Belair National Park, VKFF-022

Yesterday (Saturday 20th December, 2014) I activated the Belair National Park (NP), VKFF-022, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.  I had already activated Belair NP earlier in the year, so there were no VK5 Park Award points up for grabs.  And I had already passed the 44 QSO threshold for Belair NP in the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.  But my real motivation, was to try out my new radio.  My beautiful wife Marija (and yes I am constantly reminded I am ‘boxing above my weight’) and my lovely daughter Olivia, purchased a Yaesu FT-857d for me, and gave it to me as an early Christmas present and early 50th birthday present.  I turn 50 on the 5th January.  So it was off to Belair for me, just a 15 minute drive to the west from home.

I set up just inside Gate 1 off Sheaok Road, at Crafers.  This is on the northern side of the park.  This gate was locked, however there is no restriction to access to the park at this point.  There is a walking track here, Wilyawa Track.  But to gain access to it, you need to either jump the fence, which has barbed wire, or jump the padlocked gate.  Why DEWNR do not have a pedestrian access point here I do not know?  Anyway, I got all the gear from the 4WD and then jumped the fence and walked a short distance down the track, where I set up my station, under the shade of some gum trees, as it was a warm 30 deg C day.

Screenshot 2014-12-20 22.16.38

Map courtesy of

I started off on my nominated frequency of 7.095.  I had posted on the VK5 Parks Yahoo group and the WWFF Australia Yahoo group that I would be on air at 0600 UTC on 7.095.  I was about 15 minutes late, but still did not have to call CQ.  I asked if the frequency was in use and this was responded to by Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  Les gave me a 5/9 in return, and it seemed the band was in very good shape.  It was certainly very quiet.  There was no man made noise on the band due to the remote location of the park, and the QRN (static crashes) that have been present over the past few weeks were noticably absent.  My second caller of the day was Adam VK2YK who was a good 5/8.  Adam was struggling with me a little bit due to QSB, but gave me a 5/4 signal report.  This was followed by Mal VK5MJ in The Riverland in South Australia, who was 5/9 plus.  David VK5KC then called me, using just 1 watt, and was a very nice 5/8 signal.  I had already caught up with David earlier in the day for a coffee.

I went on to work a further 20 stations in VK1, VK3, and VK5.  A few of those stations were operating QRP.  The first QRP caller was Peter VK3TKK who was running just 5 watts.  Peter’s signal was only signal strength 3, but due to the low noise floor, I was able to receive him perfectly.  This was followed by Andrew VK1NAM mobile in VK3, in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  Andrew was running just 2.5 watts from his FT-817 in the car, but nether less had a great 5/7 signal.  Tom VK5FTRG then called in from the South East of South Australia, running just 5 watts, with a nice 5/9 signal.  My final QRP caller was regular QRP operator, Ian VK5IS, again running 5 watts.  Ian had a beautiful 5/9 signal coming in from the Mid North of South Australia.

I also worked a few mobile stations.  Other than Andrew mentioned above, I also spoke with Greg VK5ZGY who was mobile in the South East of South Australia, with a good strong 5/7 signal.  Greg had co pilot and wife, Gabbie, alongside of him.  I then spoke with Ian VK6PXF who was mobile in VK5 at Lonsdale, south of Adelaide.  Ian has started activating National Parks, and has sent me quite a few of his logs for upload to the WWFF Log Search facility.  And lastly I was called by Robin VK5TN who was mobile at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.

But to make my day, I was called by Richard VK5ZRY, who had decided to head out to the Ramsay Way Conservation Park.  The park is/was located on Richard’s property on the Yorke Peninsula.  Richard was trying out his new Yaesu FT-817 and had a magnificent 5/9 signal coming across the Gulf St Vincent to Belair.

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I left the frequency to Richard, and lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, so I could operate on 20m.  However, I was disapointed when I tuned across 20m, to hear only very weak signals coming in from Europe.  I found that my nominated frequency of 14.244 was clear, so I put out about 8 CQ calls but had no takers.  Rather disapointed, I tuned across the 20m band and could hear three stations coming in from Spain.  However, their signals were well down compared to normal conditions.  I also heard Jason ZL3JAS, working long path into Europe.  However, all the European stations he was making contact with, were very weak to me.

So I headed back to 40m.  Prior to calling CQ again, I tuned across the 40m band and I could hear quite a few Europeans & stations from the United Kingdom coming through, including Javier, EA7GAK on 7.178 who was working into the USA.  I gave Javier a few calls, but sadly he could not hear me.  I also heard W1AW/3 on 7.161 working into Europe.  I also called him, but again my 40 watts just wasn’t making the grade.   So I went back to 7.095 and called CQ again, and this was responded to by Nic VK5ZAT who was portable at Carrackalinga on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  I had worked Nic a little earlier, prior to QSYing to 20m.  He had been having problems with a high VSWR on his dipole.  And this time, his signal had dropped down a good 2 S points.  I was then called by Mick VK3FAFK in Stawell in western Victoria, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  And this was followed by Andrew VK5UR mobile in VK2, about 100 km south of Parkes.  I had a lengthy chat with Andrew and his signal always remained around the S9.  Andrew was running an IC7100 and a roof mounted whip antenna.  My last contact on 40m was with Adam VK2YK who had called in again, as conditions had improved.  I was now 5/9 with Adam, and he was 5/9 plus.  I worked a further 13 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, & VK5.

My curiosity had got the better of me, so I again lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, and again tuned to 20m.  I was hoping that the band had improved.  But it was getting a little late, approaching 8.00 p.m.  Again, I could hear some weak Europeans, who were certainly not strong enough for me to try to make contact with.  I managed just 1 DX contact and that was with Michio, 7L4LKK, who was a strong 5/9 to Belair.

So after a number of hours in the park, I had a total of 41 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

  1.  Les VK5KLV
  2. Adam VK2YK
  3. Mal VK5MJ
  4. David VK5KC/qrp
  5. David VK5HYZ
  6. Peter VK3TKK/qrp
  7. Nev VK5WG
  8. Ian VK5KKT
  9. Matt VK1MA
  10. Andrew VK1NAM mobile VK3/qrp
  11. Tom VK5FTRG/qrp
  12. Greg VK5ZGY/m
  13. Ian VK6PXF mobile VK5
  14.  Amanda VK3FQSO
  15. Marshall VK3MRG
  16. Ian VK5IS/qrp
  17. Stuart VK5STU
  18. Peter VK5KPR
  19. Keith VK5FEKH
  20. Steve VK3MEG
  21. Nic VK5ZAT/p
  22. Tom VK5EE
  23. Richard VK5ZRY/p (park to park contact)
  24. Robin VKTN/p
  25. Nic VK5ZRY/p
  26. Mick VK3FAFK
  27. Andrew VK5UR mobile VK2
  28. Gary VK4MDZ
  29. Ian VK3VIN
  30. Rob VK4FFAB
  31. Bruce VK3FBNG
  32. Darren VK2NNN
  33. Kevin VK2VKB
  34. Peter VK3ZPF
  35. Andrew VK2UH
  36. Jim VK5JW
  37. Tony VK3AN
  38. Nick VK3ANL/qrp
  39. Tom VK5FTRG
  40. Adam VK2YK
  41. Michio 7L4LKK