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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- G4AKC/pedestrian mobile
- M0DAD/pedestrian mobile
Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakara_Conservation_Park>, viewed 6th May 2015