On Saturday 11th October, 2014, I headed to the Coorong National Park (NP), which is located in the South East of South Australia. The Coorong NP qualifies for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and the VK5 National and Conservation Parks award. I had activated the Coorong NP previously, but I was hoping to achieve a few more QSOs to get me over the required 44 QSO requirement for the global WWFF awards.
I left home and travelled a total distance of about 150 km to reach my operating spot, which was at Parnka Point in The Coorong NP. I travelled east along the South Eastern Freeway, passed Murray Bridge and into the town of Tailem Bend which runs alongside the mighty River Murray. From there I travelled south along the Princes Highway and on to the picturesque town of Meningie, which is located on the shores of Lake Albert. I continued south east out of Meningie along the Princes Highway and then turned right into Parnka Point Road. I then travelled the 3 km down the Prank Point Road, to the narrowest point of the Coorong NP. The area is referred to as ‘Hells Gate’.
I set up on the western side of the small peninsula which runs down to the stretch of saltwater which flows between the mainland and the sand dunes called the Younghusband Peninsula. I found a shelter with a nice wooden table and benches, which got me out of the warm afternoon sun. The spot had a lovely view out to the west, across the water towards Bluff Island, Rabbit Island, and Snake Island. I could hear the breaking waves of the Southern Ocean in the background.
For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-450 and the Bandhopper 20m/40m linked dipole, which I supported on a 7 metre squid pole. I placed the squid pole into the aluminium squid pole holder and drove this into the sandy soil, and held it in place with an octopus strap. For 40m I used 40 watts, and when I QSYd a little later to 20m, I ran 80 watts. I powered the radio with my 44 amp hour power pack.
I started off on 40m SSB on 7.095 and called CQ and was immediately called by Larry VK5LY. This was followed by Peter VK3TKK, and then Tony VK5FTVR, and then Les VK5KLD. A steady flow of callers followed from VK2, VK3, and VK5. When things slowed down a little on 40m, I tuned around the band and found Allen VK3HRA who was portable on Mount Matlock, VK3/ VC-001, for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. I then found Chris VK4FR/5 who had arrived in the Maize Island Conservation Park and secured a ‘park to park’ contact with Chris. I then went back to 7.0985 and put out a CQ call and was called by Craig VK3CRG and then John VK2AWJ, and then Kevin VK3NKC. After a number of other CQ calls, there were no takers, so again I tuned around the band and this time I found Nick VK3ANL who was portable on Gentle Annie, VK3/ VT-078.
It was pleasing to see a few VK’s calling me, using just QRP. They included Peter Vk3TKK, Col VK5HCF, and Greg VK5GJ using his home brew transceiver. It was very quiet in the park, so I was able to copy them extremely well.
After working a total of 27 stations on 40m SSB, I QSYd to 14.244 and called CQ and was almost immediately called by Sergey RA3PCI in Russia. Much to my surprise, this was followed by a call from Dirceu, PY5DK with a beautiful 5/9 signal from Brazil. This was my first every contact with Brazil whilst operating portable, and his call took me by surprise. This was followed by Vladimir EU2MM in Belarus, and then Albert S58AL in Slovenia. A constant flow of callers from Europe followed with very good signals coming in on the long path. This was until the DXpedition, XR2T decided to start operating just below me, operating split, with the call frequency just 1 kc above me. So, after working on the frequency for one hour, that was the end of that.
However, out of everything bad, comes something good. It gave me an opportunity to tune up to 14.280 where I made contact with regular SOTA activator, Mike, 2E0YYY and Dave G4ASA, who were on Normanby Top, G/ TW-005.
I then found another clear frequency on 14.197 and again called CQ, and this was soon responded to by DK4RM in Germany, S51INT in Slovenia, and ON2VR in Belgium. I remained on this frequency, working into Europe, South America, Hawai, and Japan, until the battery went flat. I am sorry to all the stations that were still calling when the battery failed. I would have loved to have stayed and kept working the DX, but it was just not possible.
I was fortunate enough to work two other WWFF activators whilst in The Coorong. They were Sylvain, F4FWO in Gave de Pau, FFF-126, and DF7GC who was in Nature Park Black Forest South, DLFF-124.
I was also pleasantly surprised to be called by HC5AI in Ecuador, KH7CX/p in Hawaii, and 7N2TNI, and JA8RJE, both in Japan.
And it is always nice to get a few mates in the log. They included my good friends from Belgium: Marnix OP7M and Albert ON2WAC. I stayed with Marnix during my recent Europe trip, and also met with Albert.
Only a handful of VK’s called me on 20m. They were Mike VK6MB, Dave VK3VCE, Greg VK8GM, and VK2HJW.
Thanks to the Australian stations that placed me on the parksnpeaks site. And thanks to the following stations for placing me on the DX cluster, which kept the DX rolling in on 20m.
I received an email after this activation, advising me that Luciano I5FLN could hear me on 7.095. Luciano said: ‘By way way I heard you earlier on 7095 talking with several VK but could not compete with my sloper they were to you more strong than my signal of course.’ And it appears from the DX cluster, that Pit YO3JW could also hear me all the way over in Romania. Amazing. Sorry, I could not get them both in the log on 40m.
A total of 177 QSOs were made during this activation…..including my largest every haul of DX during a portable activation. This included a total of 27 contacts on 40m SSB into, and 150 contacts on 20m SSB into Europe, Japan, South America, and Hawaii. It certainly showed that WWFF is extremely popular in Europe, and the hungry WWFF park hunters in Europe are very keen to get an Australian National Park in their log. Now if only WWFF became popular in Australia.
The list of worked stations is extensive. But here is a breakdown of the countries that I worked:-
- Czech Republic
- Northern ireland
- Slovak Republic
I have placed a short video on You Tube of this activation…..