Cooltong Conservation Park VKFF-823

On Friday night (1st May 2015) after checking in to my motel I drove east out of Renmark along the Sturt Highway and headed into the Cooltong Conservation Park, via Santos Road.  This was to be another unique park for me as an activator for both the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

Cooltong Conservation Park is situated about 250 km north east of Adelaide, and is located between Renmark and Berri.  Cooltong is a large park.  It is 3,681 hectares in size and was dedicated to preserve quality males vegetation and habitat for the mallee bird species that frequent the area, in particular the Malleefowl.  The park is a typical mallee park, with undulating dunes and shales.  The park is accessible to conventional vehicles, however some sections of the park are only accessible by 4WD.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.03.00Above:- Map showing the location of Cooltong CP.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

I drove a few km into the park and found a little track off to the east and in turn a nice clearing in the scrub.  It was an ideal spot to set up.  It was slow going into the park as it was fully dark (6.30 p.m.) and the local wildlife was out in force, including the kangaroos.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.03.22

Above:- My operating spot.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

The entire 40m band above 7.135 was decimated by the Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR).  This made it totally impossible to operate in that portion of the band.  The OTHR radar was still audible on 7.135, but I couldn’t go any lower on the band, as the 7.130 DX Net would kick off at 0930 UTC, and everything below 7.130 was taken up by stations from South East Asia.

Below is a video of the radar…..

So I called CQ on 7.135 and it wasn’t long, before the hungry park hunters started to respond.  First up was Theo VK3AP with a nice 5/9 plus signal, followed by three regular park hunters: Andrew VK1NAM, Dave VK3VCE and John VK5BJE.  Local Renmark resident and mate of mine, Ivan VK5HS then called in.  Interestingly Ivan said he could not hear the radar and thought the noise I was hearing might be something generated out of my vehicle.  I assured him that it was definitely the OTHR.

Some of the usual QRP suspects called in for this activation.  They were Adrian VK5FANA on 5 watts from the Yorke Peninsula (4/6 sent and 5/7 received), and also Peter VK3PF running 5 watts (5/9 both ways).  I was also called by Adrian VK4FBMW running 5 watts.  Unfortunately the JA QRM was also quite heavy on the frequency, but still, I was able to copy Adrian well with his QRP signal (4/7 sent and 5/8 received).

I also worked some stations outside of VK.  They were John Zl2BH in Blenheim in New Zealand, and Ken ZL4KD in Christchurch.  Ken informed me that he had seen me spotted on parksnpeaks and had decided to give me a call, and that I was his first ever VK5 Conservation Park contact.  I was very pleased to have Ken in the log.

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It was a beautiful mild evening in the park.  The moon was out and due to the cloud cover, it had a very distinctive ring around it.  There were quite a few bumps and crashes in the scrub whilst I was operating and I had the occasional fleeting glimpse of some of the local kangaroos.

Within the park I did see some signs that surveillance cameras were in operation.  I thought this may have been due to bird trapping, but as I later found out, it is due to the dumping of rubbish.  It never ceases to amaze me how poorly some people treat our environment.

https://www.murraypioneer.com.au/dump-n-dash/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-07/tonnes-of-rubbish-dumped-illegally-left-to-rot-in-sa/5949786

I worked 38 stations on 7.135 and then at 8.10 p.m. I decided to head down to the 7.130 DX Net which is held on 7.130 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I worked a total of 6 stations on the net, bringing me to my required 44 contacts for the global WWFF program.  I was very pleased to work the special New Zealand ANZAC call, ZL100ANZAC on the net, and also Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3AP
  2. VK1NAM
  3. VK3VCE
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK5HS
  6. VK5AKH
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK2IO
  9. VK3PF
  10. VK1AT/3
  11. VK3DAC
  12. VK3JAP
  13. VK3FSPG
  14. VK2FMIA
  15. ZL2BH
  16. VK5HCF
  17. VK5ZGY
  18. VK3ANL
  19. VK2QM
  20. ZL4KD
  21. VK3YW/m
  22. VK4FFAB
  23. VK5KLV
  24. VK2GKA
  25. VK2MRX
  26. VK3HRA
  27. VK2PKT
  28. VK5EE/m
  29. VK3BBB
  30. VK3AN
  31. VK3FIRM
  32. VK3NSC
  33. VK2BDR
  34. VK4FBMW
  35. VK2FAAA
  36. VK7LCW
  37. VK3TKK
  38. VK3EY
  39. ZL100ANZAC
  40. ZL2ASH
  41. VK5MJ
  42. VK2FROX
  43. VK7ROY
  44. VK6FBMW

 

References.

