Little Desert National Park, VKFF-291

My final activation for Monday 17th November, 2014, and my final activation for the four days away, was the Little Desert National Park, VKFF-291, which is located about 375 km north west of Melbourne, in western Victoria.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 17.53.34

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I activated the Little Desert National Park in September, 2013.  For more information on that activation, and details on the park, please have a look at my previous post…..

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/little-desert-national-park-victoria/

This is a vast park, covering an area of about.  The park has slowly evolved and grown in size over the years.  The Kiata Lowan Sanctuary, consisting of 217 hectares, was created in 1955 and was set aside for the preservation of the Malleefowl.  The Malleefowl is an endangered bird, and is also known as the Lowan.

Leipoa_ocellata_-Ongerup,_Western_Australia,_Australia-8

 

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

For more information on the Mallee Fowl, have a look at the following wikipedia article…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleefowl

The park was increased in size in 1968 to 945 hectares and was declared as the Little Desert National Park.  It was also at this time that the Government ammounced that about 80,000 hectares of desert in the area would be sub divided and cleared for agriculture.  Great debate commenced and it was argued that in the long term the land would be more valuable in its natural state.  As a result the sub division plan was abandoned, and in December 1969, the park was increased to 35,300 hectares.  And then in 1986, the Land Conservation Council which had been created by the Government to advise on the use of public land, recommended an increase in size of the park.  The Central and Western Blocks were created and added to the existing Eastern Block.  This increased the park in size to 132,000 hectares.  In May 1988, the park was declared as a National Park, and it now extends all the way from the Wimmera River in the east, to the South Australian border.

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map courtesy of parkweb.vic.gov.au

I headed out to the park from Dimboola via Wimmera Street and then Horse Shoe Bend Road.  I set up in the same vicinity as last year, which was near a spot in the Wimmera River called Horseshoe Bend.  There is a campground here with wooden benches and seats, and it is beautifully shaded with large River Red gum trees.  It is a very pretty spot close to the Wimmera River on the eastern boundary of the park.  It is a much prettier and cooler option than some of the more remote and baron parts of the park.

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map courtesy of parkweb.vic.gov.au

The Little Desert National Park contains more than 670 species of native plants.  Over 220 bird species have been recorded in the park.  A variety of native animals are also found in the park including Brush-tailed Possums, kangaroos, bats, and many different kinds of reptiles including Stumpy-tailed lizards and Bearded Dragons.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 17.53.07map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I was set up and ready to go by 4.07 p.m. Victorian time.  I started calling CQ on 7.095 on 40m.  My first contact was with Larry VK5LY who was running QRP, but still had a terrific 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Brian VK5FMID who was also 5/9 from Mount Gambier, and then Fred VK3DAC who was 5/9.  Mick VK3FAFK was next with a nice 5/9 signal from nearby Stawell.  Mick is recently licenced and was one of my regular callers over the 4 days of park and SOTA activations.  After working 8 stations from VK2, VK3, & VK5, on 7.095, I was forced to QSY up to 7.097 as the Kandos Net came up on 7.093 and I was getting a lot of ‘bleedover’.

After I QSYd to 7.097 I worked a further 15 stations in VK3 & VK5.  This included Marco VK2YES who was portable in the Olney State Forest near Lake Macquarie, and Norm VK5GI who was running QRP 5 watts on his home brew transceiver from Willunga south of Adelaide.

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After working a total of 23 stations on 40m, I headed over to 20m, where I worked a total of 9 stations in New Zealand, VK2, Russia, and VK6.  I started calling CQ on 14.244 and my CQ was responded to by Don ZL1AQ and then Noel ZL1DAI.  Mike VK2ABT then called in, and this was followed by Sergey RA3PCI, Jeff VK3HJA, Jason Vk6YTS, and Paul VK2DNL.  I put out a few more CQ calls but there were no takers, so I tuned around the 20m band and found T32TV working weak Europeans.  I also heard 4X6TT on 14.200 but he was just a little too weak to try to work.  I then worked Franc (ZL1SLO) operating as ZL1PPY, a special event call commemorating the centenary of the First World War 1914-1918.

