I received my Super Sloth certificate the other day via email for obtaining 10,000 chaser points in the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
Many thanks to all of the SOTA activators.
I received my Super Sloth certificate the other day via email for obtaining 10,000 chaser points in the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
Many thanks to all of the SOTA activators.
The Remembrance Day (RD) Contest commemorates those amateur radio operators who made the supreme sacrifice and died during World War Two. The contest is designed to encourage friendly participation and help improve operating skills of participants. The RD Contest is held on the weekend closest to the 15th August, the date on which hostilities ceased in the southwest Pacific area. This year the RD Contest took place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August 2016 and I took part, operating portable from the Totness Recreation Park, VKFF-1754. The aim of the RD is for amateurs in Australia (VK), New Zealand (ZL) and Papua New Guinea (P2) to contact other amateurs in VK, ZL and P2.
The RD Contest is one of a handful of Contests that I go in each year. I did read some derogatory comments on Facebook regarding contests leading up to the RD. But for me, this is one of the amazing things about amateur radio, in that there as so many different incredible facets. And what floats one persons boat, may not necessarily turn on the next.
Totness was recently added to the Directory for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and I activated the park for the very first time on Wednesday 3rd August 2016, just a week or so ago. For more information on the park, and that particular activation, please see my previous post……
Above:- Map showing the location of the Totness Recreation Park in the Adelaide Hills near Mount Barker. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
Although my noise floor at home on 40m is pretty good compared to some of my amateur friends, I decided to operate from the park as I was assured that there would be no man made noise at all. A dead quite band is fantastic. My noise floor at home during the day on 40m is around S5. I suffer quite a bit from plasma TV noise, inverters, etc. But from parks and summits it is ‘ham heaven’, generally with ZERO noise. You can hear a pin drop on the bands.
Above:- Aerial shot showing the location of my home QTH with respect to the Totness Recreation Park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
I headed to the same spot as I had operated from previously. This is off Haines Fire Track. Due to the recent heavy rains, there is a lot of water on the track and plenty of very big potholes. So if you are planning on heading there soon in a conventional vehicle, I suggest slow going. There is a nice cleared area between the boundary fence and the scrubline, and plenty of room to string out a number of antennas. And a good spot to park your vehicle. My wife Marija kindly drove up with me in her vehicle, a little Mitsubish Lancer, and I’m sure I could hear Marija cursing and swearing from behind me, re the road conditions.
For a few years now I’ve been using a little app called ‘treksafe‘. Using GPS and mobile phone coverage, it allows you to provide a line of communication with friends and family on your location. Not that I needed to use it this time, as Marija knew exactly where I was. But I highly recommend that you have a look at this great little app.
Marija helped me to set up and I was all ready to go by 0200 UTC (11.30 a.m. South Australian local time). For the RD I ran my Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80 linked dipole which I supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole from Haverfords. I tied one end of the dipole off to the boundary fenceline and used a fallen limb from a tree to secure the other leg in place.
It was not a particularly nice day weather wise, with just small pieces of blue sky and quite a low temperature. Netherless, we also set up the solar panels, hoping for a bit of sunshine to top up the 44 amp hour power pack.
I took my Apple Mac laptop out into the field for the first time in a very long time and used VK Contest Logger (VKCL) for the RD. I normally run a paper log out in the field and when I get home I use Fast Log Entry (FLE) to rapidly create an ADIF file which I then upload to my electronic log (Maclogger DX) and also to WWFF Logsearch. But by running VKCL I was able to see what stations I had and hadn’t worked in the 3 hour brackets of the contest.
I’ve been asked a few times how I secure the squid pole. Well, it depends on the activation. If I’m activating a SOTA summit where I have to climb or a park where I have to walk in, along the Heysen Trail for example, I secure it in any way I can. Octopus straps are an amateurs friend. I carry quite a few of these, of various sizes. The squiddy gets attached to a tree, a rock, a stump, whatever I can find. But if I activate an easy summit or park, I use a squid pole holder and sit the squid pole in that, and hold it in place with an octopus strap.
