The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park VKFF-817

After packing up at Mount Brown, John VK5BJE decided that it was a bit cold to continue activating, and he and Jenny headed back to Argadells with David VK5KC and his wife Joy.  And they were right, it was getting very chilly.  But I was very keen to qualify The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, VKFF-817, which was recently added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, which is about 3,532 hectares in size, is situated about 10 km north east of Quorn and about 340 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.49.49

Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Map courtesy of

I have activated the park once before.  That was back in May 2013, when my wife Marija and I climbed The Dutchmans Stern summit, located in the park.  For more information on that activation and detailed information on the park, please see my previous post at…..

The park is accessed off Arden Vale Road and is well signposted.  The summit itself cannot be missed as it has a very striking shape.  The park gets its name from the bluff’s similarity to Dutch sailing ships of the 18th century.  The rocky outcrops and slopes appear to resemble the reverse stern of these ships.  The bluff was named by Captain Matthew Flinders who chartered the nearby Spencer Gulf in 1802.

As we entered the park, we were struck by the number of kangaroos, both Red Kangaroos and Western Greys.

We set up just on the southern side of the carpark.  Fortunately, there was a wooden table and benches there waiting for me, which made a perfect shack.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu Ft-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.49.35

Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the park.  Map courtesy of

I started off on 20m as it was getting a little late.  It was 4.20 p.m. South Australian local time and it was starting to get dark, which meant that my window into Europe via the long path was quite limited.  I called CQ on 14.244 and this was answered by Erol VK2YB with a strong 5/9 signal, and then Marco VK2YES also 5/9.  My third contact was another station from New South Wales, Dave VK2DML who was also 5/9.

I worked a further 6 stations from Australia, in VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK4, before my first DX contact, IZ5JMZ in Italy.  This was followed by JA8RJE in Japan, and Ken ZL4KD in Christchurch in New Zealand.  The European attention had been generated as Erol VK2YB and Adam VK2YK had spotted me on the DX Cluster.  This really does help.

I went on to work 23 stations on 20m in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Japan, Sloevnia, Belgium, Germany, and Russia.  But I had left my run a bit late…the 20m band was almost shut on the long path.

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So with a further 21 contacts required I headed down to 40m and called CQ on 7.098.  My first taker there was John VK4JWT on Bribie Island who had followed me down from 20m.  This was followed by David VK5HYZ in Adelaide, and Nev VK5WG in Cyrstal Brook.  It was quite slow going, but I finally managed my 44th contact, with thanks to Ian VK5ZGG.  I worked 3 more stations, making my total 47 for the activation.  But with no further takers and an ever lowering temperature (now 5 degrees C), it was time to pack up and head back to Argadells.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2YB
  2. VK2YES
  3. VK2DML
  4. VK4MON
  5. VK2YK
  6. VK3BY
  7. VK1XP
  8. VK3PMG
  9. VK3EY
  10. IZ5JMZ
  11. JA8RJE
  12. ZL4KD
  13. VK6HSB/p
  14. VK3FD/6
  15. VK6JON/p
  16. S58AL
  17. ON4BB
  18. DL2ND
  19. DK0EE
  20. RA3PCI
  21. DK4RM
  22. VK4JWT

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4JWT
  2. VK5HYZ
  3. VK5WG
  4. VK2PH
  5. VK5PZ
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK3FPBI
  8. VK5FMID
  9. VK2FALL
  10. VK3PF
  11. VK2IO
  12. VK5HEL
  13. VK5FD
  14. VK2SOL
  15. VK2BJK
  16. VK5KAF
  17. VK3FONZ
  18. VK6NU
  19. VK3DBP
  20. VK1AT
  21. VK5ZGG
  22. VK4AJR
  23. VK4MAD
  24. VK5KKT

After reaching Argadells, I lit the open fire at the back of our accomodation, the Overseer’s cottage, and we were soon joined by David and Joy, & John and Jenny for a BBQ dinner.  And the obligatory few bottles of red.  It was a great end to a great day.

