Last night I headed out to the Porter Scrub Conservation Park, which is located at Kenton Valley in the central Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, about 30 km north east of Adelaide. It is a relatively short drive from my home in the Adelaide Hills, though Woodside and Charleston, and then out along Maidment Road.
Above: Map showing the location of Porter Scrub CP. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
My main reason for heading out to the park was that the Jock White Memorial Field Day was on. This is a New Zealand contest which is aimed at portable oepration, and is named in honour of Jock White, ZL2GX, who was the NZART Contest and Awards Manager for over 40 years.
The Porter Scrub Conservation Park is 104 hectares in size, and was proclaimed on the 2oth October 2005, after the purchase from the estate of the late J.J. Porter. The park conserves areas of Candlebark Gum open forest which is considered endangered in South Australia, Pink Gum low woodland, and River Red Gum woodland. The park is home to a large amount of flora and fauna including the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot, the nationally vulnerable Clover Glycine, and the state endangered Spotted Quail thrush.
The park was originally home to the aboriginal Peramangk people, and following European settlement in the area, the land was used for grazing cattle and sheep, and timber extraction. The mining of talc was in operation within the park right up until 1970. If youw alk through the park you will see a number of old mine shafts and the stumps of very large trees which are evidence of days gone by.
As I was driving along Maidment Road approaching the park, out the corner of my eye, I caught something very large ‘taking off’ from one of the gum trees lining the road. In fact, it was two large Wedge Tailed eagles. So I quickly pulled up the 4WD and grabbed the video camera, but by this stage the eagles had flown off and were soaring above a nearby paddock. I had missed an excellent photo opportunity. However I did manage to snap a few photos of them in flight (see below).
Above: A Wedge Tailed eagle. Photo courtesy of wikipedia
Once arriving at the park I set up in my usual spot, which is just inside gate one. There is a nice parking spot here to pull off the road. There is a boundary fence but this is easily scaled by either using the provided ladder, or straddling through the strains of wire. I set up the fold up table and deck chair and strung out my 40m/20m linked dipole. For this operation I again used the Yaesu FT-857d, and run 40 watts. I powered the radio with my 44 amp hour power pack.
Above: My operating spot. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
I started off having a look around the 40m band to see if I could hear any signals coming in from New Zealand. But I did not hear a single signal coming in across the Tasman.
So I then propped on 7.095 and started calling CQ and this was immediately answered by Stuart VK5STU, followed by David VK5NQP, and then Peter VK3YE who was portable on the Pier at Seaford in Victoria. I worked a total of 18 stations in VK2, VK3, & VK5, until things slowed down a little. I also had to compete with the Europeans who came onto the frequency a few minutes after I started calling CQ. The European signals were quite strong, and I am sure there were some other VK’s calling me, but unfortunately their signals were being drowned out by the DX. Once things got quiet with takers, I took the opportunity of tuning around the band again to see if I could hear any of the New Zealand stations coming through. But it was still a little too early. The local time was still only 6.10 p.m.
My last caller was Jim VK5TR with a very strong 5/9 plus signal. As there were no more takers I tuned around the band and heard the first good New Zealand signal calling CQ contest. It was ZL1HCR, the Hibiscus Coast Radio Club in Auckland. I worked ZL1HCR and I then continued to tune around the band, working a further 2 New Zealand stations, Zl1BCO in Taupo, and ZL3RR on Woodend.
But that was about the limit of Kiwi stations that I could hear at this stage. However I did find Rob VK4FFAB calling CQ on 7.160 from the Moogerah Peaks National Park, VKFF-326. Rob was set up near Mount French within the park and had a nice 5/9 signal. Rob had worked Nick VK3ANL just before me. Knowing that Nick is an avid parks activator and hunter, I made it clear that I was going to head down to 7.155. Sure enough after my call, I caught up with Nick and got him in the log. Nick was kind enough to spot me on parksnpeaks, and a number of callers followed from VK2, VK3, & VK5.
I then went on a scout around the band again. It was now 7.00 p.m. and the signals had built up from across the Tasman. I worked a number of New Zealand stations participating in the Jock White Memorial Field Day. In between I was called by a few of the die hard VK5 park hunters including Greg VK5GJ. I was also called by Tony VK5TT who had a friend, Brendon, in the shack with him, who is a budding Foundation call. I gave Tony a rundown on my portable station and tried to enthusiastically encourage Brendon to do some portable operating when he obtained his Foundation licence.
I then went back to working the ZL stations, who by this time were now quite strong. However they were competing with the static crashes which were very loud at times. Most of the contest activity was below 7.100 so the ZL’s were also competing with some very strong signals from Indonesia and South East Asia.
The Jock White Field Day closed at 9.00 p.m. local time, so I had a quick tune around the band and heard Jim WB2REM in Florida, calling CQ on 7.163. I gave Jim a call and much to my surprise he came back straight away with a 5/6 signal report. Jim and a number of other USA stations gather on this frequency each evening to work some DX. I went on to work Ed KN4KL in Virginia, Nancy K9DIG in Noth Dakota (5/9 sent and 4/4 received), and Dave N5SDO in New Mexico (5/9 sent and 5/6 received).
This was a very enjoyable activation, and I ended up with a total of 81 contacts on 40m SSB.
The following stations were worked as part of the VK5 Parks award:-
- Stuart VK5STU
- David VK5NQP
- Peter VK3YE/p
- Marc VK3OHM
- John VK2AWJ
- Les VK5KLV
- Peter VK5FLEX
- Nev VK5WG
- Peter VK3PF
- Peter VK5KPR
- Bob VK5FPAC
- Arno VK5ZAR
- Robin VK5TN
- Tim VK5AV
- Rod VK5UV
- John VK5BJE
- Andtrew VK3ARR
- Jim VK5TR
- Rob VK4FFAB/p (Moogerah Peaks National Park)
- Nick VK3ANL
- Peter VK3TKK
- Mick VK3PMG
- Brett VK3FLCS
- Ian VK3TCX/m
- Ray VK3NBL
- Adrian VK5FANA
- Doug VK2FMIA
- Colin VK4FAAS
- Greg VK5GJ
- Tony VK5TT
- Steve VK3FSPG
- Jim WB2REM
- Nancy K9DIG
- Dave N5SDO
I had a total of 45 Jock White contacts. I worked the following stations:-
Department for Environment and Heritage, 2007, ‘Porter Scrub Conservation Park Management Plan’.
What a great activation from Porter Scrub CP! Eighty one contacts is a great effort with a 40 watt station. I enjoyed your pictures of the Wedgie!
Interesting post Paul, and thanks for working us at ZL1XH. Cheers, Neil
Many thanks for the contact/s. It was a lot of fun, the Jock White.
I have just emailed you a special QSL card from my activation.
This was a fun activation. I primarily went out to work the New Zealand guys for their Jock White Memorial Field Day. But it was also pleasing to be called by so many VK5 Parks hunters.
And Porter Scrub is a very pretty park with quite a bit of interesting history.
I really missed a great opportunity of a photo with those 2 Wedgies. They truly are an amazing bird.
Nice write up Paul. Sometimes you just need to make sure the SLR is on the front seat with your biggest telephoto already on. I wish i had mine more accessible when we were owl spotting on the way out of Moorgerah Peaks. Eagles and Owls, such majestic birds in such different ways.
Rob de VK4FFAB
I know. I’ve seen Wedgies a number of times previously when Ive been in a park or a summit. But never as close as the other day. They flew straight over the top of the car. Probably only 6 feet above me. An amazing sight.