Monarto CP and the 2nd activation afternoon

Late yesterday afternoon (Friday 30th January 2015) I ventured up to the Monarto Conservation Park (CP) for the second Summer afternoon/evening activation event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  I have activated Monarto a number of times previously, but it is close to home, just 30 km east of my home qth in the Adelaide Hills.  So access time to the park is good.  And it is a great park for night time activation, as there is a good carpark off the road, and some good options for setting up a table and chairs and stretching out the dipole.

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map courtesy of

I set up in my usual spot, which is the carpark in the north eastern corner of the park, just off Ferries McDonald Road.  You need to keep a close eye out for the park sign as you travel south, as it can be easily missed.  The entrance is a few km from the South Eastern Freeway Monarto interchange.  As I’ve mentioned, this is a great little spot to set up, and if you are inclined, there is a fantastic ring route around the park, that you can walk from this location, to get a feel for the park and its many native fauna inhabitants.

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image courtesy of wikimapia

Monarto CP is a typical mallee park and contains some gums, sheoaks, and  native pines.  A number of native orchids can be found in the park.  The best time to see the native plants out in flower is late Winter and Spring.

The park is home to the vulnerable Mallefowl (or Lowan).  For more information on Malleefowl in the Monarto area, please have a look at the Malleefowl Monarto website at…..

For this activation, I used the regular equipment… Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre squid pole.  I used the permapine fence in the carpark as an anchor point for the squid pole, which I secured with 2 octopus straps, as it was a little windy at times.

Prior to calling CQ I had a quick look around the 40m band to see if I could find some of the other park activators.  There were a planned 8 parks to be activated around South Australia that afternoon/evening (as it turned out there were 9).  It wasn’t long before I heard Arno VK5ZAR, calling CQ on 7.100.  Arno was my first contact and a ‘park to park’ to boot.  Signal reports of 5/8 were exchanged both ways.  I then found Col VK5HCF in QSO with a VK3 station, on 7.085, with a lovely 5/9 signal from the Naracoorte Caves National Park, VKFF-380.   Col was my second contact (5/9 both ways).  Two parks down.

But at this point I didn’t hear any other park activators, so I moved up to 7.105 where I put out a CQ call and this was immediately answered by Jim VK5TR with his normal 5/9 + signal, and this was followed by Terry VK3UP and then David VK5LSB.  There was quite a pile up of stations calling, so I thought I would take a break from the general home callers, and I asked for any QRP, mobile, or portable stations, and this call was answered by Les VK5KLV who was portable in The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park near Port Augusta in the north of South Australia.  Although Les was running QRP, he was an excellent 5/8-9 signal to Monarto.  This was followed by another ‘park to park’ QSO.  This time with David VK5NQP, who was portable in the Sandy Creek Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  David’s signal was very strong, 5/9 +.  This was followed by a third ‘park to park’ contact, and this time it was John VK5BJE, who was portable in the Scott Creek Conservation Park.

I then called CQ again for any QRP, mobile, and portable, and this was answered by Greg VK5GJ at Meadows, running his usual QRP, and then Bernard VK3AV who was mobile in the Kinglake National Park in Victoria.

I then went back to calling CQ for general callers.  I always try to give the QRP, mobiles, and portables a shot.  I know how hard it is sometimes to break through the plethora of callers running higher power in generally ideal conditions from the comfort of home.

I worked a number of other home stations in VK3 & VK5, and then again called for any QRP, mobile and portable, and that call was answered by Greg VK5ZGY who was mobile in the South East of South Australia, with a nice 5/8 signal.  I then worked Derek VK3FAFC who was running QRP, just 2.5 watts.  Derek was portable in western Victoria, and although was low down (5/1), was very readable in Monarto.

This was followed by a contact with Ian VK5IS in Beetaloo Valley in the Mid North who was running just 5 watts.  This was followed by a contact with Peter VK3TKK who was mobile.  This was a real struggle for Peter who was copying me just 4/1.  However, with the non existant man made noise in the park, I was able to hear Peter very well.  A few QSOs later I worked another mobile station.  This time it was Robin VK5TN, who was mobile at Mount Gambier in the South East, running a 1/4 wave loaded whip on the front of his car.

My next caller was Larry VK5LY, who was operating portable in the Cooltong Conservation Park in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Larry had with him, Peter VK5FLEX, who was out and about for his first ever park activation.  Larry and Peter had terrific 5/9 signals.  Congratulations Peter.  Welcome to the world of portable operation.

A few QSOs later I was called by Bob VK5FO who was operating portable in the Morialta Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Bob had a very nice 5/8 signal to the Murray Mallee.

My last QSO before heading over to 20m was with Colin VK3ZZS, who was portable at Moe in a motor home, using a long wire antenna.  I have often been called whilst in a park or on a summit, by Colin in his journeys around eastern Australia.  It wasn’t worth pursuing things on that frequency on 40m, as some VK4’s had moved in to 7.106, just 1 kc above me, for an apparent sched.  Two were very strong, and how they couldn’t hear the other stations that were working me is beyond me.  Perhaps they did, and just didn’t bother.  It seems to be a bit of a pattern with some scheds, that they are not prepared to move despite who might be operating close by.

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I then QSYd to 20m, and tried for 14.310, my nominated operating frequency.  But this was going to be impossible.  There were the regular German speaking nets, Over the Horizon Radar, and a station operating on LSB.  Absolutely no point calling CQ there, so I had a quick listen across the band.  Although there were some Europeans and Japanese present on the bands, signals were still a little low.  The local time was coming up to 6.30 p.m., so long path Europeans signals were still building.  I put out a few CQ calls on 14.263, but no takers, sadly.

I headed to 14.156 where the normal daily sched is held between a number of VK’s, ZL’s and G’s.  The group is generally run by John EA7BA, who lives in Almeria in Spain.  John was there, and his signal was very good (5/9).  It took me two goes, but I managed to book in.  Some people are incredibly quick on the mic and don’t leave pauses between overs, which makes it difficult to chime in, particularly if you are not running high power.  But I made it, and had a chat to John who gave me a 5/8 signal report.  Alain F4GHB gave me a 5/5 signal report from France.

I then tuned across the band and spoke with EA3BDE in Spain (5/9 sent and 5/5 received), Fred IK4JPK in Italy (5/9 sent and 5/7 received), Hardy DL2HRT (5/8 sent and 5/2 received), and Michael IZ4ZZB (5/9 sent and 5/6 received).  I even managed a QSO with my very good friend Marnix OP7M (5/7 sent and 4/5 received).

I then went back to 40m as I had received an SMS message from Andy VK5AKH to say that he was out and about, portbale.  I found Andy on 7.090 calling CQ with a very nice 5/9 signal from the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park.  This made number 8 park, and my 9th park to park contact for this activation.  I was very pleased to get all of the park activators in the log.

I then called CQ on 7130 until just before 0930 UTC when the 7130 DX Net commenced.  During that 20 minute period I made a total of 11 QSOs into VK2, VK3, VK5, & ZL.  I stuck around for one round on the 7130 DX Net and worked Roy VK7ROY (Net control), William FO5JV in French Polynesia, Adrian ZL1GBG and Caleb ZL2ML.

I then moved up to 7.155 where I called CQ and this was answered by Bill ZL2BGX in Alexandra in New Zealand.  Bill had a very strong 5/9 signal and I received a 5/8 signal report from the South Island.  I was also called by Maurice ZL2MF mobile, about 120 km south of Auckland (5/8 both ways).  I also spoke with Andrew VK5MR who was mobile near Mount Bryan in the Mid North of South Australia, using an IC7000 and a Terlin antenna.  Andrew activated a few parks last year for the 1st anniversary of the VK5 Parks Award, and we spoke about his improved portable operating set up, and the fact that he was going to activate some parks again this year for the 2nd year anniversary.  Great stuff Andrew.

It was about this time that Jeff VK5HEL arrived.  Jeff lives just down the road at Murray Bridge, and until recently lived in Tasmania.  Jeff and I had spoken on 40m a little earlier in the night, with Jeff indicating that he might pop out.  It was good to catch up with Jeff and put a face to the name, and show him my operating conditions.  I got Jeff behind the mic just once.  And that was to talk to his old mate from Tasmania, Greg VK7FGGT.  Otherwise, Jeff sat back, and had a listen while I worked the park hunters.

I worked a few more QRP hunters including Nev VK5WG, Matt VK3FORD running 5 watts, and Tony VK3CAB running 8 watts from a Chinese transceiver.  I also spoke with Craig VK6VCK mobile in Western Australia, and my old mate Ted VK6NTE.  I made the mistake of telling Ted I was a bit hungry and thirsty.  Ted went on to tell me that he was sipping on a nice cold beer and had just finished a mixed grill.  Thanks Ted!  My last contact for the evening was with Peter VK4PQ in Townsville in Far North Queensland (5/9 both ways).