Mount Brown Conservation Park

After our activation of The Devils Peak, we continued as a group down the Richman Valley Road for our next activation, which was the Mount Brown Conservation Park.  This park qualifies for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

The Mount Brown Conservation Park is situated about 14 km south of Quorn and about 300 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.14.07

Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Map courtesy of

I have activated the park twice before.  The first time was in May 2013, with my wife Marija, when we climbed Mount Brown summit, VK5/ NE-014 which is located in the park.  And the second occasion was in August 2013.  For more information on the park, and details on those activations, please have a look at my previous posts at…..

We accessed a picnic type area in the park oon the western side of the Richman Valley Road.  There is a large rainwater tank and a shelter at this location.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.13.50 Above:- Map of the park, showing our operating location.  Map courtesy of

Prior to doing an activating, we had lunch in the park.  It was about 1.00 p.m. local time.

John VK5BJE was keen to try his luck on 30m, so he and David headed down towards the Richman Valley Road and set up there.  I started off on 40m and set up about 100 metres away, and ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre squid pole.

I called CQ on 7.095 and my first taker was Trevor VK5TW (5/9 both ways).  This was followed by Bill VK5MBD at Red Hill, and John VK5FMJC at Crystal Brook.

Mount Brown is not yet a qualifying park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so there was no pressure to reach 44 contacts.  But it was pleasing to get a steady flow of callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5 in the middle of the day on 40m, all with very good signals.

Each of the Advanced operators that I worked, I advised that John and David were on 30m, and many went up there to work John and David.

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There was only one QRP caller during this activation and that was Alan VK5FAJS at Mount Gambier runnign 5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  But I did work a few mobile stations.  They included Craig VK3NCR mobile 5, at Keith in the South East, on his way to Padthaway.  Also Dale Vk5DC who was mobile near Marree in the Far North of South Australia.  And finally Wayne VK2PDW mobile.

It was also very pleasing to speak with John VK5KAF.  I was his first contact on 40 metres for the last 20 years.  His interest in the hobby had just been reignited.

After an hour on air, I had a total of 31 contacts in the log on 40m.  It was time to pack up and head off to the next activation, at The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5TW
  2. VK5MBD
  3. VK5FMJC
  4. VK3AXH
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK3SIG
  7. VK5FAJS
  8. VK5VGC
  9. VK5KGP
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK5KLV
  12. VK5HCF
  13. VK5FMID
  14. VK5ZK
  15. VK3NCR/5
  16. VK5ZAR
  17. VK5DC/m
  18. VK5FD
  19. VK5JK
  20. VK1AT
  21. VK5KAA
  22. VK2PDW/m
  23. VK5WCC
  24. VK3FOWL
  25. VK5KAF
  26. VK2NP
  27. VK5WF
  28. VK3ZZS/4
  29. VK5NFB
  30. VK4ACL
  31. VK2JNG

The Devils Peak VK5/ NE-080

The weather on Monday morning (15th June 2015) was a little better than the previous 48 hours.  It was still threatening, but the rain had stopped.  So after an early breakfast we all headed out to activate SOTA peak, The Devil’s Peak, VK5/ NE-080.  The Devils Peak is located about 12 km south of Quorn, and about 330 km from Adelaide.
Screenshot 2015-06-24 16.04.14

Above:- Map showing the location of The Devils Peak.  Map courtesy of

The Devils Peak is 665 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  It casts an impressive figure on the skyline.  In the native aboriginal Adnyamathanha language the summit is known as the ‘eagle’s nest‘ or ‘soaring eagle‘. The Devil’s Peak was so named by the European settlers, as it appeared that it was the devil lying on his back looking skywards.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 16.03.48

Above:- The Devils Peak.  Map courtesy of

To get to the summit, we drove back into Quorn along the Arden Vale Road and then out along McConville Road (which becomes Richman Valley Road) towards the summit.  We then turned right into the Devils Peak Road.  It is 6.2 km from this point to the car park at the summit.  It is well signposted.  The summit itself is actually located on private property, so you will need to open and shut the gate at the end of Devils Peak Road.

