Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 17th May 2014), I headed up to Monarto, about 34 km east of my home qth, and about 65 km east of Adelaide, with the intention of activating the Monarto Conservation Park, followed by the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park. I had activated these parks last year, but as this was a new calendar year, 2 more Activator points for the VK5 Parks award were up for grabs.
The Monarto Conservation Park is a nice 25 minute drive from home up the South Eastern Freeway towards Murrray Bridge. I took the Monarto exit and then travelled south on Ferries McDonald Road for about 3 km before reaching the park which is located on the western side of the road. You need to keep a close eye out for the park sign and the carpark as it is easy to miss. The car parking area which is on the northern side of the park, is quite large and as per last year, I used the car park fencing constructed of permapine logs, to secure my 7 m telescopic squid pole to.
Image courtesy of mapcarta.com
Monarto Conservation Park consists of typical open mallee, and is surrounded by cropping lands. There is an easy 1 hour loop track around the park, which is well worth walking. A large amount of wildlife can be found in the park including kangaroos and echidnas. The park also supports a population of the rare Mallee fowl. In fact there are signs in the area restricting your speed, so please be aware of the wildlife. Only foot traffic is allowed in the park, and no camping or caravanning is allowed.
The afternoon was glorious weather wise. The temperature was around 25-26 degrees c, and it was very overcast. In fact almost stormy conditions, but pleasantly to the ear, no static crashes were present on the bands. After setting up the gear, I put out a CQ call on 7.095 and was greeted by Peter VK3FPSR who had a very strong signal coming in from near Cobram in northern Victoria. This was followed by Andrew VK2UH, and Phil VK3BHR, both of whom were also very strong. It appeared that 40m was in very good condition.
Above:- My operating spot. Links in the dipole highlighted.
My tenth contact in the park was with John VK4IAA/8, who was portable at Tobermorey on the Plenty Highway near the Northern Territory/Queensland border, and about 565 km north east of Alice Springs. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere! John had a nice 5/7 signal and I was very surprised that he was receiving me so well from ‘way up there’.
I had some nice QRP contacts whilst in the park, and this included a QSO with Amanda VK3FQSO who was running just 2 watts and who had a very nice strong 59 signal. Philip VK2XPL was running 5 watts from his little FT817 and had a good 55 signal. And Ian VK3VIN also had a nice 57 signal with his 8 watts.
Above: – view towards Monarto (silos visible)
I also made contact with Steve VK2ZSZ who was operating portable from the Namdgi National Park and running just 5 watts from his Elecraft KX3 and a random wire. I managed a SOTA contact with Perrin VK3XPT who was portable on Mount Fatigue VK3/ VT-057. Perrin was running QRP 5 watts and had a good solid 55 signal.
After an hour operating in the park, I had a total of 42 contacts in the log from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK7, & VK8. The following stations were worked:-
Peter VK3FPSR; Andrew VK2UH; Phil VK3BHR; Col VK5HCF; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Bernard VK3AMB; Matt VK1MA; Alan VK5FADP; Bill VK5MBD; John VK4IAA/8; Bob VK5FPAC; John VK2YW; Darren VK2NNN; John VK2VEX; Colin VK4FAAS; Amanda VK3FQSO; Rod VK2TWR/m; Philip VK2XPL; Dave VK3VCE; Jim VK5JW; Steve VK2ZSZ/p; Steve VK7LA; Patrick VK5MPJ; Chris VK1GG/2; Andrew VK3ARR; Perrin VK3XPT/p; Adam VK2YK; Larry VK5LY; Tony VK5TT; Terry VK5ATN; Andrew VK1NAM; Mark VK1EM; Nev VK5WG; Nigel VK5NIG; Rob VK2MZ; Colin VK3UBY; Eric VK5ZAG; Max VK3MCX; Ivan VK5HS; Jamie VK2TIM; Peter VK3ZPF; and Ian VK3VIN.