VI5ANZAC at Belair NP, VKFF-022

The Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society were fortunate to be allocated the special call sign of VI5ANZAC this weekend as part of the 2015 ANZAC Centennary.  But sadly there was a distinct lack of volunteers to get involved.  That combined with the AFL Grand Final and the Oceania DX Contest meant that I could not get out to activate VI5ANZAC until today.

So it was a bright and early start on a very warm morning, and off to the Belair National Park we headed.  By we, I mean my trusty wife Marija, and our daughter Olivia, 16, going on 25.  It was going to be a very hot day, with an expected maximum temperature of 36 deg C.  Thus, the early start, to beat the heat of the day.

Prior to leaving I had a quick look at the HAP chart for Adelaide.  I wish I hadn’t.  It left me shaking my head again.  Predictions were for poor propagation on the 40m band.

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And why operate from the Belair National Park?  Well back in 1962, an avenue of 40 Californian Sequoias redwood trees were planted by staff of Belair National Park, as a memorial to Australian and American Allied Forces who served in World War Two, and in Korea.  Until recently the memorial had only been accessible via a remote fire track.  But back in October 2008, a new path was opened, allowing visitors to walk to the trees.

Belair National Park is situated about 13 km south east of Adelaide, and was the first National Park to be dedicated in South Australia.  In fact it was the second National Park in Australia, after Sydney’s Royal National Park.  The park was originally known as Belair Recreation Park and was established in 1891.  It is a large park, comprising 835 hectares (2,060 acres).

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Belair NP.  Image courtesy of SA Map Viewer.

We arrived at the park at around 8.15 a.m. local time.  The gates had officially opened at 8.00 a.m. but there was nobody manning the payment booths at the park entry, and online payment was not an option at Belair, so we drove on into the park.  We headed along The Valley Road, for the Karka Picnic area.   We then drove down the appropriately named Cherry Plantation Road until we reached a locked gate and a carpark.


The drive through the park was very picturesque.  The park contains a mixture of native Australian plants and exotic plants.  Although it was quite early in the day, the park was alive with bushwalkers, cyclists, joggers, and families setting up picnic areas.

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Prior to setting up, the three of us went for a walk along the ‘RSL Walk’ which starts at the locked gate on Cherry Plantation Road.

At the start of the walk you will find a stone cairn with a memorial plaque which acknowledges….

‘In 1992, through public subscription, aided by the National Park, Mr. F.H. Snow established here, a plantation of 700 flowering trees, in memory of the fallen of World War One.’

We continued on, along the path, and walked over the wooden bridge over the creek.  We followed the path for about 1 km through some very pretty country, until we reached a clearing.  The walk is quite easy, with the gradient being easy.

It was at this point that we had reached another stone cairn with a memorial plaque which reads….

‘In 1962, this avenue of Sequoias was planted by the staff of Belair National Park, as a memorial to Australian and American Allied Forces who served in World War Two, and in Kore.  The construction of the bridge and track to this site was a joint venture by Blackwood and District RSL, National Parks and Wildlife Staff, Rotary Club of Blackwood Inc, Employ SA Youth Conservation Corps, and National Parks Heritage Committee’.

It was here that we stood back and admired the magnificent avenue of Sequoias, which are redwood coniferous trees which can be found in California and Oregon in the United States of America.

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After returning from the walk, Marija and Olivia helped me set up the station.  We positioned the fold up table and deck chair in a nice shady spot, as the sun already had a lot of bite behind it.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 70 watts, and the 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  Because it was nice and sunny, out came the solar panels to charge up the 44 amp hour power pack.

I was ready to go by 9.15 a.m. (2245 UTC) and I started calling CQ on 7.144.  I called……and called, and called CQ.  Absolutely no takers.  It looked like the HAP chart predictions were spot on.  I tuned across the 40m band and could not hear a single signal.  Fortunately Marija and Olivia had headed off for a walk so they didn’t hear me cursing and swearing.