Above:- Aerial shot showing my operating spot in the north western corner of the Totness Recreation Park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Totness is a beautiful little park with very thick scrub. The wattle was blooming, and there were quite a few Western Grey kangaroos grazing in the paddock on the western side of the park. As I’ve mentioned, some more interesting history on the park can be found on my previous post.
As I had a bit of time up my sleeve, I walked along one of the tracks in the park to take some photos. You can get some nice views out through the trees towards Mount Barker and Littlehampton. Until you reach this point, you would never know that you were so close to a built up area.
I then returned to my station set up an listened to the RD Contest opening address. I also worked Rob VK4AAC/3 who was portable in the Nooramunga Coastal Park VKFF-0748.
At 0300 UTC it was all go for the RD. My first contact in the RD was on 40m with Peter VK5KX who had a booming signal. This was a good sign as recent close in propagation has been very spasmodic. Next up was Gerard VK2IO/p who was portable in the Maroota Ridge State Conservation Area VKFF-1348. It was nice to get a Park to Park (P2P) contact. I also worked Marcus VK5WTF/p P2P. Marcus was portable in the Red Banks Conservation Park VKFF-1086.
I worked a total of 45 stations in around one hour, from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7 on 40m and then headed off to 20m. I must say that despite conditions being very good, it was relatively slow going on 40m. As I was in the contest, I did not self spot on parksnpeaks, as this is directly linked to the DX Cluster, and this would be in violation of WIA General Rules for contests.
My first contact on 20m was with Martin VK7GN in Tasmania, followed by Dianne VK4HH and the VK4TS team in Queensland. All had booming signals. I made a total of 40 contacts on 20m into VK2, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8. I also logged including Owen ZL2GLG, Andrew ZL3CC, Mike ZL1MRC. They were all booming in from across the Tasman. Sadly, they were to be my only New Zealand stations for the whole contest. And I didn’t work any stations from Papua New Guinea (P29).
My one VK5 contact on 20m was with Geoff VK5HEL at Murray Bridge, about 40 km to the east of me. I was really surprised to hear Geoff with such a lovely signal (a genuine 5/9). It was also nice to log Heath VK3TWO/VK6 who was on Barrow Island, OC-140. Barrow Island is about 50 km northwest off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia.
I then headed back to 40m where I worked a further 103 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. This included some more Park to Park action with Ray VK2HJW/p portable in the Royal National Park VKFF-0435, Mark VK5MK in the Yumbarra Conservation Park VKFF-1129, and Marcus VK5WTF/p (love that call sign) in the Red Banks Conservation Park VKFF-1086.
When things slowed down I tuned around the 40m and found that the Europeans were coming in extremely well. In fact they were the strongest on 40m that I had heard in a while. There were around 6 European stations on 40m who were S8-S9. The strongest was EA1DLU from Spain who was 5/9 plus. I tried to break through the USA/South American/VK pile up to work him but was unsuccessful.
I then found Rob VK4FFAB/p on 7.195 calling CQ from Bunyaville Conservation Park VKFF-1493 (5/3 R and 5/7 S).
It was down with the squid pole and in with the links on the dipole for 80 metres. It was around 0845 UTC (6.15 p.m. local time) and it was now dark, so I expected 80m would be humming along nicely. And it certainly was. I made a total of 199 QSOS into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8. I just needed a VK9 and a VK0 to round it off, but that wasn’t to happen. I also scored a few more Park to Park contacts with Marcus VK5WTF in the Red Banks Conservation Park and Gerard VK2IO in the Maroota Ridge State Conservation Area VKFF-1348.
My last contact for Saturday was with John VK5PO at 1218 UTC (9.48 p.m. South Australian local time). It was now absolutely freezing and I was starving, so it was home for me. Tea that night was from ‘the Golden Arches’ (McDonalds).