The band was in excellent shapr, but it was getting late.  In fact 10.00 p.m.  So I packed up the gear and got back on the road, heading for home, after saying ‘see ya later’ to Jeff.  I was very pleased with a total of 79 contacts in the log.  This was another great Summer afternoon/activation event.  The next fortnightly event will be held on FRIDAY 13th FEBRUARY 2015.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Arno VK5ZAR/p (Black Hill CP)
  2. Col VK5HCF/p (Naracoorte Caves NP)
  3. Jim VK5TR
  4. Terry VK3UP
  5. David VK5LSB
  6. Fred VK3DAC
  7. Peter VK3ZPF
  8. Les VK5KLV/p (The Dutchmans Stern CP)
  9. David VK5NQP/p (Sandy Creek CP)
  10. John VK5bJE/p (Belair NP)
  11. Greg VK5GJ
  12. Bernard VK3AV/m
  13. Adrian VK5FANA
  14. John VK5FMJC
  15. Mick VK3FAFK
  16. Derek VK3FAFC/p
  17. Jeff VK5JK
  18. Tony VK3CAT
  19. Greg VK5ZGY/m
  20. Andy VK2FBAC
  21. Ian VK5IS
  22. Peter VK3TKK/m
  23. Amanda VK3FQSO
  24. Daniel VK5DF
  25. Keith VK5OQ
  26. Damien VK5FDEC
  27. Robin VK5TN/m
  28. Larry VK5LY/p (Cooltong CP)
  29. Peter VK5FLEX/p (Cooltong CP)
  30. Peter VK5KPR
  31. Brett VK3FLCS
  32. Bob VK5FO/p (Morialta CP)
  33. Tony VK5FTVR
  34. Colin VK3ZZS/p
  35. Andy VK5AKH/p (Horsnell Gully CP)
  36. Errol VK5FEKH
  37. Tim VK5AV
  38. Doug VK2FMIS
  39. Jeff VK5HEL
  40. Rob VK4FFAB
  41. Owen VK4FADW
  42. Gordon VK5GY/m
  43. Gavin VK3MLU
  44. Brian ZL2ASH
  45. Tom VK5FTRG/3
  46. Brian VK5FMID
  47. Roy VK7ROY
  48. William FO5JV
  49. Adrian ZL1GBG
  50. Caleb ZL2ML
  51. Bill ZL2BGX
  52. Oscar VK4BOV
  53. John VK3HJD
  54. John VK5FTCT
  55. Andrew VK5MR/m
  56. Maurice ZL2MF/m
  57. Steve VK5ST
  58. Tony VK5KAT
  59. George VK4GSF
  60. Leigh VK5KLT
  61. Greg VK7FGGT
  62. Paul VK7CC
  63. Peter VK3NAD
  64. Adam VK7VAZ
  65. Nev VK%WG
  66. Matt VK3FORD
  67. Tony VK3CAB
  68. Cleeve VK2MOR
  69. Craig VK6VCK/m
  70. Ted VK6NTE
  71. Russell VK2VK
  72. Peter VK4PQ

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. John EA7BAAlain F4GHB
  2. Sal EA3BDE
  3. Fred IK4JPK
  4. Marnix OP7M
  5. Hardy DL2HRT
  6. Michael IZ4ZZB

Below is a video of the activation which I have placed on You Tube…..


Exciting news about parksnpeaks

There is some very exciting news about the parksnpeaks site.  It now features an audible tone when someone is ‘spotted’ on the site, either as a SOTA activator, a parks activator, QRP, etc.  The current sound is that of a goat bleating (as per SOTAWatch).  However, Allen is working on a unique sound for non SOTA spots.

I am sure that everyone is aware of parksnpeaks.  It is the creation of Allen VK3HRA and is a spotting and alert facility for VK SOTA, Parks, QRP Activators and Chasers/Hunters.

There is an excellent ‘Help’ page on Allen’s site which describes the background and history of parksnpeaks, and also describes the various portable activities.  It can be found at…..

So now, if you’re in the shack, and you are logged in to parksnpeaks, and an activator is spotted, you will hear the audible alert.  A fantastic addition of an already excellent site.  This will greatly help park activators and hunters.

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Andrew VK3ARR also has an ‘Android’ app.  Andrew is working on another sound for the parks ‘spots’.  At this stage the sound of a Kookaburra singing, appears to be the favourite.  More information can be found at Andrew’s WordPress site at…..

I have mentioned this many times on the VK5 Parks Yahoo group, the WWFF Yahoo group, here on my WordPress site, and in the Out & About newsletter, but PLEASE…….


There continues to be a trend amongst many park hunters in particular, to work the park activator and then move on.  Why?  I don’t know why?

By spotting the activator, you are not only helping the activator, but also helping your fellow chasers/hunters.

Many of the National Park activators are trying to reach the 44 QSO threshold for the WWFF global awards.  So any contact is precious.  And by you spotting the activator, you may just drum up that 44th QSO for them.

But spotting is also done for the consideration of other chasers/hunters.

You may also want to spot the activator on the DX Cluster.  What is the DX cluster?  Well in essence it is a ‘chatroom’ or node, into which hams can post information about stations that have either worked or heard.  The DX cluster is a worldwide network of connected computers that collect, store and disseminate information that amateurs send to it. There are thousands of nodes around the world, connected together via the internet or radio.  Below are some links to some of the various clusters…..

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So come on chasers & hunters.  Don’t just work the activator and move on.  Have some consideration for the activator and your fellow chasers and hunters.  It only takes a few minutes to place a spot.  And your actions will certainly be appreciated by both the activator and the many chasers/hunters.



parksnpeaks, 2015, <;, viewed 29th January 2015

Wiki <;, viewed 29th January 2015


Mount George Conservation Park

After getting home in the afternoon from the Fleurieu Peninsula, I decided to head out after tea, to do a ‘twilight’ activation at the Mount George Conservation Park.  This is just a short 10 minute drive from home, a little further to the west, along the South Eastern Freeway.

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map courtesy of

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image courtesy of

I set up at the end of Mount George Road.  No need for my fold up table and deck chair, as there was an already provided wooden table and bench for me.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu Ft857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole.

After setting up I booked in to the 7130 DX Net on 40m where I worked a total of 11 stations.  This included a little bit of DX: William FO5JV 5/9 sent and 5/5 received), and Brian ZL2ASH (5/9 both ways).  I also made contact with Chris (VK3FY) operating the special event call of AX16AC for the Asian Cup Soccer tournament (or football for the purists).  And also Adrian, DL1ADI/VK3 in the Grampians National Park.

The sulphur crested cockatoos were creating a hell of a noise whilst I was on the net.  It was starting to get dark, when they become very active.  A few people on the net, commented that they could hear them in the background.


Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

I then left the net and moved up to 7.150 where I put out a CQ call, and this was answered by Steve AX5SFA who was 5/9 ++.  I went on to work a total of 30 stations on 7.150 in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, & VK7.  The band was in very good shape.  However, there were a few static crashes present, and sadly at times, the very loud Over the Horizon radar.  I would love to know where that originates from?  There are a lot of theories.

Thanks to Rob VK4FFAB who spotted me on the parksnpeaks site, and also the Amateur Radio (HAM) Australia Facebook site.  I’m sure this brought in a lot of callers.

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Prior to packing up I decided to have a quick listen on 20m.  Specifically the Southern Cross DX Net on 14.2385.  This is held daily, at 1130 UTC and Net Control is Jack W1FDY.  Jack was coming in quite well, with a 5/9 signal and he reciprocated with a 5/6 signal report.  Not bad for 40 watts and my very basic linked dipole.  I also spoke with my good friend Bill W1OW in Massachussetts (5/5 both ways), Peter AX3CFA in western Victoria, and Andy (E51AND) in the South Cook Islands, using the special call of E50A to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Self Governance in the Cook Islands.

It was starting to get cold and late (10.45 p.m.) so it was time to pack up and head home.  I had a total of 45 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. William FO5JV
  2. Brian ZL2ASH
  3. George VK4GSF
  4. Rod AX3OB
  5. Chris VK2UW
  6. Paul VK7CC
  7. Phil VK2MCB
  8. Chris AX16AC
  9. Gavin VK3MLU
  10. Mal VK6MJ
  11. DL1ADI/VK3 (Grampians National Park)
  12. Steve AX5SFA
  13. Stephen VK7PSJ
  14. Jeff VK5HEL
  15. Peter AX3KCD
  16. Tony VK3FMRC
  17. Ron VK3JP
  18. Andy VK2FBAC
  19. Steve VK2FISN
  20. Nev VK5WG
  21. Bryan VK3FACT
  22. Paul AX5FZZ
  23. Rob VK4FFAB
  24. Peter VK3FPSR
  25. Ray VK3HSR
  26. Tony VK3AAT
  27. John AX6WC
  28. Ray AX3ACR
  29. David VK5NQP
  30. Tom VK5FTRG
  31. Shaun AX3VLY
  32. Oscar VK4BOV
  33. Errol VK5FEKH
  34. Chris VK6FDKR
  35. Chris AX2BOZ
  36. John VK5NJ
  37. Doug AX2FMIA/p
  38. Peter VK5FLRX
  39. Ian AX3VIG/5
  40. AX3VJG/5
  41. Peter VK3ZPF

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Jack W1FDY
  2. Bill W1OW
  3. Peter AX3CFA
  4. Andy E50A


Talisker Conservation Park

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favourite parks in South Australia, is the Talisker Conservation Park (CP), situated on the Fleurieu Peninsula, about 100 km south of Adelaide.  This was my second activation for Australia Day 2015.

