Mount Gawler summit, VK5/SE-013

On the way home (Sunday 27th April, 2014) from my Dad’s place where we had a very enjoyable lunch, my wife Marija and I detoured to Mount Gawler, VK5/ SE-013.  It was not a big change in our route home.  In fact we were driving straight passed Mount Gawler Road on our way to Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills.  Although I had activated the summit back in January, which meant there were no further activator points for me, it was such a lovely afternoon, that I decided to activate the summit again.  The temperature was about 21 deg C and bright sunshine and it was great afternoon to be outdoors playing radio.

Mount Gawler summit is located on private property, although Mount Gawler Road is well and truly within the activation zone.  When I pulled up I found the gates open to the land owner’s property, so I gave Noel a phone call, and he was only too happy for me to come onto his land and operate underneath the trig point.  So Marija and I parked the car down the road, and we walked back into the activation zone, and set up right underneath the trig point.

Because this was an easy activation, and I had a willing helper (well maybe not all that willing) I carried up the Yaesu FT450 and the 44 amp hour power pack with the intention of running 40 watts.  My antenna was the trusty 40m/20m linked dipole.

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On the way to the summit I had heard John VK5BJE who was portable in the Mitchell River National Park.  I hedged my bets that John would not be moving in a hurry, so I didn’t give him a call from the car.  So after setting up at the summit, I tuned the radio to 7.095 and there was John with a beautiful 5/8 signal.  And this was a new park for me for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).  This was my 42nd Victorian park, leaving me just 3 parks to hunt down, to have worked all 45 Victorian National Parks for the KRMNPA.

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After speaking with John, I then moved up to 7.105 and started calling CQ.  My second contact was with Ron VK5FRHB at Mannum who had a massive signal (40/9).  Tim VK5AV followed and then Bob VK5FBAA who was mobile.

A number of QRP stations called in during the activation, which included Peter VK3PF, Col VK5HCF, Rhett VK3GHZ who was portable in the Wilsons Promontory National Park, David VK5NQP who was portable in the Sandy Creek Conservation Park, Andrew VK2UH running just 2 watts, Gerard VK2IO, Andrew VK2FAJG running 2 watts, and Roy VK5NRG.  The 40m band was in very good condition, so even those stations that called me on just 2 watts were very good signals.

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After working a total of 39 stations on 40m SSB in VK1, VK2, VK3, & VK5, I moved to 20m SSB.  Nigel VK5NIG had been kind enough to find me a clear frequency on 20m before QSYing there.  Nigel followed me up to 20m and was my first contact there.  Nigel was then kind enough to spot me on SOTAWatch.  I then worked a total of 14 DX stations in Finland, Spain, England, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.  Most of the signal reports coming back to me were around the 5/5 mark.  Not bad for 40 watts and a simple wire dipole

There were more DX stations calling, however, ‘she who must be obeyed‘ had arrived back at the summit with strict instructions that it was time to pack up and yea dome for dinner.  Sorry to those who were still calling.  We also wanted to get home before it got dark, because the roads from Mount Gawler back to our home in the Adelaide Hills, are shared by kangaroos and emus at dusk and during the night.  Neither of those 2 creatures go well with the front fender of a car !

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After an hour at Mount Gawler I had a total of 54 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

John VK5BJE/3; Ron VK5FRHB; Tim VK5AV; Bob VK5FBAA/m; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Rod VK2LAX; Stuart VK5STU; Mark VK1EM; Mark VK3AC; Peter VK3FPSR; Compton VK2HRX; Peter VK5NAQ; Peter VK3PF; Col VK5HCF; Rhett VK3GHZ/p; David VK5NQP/p; Andrew VK2UH; Amanda VK3FQSO; Gerard VK2IO; Bowden VK4MBA/5; Tom VK5FTRG/m; Rob VK3EK; Erwin VK3ERW; Al VK1RX; VK2CCJ; Rod VK2TWR; Dick VK7DIK; Brian VK3MCD; Matt VK2DAG; Peter VK5KPR; Graeme VK3GRK; Andrew VK2FAJG; Roy VK5NRG; Ron VK3AFW; Adam VK2YK; Nigel VK5NIG; Mark VK3YN; Ken VK3DQW; and Mark VK3PI.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

Nigel VK5NIG; OH7XX; EA2LMI; Don G0RQL; Mike DJ5AV; DL1DVE; HB9MKV; Steve M0YCQ/p; Mike G6TUH; Colin G4XUH; EB2JU; Manuel EA2DT; EA2DZX; PA0SKP; and M0DAD.