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The walk up to the top of The Devils Peak is quite steep in places and is recommended for experienced and fit bushwalkers.  The first part of the walk is quite deceptive.  It is quite easy, following a well maintained track which is very slight in gradient.  It progressively becomes more difficult and involves a lot of scrambling over rocks.

John’s wife Jenny decided she would undertake some bird watching rather than climb.  Probably a sensible decision.  And David VK5KC and his wife Joy were still on their way.  So Marija, John and I headed off up to the top.

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We set up just below the top of The Devils Peak in a small clearing.  We had just enough room to stretch out the 40m/20m linked dipole which we supported on the top of a 7 metre squid pole.  For this activation we ran John’s Yaesu Ft-817 and 5 watts.

Just after setting up, David VK5KC and Joy arrived at our operating spot.

We swapped the mic for this activation.  My first contact was with Gary VK5ZK with a very strong 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by Mark VK7MK in Ravenswood in Tasmania (5/5 sent and 5/1 received), David VK2JDS mobile (5/7 sent and 5/1 received).  My fourth qualifying contact was with Bill VK5MBD in Red Hill with a very strong 5/9 plus signal.

Not long into the activation I noticed that the FT-817 was showing that we were operating on 500 milliwatts.  We checked the LiFePo battery and found that it was very low in voltage, so the Yaesu was defaulting to very low power.  So out came another battery and we were back on deck again with a big 5 watts.

We each worked Phil VK2JDL who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Canobolas, VK2/ CT-001, in the Central Tablelands (5/7 sent and 5/4 received).

After working a number of stations each and qualifying the summit on 40m, we lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole for 20m.  Our first contact there was with Phil again, VK2JDL on Mount Canobolas.  Signal strengths had increased on 20m (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).

We then decided to give 6m a go.  But despite a number of calls there, our only contact was with Ian VK5CZ at Clare, about 200 km south of our location.  Ian was not strong (5/1) but was very readable.  And with John’s little 6m home brew dipole, Ian also gave us a 5/1 signal report.  Although we only made one contact on 6m, we were very happy to have a 6 m contact each in the log.

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As we climbed back down the summit, the weather was clearing.  By the time we got to the bottom, the cloud and fog had lifted and we were rewarded with a nice view of the summit.


I worked the following stations:-

Screenshot 2015-06-24 15.59.18


A train ride, a feed in the pub, and portable in the Argadells RSL

On Sunday 14th June 2015 the plan was to activate two SOTA peaks, Mount Arden and Mount Benjamin.  But ‘Hughey’ had conspired against us, and the rain was relentless.  So any chance of activating was completely gone.

Instead we took a train trip on the famous Pichi Richi railway from Quorn out to Woolshed Flat and then back to Quorn.  It was a very enjoyable trip.

And then in the afternoon, after returning to Quorn on the train we went to one of the local pubs, the Austral Hotel, and caught up with Les VK5KLV and Peter VK5KPR & his wife for lunch.  They had driven down from Port Augusta.

After returning to Argadells later that afternoon, John, David, and I decided to play a little bit of radio.  At the rear of the Overseer’s cottage where Marija and I were staying, was an old building which aptly had an ‘RSL Club’ sign above the door.  It made an ideal shack.  We set up the Yaesu FT-857, and in between the showers, we set up the 7 metre squid pole and the 40m/20m linked dipole.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3YSP
  2. VK5FTRG
  3. VK3PI/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-034)
  4. VK5FO/p (SOTA VK5/ SE-013)
  5. YF3BPL
  6. VK2UW
  7. VK8ZKZ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. PA3GWO

Not quite the day we had planned, but a very enjoyable day netherless.

