Naracoorte Caves National Park, VKFF-380

After leaving Christmas Rocks I was hoping to activate Talapar Conservation Park.  However, the GPS led me on a wild goose chase and despite my best efforts I could not get into the park.  This included following an 8km section of very sandy and boggy track which showed on the GPS leading straight into the park.  But by the time I got to the end there was a locked gate and I was still 2 km short.

I was starting to get very frustrated and tired, so I took an easy option and headed back into nearby Naracoorte and activated the Naracoorte Caves National Park, VKFF-380.  This was not a new park for me (I had been there before in June, 2014 – see below), but I knew that it was an easy park to access and there was shelter there from the never ending rain.

https://vk5pas.org/2014/06/12/narracoorte-caves-national-park/

The Naracoorte Caves National Park is about 351 km by road, south east of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 14.46.54

Above: Map showing the location of the park.  Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

Naracoorte Caves National Park is Australia’s only World Heritage site, officially recognise in 1994 due to its importance to the fossils located there.  There are 28 known caves in the park.  Four are open to the public.  The park preserves Australia’s most complete fossil record for the past 500,000 years.  For more detailed information, please see my previous post on this park, or have a look at the following site…..

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/naracoorte/Home

I set up in a BBQ shelter shed on the edge of the oval, which is adjacent to the main carpark.  It afforded me plenty of shelter from the rain which constantly came down.  You know it is wet and cold when the kangaroos are sheltering underneath trees on the oval, which they were.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and my 40m/20m linked dipole supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

I started off on 40m and called CQ on 7.095.  First taker again was Tony VK5FTVR, followed by Larry VK5LY, Les VK5KLD and Col VK5HCF.  All with great signals from all around South Australia.  Getting wet and cold was made up for by the large number of callers who gave me a shout.  Adrian VK5FANA called in again, running his 5 watts as per usual, with a very nice signal.  I was also called by Lou VK5EEE who was formerly G4OJW in the UK.  I was just Lou’s third QSO with his new VK call.  Welcome to Australia Lou.

A number of other hams running QRP also called in, including Norm VK5GI and Greg VK5GJ, both running just 4 watts (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).  And also Adrian VK5AW running 5 watts from the Riverland (5/9 both ways).  Quite a few mobiles also called in, including Ian VK3TCX mobile north of Bairnsdale, Gerard VK2IO, Peter VK3TKK, Wayne VK2PDW, and Peter VK3PF.

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Sadly, at about 0540 UTC (3.10 p.m. local time), two stations from VK5 & a VK2 (I know their call signs, but will not mention them here) came up on adjacent 7.093.  They are regular participants in the Kandos Net which commences at 0600 UTC on 7.093.  I was aware that the net was to start at the time and had indicated that I was going to go QRT prior to the net commencing.  However, that did not stop those individuals from firing up on 7.093, just 2 kc below me, where I had been for about one hour.  Clearly they knew I was there, and others were calling/working me.  It was impossible to continue to 7.095 due to the bleed over.

I normally bite my tongue.  But one of these individuals had previously communicated to me that park & SOTA activators should stay away from 7.093 as it was ‘their net frequency’.  On that occasion, after informing this individual that no-one ‘owned’ a frequency, it appears that it has fallen on deaf ears.  So I came up on 7.093 to calmly voice my disapproval of their poor behaviour.  One of the VK5’s sheepishly apologised, but the VK2 station accused me of getting ‘a bit upset over nothing’.  

But out of everything bad, comes something good.  There are some excellent and professional operators around.  And here are two of those.  On the record I would like to thank both Tom VK2KF and Tom VK4ATH (net controllers for the Kandos Group), who had personally heard what had occurred and were very quick to apologise, both via e-mail and on air for the behaviour of a small few.  Not that they should have to apologise for others.  But they did.  Thanks to both Toms.  The Kandos Net is a terrific net which has been running for a very long period of time and should in no way be tarnished by the behaviour of a very select few.

And also thankyou to the two hams who followed me down to 7.093 and also supported me and voice their disaproval.

I then headed up to 14.2498 and started calling CQ.  This was answered immediately by Ray KB6LQV in California in the USA with a nice 5/9 signal.  John VK5BJE was kind enough to spot me on the DX Cluster and this resulted in the European park hunters finding me.  It wasn’t long before the regulars were giving me a shout.  On 20m I worked into the USA, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Israel and VK.  I went on to work 24 stations on 14.248 until things slowed down.

So I tuned across the band and found Tony G7OEM who was pedestrian mobile, calling CQ on 14.197.  Tony had quite a pile up, but I eventually made it (5/5 both ways).

