1 from his home on the North Island (OC-036).  Low signals means the work is laborious though and a number of faint ones remain unworkable.

With limited action on the band, we ‘soup-up’ on chili Bintang servejas then elect to hike into Dili around lunch time to visit the local tattooist for a permanent souvenir.  Brushing aside fears of unhygienic equipment and infection in a country where broken limbs are treated with band-aids, we depart a couple of hours later with crocodilians inked on our arms.

Tom's tattooThe holiest symbol of East Timor is this animal, stemming from its creation legend: a boy saves a stranded lafaek from dying of thirst by putting him back in the water; in return, and to repent his passing thought of eating his small savior  the croc turns himself into an island (Timor) thereby becoming the ancestor of all Timorese.

In some ways, big DXpeditions like this one are like tattoos; inked into the memory of team members who carry the branding with them for the rest of their lives, as well as the guys who make the log in what is normally challenging circumstances.

Before leaving for Tibar that afternoon, we dine at one of the seaside market stalls on some traditional Indonesian food.  Nazi Goering, a rice dish served with fried egg, and red Beef Rendang Curry with its rich spices and coconut milk, are mouth-watering!

By 07:00 UTC, we’re back in the Compound and flick on the rig to find EU thumping through like stampeding buffalo on 27.555 MHz USB.  A quick CQ call then QSY to 27.545 MHz USB and a number of stations are introduced to the log.

The pile-ups, however, are punctuated by periods of silence and at 15:24 UTC, we log our last station of the evening...31AT094 Miguel in Portugal at 5/1.

Day 9 – March 7

A late night chasing DX sees us feeling lethargic today and in need of some rest and a hearty meal.  After a breakfast consisting of tropical fuan, warm goat’s milk and eggs, we spend the morning chilling out on our balcony, writing postcards, listening to some tunes on our phones and organizing some last minute ‘scheds’ with sponsors on Facebook.

The radio is a constant zzzzzz in the background, interrupted ever so occasionally with CQ DX calls of stations in south-east Asia already worked.

Only a handful are logged by 06:00 UTC.

Just as it’s been since our arrival, the night-time hours bring the band ablaze.  34AT024 Paco on Gran Canaria Island (AF-004) and 93DR101 Edward in Malta feature among the 100 stations worked.

At sunrise, 2AT374 Jerry and 2AT054 Joe in Estadus Unidus are logged with a number of their fellow citizens also, rounding off the day nicely.

Dili Beach HotelDay 10 – March 8

Some unforseen costs sees us returning to Dili today to visit the ANZ Bank.  After waiting in line for 2 hours, we drop in to the Dili Beach Hotel and play some billiards with the East-Timorese cook, Mr Hoppy, who shows no mercy on our primitive skills.

This venue is a breath of fresh air in what has been an otherwise exhausting experience so far.  The occasional Aussie voice, Aussie beers and pizza.  Food for the soul!

The ride back to Tibar after lunch has the potential to turn ugly.  Despite being warned to NEVER accept a taxi ride with more than 1 person in the car, Tom and I climb inside and as we reach the outskirts of Dili the alarm bells start ringing in our heads.

Both men are acting suspiciously.  The first thing which captures our attention is the exaggerated display by the driver to fasten his seat belt, continually dragging it across his body as if motioning for us to do the same.  In all taxi rides to date we’d never seen a driver wear a seat belt.  In fact, we were told not to even bother wearing one.

Meanwhile, Tom is in the back with the other man who continues to look over his shoulder to the back dashboard, with his arm resting behind like he’s about to seize something…a knife, a machete, a gun?

After unsuccessfully encouraging us to fasten our seat belts (therefore effectively trapping ourselves in our seats), the driver meanwhile, locks the doors, raises the tinted windows and slows his speed along the deserted mountain road to a snail’s pace.

By this time, Tom and I have cottoned on and are ready for a fight.  My DXpedition team mate has his arm raised, ready to elbow the backseat passenger in the face at the slightest of movement and I have turned in my seat to face the driver and am ready to unleash some hefty blows to the ulun at the next sign of deviousness.

Sensing we’re onto them, a Mexican standoff of sorts occurs and after what seems like an eternity, we’ve come to a halt outside the Compound.  The doors and windows still locked, I pay the driver $25 US for the journey at which time he unlocks the doors.

