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.
map courtesy of mapcarta.com
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.
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…..my 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.
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:-
- Arno VK5ZAR/p (Black Hill CP)
- Col VK5HCF/p (Naracoorte Caves NP)
- Jim VK5TR
- Terry VK3UP
- David VK5LSB
- Fred VK3DAC
- Peter VK3ZPF
- Les VK5KLV/p (The Dutchmans Stern CP)
- David VK5NQP/p (Sandy Creek CP)
- John VK5bJE/p (Belair NP)
- Greg VK5GJ
- Bernard VK3AV/m
- Adrian VK5FANA
- John VK5FMJC
- Mick VK3FAFK
- Derek VK3FAFC/p
- Jeff VK5JK
- Tony VK3CAT
- Greg VK5ZGY/m
- Andy VK2FBAC
- Ian VK5IS
- Peter VK3TKK/m
- Amanda VK3FQSO
- Daniel VK5DF
- Keith VK5OQ
- Damien VK5FDEC
- Robin VK5TN/m
- Larry VK5LY/p (Cooltong CP)
- Peter VK5FLEX/p (Cooltong CP)
- Peter VK5KPR
- Brett VK3FLCS
- Bob VK5FO/p (Morialta CP)
- Tony VK5FTVR
- Colin VK3ZZS/p
- Andy VK5AKH/p (Horsnell Gully CP)
- Errol VK5FEKH
- Tim VK5AV
- Doug VK2FMIS
- Jeff VK5HEL
- Rob VK4FFAB
- Owen VK4FADW
- Gordon VK5GY/m
- Gavin VK3MLU
- Brian ZL2ASH
- Tom VK5FTRG/3
- Brian VK5FMID
- Roy VK7ROY
- William FO5JV
- Adrian ZL1GBG
- Caleb ZL2ML
- Bill ZL2BGX
- Oscar VK4BOV
- John VK3HJD
- John VK5FTCT
- Andrew VK5MR/m
- Maurice ZL2MF/m
- Steve VK5ST
- Tony VK5KAT
- George VK4GSF
- Leigh VK5KLT
- Greg VK7FGGT
- Paul VK7CC
- Peter VK3NAD
- Adam VK7VAZ
- Nev VK%WG
- Matt VK3FORD
- Tony VK3CAB
- Cleeve VK2MOR
- Craig VK6VCK/m
- Ted VK6NTE
- Russell VK2VK
- Peter VK4PQ
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- John EA7BAAlain F4GHB
- Sal EA3BDE
- Fred IK4JPK
- Marnix OP7M
- Hardy DL2HRT
- Michael IZ4ZZB
Below is a video of the activation which I have placed on You Tube…..
Once again a very well researched and written article. The video is also very watchable.
Thanks for an excellent blog.
It was another good fun afternoon/evening. And very pleasing to see so many park activators out & about. Thanks to you & Tom for venturing down to the Naracoorte Caves NP.
Catch you during the week when I’m activating parks & summits in the Mid North of S.A.
I always enjoy your blog and the video was excellent.
John D VK5BJE
If you ever want to do an evening activation, then this park is very ‘evening friendly’. There is a good size car park, to get your vehicle safely off road, and this also offers some good options for operating in the dark, without any tripping hazards, etc.
It was a great night out, with the moon shining brightly, and the occasion crackle of the undergrowth by the kangaroos (well I hope that’s what it was).
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