The Bluff, VK5/ NE-065

After activating the Clinton Conservation Park, Marija and I continued north along the Augusta Highway towards our destination of Whyalla.  On the way, we got a call to say that Marija’s mum would not be out of hospital that day, so it was no longer a priority to get to Whyalla early.  So, at Crystal Brook, we deviated to the east and travelled along Main North Road through the towns of Gladstone & Laura, to the eastern side of The Bluff, VK5/ NE-065.  A spur of the moment activation.

You can’t miss The Bluff if you are travelling along the Augusta Highway, near Port Pirie.  There is a huge TV & radio tower on the top.

Access to The Bluff is via Charcoal Road which runs off Main North Road, a few kms north of Laura.  Laura is a beautiful little town.  It is famous for the being the home of Golden North ice cream.  And the famous poet, C.J. Dennis was born here.  Travel west along Charcoal Road, and then turn left into Forest Road.  This will take you up passed Taralee Orchards and the Wirrabara nursery.  This is a very picturesque setting and a great drive.  The road is dirt but is in good condition.  You will eventually reach a ‘dead end’ where you will find a parking area and the start of a bitumen road which leads to the summit.

However, there is a padlocked gate, preventing vehicles from going any further at this point.  In fact the gate has multiple padlocks on it.  I think one for each of the stakeholders who use the tower at the top.


From this point, it is about a 5 km walk to the summit.  The walk took us about 60 minutes.  We mixed it up, using the sealed road and the Heysen trail as we got up higher.  The Heysen trail walk through here is spectacular.  You will reach a point towards the top of the ridge line where there is a T junction.  It is at this point that you turn to the left and either follow the road up to the summit, or take the Heysen trail which is on the left hand side of the road.  At this T junction there are spectular views out over Port Pirie and the Spencer Gulf.


We set up the dipole on the 7m squid pole, just off the Heysen trail, down from the summit.  The tower at the top is very big, with lots of antennas for TV and radio, so I expected there would a lot of noise generated from it.  It paid off because the noise floor where I activated was very low.

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My first QSO of the day was a Summit to Summit, with Wayne, VK3WAM, who was portable on Gurdgaragwurd / D’Alton Peak, VK3/ VW-001.  Wayne had a great signal and was very strong.  After working Wayne, he kindly allowed me 7.090 and I put out a CQ call.  Many of the regular Chasers came back including Ernie VK3DET, Tony VK3CAT, Rik VK3KAN, Brian VK5FMID, and John VK5FTCT.  All had terrific signals.

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I managed to work David, VK5KC who was portable in the Red Banks Conservation Park, near Burra.  That was a new park for me for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.  David had a very strong signal and was 5/9 on the top of The Bluff.

I also spoke with Allen, VK3HRA who was portable on Mt St Leonards, VK3/ VC-006, and Darren VK3FDJT who was portable on Mount Alexander, VK3/ VN-016.  Two more summit to summit contacts was a real pleasure.

I worked a few more of the regular Chasers including Andrew VK2UH, Ron VK3AFW/mobile, Peter VK3PF, Rhett VK3GHZ, Roy VK5NRG, and John VK5BJE.

Conditions were very good on 40m.  Marija went for a quick walk along the Heysen trail, because I think she was getting bored with being my scribe.  So I took the opportunity of jumping onto 20m for a little while.  I could hear plenty of good strong DX stations, but unfortunately did not work any on this peak.

I ended up with a total of 33 QSO’s.  The majority of those were on 40m SSB, but I did sneak in 5 QSO’s into VK1, VK2, VK4, & VK7 on 20m SSB.

The following stations were worked:- Wayne, VK3WAM/p (SOTA); Ernie VK3DET; Tony VK3CAT; David VK5KC/p (Redbanks CP); VK3OHM; Dave VK3VCE; Rik VK3KAN/p; Brian VK5FMID; John VK5FTCT; Allen VK3HRA/p (SOTA); Andrew VK2UH; Ron VK3AFW/m; Peter VK3PF; James VK1DR; Warren VK3BYD; Ian VK3TCX; Mark VK1MDC; Darren VK3FDJT/p (SOTA); Rhett VK3GHZ; Jim VK5TR; Roy VK5NRG; Barry VK5KBJ; Shaun VK5FAKV; John VK5FMJC/p; Bernard VK3AMB; Colin VK2JCC/qrp; John VK5BJE; David VK5UG; Mark VK1MDC; Peter VK4AAV; Neil VK4HNS/p; Ed VK2JI; and Peter VK7KPC.

