After activating the Nene Valley Conservation Park, I headed back into Mount Gambier and to my motel room, where I enjoyed a very welcome hot shower. My sandshoes were speaking wet after the Nene Valley activation. I then headed off to the South East Radio Group’s 50 year convention at the scout hall in Mount Gambier. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at the convention, and caught up with a number of amateurs who I had spoken to many times on the air, but had never met in person. I also had one of the best steak sandwiches I’ve ever had. Well done to the ladies in the kitchen.
The weather was very inclement outside, with isolated showers, but I still decided to head off to activate the Canunda National Park. I had promised Pit YO3JW that I would participate in the Green Party contest.
I had activated Canunda National Park previously, and was hoping to get a few contacts under my belt so I could get across the 44 QSO threshold for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. For more information on my previous activation, please click on the link below…..
I drove from Mount Gambier, the 50 km to Millicent, and from there, headed out along Lossie Road, and then the Canunda Causeway. I set up in exactly the same spot as last year, which was in the camping area at the end of Canunda Causeway, a little bit further on from Oil Rig Square. No need for my fold up table and chair, as there are a number of wooden tables and benches in the camp ground.
For detailed information on the Canunda National Park, please have a read of my blog re my previous activation. But very briefly, Canunda National Park is about 18 km north west of Millicent or 428 km south east of Adelaide. It is 9,358 hectares in size, and has 40 km of coastline. The park is dominated by huge sand dunes and a spectacular coastline.
Prior to operating I went for a walk from the campground, through the sand dunes to the beach. There is access to the beach for vehicles, but only 4WD or trail bikes. The track is way too sandy for a conventional vehicle. The walking trail is easy to negotiate, and has timber planking to assist. There is also a bench along the way where you can rest and admire the view. There were many coastal flowers out in bloom that I saw along the way.
Once I got to the top of the sand dunes, I saw that there were a number of 4WD enthusiasts and trail bike riders on the beach. There were also a number of fishermen trying their luck for mulloway and salmon.
Again I set up my Yaesu FT-450 and the 20m/40m linked dipole, which I supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid police. I ran 40 watts, and powered the transceiver with my 44 amp hour power pack, which my wife Marija kindly bought for me at Christmas time.
I decided to give some VKs an opportunity to get Canunda National Park in the log before having a look up on 20 metres. My first contact was with Rod VK2TTL, followed by Larry VK5LY, Steve VK3JY who was operating QRP, and then Phil VK3BHR. Band conditions were very good. However, the same cannot be said for the weather. Bands of showers regularly passed overhead which forced me to operate from underneath my bothy bag. With a severe cold (now a chest infection), my wife would have killed me if she was there ! Every now and again there was a break in the weather, and the moon was visible.
I worked a few QRP stations whilst in the park. This included Steve VK3JY who had a very strong 5/8 signal. Tony VK7AU who was running 5 watts from a kit radio also had a very strong 5/9 signal coming into Canunda. Marshall VK3MRG also called in whilst running just 5 watts and was 5/9.
A bonus was a QSO with Brian VK3MCD who was operating from the Alpine National Park, which qualifies for the WWFF program.
After working a total of 26 stations on 40m, I lowered the squid pole and took the links out of the dipole and then raised the 7 metre squid pole. I tuned across the 20 m band and could not hear a lot of European signals coming through on the long path. But I did find that 14.244 was clear which is the adopted WWFF frequency. I put out a CQ call and this was responded to by Martin VK6ZMS. Tony VK3VTH/5 then called in from the Coorong National Park. My first DX station followed and this was Lenny K7KDX in Arizona (5/9 sent and 5/7 received). I then spoke with Ogiru JJ2CYL in Japan, who was a good strong 5/9 signal (5/6 received). But progress on the DX front was poor. I put out a number of CQ DX calls with no takers.
Steve VK4KUS then called in and was kind enough to place me on the DX cluster. I then had a quick chat to Ted VK6NTE with his normal very strong signal. Ted has an amazing antenna system. Then to my great surprise I was called by Bruce ZD7VC on St Helena Island out in the South Atlantic Ocean. I was really amazed when Bruce called in and wasn’t really sure if he was calling me. But he was and we exchanged a 5/5 both ways. I have spoken to Bruce before at home, but this was the first time whilst I was out in a park. St Helena is rare DX and many an amateur would be extremely excited to get ZD7 in the log, yet alone if they were running low power in a park.
Whilst speaking with Bruce on St Helena, I was approached by a young lad in his 20’s. He had seen the squid pole in the area and recognised that there was an amateur radio antenna attached to it. After speaking with him, he advised that his Uncle was an amateur radio operator in Whyalla.
Just after finishing my QSO with Bruce, W1RAA came up on frequency and started calling CQ, so that was pretty much the end of that. In any event, it was starting to get dark and very cold. The temperature gauge showed that it was 3 degrees C. It was time to pack up and head back to the warmth of the motel room. I had a total of 33 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked:
Rod VK2TTL; Larry VK5LY; Steve VK3JY; Phil VK3BHR; Mike VK3XL; Max VK3MCX; Jim VK5TR; Dennis VK5HH; Andrew VK1NAM; David VK5NQP; Tony VK7AU; Bill VK5MBD; Alan VK4WIL; Roy VK5NRG; Vin VK3FMOL; Marshall VK3MRG; Tom VK3EO/p; Brian VK3MCD; Alan VK2PGB; Trevor VK5TW/p; Arno VK5ZAR; Shaun VK3MSD; Paul VK2HV; Matt VK1MA; Peter VK3TKK; Merv VK4EM/p; Martin VK6ZMS; Tony VK3VTH/5; Lenny K7KDX; JJ2CYL; Steve VK4KUS; Ted VK6NTE; and Bruce ZD7VC.
National Parks South Australia, Canunda National Park, http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/Canunda_National_Park