So after about 1 hour 15 minutes in the park, I had a total of 32 QSOs in the log.  That combined with the 10 QSOs from my activation in September, 2013, saw me fall just 2 QSOs short of the required 44 QSO’s for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) global awards.  Oh well, I will have to revist the park at some stage.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Larry VK5LY
  2. Brian VK5FMID
  3. Fred VK3DAC
  4. Mick VK3FAFK
  5. Tom VK5EE
  6. Nev VK5WG
  7. Kieran VK2QK
  8. Tim VK5AV
  9. Marco VK2YES/p
  10. Bernard VK3AV
  11. Greg VK5GJ
  12. Robin VK5TN
  13. John VK5FMJC
  14. Brett VK3FLCS
  15. Allen VK5FD
  16. Daniel VK5DF
  17. Ian VK5CZ
  18. Norm VK5GI/qrp
  19. Ewen VK3OW
  20. Colin VK3NGC/m
  21. Rob VK3FKL
  22. Ron VK3JP
  23. Allen VK3HRA
  24. Don ZL1AQ
  25. Noel ZL1DAI
  26. Mike VK2ABT
  27. Sergey RA3PCI
  28. Jeff VK3HJA
  29. Jason VK6YTS
  30. Paul VK2DNL
  31. Franc ZL1PPY
  32. Franc ZL1SLO

After getting mobile I worked Rick VK3EQ who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Beenak, VK3/ VC-016 (5/5 sent and 5/8 received).

Below is a video of the activation…..

 

References.

Parks Victoria, June 2014, ‘Little Desert National Park Visitor Guide’.

Wikipedia.org, 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Desert_National_Park&gt;, viewed 1st December 2014

Grampians National Park, VKFF-213

My second to last activation for Monday 17th November, 2014 was the Grampians National Park, VKFF-213, which is located about 260 km north west of Melbourne.

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map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I have really fond memories of the Grampians, as many of my Dad’s relatives live/d in the Wimmera region, particularly Horsham, not far from the park.  As a young boy we would often visit my Uncles and Aunties, and my Nana & Papa who lived at Horsham.  My Nana would regularly take us for a drive out to the Grampians, where my little sister and I would feed the kangaroos at Zumsteins.

The Grampians is a vast park, and is 167,219 hectares in size, and was proclaimed as a National Park on the 1st July 1984.  The park was listed on the Australian National Heritage List in 2006, for its outstanding natural beauty and being one of the richest indeigeneous rock art sites in south-eastern Australia.  The Grampians is referred to as Gariwerd in the local aboriginal language.  In 1991, after a 2 year consultation process, the park was renamed Grampians Gariwerd National Park.  However, this controversial formality was reversed after a change of State Government in 1992.

I entered the park via a dirt track which ran off the eastern side of the Henty Highway, near Tea Tree Creek.  I drove down the track for about 500 metres and set up my gear just off the track.  I again used the Yaesu FT-450, 40 watts, and the 40m/20m linked dipole for this activation.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 17.56.18

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I had reached the and park and set up 6 minutes ahead of my scheduled time.  So I was on track to get home at a respectable hour.  I started calling CQ on my nominated frequency of 7.095.  My first contact was with Mr. Reliable John VK5BJE at 1.04 p.m. Victorian time.  John’s signal was down a little from normal.  He was just a 5/5 and I received a 5/1 signal report from John.  However, we both had very low, if not non-existant noise floors at our respective locations, so we were able to receive each other without any problems.  This was followed by John VK2AWJ/3 who was portable in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park.  John had been very active over the 4 days, operating portable from a number of Victorian parks.  Congratulations John.  My third contact was with Peter VK3RV and soon after his partner Jenny VK3WQ.  Peter and Jenny had been chasing me over the 4 days during my activations.  Thanks Peter and Jenny.

During this activation, I had a steady flow of callers from VK2, VK3 & VK5, with some very good signals.  Many were regular park hunters, but there were some new callers in there as well, which is always pleasing.  Daniel VK5DF had become a regular caller.  Daniel is from the South Coast Radio Club, where I recently gave a talk on the VK5 Parks Award.  So perhaps my encouragement had rubbed off on Daniel.

Unfortunately, I was pushed off the frequency by a couple of VK2 stations speaking Italian.  This was despite the fact that I had been on the frequency for one hour.  I was in the middle of a QSO with Tony VK5ZAI, when these 2 fellas came up and just took over the frequency without asking if it was in use.  I often hear these same two gentlemen, on or around this frequency, so obviously they believe they ‘own it’.  Perhaps they could not hear me, but surely they could hear the other stations working me.  Probably, but I think they just didn’t care.