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Map courtesy of

The park is just a short drive from Black Bullock Hill, VK5/ SE-016 (my SOTA activation).  I travelled back up Tent Rock Road and turned left onto Three Bridges Road and headed west until I reached Range Road West, where I turned left.  About 1.5 km further up you will reach Rarkang Road.  There are some signs here indicating the old Talisker Mine.  Turn left into Rarkang Road.  Travel another @1 km south along Rarkang Road, and you will reach the intersection with Talisker Road.  You can continue south along Rarkang Road (it becomes a dead end – to private property) and follow the eastern boundary of the park, but your options along there to set up are limited.  The scrub is very thick and there is nowhere really for you to park your car.  Plus, there are a number of holiday homes on the western side of the road, which may throw off some noise on the bands.  So I took Talisker Road and headed south west.  Talisker Road cuts right through the heart of the park.

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This is very pretty scenery through here.  The terrain is quite steep and the scrub is very thick.  There are some sensational views of nearby Kangaroo Island.  If you are in a conventional vehicle, take it a little easy, as although the dirt road is in good condition, it is quite steep in sections and can be a little slippery undertoe.

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Map courtesy of 

Talisker CP is about 212 hectares in size and preserves some very beautiful native scrub.  The park was established in 1985 and contains remnants of Fleurieu Peninsula scrub, some steep walking tracks and the heritage-listed remains of a nineteenth century silver and lead mine.  The park had been the scene of intermittent mining activity until it was gazetted on 28th November 1985 as a Conservation Park (Wikipedia and other sites state 1976).

The park is home to a large variety of wildlife including Western Grey kangaroos, Southern Brown bandicoots, and Short-beaked echidnas.  It was alive with birdlife whilst I was there, including Superb Blue Wrens and Yellow tailed black cockatoos.  And again, the native flowers were out, attracting a huge number of butterflys.

I have activated Talisker CP once before, back in April 2014.  For more information on that activation, please have a look at my previous post…..

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I set up on the north western side of Talisker Road at the old camping ground area.  Unfortunately, the track leading to the cleared area is now blocked off for vehicles.  But there is a carpark here and you can walk a short distance to this area and the toilet block.  I set up my little fold up table and deck chair.  However, if I had looked a bit closer, there is a wooden table and benches on the other side of the scrub, under some beautiful shady trees.  Just perfect for an activation.

For this park activation I used my Yaesu FT-857d, ran 40 watts output, and the 40m/20m linked dipole.  The ground was way too hard for me to use the  squid pole holder, so I improvised and used a small sapling to secure the squid pole, with an octopus strap.  Not ideal, but it worked.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 10.06.57

image courtesy of

Again, for this activation, I used the special call of AX5PAS, as it was AUSTRALIA DAY.  We only get to use that special prefix three times a year, so I thought I would put it to good use.  I found 7.095 to be clear, which was my nominated operating frequency.  I aksed if the frequency was in use and was immediately greeted by my old mate, Larry VK5LY in The Riverland.  Larry was a beautiful 5/9 and he returned me the compliment and gave me a 5/9 signal report.  This was followed by a contact with Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, running QRP, just 4 watts (5/4 sent & 5/9 received).  Another good mate then called in, Dave AX3VCE in north western Victoria, followed by Amanda VK3FQSO, running QRP again.  And again this time, just 500 milliwatts, with an excellent 5/5 signal from Wedderburn.

About 8 QSOs later, I received a call from Marshall AX3MRG who was portable in the Lake Eildon National Park, which qualifies for both the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  Marshall had a good 5/4 signal coming into Talisker.  Two QSO’s later, I spoke with Andrew VK1DA who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Mundoonen, VK2/ ST-053, east of Yass.  Andrew had a good 5/4 signal into the Fleurieu.  And then a few QSOs later I was called by Tony AX3CAT who was on SOTA peak Britannia Range, VK3/ VC-011, east of Melbourne (5/7 both ways).

I continued to work the VK stations, including some QRP and mobile stations.  This included Peter VK3TKK running just 5 watts (5/5 both ways), Andrew AX3ARR also running 5 watts (5/9 both ways), Ian VK5CZ mobile 20 km north of Clare (5/8 sent & 5/9 received), and then Greg VK5ZGY who was mobile in the South East.

And then to my surprise I received a call from Mark VK6BSA near Esperance in Western Australia.  Mark was a good strong 5/8 signal and gave me a 5/3 signal report in return.  It is not very often that I’ve worked into VK6 on 40m, at this time of the day whilst portable.

A few QSOs later I was called by Tom AX5AA and Col VK5HCF, both portable in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park.  They were coming in well, with 5/9 signals from the South East.  A lot better than we had experienced earlier whilst I was on Black Bullock Hill.  It was great to get Tom and Col in the log, and have a VK5 ‘park to park’ contact for the VK5 Parks Award.

And then a few QSOs later I received a call from Tony AX3CMZ at an Australia Day event near Bendigo.  Tony was struggling to hear me a bit, as there was lots of man made noise QRN at his end, at the event which had about 2,000 people in attendance.  I then worked another QRP station.  This time, Nev VK5WG running just 5 watts from his little X1M transceiver (5/9 both ways).

When the activity on 40 m had slowed, I took the opportunity of lowering the squid pole and removing the links in the dipole, and trying my luck on the 20 m band.  I put out a CQ call and this was answered by Frank VK3GFS/2, portable at his son Adam VK2YK’s house near Newcastle.  Frank was a fantastic 5/9 plus signal.  I also spoke with Adam VK2YK (had spoken with him a little earlier on 40m).   But during one of Adam’s overs on 20m, a signficant ‘whooshiing’ sound came onto the frequency and lasted for about 20 seconds.  It was very loud and very pronounced.  I thought that maybe something was wrong with the antenna, so I quickly tuned down the band, only to find that the noise was across the portion of the 20m band that I listened to.  And Adam’s signal had dropped from 5/9 plus to about 5/8, and there was lots of noise on the frequency.  Adam then handed it back to me, and I informed Adam of what I had just heard on the band.  When I handed it back to Adam, he reported that the noise floor had also increased significantly and my signal had dropped dramatically as well.  We both came to the conclusion that it was most likely due to a solar flare or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).  Anyway I pushed on, and called CQ again, and this was answered by Nigel VK6NI, near Denmark in Western Australia.  Nigel was my final contact in the park (5/8 sent and 5/3 received).

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Following my activation and packing up the gear, I decided to go for a look at the old mining area.  The park incorporates the old Talisker silver-lead mine, which is of significant heritage value.  Silver was discovered in 1862 by John McLeod.  The area was named after a locality on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  Below are some photographs of Talisker in Scotland.

Images courtesy of

I highly recommend taking the walk down to the mine.  It is a little steep, but the walk is graded as ‘moderate’.  Take your time.  It is worth the effort.  There are interpretive signs along the way, with some magnificent ruins still in tact.  Lots of history there to be seen.

The Talisker mine employed Cornish miners and supported a nearby township called Silverton.  The population of Silverton grew to 3000 at its peak in 1870.  The Talisker Mining Company worked the mine until falling ore grades and a lack of finance, forced the mine’s closure in 1872.  Between 1917 to 1920, the mine was worked again, mainly for arsenic.

The former Postcards television program, visited the area some years ago.  Here is a link….

And there is also an excellent brochure on the history of the mine, written by Mines & Energy South Australia.  Here is a link…..

Click to access talisker-mine-broch-red.pdf

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Below are some photographs of the mine from the South Australian State Library online collection….

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After having a look around the mining area, I walked up to the lookout area.  This is just a short 10 minute walk from the carpark, and again, well worth the effort.  You will be rewarded with some spectacular views of Kangaroo Island, the surrounding countryside including the Starfish Hill windfarm, and the mining area.

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I found the photos below on the State Library site.  Thought people might like to see the ‘then and now’ photographs….

