Last night (Friday 27th February 2015) was the 4th Summer activation event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award. So I headed out to the Onkaparinga River National Park, which qualifies for both the VK5 Parks Award and also the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The park is VKFF-402 in the WWFF program.
Above: Map showing the location of Onkaparinga River National Park. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
I set up near Gate 3 and the Bakers Gully track. There is a good carpark here where you can park off Chapel Hill Road. Just a short walk of 20 off metres is a wooden table and benches, which makes a great ‘shack’. The scrub here is a bit thick, but there is enough room to string out a dipole which is exactly what I did. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole. It was quite a warm afternoon, about 28 deg C, so the shade provided by the gum trees was very welcome.
Above: Map showing my operating spot. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Prior to calling CQ I had a look around the 40m band hoping that I would find some of the other park activators. And it wasn’t long before I did. My first contact was with John VK5BJE who was operating portable from the Scott Creek Conservation Park on 7.100. John had a lovely strong 59 signal. I then found Tom VK5EE in the Gower Conservation Park in the South East on 7.088. Tom was also 59 and was conducting a joint activation with Col VK5HCF and new park activator, Alan VK5FAJS. It was great to get Alan in the log. Welcome to the world of park activating Alan.
My next contact was with another new park activator, Adrian VK5FANA, who was in the Clinton Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula. Adrian was operating from near Port Arthur, and had a very nice 5/9 plus signal to Onkaparinga River. This was a great start to the activation, five park to park contacts.
I then headed up to my nominated operating frequency of 7.144, but found that there was a lot of activity on either side, so I settled for 7.142 and started calling CQ. In fact there were 2 G stations on 7.138 having a chat amongst themselves. They were not very strong, but very readable. But I didn’t call them as I wasn’t confident that they would hear me. My CQ call was answered by Marc VK3OHM who has recently become an avid park hunter, followed by another park to park contact, this time with Chris VK4FR/5 who was portable in the Morialta Conservation Park. Although Chris was running QRP, his signal was still 59 to me. I went on to work a number of stations in VK3 & VK5, including Mick VK3PMG who has recently upgraded his call (formerly VK3FAFK). Well done Mick.
When things slowed down I took the opportunity of QSYing and having a look around the band. I found Richard VK5ZRY on 7.110 calling CQ from the Ramsay Way Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula. I wasn’t expecting Richard to be out and about so this contact was a nice surprise. I then worked Les VK5KLV who was portable in the Winninowie Conservation Park, south of Port Augusta.
I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, so I could try my luck on 20m. The WWFF program is very popular in Europe, so I was hoping to work some of the European park hunters. I headed to my nominated operating frequency of 14.244, however there was activity either side including a G station calling CQ on 14.245. So I headed up to 14.250 and started calling CQ. But unfortunately the same G station had followed me up the band and started calling CQ on 14.251.5, just above me. Strike two!
I then moved up to 14.267 and started calling CQ again and this was answered by David VK5ADO with a very loud signal. This was followed by a small group of European park hunters including F5TJC, DJ8QP, I5FLN, IZ2IHO, F1BLL, EA3MP, F2YT, DK0EE, EA1DFP, HA6OB, S52KM, ON4BB, and DK4RM. Conditions were challenging to say the least. Many thanks to my old mate Larry VK5LY for spotting me on the DX Cluster. This certainly alerted the European stations to my presence in the park. I also managed a few other VK contacts which included Andrew VK2AC, John VK5BJE in the Scott Creek Conservation Park, and my mate Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs.
Prior to heading back to 40m, I had a quick listen around the 20m band. I’m very pleased I did, because I managed to work VK9LC on 14.199 on Lord Howe Island. But the cream on the cake was a contact with Jerry PH9HB who was aeronautical mobile above the Canary Islands. Jerry was a good 5/7 and he gave me a 4/4 with my 40 watts. I have worked Jerry before whilst he has been in the air, but those contacts have been from home. So this was a very exciting contact.
I then headed back to 40m, where I spoke with Geoff VK5HEL on 7.093, who was portable in the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park. Geoff had a beautiful 59 signal from the Murray Mallee. I then QSYd to 7.144 and called CQ and this was answered by Perrin Vk3XPT who was portable in the Alpine National Park, running QRP 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817 and an end fed 1/2 wave antenna. Perrin was camping near Mount Buller and had a nice 59 signal.
I worked a further 11 stations in VK2, VK4 & VK5. This included Tom VK4FAJB at Hervey Bay, who only received his licence in the mail the day prior. Welcome to amateur radio Tom.
The drizzly rain had just started at this time, and it would continue on and off for the rest of the activation. There were about five occasions when I had to drive underneath the bothy bag.