I returned back to 7.144 and called CQ again, and this was answered by Neil VK4HNS/p at Goondiwindi on the Queensland/New South Wales border.  Neil had a nice strong 5/8 signal and he gave me a 5/7.  So there was some hope, that I would get some contacts in the log.

Following on from Neil, I was called by Mick VK3PMG in Stawell in western Victoria, with a 5/8 signal, but lots of QSB.  I was a little surprised to hear Mick, as the predictions were that propagation would not be possible from Belair to Victoria on 40m.  Mick is normally 5/9 plus to me.  But not on this occasion.  And I normally get a good signal back, but for this activation, Mick gave me a 5/5 signal report.  Peter VK3RV then called in from Melbourne, and he too was 5/8, with lots of QSB.  This was followed by Peter’s wife, Jenny VK3WQ.

I then spoke with Ron VK2AJD at Richmond Hill near Lismore in New South Wales.  Although Ron was only 5/5 and I was 5/3, we were both in man made noise free areas, so we were able to copy each other perfectly.  This was followed by a call from Mark VK2UMA (5/5 sent and 5/3 received) from near the New South Wales/Queensland border.  I continued to call CQ on 40m but sadly there were no takers, so I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed for 20m.  I was hoping that things may be a little better there.

But I was to be very disappointed.  The 20m band was even worse.  I spent about 10 minutes on 14.310 on 20m calling CQ, but sadly I did not get a single taker.  And after tuning across the entire 20m band I did not hear a single signal coming in from anywhere.  So down came the squid pole again, back in went the links, and back up went the squid pole, and back to 40m I went.

Just as I was about to call CQ, one of the park rangers drove passed and stopped to check out what we were up to.  Fortunately he was a friendly gentleman and was quite interested in what we were up to.

I decided to try my luck a little lower in the 40m band, and called CQ on 7.090.  Almost immediately I was called by Mick VK3PMG, who almost knocked me off my chair.  This time Mick was 5/9 + and he gave me a 5/9 signal report from western Victoria.  It was as if someone had turned on a switch and the 40m band had come to life.

But sadly, it was not to last!  After Mick, I had a good run of callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, & VK5.  Next in the log was Ron VK3AFW (5/9 both ways) from Melbourne, Julie VK3FOWL (5/7 sent and 5/8 received) also from Melbourne, and then Andrew VK2UH (5/9 both ways) at Yass, in New South Wales.

My next caller was also a huge surprise.  It was Bill VK5MBD at Red Hill in the Mid North of South Australia with a monster 5/9 plus signal.  Bill reciprocated with a 5/9 plus signal for me.  Next up was Brian VK3BBB who in recent times has become a regular park hunter. Brian had a nice 5/9 signal, but reported my signal being down a bit, with a 5/4 received.  I was then called by Adam VK2YK in Newcastle who had a 5/9 plus signal from Newcastle.  My signal was reaching Adam’s QTH well, with a 5/9 signal report received.  Adam had informed me that he had listened for me earlier on 7.144 and also on 20m, but he had not heard a peep out of me.  Amazing how things can change in the space of half an hour.

I then spoke with Jim VK1AT (5/7 sent and 5/6 received), Brett VK3FLCS (5/6 both ways), and Colin VK3NCC mobile at Kerang with a nice strong signal (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  Next in the log was Gerard VK2IO in Sydney, who was struggling a little with me (5/3 sent and 3/2 received).  This was followed by Mark VK5QI mobile (3/1 sent and 5/3 received).  It was a real struggle with Mark, even though the noise floor in the park was very very low.  But, we made it.

I then took a short break to stretch my legs and returned to 7.090 and called CQ again.  This time my CQ call was answered by Dieter VK3FFB in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, who was struggling with a high noise floor (5/9 sent and 5/7 received).  The band had certainly taken a few steps back in just a 15 minute period.  Dieter’s signal was affected by very severe QSB.  This was followed by Peter VK2YPU in Sydney (5/9 sent and 5/5 received), and then Bill VK4ZD between Toowoomba and Brisbane in Queensland (5/7 sent and 5/6 received).