On Sunday morning (14th August) I got up around 8.30 a.m. and with the help of Marija, packed the 4WD again, and headed back out to Totness. It was another chilly morning, with the temperature being around 5 degrees C. I was set up and on air by just after 2330 UTC (9.00 a.m. local time). My first contact was with Gerald VK2HBG. I scoured around the band and worked a few stations before propping on a frequency and calling CQ contest. It was very slow going. I made a total of 40 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5. This included P2P contacts with Gerard VK2IO/p, Ray VK2HJW/p and Marcus VK5WTF/p again. Marcus was about 5/5 to me and I was 5/5 to him, and we decided to give 80m a go to see if our signals came up. Before QSYing, Hauke VK1HW came up and put me in the log, before I headed off to 80m.
I met Marcus on 3.600 and sure enough signals were dramatically improved. Marcus was running QRP and was 5/9, and he gave me a 5/9 plus. Marcus advised that he had been listening on 20m and it was open to VK2, VK4 and VK7. After chatting with Marcus, I called CQ on 3.605 for around 5 minutes but had no takers, so based on the comments from Marcus I headed off to 20m. My first contact there was with Dianne VK4HH, followed by Paul VK2KTT and then Dave VK4DA, all with excellent signals. I made a total of 13 contacts on 20m into VK2, VK4, and VK6.
I then moved back to 40m where I made a total of 62 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. This included a QSO with Peter VK3YE who was pedestrian mobile in ankle deep water, Keener than me! My last QSO for the RD was with Erik VK7EK.
So for the 2016 RD Contest I ended up with a total of 426 contacts. These contacts were made on the 20, 40 and 80m bands on SSB.
A breakdown of the bands I used and the number of QSOs on each of those is as follows:-
As you can see, most of the activity for me during the RD was on the 40m band (as expected). But 80m also provided some excellent conditions and a lot of contacts across Australia at night (and locally in the middle of the day).
Below is a chart from VKCL showing my activity during the contest. A lot of activity for the first 8-9 hours of the contest before I went QRT for some shut eye. And then another 3 hours at the end of the contest on Sunday morning.
And here is a chart showing my activity on the 40m band. Activity for me on 40m was between 0300-0400 and 0520-0830 on Saturday. And then on Sunday morning between 2330-0015 and 0055-0300 UTC.
And my activity on the 20m band. Activity for me on 20m was between 0400-0515 UTC on Saturday. And then on Sunday morning between 0030 – 0055 UTC.
And finally my activity on the 80m band. Activity for me on 80m was between 0845-1215 UTC on Saturday. And then just the one QSO on Sunday morning.
I did receive a handful of calls from amateurs who clearly had not read the rules of the contest and gave me a sequential serial number, and some no numbers at all……they just wanted a chat. It always pays to read the rules. I also heard this happening to some other amateurs, with patience lost by some of those.
On Sunday morning I called a few stations who were 5/9 to me, but sadly they could not hear me as they were suffering from high noise levels. It’s a real shame that a few more amateurs didn’t give portable operation a go. It is an amazing experience to be able to work stations who are only just operating with milliwatts and hand out a 5/1 signal report but have an ‘armchair’ QSO.
The RD is a great contest which I can highly recommend. And it is truly for a very very worthy cause.
At the end of the contest I put out a few calls on 7.144 and worked a handful of stations including Rob VK4AAC/3 who was portable in the Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539. I then headed to 20m where I worked 6 stations including Albert S58AL from Slovenia.
I then packed up and headed home for some lunch and an afternoon of watching the Olympics and the AFL on TV.
WIA, 2016, <http://www.wia.org.au/members/contests/rdcontest/>, viewed 14th August 2016
After getting home from Black Bullock Hill, Marija and I enjoyed some lunch, and as it was such a beautiful sunny day I decided to head out to activate a brand new park, the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve, VKFF-1701. This reference is not to be confused with the nearby Cox Scrub Conservation Park! The reserve was one of a number of recent additions to the VKFF list for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. This was to be the very first time it had been activated.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south east of Adelaide. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
I drove down to Strathalbyn and along the way I worked John VK5BJE who was operating portable in the Bullock Hill Conservation Park, 5CP-265 and VKFF-0873. Close in propagation has recently been very poor, so I was surprised to hear John coming in so well. Although not strong, he was a perfect 5/2 into my mobile, about 35 km away. I stopped briefly just outside of Strathalbyn to enjoy some views of the town and the surrounding countryside and down to Lake Alexandrina.
