PR4Amateur Radio at Belair National Park

On Sunday 13th April, 2014, I headed over to the Belair National Park for the PR4Amateur Radio expo.  Myself and 5 other trusty volunteers from the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society (AHARS) had organised a small display at the National Park.

I arrived at the park at about 9.00 a.m. and started setting up on Gums Oval 1, which is just inside the main gates off Upper Sturt Road.  I put up my 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre squid pole.


I was joined by Paul VK5PH whilst I was setting up.  Paul had brought along his trailer with a 10 metre pump up mast.  Shortly after we were joined by Roy VK5NRG, David VK5AAH, Kim VK5FJ, and Tony VK5KAT.

Our first contact for the day was with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable on SOTA peak, VK3/ VC-029.  This was followed by a contact with Andrew VK1NAM/2 who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Cowangerong, VK2/ ST-001.

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We then propped on 7.105 and put a few CQ calls out.  First taker was Ian VK5CZ who was running QRP 7 watts.  Ian had a beautiful strong 5/9 signal coming in from the Clare Valley.  Peter VK3YE then called in who was pedestrian mobile on Chelsae Beach, running QRP 5 watts and using an end fed antenna.

Contact was also made with Andrew VK1DA on SOTA peak Mount Majura, VK1/ AC-034, Erwin VK3ERW on SOTA peak Huon Hill VK3/ VE-237, and Andrew VK3ASC portable on SOTA peak Mount Jack Range, VK3/ VE-090.

We also managed some park to park contacts for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  Those contacts were with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park, and Gordon VK5GY who was portable in Kyeema Conservation Park.

We made contact with VK3ER who was also portable for PR4Amateur Radio.

I then decided to head over to 20 metres and try my luck.  Our first DX contact was with OL4A in the Slovak Republic, and this was followed by a contact with Vlad 4Z5IW in Israel.  I then chose a clear frequency on 14.302 and started calling CQ DX and was called by Hans VK5YX.  This was followed by Peter VK2EVB who was pedestrian mobile at Coffs Harbour.  A pile up into Europe then followed after being spotted on the DX cluster.

Sadly we did not have many members of the public visit us.  Unfortunately DEWNR were not prepared to hand out our promotional amateur radio brocuhures, which really limited our exposure.  Their rationale was that it was ‘advertising’.  However we did have about half a dozen visitors that were amateurs who were not active who wanted to see our operation.


Newland Head Conservation Park

My last activation of the weekend was the Newland Head Conservation Park, which is situated about 91 km south of Adelaide, and about 10 km south west of the seaside tourist town of Victor Harbor (where I once lived many years ago).


The approach to the park as you travel south along Dennis Road, is quite impressive.  There are very good views of beautiful Waitpinga Beach and the roaring waves of the Southern Ocean.  You also get a very good view of the Waitpinga Creek which flows out to the ocean.


Marija and I unpacked the gear from the car and walked down to the beach.  There is a boardwalk and stairs leading down to the beach.  I had activated Newland Head CP last year, but the weather was too unkind to head down onto the beach.  But today was a beautiful sunny day with a fairly calm breeze, so I decided to head down to the beach itself.  I set up the fold up table and deck chair facing the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean.  I initially felt a bit silly as I was the only person on the beach with a squid / fishing pole, that wasn’t trying to catch fish.


Prior to calling CQ, I wanted to try to get a few of the other park activators in the log, so I went for a bit of a hunt across the 40m band.  My first contact was with Col VK5HCF who was portable in the Big Heath Conservation Park, down in the south east of South Australia.  I then worked David VK5NQP who was portable in the Porter Scrub Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills, and then Andy VK5LA who was portable in the Murray River National Park.

I then found Peter VK3PF who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Lookout, VK3/ VT-030.  And before propping on a frequency, I spoke with Richard VK5ZRY who was portable in the Leven Beach Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula.