After 2 hours in the park I had a total of 63 contacts in the log.  It was time to head off to Mount Gambier.  It was now 4.10 p.m. and I still had a 100 km drive ahead of me.

Thankyou to those that spotted me on parksnpeaks and thanks to I5FLN, F4HMR, VK2SOL, and IZ1JLG for spotting me on the DX Cluster.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Tony VK5FTVR
  2. Larry VK5LY
  3. Les VK5KLD
  4. Col VK5HCF
  5. Les VK5KLV
  6. John VK5BJE
  7. Jeff VK5JK
  8. Adrian VK5FANA
  9. Terry VK3UP
  10. Tim VK3TJK
  11. David Vk5KC
  12. Jim VK1AT/3
  13. Erik VK7EK
  14. Lou VK5EEE
  15. Rob VK4AAC/5
  16. Micj VK3PMG
  17. Cliff VK2NP
  18. Grant Vk5VGC
  19. Ian VK5IS
  20. Ian VK3TCX/m
  21. Mark Vk7MK
  22. Allen VK5FD
  23. Paul VK3DBP
  24. Bruce VK2FBJM
  25. Gerard VK2IO/m
  26. Norm VK5GI
  27. Greg VK5GJ
  28. Peter VK5PET
  29. Brian VK5FMID
  30. Ivan VK5HS
  31. Adrian VK5AW
  32. Phil VK3BHR
  33. Peter VK3TKK/m
  34. Wayne VK2PDW/m
  35. David VK3FDAV
  36. Peter VK3PF/m
  37. Robin VK5TN
  38. Tony VK7LTD

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. KB6LQV
  2. ON4BB
  3. I5FLN
  4. DL2ND
  5. F1BLL
  6. HA6OB
  7. DK9HN
  8. SP6KEP
  9. EA4DTV
  10. WB4JSB
  11. F4HMR
  12. EA1LQ
  13. VK4NAI
  14. DL4PT
  15. IW2NXI
  16. 4X4JU
  17. IK1GPG
  18. DK8PY
  19. VK2SOL
  20. VK2NRB
  21. ON4STA
  22. HA0LG
  23. IZ1JLG
  24. ON5SWA
  25. G7OEM pedestrian mobile

Christmas Rocks Conservation Park

After packing up at Aberdour Conservation Park, I headed back to the Riddoch Highway and travelled south towards my next activation which was the Christmas Rocks Conservation Park, which was to be another unique park for me as an activator.  It was just a very short drive from Aberdour CP.

Screenshot 2015-06-03 19.28.08

The Christmas Rocks Conservation Park was proclaimed in 2014 and is just to the north of the little town of Willalooka.  Don’t blink, because you will miss the park.  There is just one small brown sign on the western side of the Riddoch Highway, with a camera sign and the words Christmas Rocks.  If you’ve reached Willalooka when travelling south, you have come too far.

The park itself consists of some fairly dense scrub and a series of granite rocks which were once part of the archipelago of granite rocks in the shallow sea that covered the Limestone Coast some 25 million years ago.  I recommend taking the time to walk to the top and admire the views of the surround countryside.  It is a very easy 10 minute walk from the carpark.  Sadly, there is no real defined park.  It is another example of the poor state our parks are in South Australia.

Prior to activating, I did exactly that.  I took a walk up to the top of the granite rocks while the showers had disappeared.  Although not high above sea level, there are some very good views of the district.

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I set up in the scrub about 10 metres in from the carpark.  The weather was still terrible, so I didn’t want to be too far from the vehicle.  I had hoped to take the Yaesu FT-817nd up onto the top of the rocks, but it was just too wet.  So I quickly set up the equipment, my Yaesu FT-757d (set on 40 watts) and a 40m/20m linked dipole supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

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I called CQ again on 7.095 and this was answered by Tony VK5FTVR at Strathalbyn, followed by Scott VK5FSKS mobile at Swan Reach with a nice 5/8 signal, and then park stalwart, Mick VK53PMG in Stawell in western Victoria.  Eugene VK5ZA mobile at Auburn in the Clare Valley was next, followed by another park devotee, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula.

Whilst I was operating, the area was alive with birds.  Of the feathered variety!  The gum trees were in flower so that attracted the New Holland Honeyeaters.  There was also a large number of Superb Blue Wrens and Fantails.

After the callers had slowed down, I had a quick tune around the band and found Phil VK2JDL calling CQ from a SOTA peak, Mount Coryah VK2/ NW-004 in the Mount Kaputar National Park VKFF-353.  Phil was my last contact (5/7 both ways), just as the rain started to come down again.  It was a quick pack up and back to the vehicle.