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After I had finished walking around the mining area, I drove a little further south west along Talisker Road.  The road becomes a dead end and unfortunately there is no access to the coast, as the land becomes private property.  However, it is well worth going to for a look as there are some spectacular views across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island.  You will also be able to view the south western side of the park.

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This was a very enjoyable activation, with a total of 43 contacts in the log over an hour & 20 minute period.  This included two SOTA contacts, one Victorian National Park, and one South Australian Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Larry VK5LY
  2. Greg VK5GJ(qrp)
  3. Dave AX3VCE
  4. Amanda VK3FQSO (qrp)
  5. Les VK5KLV
  6. Tim VK5AV
  7. John VK2AWJ
  8. Julie VK3FOWL
  9. Fred AX3DAC
  10. Adrian VK5FANA
  11. Nigel AX5NIG
  12. Marshall AX3MRG/p (Lake Eildon NP)
  13. David VK5NQP
  14. Andrew VK1DA/p (SOTA)
  15. Peter VK3TKK (qrp)
  16. Tony AX3CAT/p (SOTA)
  17. Joe VK3YSP/p
  18. Andrew AX3ARR (qrp)
  19. Richard VK5ZRY
  20. Ian VK5CZ/m
  21. David AX5KC
  22. Greg VK5ZGY/m
  23. Roy AX5NRG
  24. Barry AX5KBJ
  25. Tom VK5FTRG
  26. Mark VK6BSA
  27. Peter AX3CFA
  28. Richard VK2BO
  29. Tom AX5AA/p (Dingley Dell CP)
  30. Col VK5HCF/p (Dingley Dell CP)
  31. Chris VK5FCHM
  32. Tony VK3CMZ/p
  33. Nev VK5WG (qrp)
  34. Brian VK5FMID
  35. Gary VK5ZK
  36. Adam VK2YK
  37. VK3ZZS/p
  38. Mark AX5QI/p
  39. Andy AX5AKH
  40. John VK2FALL

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Frank VK3GFS/2
  2. Adam VK2YK
  3. Nigel VK6NI



Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Parks of the Fleurieu Peninusla’, June 2011

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, ‘Deep Creek and Talisker Bushwalking Guide’, 2014.

Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 28th January 2015

Black Bullock Hill VK5/ SE-016

For Australia Day (Monday 26th January 2015) I headed down to the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide, where I activated Black Bullock Hill, VK5/ SE-016 as part of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  The summit is the highest point of the Fleurieu Peninusla, and is located near the little town of Delamere, about 100 km south of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-01-27 20.54.23

Map courtesy of

This is not a ‘traditional’ summit, in that it is not a hill or mountain.  But it is the highest point on the Fleurieu Peninusla, and qualifies for the SOTA program under the 150 prominence rule.

I have activated the summit two times previously.  In fact it was my first ever SOTA activation, way back in March, 2013.  For more information on those activations, please have a look at my previous posts…..

Screenshot 2015-01-27 20.53.44

map courtesy of

It is a beautiful drive from my home in the Adelaide Hills, down to the summit.  I got up early though to miserable weather.  It was raining, and I was worried that I might have to cancel the activation.  This was weather that we are certainly not used to on Australia Day in the middle of Summer.


Above- the view from my front yard, first thing in the morning.  Not good!

Anyway I packed the car and headed off through Echunga, on to Meadows, and then on to Willunga via Brookman Road, travelling passed the beautiful pine forests.  They were still packing up the marquees at the top of Willunga Hill where they held the King of the Mountain for the Tour Down Under cycling event.  From there I cut across to Myponga through Pages Flat, and then travelled south until I reached the towns of Yankalilla and Normanville.  I then travelled south along the Main South Road, following the coastline and the amazing views, until heading back inland to Second Valley.  This is truly, very beautiful countryside.  From there I reached the little town of Delamere, where I turned left onto Range Road and headed east.  Once I reached Three Bridges Road I turned right and headed south until I reached the intersection of Three Bridges Road, Dog Trap Road, and Tent Rock Road.  The summit is located on the south eastern corner of this intersection.  I encountered numerous kangaroos along the way, so it was slow going.  This resulted in me, having to pull over and amend my alert on SOTAWatch, delaying the activation by one hour.

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As I had sought approval from the land owner prior to heading to the summit, I parked my car down Dog Trap Road, and walked up to the summit, and with some care, climbed the electric fence and approached the trig point, which is just a short distance inside the fenceline.  It is hidden a little by the thick scrub on the eastern side of the road.  It was here at the trig point, that I set up my equipment.  For this activation I used my Yaesu FT-817nd, 5 watts output power, and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  I powered the radio with a 12 volt 4 ah SLAB battery.  I secured the squid pole to a squid pole holder, with the assistance of an octopus strap.  And for this activation, I used the special AX prefix to celebrate Australia Day.

No creature comforts here at the summit.  I sat alongside the trig point, with my back propped up against the trig.  At home, amongst the ants and the other creepy crawlies.  And the weather was miserable.  Although it had stopped raining, it was freezing cold.  The Southern Ocean was in sight, and the breeze off there was very chilly.  The nearest land to the south is Antarctica, so no wonder it is a cold spot.  Unfortunately, the issue of no rain was not to last.  And as I found out during the activation, there were a few times I had to seek shelter underneath my bothy bag.

Screenshot 2015-01-27 20.54.12

Image courtesy of

Prior to calling CQ I had a quick look around the band and soon found Col VK5HCF calling CQ from the Piccanninie Ponds Conservation Park in the South East of South Australia.  I was aware that Col and Tom VK5EE were going to venture out that morning for the activation, and I was hoping to get them in the log for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  Only trouble was, Col was virtually unreadable.  He was so low down and faint, that I didn’t even bother calling because I didn’t think I would get through.  This was very disapointing, as I was hoping to work Col whilst he was in the Conservation Park.  But things were to only get worse.

I then found John VK5BJE, calling CQ from the Belair National Park in the Adelaide Hills.  John was the second VK5 Parks activator that I knew as going to be out and about that morning.  And he too was so low down, that again I didn’t bother even trying to make the contact.  In fact, John’s signal was even lower than Col’s.  This was not a good start to the morning’s proceedings.

So with a fair degree of disapointment, I found 7.105 to be clear and put out a CQ call.  This was immediately answered by Amanda VK3FQSO with a nice strong 5/8 signal from Wedderburn.  And this was followed by Julie VK3FOWL, also 5/8, and then Bandor AX3FKSA who was also 5/8.  Three Foundation call,s running 10 watts, with excellent signals.  It appeared that the further afield stations were coming in well.  But there was no close in propagation.  My fourth qualifying contact for the summit, was with John, AX2YW in Wagga Wagga who was a very strong 5/9.

My 7th contact in the log, was Mike, VK6MB in Perth, Western Australia, who was a very nice 5/8 signal, some 2,700 km away.  Mike gave me a 4/4 signal report from my 5 watts.  Not great, but we still made the contact on 40m, which is not always possible at such great distance.  It is always a challenge to get the VK6 boys on 40m.

A few QSOs later I was called my Peter AX3PF/7 who was portable in Narawntapu National Park in northern Tasmania.  Peter was a nice strong 5/8 signal from his portable set up.  And then a few QSOs later I had another National Park in the log.  This time it was Marshall AX3MRG who was portable in the Lake Eildon National Park in central Victoria (5/5 sent and 5/6 received).

When things started to slow down a little on 7.105, I took the opportunity of tuning around the band,  and I was very pleased I did, because I found Col VK5HCF on 7.100, calling CQ.  And this time he was readable.  Not a lot better.  But at least readable from Piccanninie Ponds Conservation Park.  Col and I exchanged 5/1 signal reports.  Not strong signals, but one of the benefits of working portable.  You can ‘hear a pin drop’ so you can generally work the weakest of signals.  If only it was like that at home!

I then went to 7.090 and called CQ and worked a further 19 stations in VK1, VK3, VK5, & VK7.  This included my first summit to summit of the morning.  This was with Ian VK1DI who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Majura, VK1/ AC-034 (5/3 both ways).  A few QSOs later I was called by Tony VK3CAT/p, who was portable on SOTA summit, Mount Bride, VK3/ VC-009, near Warburton (5/7 both ways).

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Again, when things slowed down on 7.090, I took the opportunity of having a look around the 40m band again.  And again, I was rewarded with doing this, because I found John VK5BJE calling CQ from the Belair National Park.  And not only had John’s signal improved.  It had improved dramaticlally.  It had gone from being virtually undetectable, to now a good strong 5/8.  John and I were so happy to make the contact (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).

I then worked Tom AX5AA (VK5EE) in the Piccanninie Ponds Conservation Park, on 7.100.  Again, Tom’s signal had gone from being very faint, to a good strong 5/8.  The 40m band was certainly doing some peculiar things.