Winninowie Conservation Park VKFF-820

After leaving the Clinton Conservation Park, Marija and I continued north on the Augusta Highway up into the Mid North of South Australia.  Our next park activation was the Winninowie Conservation Park, VKFF-820.

But prior to activating the park, we took a short detour into the little town on RedHill.  I had arranged to call in and say ‘g’day’ to Bill VK5MBD and his partner Hayley.  When we arrived at Bill’s place, which is the old school house, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was an unexpected visitor there, John VK5FMJC from Crystal Brook.  Bill, John, and I enjoyed a beer, while going on a tour of Bill’s antenna farm.  He certainly has a collection.

After leaving Bill’s place we continued north on the Augusta Highway towards Winninowie Conservation Park, which is about 20 km south of Port Augusta, and about 300 km north of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 08.05.00

Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Map courtesy of

We drove down Miranda Road into the Yatala Harbour section of the park and found a bit of a clearing in the scrub and set up the fold up table and deck chair.  Again for this activation, I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 40m/200m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre squid pole.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 08.04.41

Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park.  Map courtesy of

Much to my pleasant surprise, my first contact in the log was with Larry VK5LY at Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Larry was meant to have accompanied us on the trip with his wife Di, but due to illness, could not come along.  So it was great to get Larry in the log.  Next up was John VK5BJE, another one of our travelling colleagues, who was already at Argadells near Quorn (our accomodation for the next 3 nights).

A few QSOs later I was called by Amanda VK3FQSO running her 500 milliwatts again.  Amanda had  a nice 5/7 signal coming in to the Winninowie.  It is truly amazing what you can do on real QRP when the conditions are favourable.

And then a few contacts later I spoke with Johnno VK3FMPB who was operating portable from the Kinglake National Park, VKFF-264.  Soon after I had a few more park contacts in the log.  This time it was Col VK5HCF and Alan VK5FAJS who were portable in the Telford Scrub Conservation Park, VKFF-805 near Mount Gambier in the South East.  For more information on their activation, please have a look at Col’s WordPress site at…..

After speaking with Col and Alan, Tony VK3CAT gave me a shout from his backyard, running a small magnetic loop and just 4 watts.

And my park contacts continued about 12 contacts later, with Ian VK1DI calling in from the Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve, VKFF-835 with a good 5/7 signal.  For more information on Ian’s activation, have a look at Ian’s WordPress site at…..

I moved through the constant stream of callers from all around Australia….VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  I was then called by Rob VK4AAC/5 in the Flinders Chase National Park VKFF-173 on Kangaroo Island OC-139.  Another park contact…I was very pleased.

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And then a few QSO’s later I was called by Ken ZL4KD in Christchurch with a good 5/7 signal.  Ken reciprocated with a 5/6 signal report for me.  Steve VK5SFA then called in from the Morialta Conservation Park, VKFF-783, in the Adelaide Hills.  Steve was running just 5 watts and had a very strong 5/9 signal.

After working a total of 51 stations on 40m I headed over to 20m, hoping to get some Europeans in the log.  And I wasn’t to be disappointed.  Band conditions on 20m, long path into Europe were excellent.  My first contact after calling CQ on 20m was with Fred VK4FE.  Next up was Danny ON4VT in Belgium who is a regular park activator and hunter, Luc ON4BB in Belgium, Xaver DK4RM in Germany, and then Swa ON5SWA in Belgium.

During the pile up I heard ‘portable’ in amongst the callers.  It was Ian VK1DI in Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-835, calling in.  Ian was a nice strong 5/9.

I went on to work a total of 79 stations on 20m in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary, France, Austria, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, Slovak Republic, Poland, England, Wales, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Netherlands, Croatia, and Japan.

Thankyou to I5FLN, IZ1JLG, OO2T and ON3EA for spotting me on the DX Cluster.