Cromer Conservation Park

Our last park for the day was the Cromer Conservation Park, which is located about 7 km north of Birdwood, and about 7 km west of Mount Pleasant, in the Adelaide Hills.

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I was running a bit behind schedule for this activation, as Marija and I had stayed a bit longer at Porter Scrub chatting to some of the locals.  As I entered the park off Cromer Road, I saw a ladybird on the entry gate.  I had read previously that ladybirds are reputed to bring you good luck.  So this was a good start to the activation.

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Cromer is a great park to activate from.  Although there are plenty of trees to shelter underneath from the sun, there are also lots of open space areas for you to string out your dipole.

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I set up the equipment about 50 feet in from the roadway, and for this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-450 again and 40 watts into the 40m/20m linked dipole.

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Prior to calling CQ, I had a quick look around the band to see if I could track down VK1MA and VK3PF who I had heard from the mobile on the way to the park.  I found Matt VK1MA on 7.105, who was portable on SOTA peak Baldy Range, VK2/ ST-008.  I then spoke with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Cooltong Conservation Park.  Another park to park to add to the list.  And finally, I found Peter VK3PF who was activating French Island National Park for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) and World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF).

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I then propped on 7.090 and called CQ and was immediately called by Mark VK1EM.  This was followed by Tom VK5FTRG in the south east, and then David VK5NQP who was still portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park.

After a few more VK1, VK3, & VK5 contacts, I was called by Peter VK3YE who was portable at Chelsea Beach, running one of his home brew QRP rigs and a wire antenna.  Peter had a very nice steady 5/6 signal.

Again, as was the case with the previous 2 parks, there were some very strong signals.  Pick of the bunch was Nigel VK5NIG (30/9), Darren VK5DT (40/9), and Kevin VK5KU (30/9).  A few more QRP stations called in, including Col VK5HCF (5 watts), Joe VK3YSP (10 watts), and Julie VK3FOWL.

My last 2 contacts on 40m were with mobile stations.  The first was with Peter VK2NEO who was mobile near Leeton.  And the second was with Steve VK3SRB who was mobile in New South Wales on the Riverina Highway.

I had intended to activate 20m in the first 2 parks, but simply ran out of time.  But when things slowed down on 40m, I lowered the antenna and took out the links in the dipole, and then raised the telescopic squid pole again.  After numerous CQ calls I managed 4 contacts on 20m with Shayn VK7HWW, Michael VK1XYZ, Damon VK4HBT who was portable near Bundaberg, and Dom VK2SX who was also portable.

I was active in the park for an hour, and managed 26 contacts on 40m SSB and 4 contacts on 20m SSB.  The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

Matt VK1MA/p (SOTA); Larry VK5LY/p; Peter VK3PF/p; Mark VK1EM; Tom VK5FTRG; David VK5NQP/p; Arno VK5ZAR; Phil VK3BHR; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK3MCD; Nigel VK5NIG; Andrew VK1NAM; Joe VK3YSP/p; Julie VK3FOWL/p; Peter VK3YE/p; Mark VK5QI/p; Tony VK3CAT; Darren VK5DT; John VK5DJ; John VK5NJ; Mark VK3ASC; Allen VK3HRA; Kevin VK5KU; John VK3HJD; Marshall VK3MRG; Peter VK2NEO/m; and Steve VK3SRB/m2.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

Shayn VK7HWW; Michael VK1XYZ; Damon VK4HBT/p; and Dom VK2SX/p.

Porter Scrub Conservation Park

After activating Charleston Conservation Park, we headed north to the Porter Scrub Conservation Park.  I had also activated this park last year in July, but because this was a new calendar year, I could activate the park again for points for the VK5 Parks Award.  From Charleston we travelled along Lewis Road and Springhead Road, through the lush countryside of Charleston and Mount Torrens.  We then headed north along Onkaparinga Valley Road, and then Hirthe Road. before turning onto Maidment Road to travel west.  This is beautiful countryside.  Rolling hills, native scrub, and vineyards dominate the landscape.

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Porter Scrub is located about 8 km north of the historic town of Lobethal, and about 8 km west of Mount Torrens.

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Porter Scrub is one of my favourite parks.  It is a very pretty park, with tall Stringybark woodland, Candlebark Gum forest, Mountain Gum, Pink Gum and River Red Gum.  There is a thick under storey with many ferns to be found  There is a very well maintained track which travels through the park, and I highly recommend a walk through the park.