My next contact was a real struggle.  And I’m still not sure if I got the call right.  I logged VK7HBS, but I am not sure that is accurate.   This was a very difficult QSO and despite many repeats of the call sign, I think it may be incorrect.  This was followed by Colin VK2JCC portable in Pennant Hills, trying out his brand new linked dipole (5/5 both ways).

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Andrew VK1NAM who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Stromlo, VK1/ AC-043 in the Australian Capital Territory(5/5 sent and 5/8 received).  I had received an earlier message from Andrew advising that he was going to head out to activate, so it was nice to get Andrew in the log,

I was then delighted to speak with Bruce, VK2EJU, between Newcastle and Port Macquarie in New South Wales.  Bruce told me that he was X Royal Australian Navy, so it was an extra pleasure to get Bruce in the log with the special VI5ANZAC call.  Bruce was only a 5/3, but very readable in the park.  Sadly, the band dropped out half way through out QSO.

Dianne VK4DI then called in from Gatton in Queensland (5/7 sent and 5/5 received), followed by Ray VK3NBL in Melbourne (5/7 sent and 3/3 received), and then Frank VK2BFC near Albury/Wodonga (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).

My last contact was with Tony VK1VIC who was portable on SOTA peak Tuggeranong Hill VK1/ AC-008 in the Tuggeranong Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0863 (5/7 both ways).

I left the frequency with Tony, and we packed up the gear as the morning was getting on and it was certainly heating up.

After packing up we headed down The Valley Road and found a picnic area where we enjoyed lunch.


After lunch, we took a short stroll to have a look at the Commissioner’s Shack, which was constructed in 1926, for the park blacksmith.  A short distance away is an interpretive sign for Foots Cottage, which no longer stands.  However, there are some signs of previous habitation in the area, including an old Magnolia tree.  We also briefly stopped to have a look at Old Government House, constructed in the 1850’s.

The park was alive with birdlife including Rainbow lorikeets, Eastern Rosellas, Magpies, Superb Blue wrens, and honey eaters.  There was no sign though of any kangaroos.  Way too hot for them at this time of the day.  Many of the native plants were also out in flower.

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As it was such a hot day, we headed for the kiosk in the park and had some gelati.  We then proceeded down to Playford Lake at the western end of the park.

On the way out of the park, we saw a couple looking high up into a tree with their binoculars.  We stopped, suspecting they were looking at a koala.  Sure enough, there was a female koala ‘doe’ perched in a gum tree, grasping hold of her young baby ‘joey’.

It was back home to the cool of the air conditioning for the three of us.  It was a little disappointing with the band conditions, but netherless, still a very enjoyable day out.  I had a total of 28 stations in the log, which is a lot more than I expected after my experiences in the first 5 minutes of the activation.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4HNS/p
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK3RV
  4. VK3WQ
  5. VK2AJD
  6. VK2UMA
  7. VK3AFW
  8. VK3FOWL
  9. VK2UH
  10. VK5MBD
  11. VK3BBB
  12. VK2YK
  13. VK1AT
  14. VK3FLCS
  15. VK3NCC/m
  16. VK2IO
  17. VK5QI/m
  18. VK3FFB
  19. VK2YPU
  20. VK4ZD
  21. VK7HBS
  22. VK2JCC/p
  23. VK1NAM/p (SOTA)
  24. VK2EJU
  25. VK4DI
  26. VK3NBL
  27. VK2BFC
  28. VK1VIC/p (SOTA & VKFF)

Aeronautical mobile in the log again

Yesterday (Monday 28th September 2015), I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and stumbled across Jerry PH9HB aeronautical mobile, calling CQ all on his own on 20m.  I had also been lucky enough to work Jerry about a week before, whilst he was in the cockpit of a 737 cruising over Portugal.

For more info and photos from my previous QSO with Jerry, please see my previous post at…..