This was a very successful activation with a total of 128 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5LY
  2. VK5BJE/p (Argadells)
  3. VK5FD
  4. VK2FALL
  5. VK3FQSO
  6. VK4FFAB
  7. VK5FTRG
  8. VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-264)
  9. VK5IS
  10. VK5HCF/p (Telford Scrub CP VKFF-805)
  11. VK5FAJS/p (Telford Scrub CP VKFF-805)
  12. VK3CAT/p
  13. VK7LTD/p
  14. VK3TKK/p
  15. VK4QC/2
  16. VK5QI/m
  17. VK5HS/m
  18. VK3OF
  19. VK5HYZ
  20. VK5GJ
  21. VK3PF
  22. VK3BHR
  23. VK1DI/p
  24. VK5BW
  25. VK3NBV
  26. VK3DBP
  27. VK3NBL
  28. VK5JW
  29. VK5FMID
  30. VK3ANL
  31. VK7EK
  32. VK2NP
  33. VK5FMJC
  34. VK3ZZS/4
  35. VK4HNS
  36. VK3YAR
  37. VK2SR/m
  38. VK3VIN
  39. VK4AAC/5 (Flinders Chase National Park VKFF-173)
  40. VK5MBD
  41. VK5RR
  42. VK3KYF
  43. VK3FLAK
  44. ZL4KD
  45. VK2SL/p
  46. VK5FANA
  47. VK5SFA/p (Morialta CP VKFF)
  48. VK3HRA
  49. VK5FAJH
  50. VK5KFB
  51. VK2HPN/m

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4FE
  2. ON4VT
  3. ON4BB
  4. DK4RM
  5. ON5SWA
  6. DL1EBR
  7. VK2IO
  8. I5FLN
  9. VK4FR
  10. VK2GKA/m
  11. VK2NP
  12. EA4DTV
  13. HA5LV
  14. VK1DI
  15. HA6NF
  16. F4HJO
  17. IK1GPG
  18. HA6OB
  19. OH6IU
  20. RA3PCI
  21. S58AL
  22. HB9ELE
  23. DM5EE
  24. F1BLL
  25. YO3JW
  26. DL5WW
  27. IZ0PAD
  28. S52KM
  29. SA5ACR
  30. OM7OM
  31. DL2ND
  32. SP5INQ
  33. HA0LG
  34. IK8FIQ
  35. DL3APO
  36. OK7WA
  37. Dl2NOM
  38. IK8NSR
  39. DL1MDU
  40. IZ1CJZ
  41. DL1EKO
  42. ON1JU
  43. IZ1JLG
  44. IN3RTB
  45. EA3MP
  46. M6KVT/p
  47. ON7AB
  48. HB9LCZ
  49. MW0RLJ
  50. OE3QGA
  51. I3QDK
  52. IZ0OTV
  53. DF1YQ
  54. OK2BUT
  55. HA5HY
  56. HB9/DK2WC
  57. DL1ASA
  58. SP1MVG
  59. SP6KEP
  60. IW2NXI
  61. UX1AA
  62. PB1TT
  63. VK7VDL
  64. 9A2AA
  65. SP8GEY
  66. IZ1GRH
  67. S51ZZ
  68. ON4ATK
  69. IK2LQT
  70. OP7M
  71. JA8RJE
  72. F2YT
  73. IZ1JMN
  74. ON3EA
  75. YO6KNE
  76. VK6MAC
  77. VK6NU

After packing up at Winninowie, we continued north on the Augusta Highway and then took the turn off to Quorn.  We then travelled out along Arden Vale Road to ‘Argadells’.  What an amazing place.  Marija and I highly recommend Argadells to anyone who would like a beautiful stay in the north.  Argadells is a historic working sheep property set amongst 32 square kilometres of spectacular scenery, just 28 kilometres north of Quorn.  It is nestled between Warren Gorge and Buckaringa Gorge.  For more information on Argadells, please have a look at their website at…..

After dinner, which was prepared in the amazing camp kitchen, and a few bottles of red, John, David and I fired up the Yaesu FT-857d and made a few contacts on 40m, before retiring for the night.  We even managed a contact into Panama on 40m (5/9 sent and 4/8 received).