Below is a video of the activation, which I have placed on You Tube.

Clinton Conservation Park

On Sunday morning, 9th June, 2013, my wife Marija and I headed up to Whyalla, which is about 400 kms north of our home in the Adelaide Hills.  Our plan was to stay there a week and catch up with family and friends in both Whyalla and down in Port Lincoln at the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula.  Marija’s mum, & Marija’s brother and his family live in Whyalla, which is a big mining city (iron ore).  Marija’s mum was recovering from knee replacement surgery, so whilst Marija was looking after her during the day, I got permission to go out and play radio during the day.

The first radio stop of the trip was the Clinton Conservation Park.  The park follows the coastline at the top of Gulf St Vincent.  The park commences near the town of Port Wakefield which is about 100 kms north of Adelaide and follows the gulf around in a boomerang shape to the little town of Port Clinton on the Yorke Peninsula.  It was gazetted back in 1972.


We had a bit of difficulty accessing the park near Port Wakefield, so we “drove around the corner” onto the Copper Coast Highway, and then onto the Yorke Highway and accessed the park from here, on the western side of the gulf.  We followed a short dirt track down off the Copper Coast Highway, but could not get down to the water’s edge due to a no entry sign.


There’s not a huge amount to see here, if you are not into low coastal shrub and saltbush.  There are large areas of swampy, marshy ground, and tidal mud flats, which support  a large variety of birdlife.  The park is large and covers an area of about 1,900 hectares.  The nearby Wakefield River flows out into the gulf here which provides a haven for migratory wading birds and acts as a fish nursery.

We did spot an Australian Kestrel in a nearby tree, very close to a nest.  He/she kept soaring around us and keeping a watchful eye.

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The goat was bleating on my i-phone from the SOTA Goat application, so with the help of Marija I quickly set up the gear and my 1st QSO was with Andy VK5LA who was operating portable from the top of Mount Lofty, VK5/ SE-005.  Andy had a terrific strong signal.  Mount Lofty is located only about 20 kms west of my home qth.  This was Andy’s first ever SOTA activation.  Congratulations Andy.

I then moved up the band a bit and called CQ, and a few of the regular ‘Hunters’ came back to me including John VK5BJE, Bill VK5MBD, Brian VK5FMID, and Andrew VK2UH.

I then went chasing some of the SOTA fellas again, as the goat kept bleating on my i-phone, and I worked Allen VK3HRA/p on Mount Mitchell VK3/ VN-012, and Marshall VK3MRG/p on Mount Dom Dom VK3/ VN-017,  just before the UTC rollover.

Then on the new UTC day, I spoke again with Marshall, and Andy.  Also managed to speak with Ron VK3AFW/p who was on the top of Mount Burr VK5/ SE-019, in the south east of South Australia, and also Rick VK3KAN/p who was on the top of Mount Bogong VK3/ VE-001.

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I then worked a few more of the regular Park ‘Hunters’ including Roy VK5NRG, and Ernie VK3DET.

From where we set up I could clearly see South Hummocks, VK5/ SE-017, to the north of me.  I have operated previously from the top of that summit, and there are great views of the Gulf St Vincent and the Yorke Peninsula from the top.


Conditions on 40m seemed quite good both locally in VK5, and into the eastern states.  I ended up with a total of 19 QSO’s which included 7 SOTA contacts, which edged me ever closer to ‘Shack Sloth’.  But it was time to pack up and head off to Whyalla.

Stations worked were:- Andy VK5LA/p (SOTA – Mount Lofty); John VK5BJE; Peter VK2TQ; Bill VK5MRD; Brian VK5FMID; David VK5UG; Rick VK4KRX/p; Andrew VK2UH; Peter VK5KX; Allen VK3HRA/p (SOTA – VK3/VN-012); Marshall VK3MRG/p; Chris VK5LTD/p; Roy VK5NRG; Ernie VK3DET; John VK5EMI; Ron VK3AFW/p; and Rick VK3KAN/p.