I then found Reuben VK7FREU, calling CQ on 7.080 from SOTA summit Mount Wellington, VK7/ SC-001.  After working Reuben, I also spoke to his Dad, Justin VK7TW, who was on the summit with Reuben.  Again, not strong signals.  But very comfortable contacts, due to non existant man made noise floor.

I then went to 7.085 and worked a further 8 stations in VK3, VK3, & VK5 before the UTC rollover, including Gerard AX2IO who was mobile.  The 40m band was certainly behaving peculiarly, but was still allowing for some very good contacts into the eastern states.

After the UTC rollover I called CQ on 7.090 and worked a total of 20 stations in VK3 & VK5.  This included Peter VK3PF/7 in the Narawntapu National Park, Tony AX3CAT on VK3/ VC-009, Marshall AX3MRG at Horseshoe Bend in the Lake Eildon National Park, and Tom AX5AA & Col VK5HCF, both in the Ewens Ponds Conservation Park.

Another highlight was working Amanda VK3FQSO who was running QRP on just 500 milliwatts.  Amanda was a very nice 5/5 signal despite the very low power.

I also gave 20m a quick shot and worked a total of 5 stations there in VK2, VK4, & VK6.  This included Gerard AX2IO who was mobile.

So, after 2 and a half hours on the summit, I had a total of 74 contacts in the log, including one South Australian National Park, two South Australian Conservation Parks, one Victorian National Park, one Tasmanian National Park, and three Summit to Summit contacts.  I was very happy.  It was time to pack up, and head off to my next activation, which was the Talisker Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-01-27 18.15.34

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park

Yesterday afternoon/evening (Friday 23rd January, 2015, I activated the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, in the ‘Adelaide Hills’ Mount Lofty Ranges.  The park is situated about 16 km east of Adelaide, and is close to the little town of Carey Gully.  It just a short drive from home.

Screenshot 2015-01-24 10.55.36

map courtesy of

I have activated this park previously on 2 occasions (2013 and 2014).  For details on those activations and more information on the park, please have a look at…..

I have talked about the history of this park previously.  But it is extremely interesting and is well worth mentioning again.  The park is named in honour of Kenneth George Stirling, who was an accountant and benefactor.  He died suddenly in 1973, of heart disease, aged just 38.  Stirling earnt considerable wealth due to shareholding in mining interests, and apparently this paper value embarrassed him.  According to his wife, ‘he believed he hadn’t earned the money the mining boom brought him’ and ‘his main concern was to use it for the good of the community’.  He was a member of the Nature Conservation Society of South Australia and other organisations and over the years made several  anonymous gifts including $200,000 to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to establish national parks in South Australia. The money he gave to the A.C.F. helped to establish national parks at Montacute and Mount Scott, both near Adelaide, and in the extension of existing reserves at Scott Creek, in the Mount Lofty Ranges, and Warrenben, on Yorke Peninsula.  In 1990 the State government acquired land in the Adelaide Hills for the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park.

He sounds like a very humble and fascinating fellow.  And it is to his credit, that we now have some beautiful conservation parks in South Australia.  For more information on Stirling, please have a look at…..

The park is unique in that it is separated into four autonomous sections: Wotton Scrub, Filsell Hill, White Scrub, and Burdett Scrub.  The largest section being Filsell Hill.

As I had activated the Wotton Scrub Section previously, I tried to get into some of the other sections.  Firstly, I went to the ‘Filsell Hill’ section.  I travelled down Ostigh Road off Greenhill Road and saw the park on my right.  But the scrub was very thick and very difficult for portable operation.  As I travelled north, I reached a ‘dead end’ and an entrance to private property.  However, Google maps shows Ostigh Road continuing to the north.   It doesn’t!

I then went to the White Scrub section on Greenhill Road, negotiating all of the bicycle riders that were returning to Adelaide, after the world famous Tour Down Under cycling event.  The Tour Down Under brings out the best and worst in some bike riders.  Including some guys over 50 that should never wear lycra!  Anyway, I got to the park and again, found that signposting was very poor and access was difficult.

As I was running out of time, I decided to play it safe and I headed to the Wotton Scrub section of the park, which can be easily accessed off Gum Flat Road.  There is a small carpark here, off the Gum Flat Road, and a nice cleared area (access track) which allows you to string out a dipole.

Screenshot 2015-01-24 10.56.19

map courtesy of

As the Kandos Group was still running on 7.093, I headed to 7.098 where I put out a number of CQ calls, with no answers.  Was something wrong?  No, there was nothing wrong with the antenna.  The stations on the Kandos Net were coming in very well.  So back to 7.098 and some more CQ calls.  Again, no takers.  I then sent out an SMS message and as a result, David VK5KC gave me a shout with an excellent 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by David VK5NQP, Col VK5HCF and John VK5BJE.  It appeared that I had finally stirred up the park hunters.  Some of the more interesting contacts here were with Amanda VK3FQSO who was 5/7-9 on just 1 watt, and Greg who was 5/8 also running QRP with 5 watts.

I ended up with a bit of a mini pile up and went on to work a total of 17 stations during this period, in VK3 & VK5.  But it then slowed again, so I decided this was an excellent opportunity to try out my new 15m dipole.  So down came the 7 metre squid pole, off with the 40m/20m linked dipole, and up with the 15m dipole.

I tuned around the 15m band but could not hear a lot of activity, except for the very big pile up high in the band, where EP6T in Iran, was operating split frequency.  However I did hear Ken JG2MQM speaking with VKs and ZLs on 21.263.  So I patiently waited for Ken to finish his QSO and I gave him a call.  Although not a booming signal (Ken was 5/8), I did manage to make contact.  Ken gave me a 5/6 signal report in return.  I then went up a little higher to 21.270 and put out a CQ call and this was answered by Peter ZL1BRL, at Auckland in New Zealand, who was running 100 watts and a Delta loop.  Both Peter and I were experiencing lots of QSB on each others signals.  But  at least my antenna worked.  And these were my first ever 15m contacts whilst operating portable in a park, so I was very happy.

The goat had bleated on my SOTA Goat app on my iphone, and I saw a spot for Rob VK2QR, who was on a SOTA peak in New South Wales, as part of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  So I quickly replaced the 15m antenna, with the linked dipole again, and tuned to 7.090 where I head Rob with a very nice 5/9 signal from Gurkeroo Ridge, VK2/ SW-051, south of Tumut in the Bago State Forest.  Surprisingly, Rob was not all that busy and I managed to make contact after just the one call.  I would also like to congratulate Rob, who made ‘Mountain Goat’ yesterday.  Well done Rob for reaching the 1,000 point mark as an activator.

Unfortunately I had missed Rod, VK2TWR, who had also been on a summit in New South Wales, but had to go clear due to the rain.

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I then moved up the band to 7.105 and put out a CQ call and this was answered by the ever keen Peter VK3PF with a nice strong signal.  And this was followed by another very active park activator and hunter, Joe VK3YSP (and later followed by Joe’s wife, Julie VK3FOWL).  I went on to work a further 14 stations after Joe in VK3, VK5 & ZL.  This included Jerry VK3MEK who was running QRP 6 watts from an oval in Melbourne, and Allen VK3HRA running QRP 5 watts, trying out a new end fed antenna in his backyard.

The New Zealand contact was with Rob ZL2BTQ who was maritime mobile in Queen Charlotte Sound, near Picton.  What a beautiful part of the world.  Marija and I travelled to New Zealand for 4 weeks back in 2010 for our honeymoon, and travelled through the Queen Charlotte Sound.  I was very pleased to get Rob in the log.  Below are some photos I took whilst in that area back in 2010.

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I then tried my luck on 20m, but I had left things a little too late.  There were not a lot of strong signals coming in from Europe.  However, I did work John EA7BA in Spain and Steve GJ7DNI in the Channel Islands, on 14.156.  The Channel Islands was a new DXCC for me, whilst operating portable.  I then put out a few CQ calls on 14.214, and finally got a call from my mate, Ted VK6NTE with his normal 5/9 plus plus signal.  And then Caleb ZL2ML in Gisborne in New Zealand.  I normally work Caleb on 40m on the 7130 DX Net.  Caleb had a very strong 5/9 plus signal here on 20m.

It was now 8.30 p.m. so I headed back to 40m and checked in to the 7130 DX Net.  My first 4 contacts here, were with Andy VK4TH near Kingaroy in Queensland, William FO5JV in French Polynesia, Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington New Zealand, and Tony VK2RI who was operating portable, on the shores of Botany Bay, with a very nice signal.

During the net, I quickly tuned up and down the 40m band, and found Pedro NP4A in Puerto Rico, calling CQ.  So I gave Pedro a call and exchanged genuine 5/9 signal reports with him.  This was the second time in the past week that I have worked Pedro, whilst out portable in a park.  I then returned back to the 7130 DX Net and worked a further 4 stations in VK1, VK2, VK5 & VK7.

