Friday the 19th June 2015 was ‘take two’ for the Gammon Ranges National Park, VKFF-189. This was to be a unique park for me for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Marija and I travelled south along The Outback Highway towards Copley. On the way south I had a chat with Mark VK6BSA who was mobile on his way in to work again (5/9 both ways) and Steve VK3HK who was also mobile. I also spoke with Bill VK5MBD at Red Hill.
The Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, which is about 660 km north of Adelaide, was proclaimed in 1970, and forms part of the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha people. The park is rich with cultural significance. The park is 1,257.23 km2 (485.4 sq mi) in size. Over 900 plant and 200 fauna species have been recorded in the park, including some rare and endangered species. The park is remote and has many contrasts, including deep gorges and chasms, towering mountains, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs. The park encompasses some of the most rugged and spectacular country in South Australia.
Marija and I drove out from Copley through magnificent countryside. The road out to the park is dirt but is in good condition and is a distance of about 70 km.
We stopped briefly at Nepabunna, a small aboriginal community on the doorstep of the Gammons. Originally established as a mission in the 1930’s, the community became a council in 1998 and has a population of about 50 people.
We continued east along the Copley Road, into the park, until we reach Italowie Gorge. We found a nice little area close to the McKinlay Creek and set up here. Interestingly, the bushman, R.M. Williams is reputed to have learnt everything he knew about boot-making and leather from another man he met while camping in Italalowie Gap. R.m. Williams later became a millionaire and a renowned clothing brand carries his name.
Again, for this activation I ran my Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole. For 15m I used a simple 1/2 wave 15m dipole.
Above:- Map showing our operating spot. Map courtesy of National Parks SA.
I started calling CQ on 7.095 and it wasn’t long before I had my first taker. It was Bill VK5MBD at Red Hill with a very strong 5/9 plus signal, followed by Jess VK6JES, Brian VK5FMID at Mount Gambier, and Jim VK1AT. I had a good steady flow of callers on 40m from around Australia: VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7 worked. This included some of the usual QRP suspects including Greg VK5GJ running just 4 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received). Both David VK5KC and John VK5BJE called me from Farina in the throws of packing up and hitting the road.
After working 26 stations on 20m, I lowered the squid pole and put up the 1/2 wave 15m dipole and called CQ on 21.250. My call was answered by Bill VK5MBD, who despite being very weak (5/1) was very workable. This was followed by John VK6NU, Grant VK5VGC and Albert S58AL. Yes Slovenia. I couldn’t believe it. I did not expect to work into Europe at 10.10 a.m. And Albert and I heard each other perfectly. In fact I was stronger to Albert than he was to me (5/3 sent and 5/7 received).
It was at this time that Marija and I were visited by two of the local rangers. We explained to them what we were doing and assured them that we were not crazy, trying to catch squid in the creek with the squid pole. They were quite interested in what we were doing and the hobby in general.
I then put up the 40m/20m linked dipole again and called CQ on 14.310. But I only had the solitary caller there, and that was Bill VK5MBD, who again was weak (5/1), but again very workable. There was no man made noise at all out here in the middle of nowhere. I just wish it was like that at home.
I returned to 40m for a short time, calling CQ on 7.098, which was answered by park stalwart Mick VK3PMG, followed by Adrian VK5FANA, David VK5HYZ and then Ian VK5IS. I worked a further 17 Australian stations in VK2, VK4, & VK4. This included John VK2KJO who called in from nearby Arkaroola. John and Sue had travelled through earlier.
After 2 hours in the park I had a total of 52 contacts in the log. We packed up and headed back in to Copley.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 15m SSB:-
After returning to Copley we called in to the Copley Bush Bakery and Quandong Cafe, where Marija and I caught up with John and Jenny. We enjoyed a nice cappucinno and a warm home backed Quandong pie with cream (each that is). We then continued south to Leigh Creek, for a quick stop and then on to our next activation, Mount Scott, VK5/ NE-111.
National Parks South AUstralia, 2015, Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park.
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepabunna,_South_Australia>, viewed 28th June 2015