Onkaparinga River National Park, VKFF-402

Yesterday afternoon (Monday 15th December 2014) I headed over to the Onkaparinga River National Park (NP), VKFF-402, which qualifies for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  I have activated the park a number of times previously, and it is a nice 40 minute drive from my home via Echunga, Meadows, and Kangarilla, through the southern Adelaide Hills.

Onkaparinga River NP is located about 35 km south of Adelaide, and is about 1,544 hectares in size.  It is a magnificent park in close proximity to Adelaide.  The park is disected by the Onkaparinga River, which is South Australia’s second longest river after the mighty Murray.  The river enters the park in a steep sided valley and flows into a spectacular gorge with cliffs up to 50 metres in height, with large permanent rock pools.

Screenshot 2014-12-16 17.50.27

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I set up on Chapel Hill Track which runs off the northern side of Chapel Hill Road.  I parked my vehicle at gate 21 and walked about 50 metres down the track.  This location is situated on the southern side of the park.  On the southern side of Chapel Hill Road was the beautiful valley containing the vineyards of McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat, and to the north was the park, leading down to the Onkaparinga River cutting its way through the gorge.

It was quite a warm day (about 28 deg C), so I found some nice shade under some large gum trees.  I kept an ever vigilent watch for some of the crawly inhabitants of the park, and fortunately did not encounter any.

I started off with the little Yaseu FT-817nd and just 5 watts.  I powered the radio with a 12 volt 4 ah sealed lead acid battery (SLAB).  My antenna was a 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

I had nominated 7.095 as my calling frequency, but the Kandos Net was still running on 7.093, so I held off for a little while until that finished, and I then called CQ on 7.095.  My CQ call was immediately responded to by Peter VK5NAQ in the Mid North of South Australia with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta who was also 5/9.  Park Hunter reliables John VK5BJE and Greg VK5GJ then called in.

After working 11 stations on 7.095, my SOTA Goat application on the i-phone bleated, so I tuned down to 7.090 where I worked Andrew VK1DA/2 who was portable on the top of Livingstone Hill VK2/ SM-093, for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  Andrew was a good solid 5/6 and he gave me a 5/7 signal report.  Livingstone Hill is 932 m above seal level (asl) and is located near the New South Wales and ACT border.

I then returned to 7.095 where I spoke with Amanda VK3FQSO and Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland.  But things slowed down from that point on, and despite a few more CQ calls, I had no takers.  The static crashes were also starting to pick up on 40m.  So I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, so that I could operate on 20m.  I was to be disapointed on 20m, as there was no long path propagation into Europe and the United Kingdom.  I could hear John EA7BA on 14.156 but John was very weak.  I could not hear the G stations at all, that he was speaking to.  John was the only European signal I could hear.  The only other activity on 20m that I could hear were some weak Japanese signals.  The band was also covered in the Over the Horizon radar.

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So I returned back to 40m and due to the noise on the band, I started running 40 watts from the Yaesu FT-450.  I spoke with Andrew VK1NAM who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Taylor, VK1/ AC-037 (5/7 both ways).  I then went back to 7.095 and started calling CQ but the static crashes had become louder making it difficult to pick up a couple of weak stations that were calling me.  However, I did manage to speak with George VK4GSF near Toowoomba in Queensland, Matt VK1MA, and Lee VK2LEE.  I put a few more CQ calls out but had no takers, so I tuned across the band and found Simon VK1FAAS calling CQ from SOTA peak, Mount Ainslee VK1/ AC-040 (5/6 sent and 5/8 received).

I then started calling CQ on 7.090 and worked a further 14 stations from VK1, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7.  My first taker here was Peter VK6YV in Perth (5/9 sent and 5/7 received).  This was followed by Wayne VK4XG, south west of Brisbane (5/9 sent and 5/4 received).  I went on to work a further 2 stations in Western Australia.  They being Mark VK6BSA mobile, on his way home from work.  And Alek VK6APK in Perth, who is on the WIA Awards Committee with me.  From past experience and confirmation during this activation, this time of the evening is very good for propagation on 40m into Western Australia.  Adelaide to Perth is a distance of about 2,500 km.  A local QSO we call that here in Australia.  In other parts of the world, it is a DX contact, working across multiple countries.

Sadly, there was a display of poor operating practice again during this activation.  I won’t mention his call sign here, but I had a VK3 come up straight over the top of Alek VK6APK, without asking if the frequency was in use, and start calling one of his mates in VK3.  He did this a number of times until he was sternly told off by a number of stations listening on the side.  No apologies, he just quietly slipped away off the frequency.