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As we were driving along Maidment Road, Marija and I came across Greg VK5LG, driving in the opposite direction.   So after a quick chat, Greg turned his car around and followed us down to the intersection of Maidment Road, and Lihou Road.  There is a small parking area here and a gate, with access to the park.

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We set up the station in the same spot as last year, on the edge of the walking track, about 30 feet inside the gate on Maidment Road.  There are not to many other options in the park, as there are no cleared areas and the vegetation is very thick.

Prior to putting out any CQ calls, Greg and I tuned across the 40m band and found Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Murray River National Park.  There were no missing Larry, as his signal was very strong (20/9).  I then propped on 7.105 and put out a CQ call and was called by Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland.  This was followed by Dave VK3VCE and then David VK5NQP who was still operating portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  I then spoke with Frank VK2MI, Peter VK3PF mobile, and Peter VK3ZPF.  It was time to hand the reigns over to Greg.

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Greg took over control of the microphone and his first contact was with Peter VK3ZPF, followed by Ian VK3FIAN, and then Arno VK5ZAR.  After 11 QSOs into VK3 and VK5, and a quick chat between the two of us, Greg decided to head home.  I was really pleased that Greg called in to the park to say hi, and look forward to catching up with him for another coffee soon (Greg works just across the road from me).

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It was getting towards that time to pull the antenna down, but the goat had bleated on my SOTA Goat application on the iPhone, so I tuned to 7.090 and spoke with Mark VK1MBE who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040.  I then put out a few CQ calls on 7.105 and spoke with some of the dedicated park hunters including Brian VK5FMID, Tom VK5FTRG, John VK5DJ (40/9), Arno VK5ZAR (30/9), Greg VK5ZGY mobile, and Nigel VK5NIG (40/9).  Wow, some of those guys had very strong signals !

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My last contact was a park to park QSO with David VK5NQP in Port Gawler CP.  After 45 minutes in the park, Greg and I had 30 QSO’s in the log into VK2, VK3, and VK5.  This compared to 7 QSOs in this park last year in July.

As we were packing up, a local couple approached us and were interested in what we were doing.

I worked the following stations before the UTC rollover:-

Larry VK5LY/p; Ivan VK5HS; Dave VK3VCE; David VK5NQP/p; and Frank VK2MI.

I spoke to the following stations after the UTC rollover:-

Peter VK3PF/m; Peter VK3ZPF; Mark VK1MBE/p (SOTA); Brian VK5FMID; Tom VK5FTRG; John VK5DJ; Arno VK5ZAR; Nigel VK5NIG; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Roy VK5NRG; Rod VK2LAX; Rod VK5VRB; Allan VK5FADP; and David VK5NQP/p.

The following stations were contacted but Greg:-

Peter VK3ZPF; Ian VK3FIAN; Arno VK5ZAR; Dave VK3VCE; Larry VK5LY; VK3FLYY; Ivan VK5HS; VK5ET; Amanda VK3FQSO; Brian VK5FMID; Graham VK5KGP.

 

Charleston Conservation Park

On Saturday morning, bright and early, Marija and I headed off to the Charleston Conservation Park, which is near the little town of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills.  I had activated Charleston CP last year in July, and managed just 11 QSOs.  But this was a new calendar year, so it meant another activator point for me.

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image courtesy of Googlemaps.

I spoke a bit about the little town of Charleston in last years post, so I won’t rehash that information.  But here is an excerpt from ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?‘ which was written in 1908 by Rodney Cockburn…..

‘Charleston and Mount Charles-in the Mount Lofty Ranges, have given rise to some confusion.  Charles Dunn, (brother of John Dunn, the miller) who devoted his life chiefly to blacksmithing and farming in the hills, has been mentioned as supplying the derivation of these names, but a much stronger claim may be established for Charles Newman, who was on the spot nearly five years before the advent of Dunn.  Newman, who was experienced in the management of sheep, left Somersetshire in July 1837, under engagement to the South Australian Company as a shepherd.  The voyage was made in the Katherine Stewart Forbes.  He was the first man to camp a flock of sheep at Mount Charles, near which he took up a section of land in 1843 and established a home.  He built up a valuable estate, represented Charleston Ward in the Omkaparinga District Council, of which he was a Chairman; was a trustee of the local Methodist Church; and died on 7 September 1900, in his eightieth year’.1

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In January 2014, a fire swept through the park, and I was interested to see what damage had been caused.  We accessed the park via Bell Springs Road, and as we drove down the narrow dirt road, we came across a few Western Grey kangaroos enjoying their breakfast.  We parked the car in a little carpark near an access gate on the northern side of the park, at Park Road.  And it was almost immediately evident that this part of the park had fortunately, not been affected by the fire.