At the conclusion of the net, I put out a few CQ calls on 7.150 and these were answered by Roald VK1FIVE.  However, a few minutes into our QSO, a USA station came up alongside of us calling CQ on 7.152.  This wasn’t too much of an issue, until a VK2 called him, and that was the end of my QSO with Roald.  There was far too much bleed over for us to continue.  I have heard n the recent past, a particular amateur ‘complain’ that Australian amateurs are operating above 7.100 in the evenings, thus encroaching on the DX stations operating in that part of the 40m band.  However, to try operating below 7.100 during the evenings, is almost impossible, with all of the South East Asian activity.

So, after my contact with Roald, I headed up to 7.160 and put out a CQ call, and this was answered by Roald, who had followed me up the band.  I worked a further 12 stations here, including my old mate, Bill W1OW in Massachusetts.  Bill was 5/8 and he gave me a 4/4 signal report.  Not bad, with my 40 watts and a simple dipole.  I was also called by Oscar VK4BOV who was running just 10 watts from an Anam QRP Software defined radio.

When things slowed down a little on 40m, I headed off to 20m to have a quick listen on the Southern Cross DX Net.  However, signals from the USA were very low down.  My last contact on 40m, Jim VK3VBC, who is a regular check in to the Southern Cross DX Net, had warned me that signals were poor.  Most of the activity on 20m was focussed around 14.183 with the EP6T station in Iran, working split.

It was time to head home.  Local time was 10.45 p.m.  I had a total of 61 contacts in the log, including some very interesting contacts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5KC
  2. David VK5NQP
  3. Col VK5HCF
  4. John VK5BJE
  5. Brian VK5FMID
  6. Peter VK3TKK
  7. Tom VK5EE
  8. Ivan VK5HS
  9. Tom VK5FTRG
  10. Peter VK5KPR
  11. Mick VK3FAFK
  12. Les VK5KLV
  13. Giles VK5FFAA
  14. Amanda VK3FQSO (qrp)
  15. Greg VK5GJ (qrp)
  16. Jeff VK5JK
  17. Brett VK3FLCS
  18. Rob VK2QR/p (SOTA)
  19. Peter VK3PF
  20. Joe VK3YSP
  21. Robin VK5TN
  22. Adrian VK5FANA
  23. Nev VK5WG
  24. Jim VK5JW
  25. Bob VK3BWZ/p
  26. Tim VK3TJK
  27. Julie VK3FOWL
  28. David VK3NGD
  29. Bob VK2OD
  30. Rob ZL2BTQ/mm
  31. Jerry VK3MEK/p
  32. Allen VK3HRA
  33. Doug VK2FMIA
  34. Dave VK5DHC
  35. Andy VK4TH
  36. William FO5JV
  37. Brian ZL2ASH
  38. Tony VK2RI/p
  39. Pedro NP4A
  40. Mal VK5MJ
  41. Adam VK7VAZ
  42. John VK2FALL
  43. Roald VK1FIVE
  44. Dennis VK5LDM
  45. Oscar VK4BOV (qrp)
  46. Ian VK3VIN
  47. Steve VK5SFA
  48. Damien VK5FDEC
  49. Bill W1OW
  50. Mick VK4GMH
  51. John VK5NJ
  52. Peter VK5JP
  53. Tony VK5FTVR
  54. Geoff VK5HEL
  55. Jim VK3VBC

The following stations were worked on 15m SSB:-

  1. Ken JG2MQM
  2. Peter ZL1BRL

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. John EA7BA
  2. Steve GJ7DNI
  3. Ted VK6NTE
  4. Caleb ZL2ML



Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2015, <;, viewed 24th January 2015

Bullock Hill Conservation Park

Late yesterday afternoon (Monday 19th January 2015) I activated the Bullock Hill Conservation Park (CP), situated near the little town of Ashbourne on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  The park is about 65 km south of Adelaide, and just a short 35 minute drive from home, via Strathalbyn.

Screenshot 2015-01-20 09.31.37

map courtesy of

Bullock Hill CP is a newly gazetted park.  It was proclaimed on the 20th January, 2014, so it was just 1 day short of its 1 year birthday during my activation.  The park was first activated by Gordon VK5GY.  I last activated the park back in April 2014.  For more information on that activation, have a look at my previous post at…..

Should you wish to read the proposal to constitute the park as a Conservation Park, here is a link to the document submitted by the Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc…..

Click to access GWLAP%20Submission_Proposal%20to%20Constitute%20Bullock%20Hill%20CP.pdf

Bullock Hill is about 200 hectares in size, with some spectacular gums and very thick bush on the western side of the park.  The terrain is hilly.  It is home to a large amount of wildlife, as I found out.  When I arrived at the park, there were between 30-40 Western Grey kangaroos grazing in the open grassland area on the eastern side of the park.

I accessed the park via Wattle Flat Road, which runs off the Ashbourne – Strathalbyn Road.  The park is well sign posted.  If you are a little more adventurous, you could access the park via Haines Road, but this is 4WD access only.

Screenshot 2015-01-20 09.32.20

Map courtesy of

I set up on the eastern side of the park, which is an open native grassland area.  There is plenty of room here to string out a dipole, and some small gums to afford some shade.  It was a warm afternoon, so the shade was appreciated.

The park is deceptive at this location, in that there is not too much scrub here at this point.  As you look west towards Bullock Hill itself, there is just a small outcrop of scrub and the occasional impressive gum tree on the grassland.  It isn’t until you reach the top of Bulllock Hill, that you can truly see all of the thick scrub on the western side of the park.  The climb to the top is quite easy.  It takes about 10-15 minutes and offers spectacular views of the Fleurieu Peninsula.  There is a wooden table and bench at the top, should you wish to operate from there.

Screenshot 2015-01-20 09.33.17

map courtesy of

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output, and my 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole from Haverfords.

My first contact on 40m was with Peter VK5BWH at Port Augusta, with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by the ever reliable park hunter, John VK5BJE, and then Peter VK5KPR and Les VK5KLV, both at Port Augusta.  I went on to work a total of 14 stations on 40m in VK3 & VK5.  My 44 amp hour power pack was madly beeping at me, despite the fact that I had charged it at home before leaving.  So I cut short my QSO with John VK5NJ and Tom VK5FTRG in the South East.

I very quickly lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, and had a quick listen on the 20m band.  Although I heard signals coming in from Europe, there were no real stand outs.  So I headed down to 14.156 where there is a daily get together of VK’s, ZL’s, G stations.  The net is run by John EA7BA, a British expat, now living in Almeria in Spain.  John was an excellent 5/9 signal and I received a 5/8 signal report back from Spain.  I also worked my old mate Brian ZL2ASH.  Brian’s signal was not as strong as usual on 20m, but he was still 5/7.  I received a 4/5 from Brian in Wellington.

I then put out a few CQ calls on 14.212 hoping that some of the VK6 fellas may call in.  But sadly there was no reply.  It is made very difficult with no phone app for the parks, such as there is for the SOTA program.

I then took the opportunity to charge the battery, whilst I went for a walk up to the top of Bullock Hill.  After the short walk to the top, I sat there for about an hour, admiring the view, before venturing back down the hill and firing up the radio again.

I returned to 40m and put out a CQ call on 7.135 and this was answered by Joe VK3YSP who was operating QRP with just 5 watts.  Joe was a good 5/8 signal and very readable, as there was no man made noise in the park at all.  The only noise on the band were the static crashes.  I worked a further 6 stations in VK2, VK3, & VK5, before QSYing down to 7.130, where I joined the 7130 DX Net, which was being run by Mal VK5MJ in the Riverland.  Mal’s signal was incredibly strong, with the two plus signs showing on the FT857d.

On the net I worked Brian again, ZL2ASH.  This time with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  And Brian returned a 5/8 signal report to me.  I also spoke to William FO5JV in French Polynesia (5/9 sent and 5/4 received).  The strongest signal though, was Gary ZL3SV who was 5/9 plus plus plus from Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand.  Gary has a nearly 2,000 foot long centre feed sloper antenna.  It is amazing.  Here is a link to Gary’s page

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I also spoke to Bill W1OW on the net.  Bill is located in Massachusetts in the USA.  Bill had a very nice 5/8 signal report coming in from The States, and Bill returned a 5/5 signal report to me.  I was very pleased with this, with just my 40 watts and a simple dipole antenna.  And I also made contact with Bowden ZL1HX in Welsford on the North Island of New Zealand.

And to top things off I had a contact with Richard VK2XRC who was portable in the Morton National Park, New South Wales.  This park qualifies for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and is VKFF-334.

I worked a total of 18 stations on the 7130 DX Net in French Polynesia, USA, New Zealand, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.   This net is always a lot of fun and is held each Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 0930 UTC.  Here is a link to the 7130 DX Net Facebook page…..