Department of Environment and Heritage, 2011. Parks of the Riverland.

Bakara Conservation Park

On Friday afternoon (1st May 2015), I packed the Toyota Hi Lux and headed off towards Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia.  My reason for heading there was that Ivan VK5HS was going to instal a Codan self tuning 9350 antenna in the vehicle for me.  And I was also planning on a park activation with my old mate Larry VK5LY who has not been travelling well of late.

http://www.codanradio.com/product/9350-vehicle-whip/

My first park activation along the way was the Bakara Conservation Park (CP), which was a unique park for me to add to my activator list.

Bakara CP is located about 32 km east of Swan Reach.  The park is 2,029 hectares (5,010 acres) in size and was established back in 1986 to conserve the Malleefowl habitat.  The park area was doubled in size in 2009 by the addition of the adjacent section of land to the north of the original park.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 08.55.41

Above:- The location of Bakara CP.  Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

After leaving home, I travelled east along the South Eastern Freeway to Murray Bridge and then headed north east long the Bowhill Road.  I then drove north along Hunter Road (Swan Reach – Walker Flat Road), which runs alongside the mighty Murray River.  I stopped at Len Kroehn’s Lookout near the little town of Nildottie, to stretch my legs and take some photographs of the Murray and some of its spectacular cliffs.

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I continued on and I accessed the park via Start Road, which is a well graded dirt road which runs off the Stott Highway (Swan Reach-Loxton Road).  Don’t bother looking for any signage off the Highway.  There isn’t any.  A common theme with many South Australian Conservation Parks.  You will need to rely on your GPS.  And dont blink, because you may also miss the park signs hidden amongst the scrub.

I travelled a few km down Start Road and I found a little track leading off Start Road and then a clearing amongst the mallee scrub, and that was where I set up.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 08.56.06

Above:- My operating spot.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

As is the case with the majority of my park activations, I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  There were no problems here with driving in the squid pole holder as the ground was very sandy and quite soft.

I called CQ on 7.095 and my first taker was Greg VK5GJ running about 4 watts from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills.  As per normal, Greg had a lovely signal (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  This was followed by a call from Brad Vk2HAV who was very light to me, but due to the non existant man made noise floor in the park, Brad was very workable.  This was followed by a call from another New South Welshman, Ian VK2GDI who had a strong 5/8 signal.  My next contact was with Jim VK4OK who was quite weak (5/3) but again very readable in the park.  Jim gave me a 5/1 signal report.  So that was an interesting start to the activation.  A QRP VK5, followed by two VK2’s and then a VK4.

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My next contact was with Tony VK5ZAI who who on holidays down in Tasmania and was about 50 km north of Launceston.  Tony had a very nice 5/7 signal and he reciprocated with a 5/8 for me.  Some of the more regular park hunters had obviously found me and then started to call.  This included some of the regular QRP callers.  Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula with his 5 watts had a nice 5/9 signal.  And Paul VK3DBP also on 5 watts had a strong 5/8 signal.  Mobile callers included Tom VK5EE in the South East (5/9 both ways), Peter VK3PF (5/8 sent and 5/7 received), Ivan VK5HS mobile at nearby Blanchetown, Perrin VK3XPT (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), and John VK3FCAN mobile near Traralgon (5/5 sent and 5/9 received).

After working 30 stations on 40m SSB in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, & VK7, I decided to have a quick listen on 20m SSB, as I had promised Gerard VK2IO that I would try 20m for him.  Gerard was one of my last contacts on 40m and although I could hear him very well and he could hear me, we agreed that we would give 20m a go.

My first contact on 20m after calling CQ a few times on 14.311 was with Sergey RA3PCI in Russia.  Sergey spotted me on the DX cluster and this resulted in quite a large pile up with lots of callers from Europe.  But as the number of callers started to increase, I did worry that this activation might cause some confusion with some of the European park hunters.  Bakara CP does not currently qualify for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and so therefore does not have a VKFF number.  But most of the Europeans that I worked, appeared to understand that this was not a WWFF activation and that the park qualified for the VK5 Parks Award only.