I then got mobile again and listened in to John working a number of stations on 40m. As I grew ever so closer to John his signal became stronger and stronger, until John was 5/9 plus.
After leaving the Ashbourne Road West, I turned left to head south on Bull Creek Road, passing through the little town of Ashbourne and the Green Man Inn. I continued south on Bull Creek Road, passing the Cox Scrub Conservation Park on my right. As I reached the south eastern corner of the Conservation Park, the north western corner of the Conservation Reserve soon came into view on my left.
I entered the park via a dirt track on the eastern side of Bull Creek Road. There are no signs for the park, so make sure you’ve done your homework on where the park is located prior to leaving home. A few of the tracks in the park were not passable due to fallen trees and limbs, a result of the recent terrible weather that some parts of South Australia had experienced during July.
I set up in a clearing alongside one of the tracks. I used the Yaesu FT-857d, set on 40 watts output and the 20m/40m/80m linked dipole sitting on the top of the 7m heavy duty squid pole. I tied the ends of the dipole off to some of the gum trees so the legs were about 3 feet off the ground.
Above:- Aerial shot of the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve showing my operating spot near the southern part of the park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
I have been unable to find much information on the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve on the internet. It is much smaller in size to its neighbouring Conservation Park brother which is about 544 hectares in size. Many of the native plants in the park were in flower during my visit.
After setting up I quickly went to 7.110 and worked John VK5BJE in the Bullock Hill Conservation Park. John was booming in. Not unexpecting, considering he was just 3-4 km to my north east.
Here is a link to John’s WordPress site and some info on his activation….
I then headed up the band to 7.144 where I commenced calling CQ, which was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA. This was followed by Tony VK3CAT who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Dom Dom VK3/ VN-017 with a good 5/5 signal. About 12 QSOs later I was called by Gerard VK2IO who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Palerang VK2/ ST-009 which was located within the Tallaganda State Conservation Reserve VKFF-1375. A bonus, a SOTA contact and my second Park to Park from the Reserve. Despite band conditions being quite good, callers were spasmodic, so after working a total of 18 stations on 40m, I headed off to 14.310 on 20m.
I commenced calling CQ and Peter VK6RZ came back to my call with a beautiful 5/8 signal. This was followed by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA and then Jonathan VK6JON mobile 7. I worked a further 7 stations on 20m, including another Park to Park, this time with Phil VK6ADF who was activating the Green Mount National Park VKFF-0218. Despite the fact that Phil was running just 2.5 watts from a Yaesu FT-817nd I was able to hear him perfectly (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).
I then headed back to 7.144 and worked a total of 6 stations until I had to QSY. I was being hammered by New Zealand and VK stations working Mark AF6TC who had come up on 7.145, just above me. So it was down to 7.144 where I continued to work the mini pile up which had ensued. But it wasn’t long and I was experiencing QRM again. mark had followed me down the band and was just 1 kc above me again. I QSY’d again but this wasn’t before I worked a total of 17 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. This included three further Park to Park contacts with Matt VK5ZM and Garry VK5FGRY who were both portable in the Morialta Conservation Park 5CP-142 and VKFF-1783, andd then Phil VK6ADF in the Green Mount National Park VKFF-0218.
I headed down to 7.120 and worked a further 7 stations from VK1, VK3, VK4 and New Zealand, before heading off to 80. The sun was starting to set and it was getting quite cool in the park. I headed to 3.610 but that was occupied by some very strong ZL’s so I headed up to 3.620 where I called CQ. First station in the log on 80m was Mick VK3GGG, followed by Peter VK3HSB and Peter VK5PL. I worked a total of 14 stations on 80m from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5.