After 40 minutes in the park, I had a total of 22 contacts in the log from VK2, VK3 & VK5.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Tony VK5FTVR
  2. Scott VK5FSKS/m
  3. Mick VK3PMG
  4. Eugene Vk5ZA/m
  5. Adrian VK5FANA
  6. Anthony VK3LPG
  7. Les VK5KLV
  8. Les VK5KLD
  9. Ian VK5IS
  10. Jim VK5JW
  11. Greg VK5ZGY
  12. Rick VK5BGN
  13. Ivan VK5HS
  14. Peter VK3PF/m
  15. John VK5BJE
  16. Alan VK5FAJS
  17. Paul VK2DEL/m
  18. Terry VK3UP/m
  19. Bob VK5XL
  20. Steve VK3NSC
  21. Phil VK2JDL/p (SOTA)

 

References.

Tatiara Tourism Group, 2015, <https://www.tatiara.sa.gov.au&gt;, viewed 20th May 2015

 

Aberdour Conservation Park

Aberdour Conservation Park was my first park activation for the week away in the South East.  I left home early on Thursday morning (4th June 2015), and journeyed down the Dukes Highway to Keith, where I turned off onto the Riddoch Highway.  About 10 km from the park I had a QSO on 40m with Gary VK5ZK, Rick VK5BGN, and a few other VK5 locals.  It was good to try out the new Codan 9350 antenna on the Toyota Hi Lux.

Aberdour Conservation Park is about 35 km south of Keith on the eastern side of the Riddoch Highway (Naracoorte-Keith Road), and about 260 km by road from Adelaide.  It is quite a large park, being 133 hectares in size.  It was dedicated as a Conservation Park in February 1991, and was a gift from the Nankivell family.  In fact Nankivells Road runs on the eastern side of the park.  The park preserves an area of remnant vegetation which is very typical of undulating dune and limestone country of the South East.

Screenshot 2015-06-03 19.16.20 Above:- Map showing the location of the park in SE South Australia.  Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

There has been extensive clearing of the surrounding countryside and the park provides an important habitat for a large amount of native wildlife.  The park contains the Nationally endangered Jumping Jack wattle Acacia enterocarpa.

I haven’t been able to find out an origin of the name of the park.  Unfortunately there is not a lot of information on the internet about this park and DEWNR were unable to assist.  There is a town called Aberdour on the south coast of Fife in Scotland.  Perhaps it has some association.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdour

Screenshot 2015-06-10 13.39.00

Above:- The boundaries of the park.  Courtesy of http://www.openstreetmap.org

I turned off the Riddoch Highway onto Cannawigara Road and travelled east.  A few km down the road (which is a dirt road), I saw the park sign on my left on the northern side of the road.  There was an access track at the south western corner of the park on Cannawigara Road, but it was extremely wet and sandy and I didn’t feel like getting out and lowering the tyre pressure in the Toyota Hi Lux.  So I continued down Cannawigara Road and turned left into Nankivells Road and travelled north along the eastern boundary of the park.  At the end of Nankivells Road, which becomes a dead end road, there is another sandy 4WD track which follows the northern boundary of the park.  But I turned back around and found a clearing in the scrub, and parked the car on Nankivells Road.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 12.57.29

Above:- Map showing my operating location.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

The scrub in the park is very thick, but I had found a nice clearing and quickly set up my fold up table, deck chair, and antenna, trying to beat the rain.  It was not the best of days for park activating, with quite a lot of shower activity and it was very cold.

My first contact after calling CQ on 7.095 was with Adrian VK5FAJH in Port Pirie with a nice 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Tony VK5FTVR in Strathalbyn, and then Rick VK5BGN who I had spoken to from the mobile.  Thanks for coming up to say g’day Rick.  The showers were starting to set in, so I deployed the bothy bag to try to stay dry.  It was pleasing to hear a steady flow of callers from lots of the regular park hunters, but also a number of new callers, from all around Australia.

In fact, during my 45 minutes in the park I had contacts on 40m into VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6, and VK7.  The band seemed to be in quite good condition with 5/7-8 signals coming in from Western Australia.

After a total of 23 contacts, I lowered down the squid pole in the rain, and took out the links in the dipole and started calling CQ on 14.310.  This was answered by Peter VK6RZ firstly with a beautiful 5/9 signal, followed by Max VK6FN who was also 5/9.  But the rain had got the better of me.  It was that heavy and steady that water was seaping through the bothy bag, so it was time to pack up and head for the warmth of the vehicle.  I had a total of 25 contacts in the log and this was a unique park for me as an activator.

Thanks to Paul VK2HV and Peter VK6RZ for spotting me on the DX Cluster and to those that spotted me on parksnpeaks.