I went on to work a total of 61 stations on 20m.  Most of those contacts were long path into Europe ( I worked Russia, Italy, Belgium, Ukraine, Slovenia, Poland, England, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, France, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, and the Netherlands).  However there were a few VK’s scattered in there as well, including Perrin VK3XPT mobile, Gerard VK2IO, Andrew VK1NAM, and Craig VK6VCK mobile.  Also outside of Europe was Warren ZL2JML in New Zealand.  And again I managed to make a QSO with my very good friend, Marnix OP7M in Belgium.

Thanks to everyone that took the time to spot me on the DX cluster.  It certainly helped to drag in the park hunters.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 19.53.30

Image courtesy of http://www.dxwatch.com

During the pile up into Europe, Craig VK6VCK who was mobile in Western Australia, gave me a call and asked if I had upgraded my call.  I replied that I hadn’t and was then asked why I was outside of the Standard call portion of 20m.  This really threw me.  I was on 14.311 and well inside the 14.350 limit.  But Craig was insistent that Standard calls could not operate above 14.300.  I knew this to be incorrect, but a few calls on, I started to doubt myself a little.  But my doubts only lasted a short time as I knew that I could operate up to 14.350.  It was one of those strange tricks that you mind plays on itself.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 20.02.33

Image courtesy of http://www.wia.org.au

Other than the usual callers, I also had some interesting contacts on 20m.  That included a call from my mate Phil 2E0UDX mobile in the United Kingdom (UK).  And then a call from Dave G4AKC who was pedestrian mobile (5/9 both ways) and shortly afterwards a call from Dave M0DAD who was also pedestrian mobile in the UK.  Dave was not as strong as G4AKC, but was still a very readable 5/3 signal.  I received a 5/7 signal report.

It was starting to get a little late.  The local time was nearly 4.30 p.m. and I still had a way to travel to get to my destination of Renmark.  So I packed up the gear, feeling a little disapointed as the conditions on 20m into Europe were very good.

I had a total of 91 contacts in the log from this new unique park for me as an activator.  I was very happy.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. Vk2HAV
  3. VK2GDI
  4. VK4OK
  5. VK5ZAI/7
  6. VK3DAC
  7. VK5FDEC
  8. VK2YW
  9. VK3AV
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK5JP
  12. VK5EE/m
  13. VK3PF/m
  14. VK3DBP
  15. VK3VIN
  16. VK5KC
  17. VK3BBB
  18. VK3PMG
  19. VK3FLCS
  20. VK5HS/m
  21. VK3FQSO
  22. VK5LY
  23. VK2BDR
  24. VK3XPT/m
  25. VK7FMPR
  26. VK5KLV
  27. VK2IO
  28. VK5FDIK/p
  29. VK5ZAR
  30. VK3FCAN/m

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. RA3PCI
  2. IW5EKR
  3. VK3XPT/m
  4. I1FBJ
  5. ZL2JML
  6. I5FLN
  7. VK2IO
  8. IK1GPG
  9. VK1NAM
  10. ON7AB
  11. UT5PI
  12. S58AL
  13. OP7M
  14. RW3RN
  15. SP6KEP
  16. G4EZT
  17. SM6YNO
  18. HB9BQR
  19. EA5DIT
  20. ON5SWA
  21. SP6GCU
  22. 9A7DA
  23. VK6VCK/m
  24. G1OSI
  25. F5IDJ
  26. DK4RM
  27. RW3XZ
  28. G3ZXZ
  29. DL5MEV
  30. ES1IP
  31. EA5FKT
  32. GW3UZS
  33. EA2KV
  34. DK8PY
  35. SV1QFF
  36. S52KM
  37. PE1NBD
  38. IK2QPR
  39. IZ8EFD
  40. 2E0UDX/m
  41. VK2YK
  42. UR7ET
  43. DJ7ZZ
  44. IZ2SQS
  45. SP3HDU
  46. CS7AGE
  47. IZ1NEZ
  48. EA4DTV
  49. IZ1IJE
  50. DL1EBR
  51. IZ2XMK
  52. ON4VT
  53. IZ5ILK
  54. G0RQL
  55. DM9LSB
  56. G4AKC/pedestrian mobile
  57. ZL1PWD
  58. ON6PV
  59. RX3AGD
  60. G4SOF
  61. M0DAD/pedestrian mobile

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakara_Conservation_Park&gt;, viewed 6th May 2015