It was time to head for home. I had a total of 73 contacts in the log and a new park to add to my Activator list.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
On Sunday 7th August 2016, the ACT Summits on the Air (SOTA) enthusiasts held their annual VK1 SOTA Winter QSO Party. My wife Marija VK5FMAZ and I headed down the Fleurieu Peninsula to the little one point summit of Black Bullock Hill VK5/ SE-016 to take part in the event. The summit is situated about 100 km south of Adelaide.
Above:- Map showing the location of Black Bullock Hill. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
The summit is around a 90 km drive from our home and took Marija and I through the little Adelaide Hills towns of Echunga and Meadows and then on to Willunga. From there we travelled to Myponga and then Yankalilla and Normanville. The impressive cliffs at Lady Bay soon came into view. I must check the topography to see if any qualify for SOTA as they certainly do tower above the ocean. Lady Bay is home to the Links Lady Bay Resort, and a gold course that was designed by golfing identifies, Jack Newton, Graeme Grant, and the late John Spencer.
We stopped briefly for a stretch of our legs and to view the HMAS Hobart (D 39) interpretive sign at Lady Bay. The HMAS Hobart (D 39) was a Perth class guided missile destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy, built in the USA. She was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1965. She was gifted to the South Australian government in August 2000 and she was sunk as a dive wreck in November 2002. The wreck site is officially known as the Fleurieu Artificial Reef.
We continued on through the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula to the little town of Delamere, where we turned on to Range Road, and travelled for a few km until turning onto Dog Trap Road. Along the way we called the owner of the land just to confirm that we could access the property. You can activate the summit from the roadway as you are well and truly within the activation zone, but I have previously operated from the trig point which is located just off the road on private property. Peter, the land owner kindly allowed us access.
Black Bullock Hill is a very easy summit to reach. In fact it is a strange summit in that climbing is not required, and it is a summit for SOTA due to it being the highest point on this part of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is situated near the intersection of Dog Trap Road, Three Bridges Road and Tent Rock Road. The summit is 365 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.
Many years ago I suspected that the summit was probably named after a black bullock. But I enquiried with the Yankalilla and District Historical Society and confirmed that the summit’s name actually comes from a plant, not an animal, as some of us presumed. And that plant is ‘bull-oak’ Allocasuarina Luchnannii, which is part of the Casuarinaceae family. The plant is also sometimes referred to as ‘buloke’. It is reputed to the the hardest wood in the world, with a Janka Hardness of 5,060 lbf. The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear.
Above:- Aerial showing the location of the summit, just on the eastern side of Tent Rock Road. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
The first thing that Marija and I noticed was that the trig point was lying on its side. No doubt as a result of the terrible weather that many parts of South Australia had experienced during July.
We decided to set up from the side of the road, as the fence to Peter’s property is electrified and I wasn’t feeling in a particularly energetic mood to scale fences. Marija also had a previous unpleasant experience with an electric fence, so we took the easier option. The surrounding countryside was lush green and despite it not being a summit in the true sense of the word, there are some great views of the surrounding Fleurieu Peninsula. The Fleurieu was named after Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, the French explorer and hydrographer, by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin, as he explored the south coast of Australia in 1802.
The views include some sensational views across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island which is Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island. I’ll be there in a few weeks time for the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW). The Backstairs Passage is the strait between the South Australian mainland and Kangaroo Island. It was named by Matthew Flinders whilst he and his crew on HMS Investigator were exploring and mapping the South Australian coastline in 1802.
For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m/80m linked dipole supported by the 7 metre heavy duty squid pole. There was a small wooden post near the fenceline which I used to secure the squid pole with the assistance of an octopus strap.
We were at Black Bullock Hill and all set up to go by around 2320 UTC (8.50 a.m. South Australian local time) so there was plenty of time to work some SOTA chasers on either side of the UTC rollover. It was a pretty brosk morning, with the temperature being about 4 degrees C. The wind was blowing in off the nearby South Ocean. Prior to calling CQ I had a quick tune across the band and came across Paul VK3HN on SOTA peak Mount St Leonards VK3/ VC-006 working Paul VK2HV. So Paul became my first contact for the morning with a nice 5/9 signal.