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So after an abrupt end, I had a total of 32 contacts in the log.  This was enough to combine with my previous activation of The Grampians, to surpass the 44 required QSOs for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. John VK5BJE
  2. John VK2AWJ/3
  3. Peter VK3RV
  4. Fred VK3DAC
  5. David VK5LSB
  6. Tim VK3TJC
  7. Jenny VK3WQ
  8. Tom VK5EE
  9. Daniel VK5DF
  10. John VK5DJ
  11. Tim VK5AV
  12. Stan VK3BNJ
  13. Andrew VK3FABE
  14. Larry VK5LY
  15. Colin VK5DK
  16. Tom VK2KF
  17. Nev VK5WG
  18. Lesley VK5LOL
  19. Tony VK3CAB
  20. Barry VK3MBW
  21. Hans VK5YX
  22. Brian VK5FMID
  23. Greg VK2MTC
  24. Ray VK3NBL
  25. Brett VK3FLCS
  26. Greg VK5GJ
  27. Ron VK3JP
  28. John VK5FMJC
  29. Frank VK3FARO
  30. Mick VK3FAFK
  31. Kevin VK3VEK
  32. Tony VK5ZAI

Below is a video of the activation…..

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park&gt;, viewed 1st December 2014

Mount Dundas, VK3/ VS-045

Mount Dundas, VK3/ VS-045 was my second activation for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program for Monday 17th November, 2014.  Mount Dundas is located about 309 km west of Melbourne, and about 16 km north west of the little town of Cavendish.

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.14.04

Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

Mount Dundas is 459 metres above sea level, and is worth just 1 SOTA point.  It is an easy summit to access, with a dirt road, leading all the way to the top where there is a large array of telecommunications equipment, including a digital TV broadcast site.  According to SOTAWatch I am the only operator to have activated this summit, which I’m a little surprised by considering the easy access.

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.14.13

Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

Access to the summit is via Dundas Gap Road, which runs off the Natimuk to Hamilton Road, just out of Cavendish.  There is a dirt road leading to the summit which is suitable for 2wd vehicles.  I parked the car a little down the dirt road, and walked a few hundred metres to the top of the summit, so that my final access into the activation zone was by non motorised means.  I set up on the eastern side of the telecommunication equipment, and was pleasantly surprised when I turned the radio on to find that there was not a lot of interference from the conglomerate of antennas at the site.  There really aren’t too many other options here, as the terrain drops away quite dramatically from the summit peak on all sides, and the surrounding scrub is very thick.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 18.21.59

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

As I left my car I heard Rob VK2QR operating from a summit, so I quickly set up my gear and gave Rob a call on 7.090.  Rob was a good 5/8 signal and was sitting on the top of VK3/ VE-023, a 10 pointer in north eastern Victoria.  I received a 5/8 signal report back from Rob.  It appeared that the 40m band had improved since my activation at Mount Rouse.  Amen to that!

Rob kindly gave me the frequency following our QSO, and it wasn’t long before I had a good flow of callers from VK2, VK3, & VK5.  My second contact was with Peter VK3PF, followed by Bernard VK2IO, and my fourth qualifying contact was with Bernard VK3AV.  It was certainly not as hard going as Mount Rouse, which was great.  Although there was still a bit of QSB on the signals.

A few contacts later, I was called by John VK2AWJ/3 who was portable in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park, VKFF-069.  John was a good 5/4 and I received a 5/5 signal report from John.  This was followed by a contact with Rick VK3EQ, who was on top of McCarthy Spur, VK3/ VT-039, a 6 pointer.  Although Rick’s signal was very weak (5/1), I was able to copy him without any difficulty.

I went on to work a further 14 stations on 40m.   I didn’t try 20m as promised, as the weather was less than ideal, and I still had two planned park activations, and a big trip ahead of me to get back home to the Adelaide Hills.  So I am sorry to any of the VK6’s.

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After 35 minutes on the summit, I had a total of 26 contacts in the log, including two Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts and one Victorian National Park contact.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2014-11-27 20.31.17

Below is a video of the activation…..

After getting mobile from the summit, I worked Rob VK2QR/2, who was portable on Mount Murray, VK3/ VE-025.  I was just about to enter the little town of Cavendish when I spoke with Rob, who was a good 5/7 into the mobile (5/7 received from Rob).