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I found 7.110 clear, so I put out a CQ call, and was called by Arno VK5ZAR who was portable in the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  A steady flow of Park Hunters followed including a number of park activators and Peter VK3ZPF who was portable on SOTA peak, VK3/ VC-037.  Park to Park contacts included ANdy VK5ARG in The Knoll Conservation Park, Steve VK5AIM at Martindale Hall Conservation Park, Andrew VK5MR in Mokota Conservation Park, Gary VK5FTRG in Moritalta Conservation Park, Larry VK5LY in Bakara Conservation Park, Andrew VK5KET in Ewens Ponds Conservation Park, Andy VK5ARG in Belair National Park, Col VK5HCF in the Glenroy Conservation Park, Richard VK5ZRY in Carribee Conservation Park, and Andy VK5ARG in Marino Conservation Park.


After operating on 40m for about 90 minutes, I decided to go and have a listen on 20m.  But I was sadly disappointed when I got there, to find the band very busy with eastern European contesters.  It didn’t sound like a great afternoon to be operating 40 watts on 20m.  However I found a clear frequency and put out a CQ call, and was immediately called by Grom VK6NUT.  But I hadn’t even been there for 1 minute, when UT7E from the Ukraine came on the frequency and started calling CQ Contest.  His signal was so strong that it tidally drowned out From.  I QSYd down about 10kc hoping that Grom would find me and sure enough he did, and we could complete our QSO.


The frequency remained clear and I managed to work Colin VK2CSW, Bernard VK2IB/3, Kevin M0DAD pedestrian mobile, Zenik SP5INQ, Phil 2E0EDX mobile, Alex R1NA, and VK4GCQ.

It was starting to get a bit late in the afternoon, and we still had an hour’s drive back home, with the prospect of work in the morning.  So sadly, I packed up the gear, and we made our way back home to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.  I ended up with 62 contacts.

After a very enjoyable 2 hours of operating on the beach, I had a total of 61 contacts on 40m ssb and 20m ssb.

The following stations were worked:-

Col VK5HCF/p; David VK5NQP/p; Andy VK5LA/p; Peter VK3PF/p; Richard VK5ZRY/p; Arno VK5ZAR/p; Tim VK5AV; Peter VK3ZPF/p; John VK5BJE; Andy VK5ARG/p; Steve VK5AIM/p; Greg VK5ZGY/p; Andrew VK5MR/p; Tom VK5FTRG; Amanda VK3FQSO; Gary VK5FGRY/p; Brian VK5FMID; Rod VK5VRB; John VK2AWJ; Larry VK5LY/p; Shaun VK5FAKV; Wolf VK5WF; Andrew VK5KET/p; Steve VK5AIM/p; Bernard VK3AMB; Adam VK2YK; Dave VK3VCE; Nick VK3ANL; Keith VK5FEKH; Ted VK3HHK; Chris VK4FR/5; Keith VK3FT; Patrick VK5MPJ; Ben VK5BB; Paul VK5NE; Alan VK3OA; Glen VK3GMC; Ray VK3NBL; Andy VK5ARG/p; Peter VK5KX; Les VK5KLD; Colin VK3UBY; Tony VK3CAT; Michael VK5ZEA; Greg VK5GJ; Ian VK3VIN; Sandy VK3LSB; Clive VK3FCMR; Peter VK7LCW; Tom VK5FTRG/m; Col VK5HCF/p; Richard VK5ZRY/p; Andy VK5ARG/p; Grom VK6NUT; Colin VK23CSW; Bernard VK2IB/p; Kevin M0DAD/pm; Zenek SP5INQ; Phil 2E0EDD/pm; Alex R1NA; VK4GCQ.

More photos of this activation can be found in the Photos section of the VK5 Parks Award Yahoo group at…..

Eric Bonython Conservation Park

After leaving the Deep Creek Conservation Park, Marija and I headed towards the Waitpina Conservation Park, which was our next intended activation, but could not get access due to road closures.  So we chose an alternate activation at the Eric Bonython Conservation Park, which is located at Tunkalilla, about 100 km south of Adelaide, on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  I had activated Eric Bonython CP last year in December, so this was going to be another new activation for the new calendar year and another point to add to my activator tally.