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The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Adrian VK5FAJH
  2. Tony VK5FTVR
  3. Rick VK5BGN
  4. Ivan VK5HS
  5. David VK5KC
  6. Ian VK5IS
  7. Adrian VK5FANA
  8. Allen VK5FD
  9. Paul VK2HV
  10. Jeff VK5JK
  11. Les VK5KLD
  12. Jim VK1AT/3
  13. Greg VK5ZGY
  14. John VK5FANG
  15. Peter VK3PF/m
  16. Andy VK2VOO/m
  17. Geoff VK5HEL
  18. Peter VK6RZ
  19. Tony VK7LTD
  20. Max VK6FN
  21. Mark VK7MK
  22. Ian VK5CZ
  23. Rich VK6HRC

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Peter VK6RZ
  2. Max VK6FN

References.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1997, Aberdour and Mount Monster Conservation Parks Management Plans

Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdour&gt; viewed 10th June 2015

Trip to the South East

On Thursday 4th June 2015 I headed down to the South East of South Australia, and returned home on Tuesday 9th June, 2015.  My destination was Mount Gambier where I attended the South East Radio Group (SERG) Convention and National Fox Hunting Championships.  This is the 51st year that the event has been held.

Whilst there I activated a number of South Australian National Parks and Conservation Parks as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, and World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF).  See below for more info. I had a great time at the SERG Convention.  On Saturday morning after my first park activation, I attended the Scout Hall in Margaret Street Mount Gambier, where I set up a display table promoting the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award and the WWFF.  On display I had a number of award certificates, my Yaesu FT-817nd, my Yaesu FT-857d, 44 amp hour power pack, LiFePo batteries, SLAB batteries, bothy bag, handheld GPS devices, solar panels, & antennas.  I also had a number of promotional handouts. DSC_0147 I occasionally snuck away to see if I could pick up a bargain from some of the traders.  Both private and commercial sellers were in attendance, including Ross from Strictly Ham.  There was plenty of good food on offer, with the kitchen always busy.  Foxhunting events were held all day on Saturday and Sunday.  And late on Sunday afternoon there was a very interesting presentation on Surface board mounting of components.  This was followed by the award presentations for the fox hunting events.  And finally, a dinner was held in the adjacent hall with soup, a choice of roast beef or roast chicken, followed by apple crumble. I highly recommend the SERG Convention to anyone who hasn’t attended.  Congrats to the SERG team for putting it all together.  I’ll mention a bit more about the Convention in other posts to follow.

And of course as I mentioned earlier, I also activated a few parks (17 in total) whilst in the area, including a joint activation with Alan VK5FAJS at the Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park on Monday.  It was very pleasing to pick a number of new ‘regular’ park hunters who have gained an interest in the VK5 Parks Award & WWFF.  And also some regular calls on 40m from Ken ZL4KD (even during the middle of the day).

Not all the activations went to plan.  There were a couple of parks I did not get to…Talapar and Mullinger Swamp.  This was due to a combination of the terrible weather (it was June in the South East after all) & not being able to access Talapar.  But I did sneak in some others.

Here are some stats from my activations………..

  • Total of 17 parks activated
  • 11 unique VK5 parks for me
  • 8 unique WWFF parks for me
  • Total of 751 contacts
  • about 1700 km driven over the 6 days
  • countries worked: VK, ZL, USA, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Israel, Hungary, England, Belarus, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Canada.

Thursday 4th

  • Aberdour Conservation Park……….25 contacts
  • Christmas Rocks Conservation Park……….21 contacts
  • Naracoorte Caves National Park VKFF-380……….63 contacts

Friday 5th

  • Fairview Conservation Park……….36 contacts
  • Vivigani Ardune Conseervation Park……….35 contacts
  • Mary Seymour Conservation Park……….27 contacts
  • Big Heath Conservation Park VKFF-792……….45 contacts
  • Hacks Lagoon Conservation Park……….32 contacts

Saturday 6th

  • Penambol Conservation Park VKFF-802……….52 contacts

Sunday 7th

  • Ewens Ponds Conservation Park……….66 contacts
  • Piccanininnie Ponds Conservation Park……….35 contacts

Monday 8th

  • Telford Scrub Conservation Park VKFF-805……….63 contacts
  • Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park VKFF-804……….49 contacts
  • Nene Valley Conservation Park VKFF-801……….49 contacts

Tuesday 9th

  • Gower Conservation Park VKFF-798……….50 contacts
  • Calectasia Conservation Park……….30 contacts
  • Penola Conservation Park VKFF-803……….73 contacts

I will put some more info & photos up here over the coming weeks about each activation. Thankyou to everyone that called, and thanks to those who took the time to spot me on either parksnpeaks and/or the DX Cluster.  It really does help.