This time Jerry’s signal was a little lower than last time, but my signal report of 5/7 was a lot stronger than the 4/4 I had received a week ago.


On this flight, Jerry was behind the controls of a Boeing 737-8K2 aircraft, PH-HSE, enroute to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands off the coast of western Africa, from Amsterdam in The Netherlands.  He was cruising at 37,000 feet and travelling at 474 knots.

As I did on the previous occasion I jumped onto Flight Tracker and had soon located Jerry’s flight, TRA6Y.  Jerry was out over the South Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Portugal, about 100 km south west of Lisbon.

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Flight Tracker is very interesting.  You can even get a cockpit view, which you can see below.

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I had a good 4 minute chat with Jerry, but was cognisant that there would be others that would Like Jerry in the log.

Here’s an image of all the aircraft over Europe at the time.  Amazing!

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And here is an image of all the aircraft in the sky in the world at the time.  Even more amazing!

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A great afternoon of chasing portable DX

Last Sunday (27th September 2015), I had a very enjoyable afternoon in the shack, chasing DX portable operators.  The 20m band on the long path into Europe was in excellent shape.  In fact it remained open here on the long path until around 7.00 p.m. local time, thats 0930 UTC.

My equipment is a Yaesu FT-2000, a Heil Pro 4 head set, 100 watts and a 5 element tri band yagi @ 16 metres.

My first portable station for the day was Ingo DH0KAA/p, who was portable as part of the World Castle Award.  Ingo had a good 5/5 signal coming in from Stacherburg Castle in Golzheim, Germany, which dates back to 1375.

Above:- Stacherburg Castle.  Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

Ingo was operating as part of the Worked Castles Award Program, which encourages portable operation from castles, fortresss and other fortification works around the world.  For more information on the program, please see…..

Next up was Phil, OK/ G4OBK/p, who I had seen spotted on SOTA Watch.  Phil was operating high on the 20m band and had quite a pile up from Europe, but I managed to break through and get a 5/7 signal report, with Phil being a very readable 5/4.

Phil was on top of SOTA peak, Komárí vrch, OK/ KR-013 in the Czech Republic.  The summit is 991 metres above sea level and is worth 8 SOTA points.  It is located in the Královéhradecký region of the Czech Republic, close to the border with Poland.  It is located in the reserve of the same name, Komárí vrch in the Eagle Mountains.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Komárí vrch.  Map courtesy of

Phil is currently on a SOTA tour around the Eagle Mountains in the Czech Republic.


Above:- Phil’s QSL card.  Courtesy of his page

I found a post on the SOTA refelector where Phil showed the radio gear he was taking, his clothing and shoes, and finally the packed rucksack on his back.

For more information please see…..

My third contact was another SOTA activator.  Jarek SP9MA/p.  Jarek had an excellent 5/7 signal and gave me a 5/9.  Jarek was on the top of Trojaki (Solowy Wierch) SOTA SP/ BZ-060.  The mountain is 848 metres above seal level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  The summit is located in the Beskidy Zachodnie region of Poland.


Above:- Jarek’s QSL card, courtesy of his page.

I then saw another spot on SOTA Watch for another European SOTA activator.  It was Enrico IZ3GOS/p, who was activating Monte Cauriol, SOTA I/ TN-313 in Italy.  I tuned to14.285 and I was surprised to be able to hear another DX activator, albeit that Enrico was a 5/3.  I think my neighbours were out and as such the plasma TV was not on, so the noise floor at home was very low.

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Above:- the location of the summit in Italy.  Map courtesy of wikipedia.

Monte Cauriol summit is a big mountain.  It is 2,494 metres above sea level and is worth 8 SOTA points.  It is located in the Trentino region of Italy. and is a mountain belonging to the Lagorai chain.  A cross can be located at the top of the summit.

Above:- Monte Cauriol summit.  Images courtesy of wikipedia.