We travelled from Deep Creek, along Range Road, and then south along Tunkalilla Road towards the Southern Ocean.  We then turned left onto Rymill Road.  The park commences on your left, just 100 metres down the road.  It is a very thick but narrow strip of native vegetation which is only 6 hectares in size.  The Tunkalilla Creek flows on the northern edge of the park.  There are some excellent views of the nearby Pages Islands and Kangaroo Island from the park.

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I am not 100 % sure of the origins of the name of the park, as there is very little on the internet.  But I understand it was named after Eric Glenie Bonython (1910-1971) who was an author, explorer, and conservationist.

The morning had warmed up and the sun had a bit of bite, so I set up in amongst the scrub on the northern side of Rymill Road, which afforded some shade.   We stretched putt the legs of the dipole so they ran parallel to the roadway, and drove the squid pole holder into the ground to support the squid pole.  The fold up table and deck chair were placed in position, and for this activation I used the Yaesu FT-450 on 40 watts.

Again prior to calling CQ on a particular frequency, I decided to have a ‘hunt’ around the band to see if I could get some more park activators in the log.  The band was extremely busy again with park activators and hunters.  This was really exciting to hear.  My first contact was with Greg VK5ZGY who was in the Narracoorte Caves National Park, and this was followed by Andrew VK5KET who was portable in the Nene Valley Conservation Park.  I kept tuning around the band and my next contact was with Andrew VK5MR, activating the Pandappa Conservation Park.  This was Andrew’s first weekend of park activating.  This was followed by contacts with Col VK5HCF portable in the Hacks Lagoon Conservation Park, and Tom VK5FTRG portable in the Reedy Creek Conservation Park.


I then found a clear frequency on 7.120 and put out a CQ call, to be called immediately by John VK5BJE who was portable in the Scott Creek Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Andy (VK5AKH) VK5ARG then called in from the Mount George Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Andy and Mark VK5QI were using the club call of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group, and were on their way to activate a total of 20 parks.

I had some more Park to Park contacts, which included Arno VK5ZAR in the Black Hill Conservation Park, Stuart VK5STU in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, Les VK5KLV in the Winninowie Conservation Park near Port Augusta, and David VK5NQP in the Porter Scrub Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Peter VK3PF also called in from the top of SOTA summit, Mount Matlock, VK3/ VC-001.

Whilst I was operating I had the pleasure to watch a Wedge Tailed eagle soaring above the cliffs.  He/she slowly glided closer and closer towards me.  They are an amazing bird with a wingspan of up to 2.27 metres (7 feet 5 in).


Callers had started to slow down a bit on 7.120 and it was getting time to pack up and head off to Newland Head Conservation Park.  But I decided to have a last look around the band and I managed to sneak in a few more Park to park contacts.  This included Tony VK3VTH/5 in the Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, Andy VK5ARG portable in the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, Col VK5HCF in the Mary Seymour Conservation Park, Larry VK5LY in the Swan Reach Conservation Park, and Andrew VK5MR in the Caroona Creek Conservation Park.  I also had a QSO with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable on SOTA peak VK3/ VC-037.

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After about 90 minutes of activating, I had a total of 45 contacts on 40m in the log, including 17 Park to Park contacts.