By this time, however, the other man has dashed around to my door, is standing over me and demanding extra money.  Like most other Timorese he is of slight build and as soon as I step out of the cab and come face to face with him he realizes he’s bitten off more than he can chew and retreats to the back seat of the cab where he shuts the door.  Hau ba lai, assu!

With our adrenalin pumping, Tom and I dart like two Timor Sparrows towards the security gate and are let inside while the taxi drives off slowly.  The only tonic here is a bundle of Bintang servejas to soothe the tension!!!!!!!

Back on the job and the first EU station is worked today at 12:53 UTC.  On 27.510 MHz USB 29EC555 Frank in the Republic of Ireland (EU-115) is tailed by 94 other stations as we work split frequencies listening 5-10 up.

315UR4810 Vasia from the Ukraine, 97SD1401 Ilan from Israel, 20AT015 Roar from Norway, 1TVB950 on Murano Island (EU-131) in the Veneto Region group and 109HA024 Zoli from Budapest in Hungary are a few to enhance the log at this time.

An eventful day in Timor-Leste for the team!

Day 11 – March 9

Despite 20 odd hours by the radio, only 5 ‘unique’ stations are added to the log on this day, our last in Timor-Leste.

The final station worked is 56SD152 Mike in Finland at 09:44 UTC.

The next day, at 4:30am local time, guided by the stars and moon, 43DA234 Tom and I arrive at the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport shrouded in thick blackness.  It’s 19:00 UTC (5:00am local time) and despite our plane departing in just 2 hours time, the staff haven’t yet arrived to process check-ins.

Waiting behind to ensure we get-off okay, Rui wanders up to the entrance, opens the front door which is amazingly unlocked and turns on the lights of the waiting lounge.  We then carry our luggage into a deserted terminal and wait.  What other international airport in a country’s capital city could you do this?

By 6:30am we’re like cats on a hot tin roof again as we move through Customs — except this time the only thing which captures the attention of Policia Nacional de Timor Leste is my Calvin Klein aftershave.  Hilariously, this is confiscated by one of the guards who’ll no doubt show off his new possession to his wife when he returns home later that day.

After some last minute souvenir shopping, we’re eventually in the sky bound for Darwin, drawing the curtain on one of the most awesome hobby experiences in our life.

In addition to the long list of sponsors, Tom and I wish to say obrigadu to everyone for their kind words, their generous support and often gargantuan determination over many hours and days to work us.  Your efforts didn’t go unnoticed by our team and truly inspired us to spend as much time as possible on the transceiver listening for your calls.

Atelogu from the next ‘Most Wanted’ in 2014, friends.  Hau ba lai!

73 de 43DA001 Darren & 43DA234 Tom, Team 43

Glossary of Tetum Terms & Phrases Used in this Report…

  • Malae — foreigner
  • Atelogu — See you later
  • Hau ba lai — Goodbye
  • Beluns — Friends
  • Servejas — Beer
  • Bolu polisia — Call the police!
  • Hau nia naran — My name is…
  • Policia — Police
  • Feliz Paskua — Happy Easter
  • Bondia — Good morning
  • Bonoite — Good evening/night
  • Hamanas — To heat up
  • Fatin — Place
  • A young girl sells bananas along the roadObrigo burodo — Pleased to meet you
  • O bulak ka? — Are you crazy?
  • Lulik — Sacred
  • Palacio de Govierno – the Government Palace
  • Republica Demorcratica — Democratic Republic
  • Obrigo burodo — Pleased to meet you
  • Assu — Dog
  • Obrigadu — Thank you
  • Lafaek — crocodile
  • Ulun — Head
  • Estadus Unidus — United States
  • Nasoens Unidas — United Nations
  • Povu Timór Lorosa’e nian — People of Timor-Leste
  • Badak Jawa — Rare one horned Rhino native to Timor-Leste
  • Delias splendida — Butterflies of Timor-Leste
  • Kenari Canarium — Trees found in the Lore forest with massive buttress roots
  • Teo Batiste Ximene A popular Timor-Leste musician who grew up in Australia and uses folk rhythms from his homeland in his music
  • Timor Sparrows (Lonchura fuscata)  A near-threatened species of bird which inhabits the grasslands and lowlands of Timor-Leste