I then headed to 7.090 and commenced calling CQ and this was answered by Dave VK2JDS mobile, followed by two more S2S contacts with Tony VK7LTD and Angela VK7FAMP who were both portable on Mount Phipps, VK7/ SC-027 (5/5 both ways). Marija also jumped on the mic at this stage and logged the two S2S contacts with Angela and Tony.
The band was completely devoid of man made noise at Black Bullock Hill, and there was only a slight frying pan noise on the band, along with a little bit of Indonesian or Malaysian QRM. Signals were quite good into the eastern States but it was clear that close in propagation was no existant.
Marija and I had a slow but steady flow of callers from the eastern States including a number of S2S contacts. We shared the mic until Marija had 9 contacts in the log and then started waving her arms at me when I tried to hand the mic to her. She had qualified the summit and had endured the cold for long enough and was heading back to the vehicle.
I worked 25 stations on 40m before the UTC rollover from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK7 and VK8, including 15 S2S contacts. And I worked a further 19 stations on 40m after the UTC rollover. I then moved to 14.310 on 20m and worked 6 stations. First taker there was Fred VK4FE. What was really pleasing about 20m was I logged three New Zealand S2S contacts. Two of those with Wynne ZL2ATH and Warren ZL2AJ were a bit of a struggle, with signals quite low. But Kyle ZL2KGF was an excellent 5/5 signal. This was Kyle’s first ever SOTA activation and he was also in ZLFF-0003 which was a bonus. See the photos below to see the view that Kyle was enjoying. My S2S contact with Wynne ZL2ATH over a distance of 3227km made it Wynne’s longest S2S so far. Not bad considering that Wynne was running a Yaesu FT-817 and just 5 watts.
Above:- ZL1/ TN-006. Courtesy of ZL2KGF
I then moved back to 40m and worked a further 10 stations, but callers were few and far between, so it was off to 80m. I thought it might have been a little too late in the day, but I was surprised to log a total of 6 stations on 80m including a S2S contact with Ian VK5CZ on The Dutchmans Stern VK5/ NE-028, about 450 km to the north of my location. I couldn’t believe it when Ian came back to me. We both exchanged 4/1 signal reports.
I worked the following Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts prior to the UTC rollover……
And the following Summit to Summit contacts after the UTC rollover…..
It was time to pack up, as it was approaching midday. I had a total of 65 contacts in the log, including 35 Summit to Summit contacts (113 S2S points). Marija had also qualified the summit with a total of 9 contacts and 8 Summit to Summit contacts (19 S2S points). It had been a very enjoyable morning. Thanks to Andrew VK1AD for organising the event.
I worked the following stations:-
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleurieu_Peninsula>, viewed 9th August 2016
Ian VK5CZ has finalised the results for the 2016 Freeze your Butt Off (FYBO) Contest. The FYBO Contest was held on 26th June 2016. I won the FYBO section after making a total of 151 QSOs with a score of 22,550 points, whilst operating from the Ettrick Conservation Park.
I have designed some certificates for Ian for the contest.
Nev VK5WG was the winner of the home section.
Another fine day here (Friday 5th August 2016) in the Adelaide Hills and I was sick of going through emails, so it was in the 4WD and down to the Tolderol Game Reserve, VKFF-1752 for me. Tolderol has just been added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was to be a unique park activation.
Tolderol is situated about 80 km south east of Adelaide, and about 11 km south east of Langhorne Creek. The park is around 45 km south east of my home qth.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Tolderol Game Reserve with respect to my home QTH, the Murray Mouth, and The Coorong. Image courtesy of protected planet.
Tolderol which is located on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, was proclaimed in 1970 as an experimental area for growing of a variety of waterfowl food crops, in particular three-cornered bulrush. The total area of the park is around 428 hectares. A total of 226 hectares was proclaimed in 1870, with an additional 202 hectares added on 10th January 1980.