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With the assistance of my trusty wife, we set up the fold up table and chair right alongside of the Conservation Park sign just inside the park boundary.  I drove the squid pole holder into the ground and secured the 7 metre squid pole with an octopus strap.  I had brought along my Yaesu FT-450 and the Yaesu FT-817, but decided to run the bigger radio on 40 watts output.

We were in for a beautiful sunny day, but it was still early in the morning.  I was set up in the park ready to go at 7.30 a.m. and it was really chilly.  The sun was just starting to come up in the east, but the trees in the park were shielding me from the warmth of the sun.  After turning on the radio, I found the 40m band to be very busy.  There were quite a few VKs and even more DX stations coming in from Europe.  Some of the Europeans were so strong I was tempted to give them a shout.  But I figured that my meagre power and small dipole probably would not make the distance.

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I had specified 7.095 in my alert on parksnpeaks, but there were a couple of VKs on 7.093, so I went up to 7.098 and put out a CQ call, to be immediately called by Darren VK5DT who had a massive signal (40/9).  This was followed by Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Pike River Conservation Park in the Riverland.  Larry also had a beautiful 5/9 signal.  It seemed the band was in very good condition.

I also scored another park to park contact.  This time with David VK5NQP who was portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  David’s signal was very strong (20/9).  Conditions on the band were very good and it was very pleasing to get a few QRP stations in the log during the activation.  They included Amanda VK3FQSO, Matt VK5MLB on 10 watts on his KX3, and Marshall VK3MRG running 5 watts.

Greg VK5LG, who lives at nearby Cudlee Creek called in to say hello.  We arranged for Greg to meet me at my next park activation location which was to be the Porter Scrub Conservation Park near Kenton Valley.

My last contact of the day was with Larry VK5LY who was mobile on his way from Pike River CP to the Murray River National Park.  After an hour in the park, it was time to move on.  I had a total of 26 QSOs on 40m SSB in the log.  This was 13 more contacts than last year and is a testament to the popularity of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

The following stations were worked:-

Darren VK5DT; Larry VK5LY/p; Tim VK5AV; Col VK5HCF; Owen VK7OR; Ben VK5BB; Amanda VK3FQSO; David VK5KC; Brian VK5FMID; Tob VK5TS; David VK5NQP/p; Darren VK2NNN; Erwin VK3ERW/p; Len VK3FB; Peter VK3PF/m; Hreg VK3UT; Matt VK5MLB; Ian VK5CZ; Marshall VK3MRG; Alan VK3OA; John VK5TD; Greg VK5LG; John VK3HJD; Peter VK5NAQ; Arno VK5ZAR; and Larry VK5LY/m.

 

1.  Cockburn; S, 2002; ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?’

WWFF certificate

A couple of months ago I received the certificate below for making contact with 88 different World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) references.  I thought I would post a little bit on my WordPress site about the WWFF program, which is slowly picking up some momentum in Australia.  It is extremely popular in Europe and North America, and other parts of the world.

The WorldWide Flora and Fauna program encourages portable operation from various nature parks and protected nature areas around the world.  In Australia, the qualifying parks are NATIONAL PARKS.  I am the Australian co-ordinator for WWFF.

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There is a global WWFF Award system, and various National WWFF Award programs.  This includes an AUSTRALIAN (VKFF) National Award program.  Each National program has their our award system, and offers their own unique award certificates.  This is the case, with the AUstralian program….a number of certificates are offered.

For the global WWFF certificates, activators require 44 contacts, for an activation to be deemed as valid.

However, for the Australian VKFF program, only 10 contacts are required for a valid activation.

For more information, have a look at the global WWFF website at…..

http://www.wwff.co

You can also find all the relevant information re the Australian (VKFF) program on the Australian website, which I put together, at…..

http://www.wwffaustralia.com

You are assured a lot of fun, if you can run a bit of extra power and get onto one of the DX bands such as 20m.  Not only will you be sought after as a VK, but being in a National Park that qualifies for WWFF, will make you a very good catch.  Just ask Tony VK3VTH and Peter VK3ZPF, who in recent times have been working huge European pile ups as part of WWFF.

Have FUN.

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