After the net I was going to pack up, but the weather was beautiful and the band was in good shape.  So I had a quick tune around the 40m band, and I was very pleased I did.  I heard Pedro NP4A, calling CQ on 7.145.  Pedro’s signal was 5/9 plus.  He was being called by a large number of VK’s and Indonesian stations.  But I patiently waited for about 10 minutes, and got through to Pedro who gave me a genuine 5/9 signal report.  I was very excited.  I am aiming for DXCC as a portable station, and Puerto Rico was a new country for me whilst in a park or on a SOTA summit.

I then headed up the band to 7.150 and out out a CQ call and this was answered by Paul VK5FUZZ at Wellington on the River Murray.  Whilst working Paul I heard some gunshots in the distance, and could see the spotlight off to my south, over the hills.  They were perhaps 3 km away, but netherless made me feel a bit uneasy as I was sitting in complete darkness.  The night was only lit up occasionally by my headset that I was wearing when I logged a station.  But I decided to stay, as it was a beautiful balmy night with very clear skies.  I even saw a couple of satellites pass over head as I chatted away on 40m.

I worked a further 7 stations in VK2, VK3, and VK4, before deciding to pack up and head home.  I was getting hungry and I felt a bit uneasy about the spotlighters as they appeared to be getting a bit closer.  They were very close to the Conservation Park.  I’m not sure if they were locals and probably have my suspicions that they were shooting kangaroos.  With a permit?  Who knows?

This was a very enjoyable activation.  Beautiful surroundings with lots of wildlife, and very good band conditions on 40m.  I had a total of 51 contacts in the log.  It’s a shame that a few more park activators don’t head out during the evening, as this is certainly when the 40m band is at its best, with propagation possible all across Australia, and lots of DX.

The following stations were worked on 40m ssb:-

  1. Peter VK5BWH
  2. John VK5BJE
  3. Peter VK5KPR
  4. Les VK5KLV
  5. Mick VK3FAFK
  6. Adrian VK5FANA
  7. Chris VK4FR/5
  8. Adrian VK5AJR/p
  9. Nev VK5WG (qrp)
  10. John VK5NJ
  11. Bob VK5FPAC
  12. Adrian VK5AJR/m
  13. Greg VK5GJ
  14. Tom VK5FTRG
  15. Joe VK3YSP (qrp)
  16. Wolf Vk5WF
  17. Scott VK2FZSD
  18. Julie VK3FOWL
  19. Doug VK2FMIA
  20. Ian VK3VIN
  21. Bob VK5HAC
  22. Mal VK5MJ
  23. Brian ZL2ASH
  24. Chris VK2UW
  25. William FO5JV
  26. Gary ZL3SV
  27. Roy VK7ROY
  28. Paul VK7CC
  29. Greg VK7FGGT
  30. Colin VK4FAAS
  31. Gavin VK3MLU
  32. Steve VK2FISN
  33. Richard VK2XRC/p
  34. Tony VK2RI
  35. Giles VK5FFAA
  36. Shaun VK5FAKV
  37. Mark VK4MON
  38. Bill W1OW
  39. Bowden ZL1HX
  40. Pedro NP4A
  41. Paul VK5FUZZ
  42. Chris VK4FCHM
  43. Rob VK4FFAB
  44. Gavin VK3MLU
  45. Chris VK2UW
  46. Frank VK2HFS
  47. Tom VK5FTRG
  48. Oscar VK4BOV

The following stations were worked on 20m ssb:-

  1. John EA7BA
  2. Wayne VK4XG
  3. Brian ZL2ASH

Below is a video I took of some of the stations I heard on the 7130 DX Net…..

Trig points and private property

A few weeks ago I was doing some work to confirm the name of a summit on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide.  The hill is recorded as ‘un-named’ VK5/ SE-016, on the Summits on the Air (SOTA) database.  As it turns out the summit is actually called Black Bullock Hill.  See my previous post…..

What I did find out when researching this summit, was that there was a virtual Geocache located at this summit.  What is Geoacaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.


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

There were references in the Geocaching Logs on the internet, for this summit, such as:

“This trig was just beyond the fence so Mr S decided to quickly climb over.  It was only then that he discovered the top strand was live.  Quickly took a photo and then Mrs S held the strand down with a stick whilst he made the return journey’.

And then last week I paid Noel and Anne a visit at Mount Gawler, where there is also a trig point, and where there is also a virtual geocache.  Again, on the Geocache Australia site, and under the Log notes, I read the following:

‘Arrived to find locked gate and no sign of life at house, so did the climb gate, take photo, high tail outa there trick’


‘Trig point is on a common access road although the gate may be locked at times this means the owner to the property ‘Noel’ isn’t home.  Access cannot be denied but it would be polite to ask, although the Trig point is befoe you reach the house……’

These comments by the Geocachers got me thinking again about the issue of Trespassing, and access to land where trig points exist.


I contacted Geocaching Management via email, and got a very prompt reply from them.  They advised that they had removed these 2 geocaches from the list.  They went on to say:

‘You are correct in that no unauthorised person is allowed to access an area without landholders consent.  The trigpoints were derived from Geoscience Australia and slowly we’ve been weeding out the legally and physically inaccessible ones. Any member has the ability to de-list a trig found to be on private property……….I’ll be posting on our forums to remind geocachers to respect private boundaries when out and about (something they should be doing anyway)’.

I also telephoned Steve, the Manager of Survey Operations and at the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.  I had previously corresponded with Steve, who had previously stated that the land owner:

‘has the right to deny entry to the said trig point to everyone except surveyors carrying out their work…….Land owners are within their rights to deny access to trig points on their land for any prupose other than surveying’.

Only a surveyor or a person authorised by a surveyor, may enter private property, under the authority of the Survey Act 1992.  There is no ‘freedom to roam’ or ‘everymans right’ as exists in the United Kingdom.

I have posted on this topic previously.  You can read those posts at…..

So PLEASE, ignore any RUMOURS you may have heard about being able to access private property.  They are just that, ill-based rumours, which may land you in hot water with the law, and spoil things for other SOTA activators.

DO NOT access private property, unless you have the expressed permission of the land owner.




Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 19th January 2015


Mount Boothby Conservation Park

A week or so ago I received an email from Chris VK4FR who suggested we have a Friday evening twilight activation session.  So Friday the 16th January, 2015 was decided upon to be the inaugural activation afternoon/evening.

I headed to the Mount Boothby Conservation Park (CP) in South East South Australia.  I had often seen this park off in the distance as I was traversing the Dukes and Princes Highways (Hwy), and had seen it a number of times on maps.  But I had never visited the park, as access is via 4WD only.  So now that I have the Toyota Hi Lux, I thought why not pay the park a visit.

The park is located about 14 km west of the little town of Culburra, and about 180 km south east of Adelaide.  You can access the park either via the Dukes Hwy or the Princes Hwy.

Screenshot 2015-01-10 15.57.59

Map courtesy of

Mount Boothby CP comprises an area of about 4,045 hectares, and is the fourth largest area of remnant vegetation in the South East Region.  It contains a variety of habitats and supports at least two species of conservation significance, namely the metallic sun -orchid and MalleFowl (and I saw them  see below).   The park consists of undulating limestone ridges overlain with sand, with vary in height from 20 to 120 metres above sea level.  Granite outcrops occur on the dune sides, with the most prominent of these being Mount Boothby, which is 129 metres above sea level.  Sadly it falls short of qualifying for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.

Screenshot 2015-01-10 16.33.01

Image courtesy of

The park contains two major vegetation types: Open Woodland, containing Eucalyptus diversifolia and Eucalyptus leptophylla; and Open Heath containing Banksia ornata.  The scrub is certainly very thick.  It is a beautiful park.

The park is home to a large amount of native fauna including short-beaked echidnas, western grey kangaroos, and the vulnerable malle fowl which breeds in the park.  I only saw one kangaroo.  And that was on my way to the park.  He was sheltering from the afternoon heat underneath a gum tree.

For more information on the park, and also the area the park is located in, please have a look at…..

Screenshot 2015-01-10 15.57.41

Map courtesy of

I drove to the park via the Dukes Highway through the towns of Coomandook, Yumali, Ki Ki, and Coonalpyn.  Now there are some interesting names!  Once I reached the little town of Culburra, I stopped to stretch my legs.  It is worth a stop here to have a read of the history on what was once a thriving town.  There is a parking bay here with interpretive signs, detailing the history of the town.  Culburra is an aboriginal word meaning ‘lots of sand’. Culburra was once a thriving self supporting township with a community owned weighbridge, sheep and cattle yards, and a railway siding from where thousands of tons of handpicked stumps were hand loaded and trucked away.  Today, the railway station has gone (demolished) and only a handful of houses remain.