The Ngarrindjeri aboriginals are the traditional people of the area. The Ngarrindjeri name for Tolderol is Thultharrung (pronounced Thul-thar-rung).
The area is a mecca for bird watchers. it is reputed that Tolderol and the adjoining Boggy Lake are some of the best waterbird observation locations in South Australia. Just some of the species to be found here include Black Swan, Pacific Black Duck, Whiskered Tern, Straw-necked Ibis, Spur-winged Polver, Golden-headed Cisticola, and Australian Reed Warbler. Sadly, duck shooting is permitted in the park during restricted open seasons.
I headed out of Mount Barker along Wellington Road, and into the little town of Woodchester and the Bletchley. As I came down from the hills, there were some nice views out towards the park and Langhorne Creek. I also made contact from the mobile with Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158 (5/7 both ways).
I continued on to Langhorne Creek, passing through this famous wine growing region which has w wine history dating back to 1850. Langhorne Creek is traditionally a red wine growing district and is well known for production of outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. In fact these two red wine grape varieties constitute about 70% of the total vineyard plantings in the Langhorne Creek region. One of the big wineries that you pass is Bleasdale Wines which was established in April 1850 by Frank Potts. I have enjoyed many a bottle of Bleasdale over the years.
After leaving Langhorne Creek I drove out along the Langhorne Creek Road towards Wellington. I turned right onto Dog Lake Road. There is a sign here indicating Tolderol.
I soon reached the first of 2 gates on Dog Lake Road. The gate is unlocked, but please leave the gate as you find it.
I continued on a further few km until I reached a Y junction. There is a sign here indicating that Tolderol is to the left. A little further on and I reached the second gate. Again, the gate is not locked, but please leave it as you find it.
There is a park sign just inside the second gate and a little further on there are some interpretive/information signs.
It didn’t take long for me to start spotting a lot of birdlife in the park. That included Intermediate Egrets, Yellow Billed Spoonbills, and lots of Welcome Swallows.
I continued along a small track and caught my first glimpse of Lake Alexandrina from Tolderol. Lake Alexandrina is a freshwater lake which was named after Princess Alexandrina, the niece and successor of King William IV of Great Britain and Ireland. When the princess ascended the throne and took the name Queen Victoria there was some talk of changing the name of the lake to Lake Victoria, but the idea was dropped.
I set up in a cleared area about 20 feet away from the edge of the lake. The area is infested with Tiger snakes, so I made as much noise as I could. Prior to heading to Tolderol I head read on a number of websites that these snakes can even be seen in Tolderol on cool days. Tiger snakes are a venomous snake with symptoms of a bite including localised pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness, and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. The untreated mortality rate from a Tiger snake bite is reported to be between 40 and 60%. They are a protected species, and you can incur a fine up to $7,500 for killing or injuring a Tiger snake, as well as the potential of up to 18 months imprisonment.
There was plenty of room to stretch out the 20m/40m/80m linked dipole which I supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole. As there were no trees, the ends of the dipole were very low to the ground (about 1 foot off the ground). I used some tent pegs to secure the legs into the ground. There was even a concrete table and benches at this location, although the concrete was a bit cold on the backside. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and 40 watts for this activation, and powered the radio with the 44 amp hour power pack.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park. Image courtesy of protected planet.
I was ready to go by around 0400 UTC (1.30 p.m. South Australian local time). After setting up I headed to 7.144 on 40m and asked if the frequency was in use. This was answered by Dennis VK2HHA in Albury who had been waiting on the frequency for me. Dennis was a beautiful 5/9 plus signal and was the first in my log from Tolderol. I was then called by Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158 who was also 5/9. I was very pleased to get the Park to Park contact with Rob. Next up was Roscoe VK3KRH who almost lifted the transceiver off the table with a very strong signal as wlways.