Again when things slowed down a little I had a look around the band. I found Chris VK5FR/5 having a chat with Adrian VK5FANA who was portable in his second park, the Wills Creek Conservation Park. After having a quick chat with Chris, Adrian came up asking Chris if he could quickly work me, to which Chris obliged. It was great to get Adrian in the log from his second ever park activation.
I then spoke with Peter VK3YE who was pedestrian mobile at Port Phillip Bay. Peter regularly goes pedestrian mobile and it never ceases to amaze me with the signal he puts out. This evening was no exception, 5/8.
I then found Phil ZL2RO calling CQ on 7.167 from Hastings in New Zealand. Phil had a very good 5/9 plus signal.
Following my contact with Phil, it was 8.00 p.m. local time (0930 UTC) so I headed to 7.130 for the 7130 DX Net. On the net I had a total of 17 contacts including Bill W1OW in Massachusetts in the USA (5/7 sent & 5/5 received), William FO5JV in French Polynesia (5/8 sent and 5/5 received), Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington new Zealand (5/9 both ways) and Phil (VK2MCB) operating special event station VI110ROTARY for the 110th anniversary of ROTARY. I also spoke with Andy VK4TH/8 who was sitting back enjoying the sunset in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.
Above: underneath the bothy bag.
Just prior to the closure of the net, I QSYd up to 7.135 and started calling CQ. This was answered by Steve VK5SFA. I went on to work a further 11 stations on this frequency, in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, & VK7. All with excellent signals.
I then decided to see what propagation was like on 20m, specifically the Southern Cross DX Net. Once lowering the squid pole again, removing the links, and putting the squid back into place, I tuned to 14.338.5 and heard the Net Control, Jack W1FDY in Virignia, with a good strong 5/8 signal. Surprisingly Jack was able to hear me quite well. He gave me a 5/6 signal report. I went on to work a further 5 stations on the net: Reg VK6BQQ, Peter VK3CFA, Peter KD2BMX in new York, Bill W1OW in Massachusetts, and Al K4AWM in Virginia.
Unfortunately I had to go QRT in a hurry, as the rain really started to come down heavy.
This was a very enjoyable activation, with a total of 87 contacts in the log. This included 13 S.A. park to park contacts, two Victorian National Parks and one Northern Territory National Park. And also some interesting DX contacts including the contact with Jerry PH9HB aeronautical mobile.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- John VK5BJE/p (Scott Creek Conservation Park)
- Tom VK5EE/p (Gower Conservation Park)
- Col VK5HCF/p (Gower Conservation Park)
- Alan VK5FAJS/p (Gower Conservation Park)
- Adrian VK5FANA/p (Clinton Conservation Park)
- Marc VK3OHM
- Chris VK4FR/5 (Morialta Conservation Park)
- Keith VK5FEKH
- Peter VK3TKK/m
- Fred VK3DAC
- Phil VK3BHR
- Lynton VK5FLKJ
- Peter VK3PF
- Amanda VK3FQSO
- Peter VK5KPR
- Mick VK3PMG
- Richard VK5ZRY/p (Ramsay Way Conservation Park)
- Les VK5KLV/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
- Geoff Vk5HEL/p (Ferries McDonald Conservation Park)
- Perrin VK3XPT/p (Alpine National Park)
- Andrew VK2UH
- Rob VK4FFAB
- Tom VK4FAJB
- Wayne VK4MAD
- David VK5NQP
- Bob VK5FPAC
- Rod VK5VRB
- Theo VK5MTM
- Allen VK3HRA
- Jim VK1AT/3
- Greg VK5GJ (QRP)
- Adrian VK5FANA/p (Wills Creek Conservation Park)
- Peter VK3YE (pedestrian mobile)
- Phil ZL2RO
- Bill W1OW
- Chris VK2UW
- Peter VK4AAV
- Andy VK4TH/8 (Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park)
- John VK2FALL
- Mal VK5MJ
- William FO5JV
- Brian ZL2ASH
- Phil VI110ROTARY
- Gavin VK3MLU
- Craig VK6VCK
- Doug VK2FMIA
- Geoff VK5HEL/p (Monarto Conservation Park)
- Rick VK2HFP
- Keith VK2PKT
- VK6FABC (QRP)
- Greg VK8GM
- Steve VK5SFA
- Gavin VK3MLU
- Peter VK3TKK/m
- Derric VK6PI
- Wayne VK2PDW
- Roger VK5NWE
- Alan VK4NAI/p
- Adam VK7VAZ
- Ian VK3VIN
- Paul VK7CC
- Oscar VK4BOV
- Glen VK4FSCC
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- David VK5ADO
- Luciano I5FLN
- VK5BJE/p (Scott Creek Conservation Park)
- Greg VK8GM
- Jerry PH9HB (aeronautical mobile)
- Jack W1FDY
- Reg VK6BQQ
- Peter VK3CFA
- Peter KD2BMX
- Bill W1OW
- Al K4AWM