My fifth portable DX contact for the day was with Zvone S57PZ/p who was portable on SOTA peak Kobilja glava, SOTA S5/JA-040 in Slovenia.  Again, Zvone was not strong, but still a good 5.3 and very readable.  He gave me a 5/8 signal report.


Above:- Zvone S57PZ, from his page.

Kobilja glava summit is 1,475 metres above sea level and is worth 6 SOTA points.  It is located in the Julijske Alpe Region of Slovenia.


Above:- Kobilja glava summit.  Image courtesy of

And my first WWFF European activator of the day was Henryk SP30OPZ/p who was activating the Rudawski Landscape Park SPFF-117 in Poland.  Henryk has been quite active the past week, out and about in parks in Poland and has great ears hearing the DX amongst the European pile up.  Henryk had a good 5/7 signal and gave me a 5/8 signal report.

The Rudawski Landscape Park was established in 1989 and is located in the southern part of Lower Silesia in south western Poland.

Above:- The Rudawski Landscape Park.  Images courtesy of

I then spoke with Dave G4AKC who was pedestrian mobile on the beach at Blackpool in England.  Dave is often heard out and about on 20m, operating either pedestrian mobile or bicycle mobile.  And as always, Dave had a great signal…5/9 plus.


Above:- Dave’s pedestrian mobile and bicycle mobile set up.  Courtesy of his page.

I then spoke with Peter who was operating the club call of GX1RCD, belonging to the Dartmoor Radio Club in England.  Dave was in a tent out in the field, operating portable and had a nice strong 5/8 signal.

Next on my list was Antonio EC2AG/p who was sitting on top of SOTA peak Longitas EA2/ BI-046 in Spain.  It was quite difficult breaking through the European pile up, but I made it and logged Antio with a 5/3 signal, and receiving a 5/8 in return.

Longitis summit is 580 metres above seal level and is worth 1 point.  It is located in the Bizkaia region of Spain.  This was the fourth activation of the summit.  As it turns out, Antonio was also the first to activate the summit back in November 2011.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Longitis summit.  Map courtesy of google maps.

And finally, I worked another European park activator.  It was the Silesian Radio amateur Group SP9YFF/2 activating the Piwnicki Nature Reserve Forest, SPFF-0661 in Poland.  We exchanged 5/5 signal reports.


So all in all, a successful day of chasing and hunting DX SOTA and parks activators.

Latest VKFF certificates

With the recent release of the Sapphire VKFF Hunter certificate and the Honour Roll certificates, and the OCCFF Hunter certificate, my email system has been running hot, sending out certificates all around Australia and the world.

Below are the certificates I’ve recently qualified for myself for the World Wide Flora Fauna program (VKFF National program).

My WWFF stats

I decided today to have a look at what countries I was working in the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  So I headed to WWFF Log Search to find the answer.

Leading from the front is Australia obviously, with a total of 249 different VKFF references.  Next up was Belgium, with 44 ONFF references.  What an appropriate number.  Most of these are due to the tireless efforts of Danny OT4V and Swa ON5SWA, who always take the time out to listen for outside of Europe.

At number three is Poland, with 25 different SPFF references in my log.  Poland seems to have a strong SPFF following, and I have found that the Polish operators also listen for outside of Europe.  This was closely followed by Italy.

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Total of 426 different WWFF reference areas in my log from 24 different countries…….

  1. Israel – 1
  2. Cyprus – 2
  3. Croatia – 4
  4. Portugal – 3
  5. Germany -13
  6. Spain – 2
  7. France -18
  8. England – 6
  9. Hungary -3
  10. Switzerland – 2
  11. Italy – 22
  12. Lithuania – 1
  13. Austria – 1
  14. Finland – 4
  15. Czech Republic – 4
  16. Belgium – 44
  17. Denmark – 4
  18. Netherlands – 5
  19. Poland – 25
  20. Greece – 2
  21. Ukraine – 2
  22. Australia – 249
  23. Romania – 6
  24. New Zealand – 1