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After a short break, I turned right onto Boothby Road and travelled south west.  Interestingly, there is a sign on Boothby Road stating ‘Mt Boothby National Park’.  The park is a Conservation Park, not a National Park.

Boothby Road is bitumen for about 1 km and then turns to dirt just outside of Culburra.  But the road is in excellent condition, and there are absolutely no problems for conventional vehicles.  I continued along Boothby Road and actually passed the Conservation Park which was on my right.  I initially missed the entrance.  Don’t blink, because you will miss it!  The entrance is about 1 km south west of Lowe Road.  There is a gate which is hidden by the scrub and a well camoflauged Conservation Park sign on the roadway.  Once you enter the gate, there is another park sign which is a little easier to view.

On the way to the park I stopped off to have a look at the monument for the Gold Escort route.  It was along this track, that Commissioner Alexander Tolmer, lead the first of 18 Police escorts which under various Commanders, transported from Mount Alexander in Victoria, to Adelaide, about 328,509 ounces of gold, between March 1852 to December 1853.

When the Bullion Act of January 1852 was passed, Commissioner Tolmer suggested an overland gold escort service from Victoria to South Australia.  It was designed to reverse the drain of currency from the colony during the gold rush.  Tolmer left with the first escort on 10 February and returned a month later with gold worth £21,000. The service lasted until December 1853, a month after his supersession as Commissioner.

There is an interesting drive you can do through the gold escort area in South Australia.  For more information, have a look at the following…..

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image courtesy of

So after getting lost, I was running late for my activation.  And I got a little too excited as well, which placed me even further late.  By excited, I am referring to seeing about 6 or 7 endangered/vulnerable MalleFowl as I entered the park.  When I saw the first one, I had to look twice, to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was looking at.  Sure enough it was a MalleeFowl.  And then a bit further along the track, there were more.  They didn’t hang around long enough for me to get fantastic photographs, but I did manage a few through the windscreen.  You can see those below in the slideshow.

The MalleeFowl is a stocky bird, which is about the size of a domestic chicken.  They are a shy, wary, and solitary bird.  Although they are very active, they are seldom seen, as they freeze if they are disturbed, relying on their intricately patterned plumage to render themselves invisible.  Either that, or they silently and rapidly disapear into the scrub.

There is a MalleeFowl Preservation Group.  More information can be found at…..


image courtesy of

I drove about 3 km along the 4WD track into the park.  The track I took was the one which travels through the centre of the park.  There are two other tracks which travel along the eastern and southern coundaries.  I did not quite make the very top, as I was already running late.  So I turned the 4WD around facing back down the track, and I set up my gear on the southern side of the track, under the shade of a small native shrub.  It was a pretty warm day, so I was making as much noise as possible to scare off any snakes.

Prior to calling CQ, I tuned around the band hoping to find some of the other park activators.  And on 7.105 I found Arno VK5ZAR who was portable in the Angove Conservation Park, in the north eastern suburbs of Adelaide.  Arno was literally pounding in to the south east, with a 5/9 plus signal.  After speaking with Arno, I ventured down the band and found 7.088 clear.  I chose this rather strange frequency, as the Kandos Group was still running on 7.093, so I wanted to stay clear of them and avoid causing QRM.  My first contact after calling CQ was with Robin Vk5TN at Mount Gambier, followed by Barry VK5BW at Bridgewater, and then Peter VK3PF.  All with great signals.

My fifth contact was with Chris VK4FR/5 who was portable in the Ferguson Conservation Park in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  Chris had a beautiful 5/9 signal.  I was very happy, as this was my second Park to Park contact from Mount Boothby.

I went on to work a total of 34 stations in VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7, until a VK2 station came up on 7.090.  It was clear that he had a ‘sched’ with a VK4 friend, and they were not going to move for anyone.  The VK4 was very low down to me, but the VK2 station (I won’t mention his call here) was 5/9 plus, and was causing just too much bleedover for me to continue on 7.093.  Despite some prompting from some stations that I had worked, they did not move.  Anyway, it was a chance for me to stretch my legs, and enjoy the view.

It is worth mentioning that I had some excellent QRP contacts prior to going for a walk.  They included Nev VK5WG using his X1M on 5 watts, Amanda running just 1/2 watt (Amanda was 5/8-9 with QSB), and Roy VK5NRG running 5 watts.

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After a break of about 10 minutes, I returned to 40m and this time I called CQ on 7.095.  I worked a further 3 stations in VK3.  Sadly, despite the band being in good condition, there were not a lot of takers.  I then ventured over to 20m after lowering the squid pole and removing the links in the dipole.  On 20m I worked Mic FK8IK in New Caledonia, Dave G3MWV in England, and Lauro IK4GRO in Italy.  I then  heard my old mate Marnix OP7M calling CQ on 14.273.  I called Marnix about 4 or 5 times but could not make the contact.  In fact Marnix could not hear me at all.  On my 3rd call to him, another European station came up to tell Marnix that I was calling.  But, as I say, sadly we could not make it.  Next time perhaps.

I returned to 40m and started calling CQ a little higher up on the band, on 7.135.  My first taker to my great pleasure was Nigel VK5NIG who was portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  Nigel had an excellent 5/9 signal.  I worked a further 22 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5.  This included Steve VK2FSLC.  I was very pleased to be Steve’s very first ever contact on amateur radio.  Initially it was a struggle with Steve, as the QSB and the static crashes were bad.  But as if magic occurred, his signal came up to a good readable 5/7 and we had a good QSO.  Welcome to amateur radio Steve.

I stayed for one round on the 7.130 DX Net as well, and managed to sneak in some 40m DX contacts.  This included William FO5JV in French Polynesia, Brian ZL2ASH in New Zealand, and Caleb ZL2ML in New Zealand.  On the DX Net I also spoke with keen park activators and hunters, Rob VK4FFAB and Doug VK2FMIA, which was good.

So after 3 hours in Mount Boothby CP, I had a total of 62 contacts in the log.  This was a very enjoyable activation.   It was a new park for me (a unique).  I had 3 Park to Park contacts in the log.  And a bit of DX.  I had given my 4WD a run.  And I had seen the vulnerable/endangered MalleFowl.  I would have liked to have stuck around a little longer, but I had to negotiate the 4WD track out of the park and then a 90 minute drive home, avoiding the kangaroos.

Thanks to Chris VK4FR/5 for suggesting such an evening.  The next Summer twilight activation afternoon/evening, will be held on Friday 30th January 2015, from around 4.30 p.,m. onwards.

The following stations were worked on 40m ssb:-

  1. Arno VK5ZAR/p (Angove CP)
  2. Robin VK5TN
  3. Barry VK5BW
  4. Peter VK3PF
  5. Chris VK4FR/5 (Ferguson CP)
  6. Nev VK5WG
  7. Amanda VK3FQSO
  8. Les VK5KLV
  9. Joe VK3YSP
  10. Tony VK3CAT
  11. Peter VK5KPR
  12. Adrian VK5FANA
  13. Fred VK3DAC
  14. Peter VK3NAD
  15. Ian VK3VIN
  16. Al VK7AN
  17. Julie VK3FOWL
  18. Ray VK3NBL/p
  19. Jeff VK5JK
  20. Nigel VK5NIG
  21. Alex VK7FALX
  22. Brian VK5FMID
  23. Keith VK5FEKH
  24. Roy VK5NRG
  25. Larry VK5LY
  26. Arno VK5ZAR/p (2nd contact)
  27. Peter VK3TKK/m
  28. Col VK5HCF
  29. Mark VK7MK
  30. Tom VK5FTRG/m
  31. John VK2AWJ
  32. Tony VK3KKP/m
  33. Don VK5NFB
  34. Kev VK3VEK
  35. Nick VK3FCCK
  36. Andrew VK3ARR
  37. Ray VK3FQ
  38. Nigel VK5NIG/p (Port Gawler CP)
  39. Peter VK7LCW
  40. Steve VK2FSLC
  41. George VK4GSF
  42. Peter VK3FSAN
  43. Andrew VK7AD
  44. Kevin VK3BPH
  45. Chris VK5FCHM
  46. Steve VK7FMTX
  47. Cliff VK2CCJ
  48. Richard VK2XRC/3
  49. Terry VK3FAIE
  50. Peter VK5JP
  51. Peter VK5FLEX
  52. Mal VK5MJ
  53. William FO5JV
  54. Rob VK4FFAB
  55. Doug VK2FMIA
  56. Paul VK7CC
  57. Mark VK1EM
  58. Caleb ZL2ML

The following stations were worked on 20m ssb:-

  1. Mic FK8IK
  2. Dave G3MWV
  3. Lauro IK4GRO



Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2015, <;, viewed 17th January 2015

Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs, ‘Mount Boothyby Conservation Park Management Plan’, February 1999

Wikipedia, 2015, <,_South_Australia&gt;, viewed 17th January 2015