The following stations were worked:-

Greg VK5ZGY/p; Andrew VK5KET/p; Andrew VK5MR/p; Col VK5HCF/p; Tom VK5FTRG/p; John VK5BJE/p; Andy VK5ARG/p; Tim VK5AV; Tony VK3CAT; Phil VK3BHR; Greg VK5GJ; Amanda VK3FQSO; Peter VK3PF/p; Bernard VK3AMB; Peter VK3SOL/p; Arno VK5ZAR/p; Les VK5KLD; Patrick VK5MPJ; Stuart VK5STU/p; Bob VK5FBAA/p; Rod VK5VRB; Colin VK3UBY; Terry VK3UP/m; Allen VK3HRA; Les VK5KLV/p; Chris VK4FR/5; Rick VK5FGSK; Peter VK3TKK/m; Wolf VK5WF; Keith VK5FEKH; Eric VK7EK; David VK5NQP/p; Paul VK5NE; Colin VK5DK; Charles VK5FBAC; Joe VK3YSP; Julie VK3FOWL; Tony VK3VTH/5; Andy VK5FTRG/p; Peter VK3ZPF/p (SOTA); Col VK5HCF/p; Brian VK5FMID; John VK2AWJ; Larry VK5LY/p; and Andrew VK5MR/p.

More photos of this activation can be found in the Photos section of the VK5 Parks Award Yahoo group at…..

Talisker Conservation Park

On Saturday afternoon, Marija and I headed to Talisker Conservation Park, which is just a  short distance away from where we were staying at Deep Creek.  On the way there, we drove passed SOTA peak VK5/ SE-016 and I was very tempted to stop off and do a quick SOTA activation.  But I thought better of it.  I was already pushing my luck with Marija and wanted to be fed that night.

Talisker Conservation Park was established in 1976 and consists of 211 hectares of native scrub.  It includes some very steep areas.  We accessed the park via Range Road West, and then Talisker Road.  There is a large parking area on Talisker Road, with an information sign.


The park incorporates the old Talisker silver-lead mine, which was discovered by John McLeod in 1862.  It was named after a locality on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  Talisker employed Cornish miners and supported a nearby township called Silverton.  The population of Silverton grew to 3000 at its peak in 1870.  The Talisker Mining Company worked the mine until falling ore grades and a lack of finance, forced the mine’s closure in 1872.  Between 1917 to 1920, the mine was worked again, mainly for arsenic.

A view of the mine, c. 1875

A view of the mine, c. 1875

Prior to setting up we went for a walk through the park.  I highly recommend that you do this if you visit Talisker.  The history here is amazing and there is an excellent marked trailed with interpretive signs indicating all the historic ruins.  The trail is a bit steep in parts but is worth the effort.  There are also open mine shafts but these are fenced off.

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During our walk we spotted a few Western grey kangaroos trying to avoid the afternoon sun, and some beautiful butterflies.  Everywhere you looked, there was bird life.  Of the feathered variety !  Superb Blue wrens and Yellow tailed black cockatoos were in abundance.


As mentioned the trail is quite steep, but the views are well worth it.  If you venture to the lookout, you can be rewarded with some spectacular views of nearby Kangaroo Island. The lookout is well signposted and can be accessed from the carpark on Talsiker Road.


Marija and I walked back to the car and got out all the gear and set up in the car park itself.  There werent too many other options due to the very thick scrub and the steep terrain.  It wasn’t all that busy, so I had a bit of room to play with, and stretched out the legs of the dipole.  The ground was physically too hard to drive any stakes in, so I improvised and used a permapine post and a couple of octopus straps.


Prior to propping on a frequency and calling CQ, I decided to tune around the band and hopefully find some of the park activators.  Although it was pretty quiet, I did find Paul VK5VCO who was portable in the Clinton Conservation Park.  Paul had an extremely strong signal.

I then chose 7.120 and put out a CQ call, and was called by Greg VK5ZGY who was portable in the Pine Hill Soak Conservation Park in the south east of South Australia.  This was followed by Tony VK3VTH/5 who was operating from the Canunda National Park, also in the south east.  Some VK3 and VK5 Park Hunters followed, and soon afterwards Arno VK5ZAR called in, who was portable in the Angove Conservation Park in the north eastern suburbs of Adelaide.


The quiet seclusion of the park did not last long.  We were soon joined in the carpark by three car loads of children who were obviously part of a group.  I certainly had some very strange looks, but none were game enough to come over and ask what I was doing.  However, about ten minutes later, 2 gentlemen arrived with their wives, who did come over and I had a chat to them about the hobby and why this strange man was sitting in a car park with a squid pole, gibbering into a microphone.