Before packing up I decided to book into the 7.130 DX Net.  And I am very pleased I did.  I went on to work William FO5JV in French Polynesia in the Pacific, Joe CU2CE in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal and north western Africa, Bill W1OW in Massachusetts in the USA, and four stations in New Zealand.  This included Noel ZL1DAI who was running just 5 watts from his Elecraft KX3 (4/6 sent and 5/6 received).

As the sun was setting, the kangaroos in the park had become very active.  Despite the noise from the radio, many of them came up quite close to my operating position.  The park was also alive with birds during my stay, including Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos, Blue Wrens, Eastern Rosellas, and Rainbow lorikeets.

So after a number of hours in the park, I had a total of 42 contacts in the log, to add to my other tally of contacts from previous activations from Onkaparinga River NP.  This is a great park to operate from.

For more information on the park, please have a look at…..

DEWNR website:

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/Onkaparinga_River_National_Park_and_Recreation_Park

Friends of the Onkaparinga Park:

http://www.communitywebs.org/onkaparingaparks/

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Peter VK5NAQ (qrp)
  2. Les VK5KLV
  3. John VK5BJE
  4. Greg VK5GJ
  5. Tony VK5FTVR
  6. Nev VK5WG
  7. Peter VK3PF
  8. Brian VK5FMID
  9. Trevor VK5ATQ
  10. Larry VK5LY
  11. Nick VK3ANL
  12. Andrew VK1DA/p (SOTA)
  13. Amanda VK3FQSO
  14. Ivan VK5HS
  15. Andrew VK1NAM/p (SOTA)
  16. George VK4GSF
  17. Matt VK1MA
  18. Lee VK2LEE
  19. Simon VK1FAAS/p (SOTA)
  20. Peter VK6YV
  21. Wayne VK4XG
  22. Ian VK1DI
  23. Paul VK3KLE
  24. Graham VK7ZGK
  25. Ian VK3VIN
  26. Rob VK4FFAB
  27. Mark VK6BSA/m
  28. Jim VK5JW
  29. Alek VK6APK
  30. Ron VK3JP
  31. Peter VK5FLEX
  32. Kevin VK2VKB
  33. Daniel VK3FACC
  34. William FO5JV
  35. Joe CU2CE
  36. Brian ZL2ASH
  37. Lamont ZL2ALK
  38. Noel ZL1DAI (qrp)
  39. Bill W1OW
  40. Ray ZL4WRC
  41. Mike VK3GYH (qrp)
  42. Frank VK2HFS

8 thoughts on “Onkaparinga River National Park, VKFF-402

    • Hi Andrew,

      Same here mate. Good to get you in the log as always. Keep flying the SOTA & parks flag.

      I got an early Christmas & birthday present…..Marija bought me a little Yaesu FT-857 which I am about to collect from the Post office.

      Merry Christmas to you and the family mate. Looking forward to plenty of contacts in 2015.

      Paul,
      VK5PAS

  1. Hi Ian,

    Yes sunset is a great time for 40m. I worked quite a few VK4’s and VK6’s. Even VK6 mobile. And then of course the DX starts rolling in as well. It was a warm evening and very enjoyable sitting back having a yack and watching the sunset.

    Merry Christmas to you and the family and thanks for all the contacts in 2014.

    Paul,
    VK5PAS.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Great to work you on the 7.130 DX net for the first time. I will certainly listen out for you and see if we can make contact again soon.

    I was only running 5 watts or less and the antenna was a hastily organised trap dipole, so all things considered not a bad contact.

    Best 73, Mike VK3GYH / M0GYH.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Well with your 5 watts, you were an excellent signal to the Onkaparinga River NP.

    With the advent of SOTA & the parks activities, a lot of amateurs are now realising that you don’t need to run a KW to have a good contact. QRP 5 watts and a good resonant antenna can reward you with great results.

    Best 73 & HNY 2015,

    Paul,
    VK5PAS

    • Hello Paul,

      All good and thanks for the reply.

      I’ve now set up a more permanent, but stop-gap solution for HF – until we decide where we are going to live long term. It is a vertical, but nicely resonant on 4 HF bands.

      Feel free to ping me any time you are on HF – it would be great to make some more contacts with you. Details on QRZ.com, if you need them.

      Best 73, Mike.

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