Despite it being a weekday I was very pleased to have a good flow of callers from all across Australia including VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. Signals were quite good, but local propagation was nowhere near as good as when I was out portable on Wednesday in the Totness Recreation Park. In the first hour at Tolderol I only worked two South Australian stations. They being Les VK5KLV, and John VK5BJE. Les VK5KLV is at Port Augusta about 400 km to the north of Tolderol and was 5/8 (3/6 received). Normally Les and I hear each 5/9 both ways. John VK5BJE is located at Scott Creek, about 55 km north west of Tolderol. John was only a 5/3 and gave me a 5/1, but as we both had no man made noise, we were able to hear each other perfectly.
The band did open up to the South East of South Australia (about 400 km south east of Tolderol) at around 0530 UTC when I was able to make contact with Brian VK5FMID. Tom VK5EE, Col VK5HCF, and Robin VK5TN, all in Mount Gambier. All had 5/9 signals.
I was pleased to be able to get a further 3 Park to Park (P2P) contacts from Tolderol after working Rob VK4AAC/3. The first was with Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Main Range National Park VKFF-0300 (5/3 sent and 5/5 received). The next P2P was with Brett VK2VW in the Kwiambal National Park VKFF-0274 (5/5 sent and 5/8 received), and finally a nice P2P with David VK5PL in the Para Wirra Recreation Park VKFF-1739. My contact with David was quite a challenge but we did manage to exchange signal reports.
Band conditions on 40m to Western Australia were a real surprise, especially considering the time of the day. I made contact with Mike VK6MB (5/7 sent and 4/5 received), Peter VK6APZ (5/9 both ways), Craig VK6VCK mobile at Leeman around 270 km north of Perth (5/3 sent and 5/1 received), and Jarred VK6FFAR who was operating portable on the beach with 10 watts (3/4 sent and 5/1 received).
I logged a handful of QRP operators including Peter VK3PF running 5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), Ron VK3MRH running 8 watts (5/9 both ways), and Chris VK3PAT mobile running 5 watts (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).
Mobile signals were also very good with the following movile stations logged on 40m: Jonathan VK6JON/7, Brett VK2VW, Chris VK3PAT, Craig VK6VCK, Ian VK3IAN, and David VK3GP.
The strongest signal of the afternoon on 40m was Ron VK3IO at Cockatoo, who was 5/9 plus plus. Closely followed by Roscoe VK3KRH.
After working a total of 57 stations on 40m I headed over to 14.310 on 20m and asked if the frequency was in use. This was answered by Phil VK6ADF mobile who told me he had been waiting for me as my signal was a little too weak on 40m for him to work me. This was followed by a contact with Paul VK2KTT. Sadly, these were my only 2 contacts on 20m. Phil had kindly posted me on Facebook and advised me that Danny ON4T in Belgium had posted that there was no propagation to Europe. I tuned across the 20m band and the only signal I could hear was John EA7BA on 14.156 who was very weak.
Whilst operating during the afternoon I had a constant stream of waterbirds flying overhead.
I then moved to 3.610 on 80m where I worked Greg VK5GJ at Meadows. Greg advised that my audio was intermittent so I checked the battery voltage and that appeared okay, although the VSWR was up a little high. I checked all the connections and they appeared all good, so I lowered the squid pole and adjusted the 4 links in the dipole. I went back to Greg and thankfully he advised that my audio was now 100%. Signals on 80m were excellent and I logged Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Nev VK5WG, John VK5BJE, Peter VK2NEO, and Col VK5HCF.
It was starting to get a bit late in the afternoon so I started to pull down the antenna when I heard Tony VK5MRT calling me on 80m. I had some of the links out and the antenna was lying on the ground, so it was a quick effort to re-erect the antenna. Once back up I gave Tony a call and fortunately he was still there and made the log (just). I was then called by Brian Vk3BBB, and Don VK3MCK before I went QRT.
At the end of the activation I went for a bit of a drive through the labyrinth of tracks through the park. I encountered a number of local kangaroos.
I was very happy, with a total of 71 contacts in the log and a unique park activated. Driving back home through Langhorne Creek I enjoyed a beautitful sunset.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langhorne_Creek,_South_Australia>, viewed 6th August 2016
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Alexandrina_(South_Australia)>, viewed 6th August 2016
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_snake>, viewed 6th August 2016