I also spoke with Gordon VK5GY who was portable in the Cox Scrub Conservation Park.  This was Gordon’s first activation as part of the VK5 Parks Award. Welcome aboard Gordon.  Gordon was just one of many to activate the first park for the anniversary weekend, which was really pleasing to see.

The activity on 7.120 had started to slow down, and this was good timing, because the goat bleated from the SOTA Goat application on my mobile.  I tuned up the band as a result, and spoke with David VK3IL who was portable on SOTA peak VK3/ VE-024.

I then found Greg VK5ZGY who had moved to the Custon Conservation Park.  I headed back to 7.120 and put out a few more CQ calls, and it wasn’t long before the Park Hunters returned.  A surprise call came from Andrew VK5MR who was portable in the Hopkins Creek Conservation Park.  This was Andrew’s first ever park activation.  Andrew told me that he had been motivated by all the park activity, and had headed out with a motorcycle battery as his power source.  Peter VK5KPR also called in from the Winninowie Conservation Park near port Augusta.  One of my last contacts on 40 metres was with Matt VK1MA on Yellow Rabbit Hill VK1/ AC-039.

I decided to swap over to 20m and try my hand at a little bit of DX.  It was 3.30 p.m. and about that time of the day that long path to Europe opens up.  My first contact was with Ian 2E0UDX in, who had a beautiful 5/9 signal.  After my chat with Ian I tuned around the band and worked into Italy, Belgium, England, and Sweden, before deciding to find a frequency and start calling CQ.  The 20m band was very busy and it was quite difficult to find a clear frequency.  But eventually I did, and put out a call, only to be called by my mate, Jess VK6JES in Western Australia.  His was followed by Mark VK4MON who was also running 40 watts and a dipole, and then Peter VK2NEO with his normal ‘thumping’ signal.

I then headed down to 14.156 and booked into the afternoon net run by John EA7BA in Almeria in Spain.  I made contact with John EA7BA, Ted G4TLY, Charlie VK6ACF, Brian ZL2ASH, and F4GHB.

It was getting a bit late with the sun starting to set in the west, and both our stomachs were rumbling, so we packed up the gear and headed back to Glenburn cottage in the Deep Creek Conservation Park.

I worked a total of 52 stations on 40m ssb and 20m ssb including 7 Park to Park contacts and 2 SOTA contacts.

The following stations were worked:-

Paul VK5VCO/p; Greg VK5ZGY/p; Toy VK3VTH/5; Ian VK3VIN; Tim VK5AV; John VK5BJE; Tony VK3CAT; Peter VK3PF; Arno VK5ZAR/p; Amanda VK3FQSO; Patrick VK5MPJ; Brian VK5FMID; Gordon VK5GY/p; Peter VK3TKK; Greg VK5GJ; Bernard VK3AMB; Rod VK5VRB; David VK5LSB; John VK2AWJ; Keith VK5FEKH; Allen VK3HRA; Michael VK5ZEA/m; David VK3IL/p (SOTA); Greg VK5ZGY/p; Ben VK5BB; Colin VK3UBY; Nev VK5WG; Erwin VK3ERW/p; Graham VK5KGP; Col VK5FCDL; Andrew VK5MR/p; Darren VK5DT; Steve VK5AIM; Stuart VK5STU; Eric VK5ZAG; Peter VK5KPR/p; Matt VK1MA/p; Ivan Vk5HS; VK2PHP/p; Ian 2E0UDX; IZ7NLJ; ON7AB; G4RIQ; SM1ALH; Jess VK6JES; Mark VK4MON; Peter VK2NEO; John EA7BA; Ted G4TLY; Charlie VK6ACF; Brian ZL2ASH; F4GHB

More photos of this activation can be found in the Photos section of the VK5 Parks Award Yahoo group at…..



Department o Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Deep Creek and Talisker Conservation Parks’.